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February 2023 Wine Club Newsletter

The Latest from Au Bon Climat

Scroll through for latest news and updates from Au Bon Climat including a great recipe to pair with your favorite Pinots, an update from the vineyard in regard to our recent rainfall, a special add-on offer… plus tasting notes and details for the wines featured in your February Wine Club Shipment! Enjoy our February Wine Club Newsletter!


February Add-On Special: ENJOY 50% OFF TOTAL SHIPPING

“Best of 2017” Six Bottle Bundle 

We have selected six wines that stand out from the 2017 vintage, representing different styles, and that have multiple scores in the 90s. Add this bundle to your club shipment and get 50% OFF total shipping! To do this you will need to adjust your shipment by February 6th. The directions are straightforward and provided below…

2017 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 32nd Vintage Celebration Sanford & Benedict

This truly regal wine is made for those that appreciate creamy, richly textured Chardonnays. There is lots of buttered citrus, orchard fruits and slight pineapple notes as well as spice, toasty oak. It is focused and precise on the palate, has good mid-palate depth, and outstanding length. Scored 95 points Wine Enthusiast; 93 points Jeb Dunnuck; 92 points Wine & Spirits Magazine.

2017 Clendenen Family Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard

A knockout – rich, creamy, balanced. For this limited edition Chard, the finest lots of Bien Nacido fruit were barrel fermented in super expensive, custom-made Francois Freres barrels. The style is more complex and intense than our ABC counterpart. Scored 95 points Antonio Galloni’s Vinous; 93 points Jeb Dunnuck; 93 points Wine & Spirits Magazine.

2017 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir “Isabelle”

Our richest, most heralded Pinot begins with aromas of mulled berries and blossoms with a touch of tobacco and earth. The center delivers a luminous raspberry sweetness that grows in lift and expression as it opens. Scored 96 points Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 92 points Wine & Spirits Magazine.

2017 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Los Alamos Vineyard

This single vineyard Pinot delivers depth. The 2017 is a rich, meaty red with a dense fruit character showing earthy, berry aromas joined by mouth-filling flavors of plum and bitter chocolate on the palate. Aged 18 months in french oak barrels, one third new. Scored 91 points & Best Buy from Wine & Spirits Magazine.

2017 Barham Mendelsohn Pinot Noir

Pinot from this region has a signature spice. When meticulously grown, organic fruit meets stellar winemaking, the result is a sophisticated, beautifully balanced red showing racy, deep berry fruit, and an intriguing Oriental spice character that is mouth-filling.

2017 Black By Black (Bordeaux Blend)

This is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot showing a classic dark berry character with back notes of sage and tobacco. Aged about 24 months in barrel, it received all the necessary TLC in the cellar to create a dark, rich red that has benefited from bottle age.


Within your wine club shipment email, click on the Adjust Your Shipment button. On the next page, under the blue menu banner on top in the right corner, click on the button Edit Wines. Select the February Add-On Bundle, 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

Upcoming Events to Note…

Au BOn Climat at World Of Pinot Noir 

This elite three day event is held at the prestigious Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara includes luncheons, spectacular themed dinners, 2 days of Grand Tastings, must-see seminars, and an Opening Night Party – whew! Get your tickets now! Some events have already sold out. As of this writing, Friday and Saturday Grand Tasting tickets are available. Au Bon Climat will be participating in Saturday’s Grand Tasting. We always have something intriguing. See you there!

Special Pinot Noir Flight at THE Tasting Room

In honor of World of Pinot Noir, our tasting room will be pouring a special Pinot Noir flight that weekend. Make a reservation here.

SAVE THE DATE: Wine Club Pickup Party

A wonderful afternoon in wine country! The perfect Mother’s Day adventure. Includes a memorable luncheon, wine tasting stations, and special wines for sale including The Bargain Table. Each membership can invite 3 guests, for a total of 4. All club members are welcome! Reservations will go live April 1st.

Included in this Shipment…

2020 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay, “Nuits Blanches au Bouge – Hindsight”, Santa Maria Valley

Another brilliant version of this wine with textbook Chardonnay notes of pear, ripe stone fruits, caramelized lemons, chalky minerality, and toasted spice. Aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months, it’s medium-bodied and balanced, with a great mid-palate as well as impressive length. Each vintage this wine gets new designation. “Hindsight” was a natural with the 2020 vintage. 

2020 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay, Bien Nacido Vineyard – Santa Barbara Historic Vineyard Collection, Santa Maria Valley

The aroma immediately reveals this is obviously Chardonnay made in an Old World style. Tightly woven aromas of nectarine and peach are clean and delicate on the nose of this single-vineyard showcase. A chalky backbone holds up the palate, where creamier subtle notes of gardenia and coconut arise. Scored 93 points Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

2020 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir “Isabelle”

A blend of our top Pinot barrels from different vineyard sources, the Isabelle Pinot is Au Bon Climat’s most highly regarded. It is a bright and effusive wine with tons of aromatic presence and fine balance. Sweet red cherry fruit, orange peel, spice, and dried herbs open first, followed by a host of perfumed floral notes that lead into the mid-palate and finish. Silky and quite elegant, all it really needs time in the bottle to come into its own.

2020 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Los Alamos Vineyard – Santa Barbara Historic Vineyard Collection, Santa Barbara County

True to Los Alamos wine region, this Pinot has a dense, straight forward fruit character. Aromas of ripe cherry/red berries are joined on the palate by nuances of forest floor, bitter chocolate, cola and vanilla that mesh to create a beautifully balanced wine that is enjoyable now but will develop for years to come. Aged 18 months in new French oak barrels.

2019 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir, Lala Panzi Vineyard, Russian River Valley

This organically grown Pinot is luscious, feminine, pretty, aromatic…it tastes like the Russian River Valley. Along with the red berry/cranberry fruit character, this lovely wine shows an amazing array of aromas and flavors – Chinese five spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom, followed with a balanced vanillin note from 50% new French Oak barrels.

2021 Grenache Gris, Rancho La Cuna, Santa Barbara County

Grenache Gris has its origins in the south of France. Our version is an easy drinking, dry white that has massive appeal, with structure and flavors not unlike an expensive White Hermitage with its restrained stone fruit character and mineral backbone. From Clendenen estate in Los Alamos, the fruit is barrel fermented and aged briefly 8 months in neutral french oak.

2018 Grenache, Rancho La Cuna, Santa Barbara County

A beautifully balanced but structured Grenache with whimsical berry and earth notes in the nose followed by deeper berry and spice notes on the palate. Only a few barrels made of this wine.


Q: How is the rainy, winter weather affecting the vines in your area?

Simply put, for the most part, welcome! California has been in a drought for many years which has concentrated the salt deposits in the soil to a level where it was becoming toxic. Salts in soil contain important micronutrients, but some—like sodium, chloride and boron—carry a toxic punch if left to accumulate. The ocean influence in the geology of Santa Barbara along with a drier climate makes this a concern particularly for growers here. With the needed rain, the salts are flushed, or leached, and necessary salts and minerals spread out for a more balanced growing environment. The intense rains have recharged drought-thirsty aquifers and water tables have revitalized the vines. If only the rains could have come over a longer, less intense period…

We have also had some nice frosty weather providing good chill hours for dormancy. In addition, bugs and pests don’t survive as well in the cold. This contributes to a healthy bud break.

Au Bon Climat in Asia

FAMILIAR FACES WHILE ABROAD—look for au bon climat traveling through asia

Isabelle with new friends in Japan

The thrill of exploring and experiencing something for the first time can be the best part of traveling, however, sometimes seeing a reminder of home while traveling provides a bit of comfort in an otherwise exotic place.  Should your travels take you to Asia, you may be surprised to see Au Bon Climat on many wine lists.  This is a result of Jim Clendenen’s own wanderlust. Jim had a particular affinity for Japan and was viewed as a celebrity by the wine community. He established key relationships in Japan decades ago which remain today.  It is our second largest export market, just behind the UK.  In recent years we have seen tremendous growth in other parts of Asia, specifically South Korea and China.

Asia is very familiar territory for the second generation Clendenens. At the end of February both Knox (who just finished college in Tokyo) and Isabelle (Japan minor in college) will be leading tastings in Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul.  After many visits to Japan with their father and then on their own, Knox and Isabelle are becoming the new face of Au Bon Climat in Asia. ▲

Knox’s Harvest Experience

A firsthand account of Knox Clendenen’s inaugural harvest with au bon climat

Knox Alexander Clendenen from Au Bon Climat Winery in Santa Barbara County

This has been my first harvest at ABC, and to say the least it has been an amalgamation of chaos and education. Since I started fresh out of college (graduated in August), I was not in the best of shape. After foot stomping grapes, doing punch-downs, moving bins, climbing barrels and everything in between, harvest has chipped away at my sloppy physique. I have learned a great deal in a very short amount of time, especially the qualities and philosophies that make Au Bon Climat unique. 

A normal day for me was starting the morning with punch-downs, then processing any reds that came in, cleaning the equipment afterwards, doing a second round of punch downs, and cleaning out fermenters that were being pressed. Harvest is not about doing a single job continuously; instead, it is about adapting and moving from one objective to another. Constantly changing the task made harvest seem a lot less repetitive than I had anticipated. 

The worst part about harvest is the state of my hands and fingernails. No matter how hard you scrub and clean you cannot remove the grime underneath your nails. Anytime I go to a store and people see my hands they think I am a troglodyte that knows not of the modern standards of cleanliness. Other than that, I have no real complaints, harvest is harvest, it’s never easy and that is to be expected. The real beauty of harvest is the people you bond with through the grueling labor. People who share the same passion and curiosity in winemaking. To be able to create something so elegant through what could be seen as a very crude process is what truly inspires and encourages me to work, and more importantly, learn. ▲

– Knox Alexander Clendenen