Knox Clendenen: New Zealand Harvest

Knox Clendenen bends over to pick up a bin of freshly picked Chardonnay grapes while working Harvest in New Zealand.

A warm greeting to all you fellow wine connoisseurs. I was asked to give a “fun”, “heartwarming”, and “energetic” depiction of my recent harvest in Marlborough, New Zealand.  I have just returned from the 2024 vintage and am still recovering physically and mentally from all the pints of beer, lamb, and meat pies… oh, and the hard labor, too.

I worked with Novum Wines, a small, high-quality producer that incorporates a French-inspired style. It is owned by the lovely William and Rachel Jackson Hoare. Will did three vintages with Au Bon Climat in 1997, 1998, and 2001. During that time, he also taught me how to catch a ball. Rachel (Will’s better half) did a vintage at Comtes Lafon in 2003. Both have had extensive experience in the world of wine, ranging from Burgundy, California, and Oregon, to their current location in the lovely Marlborough, New Zealand region.  With two human compendiums of viticultural and vinicultural techniques right in front of me, my only wish was to retain even a sliver of information to guide me on my winemaking journey.

I got a lot more than a sliver. I was Will’s right-hand man throughout the entire vintage and learned several new techniques to utilize in the winery, and also in the vineyard. We monitored how the grapes were ripening, and when the time came, we picked the chardonnay, and then a couple of weeks later, we picked the pinot noir. We used a hydraulic basket press, which gently squeezed the whole clusters of chardonnay. The juice tasted fantastic and says a lot about how the wine turned out (insert winking face emoji). We also used the basket press once the pinot noir was done with primary fermentation. Though the basket press was excruciatingly slow, the pace allowed us to taste the wine coming out and decide when to stop the press so we wouldn’t get the seedy, less desirable flavors that come with pressing too hard. After that, we loaded up the stems and pumace to make compost for the vineyard. We collected droppings from the vineyard highland cows and added that to the compost as well. Being able to do everything from the farming practices to the actual winemaking has not only showed me a clearer picture of the whole process and the various routes you can follow, but it has also deepened my passion for winemaking. The dedication and commitment it takes to make a good wine, the sacrifices we as winemakers make physically, mentally, and socially are genuinely substantial. Those sacrifices can only be rewarded once you open that bottle and pour yourself a glass, and I’ll always drink to that. I raise a glass to all of you out there, cheers!

Sincerely,

Knox Clendenen

November 2023 Wine Club Newsletter

The Latest from Au Bon Climat

Happy greetings from Au Bon Climat! Scroll through for our latest news, including an update on Harvest 2023 shared by Knox Clendenen, prepare for the season of hosting and cheer with a preview of our Holiday offerings, plus a delicious chicken dish for chilly nights. And as always, find tasting notes and details for the wines featured in your November Wine Club Shipment below!

Click THE IMAGES BELOW to view our featured content & SCROLL FOR MORE INFORMATION ON YOUR november WINE CLUB SHIPMENT…

Add-on opportunity…

Take advantage of an opportunity to add rare Library Wines to your shipment while saving money with our Flat Rate Shipping…

An enticing selection to add to your shipment, ship more wine with our Flat Rate Shipping. These rare and fabulous library wines are November’s Wine Club Shipment add-on. Time has taken these wines to a new, elevated level only achieved with age and patience–and we’ve done that for you. Each wine was tasted, evaluated, and approved by our winemaking team. Take advantage of the opportunity to add any (or all!) of these incredible bottles. Based on your delivery address, our shipping rates will be the same for 1-3 bottles, 4-6 bottles or 7-12 bottles.

A description of the Add-On bottle offering. 
2001 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir, Sanford & Benedict Vineyard
Originally this wine was a bunker buster. Massive cherry fruit, flavored with cinnamon, rich cola, cocoa and toasty oak. The wine has developed gracefully over the years. 95/Editor’s Choice Wine Enthusiast
 
2007 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Vineyard
A complex nose of red berry, cherry, dried rose and mint are followed on the palate with red fruit and spice. Age has unified the components into a soft, silky expression with intriguing flavors. 91 Vinous
 
2012 Au Bon Climat Hildegard Estate White Blend
Classic Hildegard aromas of melon, pear, white flowers, crushed chalk are well integrated. The flavor profile follows suit with a wonderful trace of butterscotch from age. A wine of richness and length.  92 Wine Enthusiast
 
2012 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Knox Alexander
91 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
Utterly seamless and perfectly balanced, with classic notes of sweet cherries, damp soil, forest floor and wild herbs. This elegant, silky Pinot is just coming into its own. Gorgeous. 91 Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator
 
2012 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Isabelle
This impressive Pinot shows distinctly Burgundian notes of sweet red and black fruits, sous bois, underbrush and spice; it's beautifully textured, elegant and layered.  93 Wine Advocate
 
2012 Clendenen Family Chardonnay, Le Bon Climat
A rich, creamy wine with a nose of honeyed apricots, orange blossoms, brioche joined by savory/toasty/nutty flavors complimenting the stone fruit and citrus layers What a treat!  94 Wine Advocate 93 Wine Enthusiast, 93 Vinous, 90 Wine Spectator
How to add wine to your November Shipment

Take advantage of cost savings with our Flat Rate Shipping… In your wine club shipment email, click the ‘Adjust Your Shipment’ button. On the next page, under the blue menu banner on the top in the right corner, click on the button ‘Edit Wines.’ Select the wines you’d like to add, then click on ‘Save Selection’ located on top. You have now customized your shipment. To see the total breakdown including shipping discount, click on ‘TOTAL’.

Please note: Add-on deadline is October 31st. If you would like to add-on wines not featured in your club portal, please get in touch with us. Email wineclub@aubonclimat.com or call 805-883-8165.

For our members who elected to have their wines shipped, orders will ship on November 13th.

 

Included in this Shipment…

2021 Au Bon Climat Hildegard Estate White Blend, Santa Maria Valley

55% Pinot Gris, 45% Pinot Blanc 5% Aligoté. A regal white with minerality and complexity highlighting this luscious blend. Fig and melon notes from the Pinot Gris are joined by green apple and stone fruits from the Pinot Blanc. It is round and enticing with a lovely floral oak in that finish. As it ages the texture and flavors will expand. Scored 94 points/Editor’s Choice Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 94 Vinous, and 93 Jeb Dunnuck.

2022 Clendenen Family Chenin Blanc, Rancho La Cuna, Santa Barbara County

A sophisticated dry white with an ethereal nose. The minerality is apparent along with aromas of honeysuckle and quince backed with layers of lime zest and coriander. Completion of barrel and malolactic fermentation increased the weight and depth mid-palate while the crisp acidity lifts the finish. Excellent now but will continue to develop in years to come.

2019 Clendenen Family Chardonnay, Le Bon Climat, Santa Maria Valley

A wine of texture but also airy and nicely lifted. Lemon confit, dried flowers, mint, chamomile, and tangerine peel are beautifully framed by a discreet touch of oak. Though aged 18 months in new French oak, using in 350L barrels helps maintain freshness and nuance. Bright acids pull it back together in the finish. A stunning wine that will develop for some time. Scored 94 points Vinous.

2020 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

From a great site in the Sta. Rita Hills and fermented with 50% whole clusters, this is a more savory, perfumed expression of Pinot from this vineyard. The wine shows wild strawberry and crushed red berry fruit with nuances of allspice, dried flowers, citrus peel, cedar and autumn leaves. It is a chiseled, focused but graceful Pinot Noir that will unquestionably keep for over a decade. Aged 20 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Scored 95 points Vinous.

2019 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Oregon

Our second Oregon Pinot in the series is sourced from the highly regarded, estate vineyard of Lingua Franca in the Eola-Amity Hills of Willamette Valley. Classically vinified, we also included some whole clusters in the fermentation to add more complexity and substance. This is a dark and supple Pinot, with perfumed aromas and flavors of ripe red and dark fruits enhanced by notes of star anise and exotic spices. It deftly plays richness off elegance. The wine is Imminently drinkable, but will continue to develop. Aged 18 months in François Frères French oak barrels.

2021 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Bien Nacido, Santa Maria Valley

An exquisitely elegant, perfumed wine loaded with character. Dried hibiscus and alpine strawberry take the lead followed by dark cherry, dried cranberry, cedar, mint and earthy sage tones. High fruit acid and great structure from oak tannins assist in creating a wonderfully balanced wine. Aged 20 months in 350L François Frères French oak barrels, the larger format preserves the freshness. Scored 97 points/Editor’s Choice in Wine Enthusiast, and 94 Vinous.

2019 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Larmes de Grappe, Sta. Rita Hills

From the legendary Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, this is a special wine. Supple and racy in the glass, with terrific depth and balance and flavors that linger. Perfumed floral, spice and savory notes emerge from beneath fruit that suggests red cherry, plum, rose petal, mint and blood orange. The 2019 “Tears of the Grape” Pinot Noir is a dense, beautifully structured red that is also silky and elegant. 100% whole cluster fermentation and 20 months age in specially made, 100% new François Frères French oak 350-liter barrels helped to build this outstanding.

around the corner…

Six Au Bon Climat Wine Bottles in a row in front of a fireplace and a Christmas tree.
Coming Soon: Holiday Specials

The holidays are just around the corner, and now is the time to take advantage of your wine club discount and Flat Rate shipping. We’ll make gift giving, parties, and family get-togethers easy.

We have put together a number of exciting bundles, case selections, magnums, and gift sets, many specially priced. Wine club discounts are applied on top of that. These opportunities have limited time frames and will be staggered over the next few months. Our first begins in mid-November with Magnum Madness followed by Black Friday and the return of the Black By Black wines, so popular last year. Then it’s the Cyber Mondeuse Monday Deal. In early December there will be amazing wine bundles, gift packs, and cases.  

Make sure to pay particular attention to our emails so you don’t miss out on the next featured offering!

Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Remember deadlines. The carriers will be overwhelmed the closer to the holiday, and Ground Service packages can take a day more or so to arrive. Make sure the recipient is someone of age and available to sign for the package. Thinking about it but know you’ll forget? Place your order early for shipment later. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your package will arrive in time.

Thanksgiving 2023 Shipping Deadline Estimates: 

  • West Coast: Order by 11/15
  • Mountain: Order by 11/13
  • Central & East Coast: Order by 11/11

Christmas 2023 Shipping Deadline Estimates: 

  • West Coast: Order by 12/17
  • Mountain: Order by 12/14
  • Central & East Coast: Order by 12/12

Please allow up to 2 days to process. You will receive an email notification when your order is shipped. Shipping addresses in remote areas may take longer.

Need in a hurry? Consider Second Day and Overnight options.

the ultimate wine gift

A glass of red wine is poured into an ABC logoed wine glass.

Give the gift that keeps giving year-round, with the purchase of a one-year Au Bon Climat wine club membership. Not only will your gift-giving for every holiday be covered, it will make each day special as they drink the wine. The recipient will receive four shipments for the year and have access to all the wine club benefits. Choose from three different clubs, 3, 6 and 12 bottle. Customize further designating mixed red and white, all red or all white. The giftee will receive a special, commemorating card with your name as the giver. To purchase, fill out the new wine club membership form on the web. Want to talk to someone personally? Contact Nicole Wasserman directly at wineclub@aubonclimat.com or call (805) 883-8165.

LIVE MUSIC SUNDAYS

June 2023 – December 2023

Since June, Live Music Sundays have been filling our Sundays with soulful tunes. We started with captivating Jazz, swayed to the rhythms of Bossa Nova, and rocked out with Santa Barbara’s own Will Breman.

And the party continues! Join us every other Sunday from 3-5 PM until the end of the year for more incredible live performances.

Recent Scores & Reviews

“AU BON CLIMAT REMAINS A REFERENCE POINT FOR SANTA BARBARA PERHAPS THE REFERENCE POINT GIVEN THE GLOBAL REACH THESE WINES NOW ENJOY.” – ANTONIO GALLONI, Vinous

Vinous is one of the most respected wine publications. Their regional reviews are always eagerly awaited, and they have just arrived! Both Au Bon Climat and Clendenen Family wines did remarkably well with ALL wines receiving a score in the 90s (out of 100) with most in the mid-90s. The following represent some of our top-scoring wines...

Check out our top scores featured in our blog post here…

Knox Clendenen: Harvest 2023 Recap

An Update from CO-OWNER, Knox

Knox sits smiling in a barrel of grape vines after harvesting the fruit.

Good morning, afternoon, or evening to you dear reader. I have been let into the insulated and cool sanctuary that is the office to regale you with how our harvest is going so far. Contrary to last year, 2023 has been at a steady pace. In February and March, we had a profusion of rain, which provided much needed vigor to the vines. For most of late August and early September, the overcast weather caused the vines to take their time ripening the clusters. Our first arrival, Pinot Gris, came in on September 6th and since then we have picked Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. The vineyards have provided an abundance of grapes with splendid quality. The acidity is high while also reaching necessary sugar levels. I believe this will harmonize perfectly with our use of French oak, creating a balanced and restrained wine with limitless aging potential. Though it is already October, we have a long way ahead of us. The labor is intense, however we have smiles on our faces, and more importantly, an influx of caffeine coursing through our veins. We shall keep marching on and when harvest is over, champagne will be drunk, and many a siesta will be had.