Au Bon Climat is a French term for "a well exposed vineyard site." Being that the winery is situated in one of the preeminent vineyards in Santa Barbara County on the outskirts of Santa Maria – The Bien Nacido Vineyard – the name certainly fits. It is the brain child of master winemaker Jim Clendenen.
Au Bon Climat is a Burgundy-centric winery, meaning if the grapes aren't grown in Burgundy, then Au Bon Climat doesn't make that type of wine. Wineries in Burgundy are limited to Aligote, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay for white wines. Starting in 1990 Au Bon Climat made Pinot Blanc from old vines planted at Bien Nacido. Pinot Gris was planted at Bien Nacido, after experimental planting showed favorable results, in 1994. Our first Pinot Gris, the 1995 vintage was made from these small experimental plantings.
Au Bon Climat began blending Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc in 1997. The percentages of each variety changes from year to year. The Pinot Gris crop at Bien Nacido was variable. Some years the yield would be three tons per acre and some years would be less than one ton per acre. We started buying Pinot Gris from Sierra Madre Vineyard in 2009, to get a consistent source of Pinot Gris.
The Au Bon Climat 2020 Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc is a versatile wine. It is light and refreshing making a good choice for an aperitif. It has enough body and intensity to go with food as well. The minerality and acidity make this a great wine for shellfish of any kind but it is also delightful with roast chicken, turkey or pastas with a light béchamel sauce. The aromas are salty, mineral with a lemon-lime note. In the mouth the wine is rich and textural, from the time spent on lees in the barrel. Au Bon Climat makes a longer barrel aged version of this wine called Hildegard which is Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Aligoté, with more oak influence and more barrel and bottle age.
A refreshing, dry, blended white with citrus lemon/lime notes, flinty minerality, and crisp finish. It is richer than most light whites, yet so easy drinking! Great summer sippin' or match with shellfish, roast chicken, turkey or duck. ~winery notes
The lighter, crisper qualities of Pinot Gris are met by the somewhat richer traits of Pinot Blanc here, and the result is a fascinating effort that smacks of ripe peaches at one moment and at minerals and citrus the next. The wine is a bit more serious than either of its two varieties predict, and, while it can serve as a thirst-quenching quaff, it is something we would reserve for drinking with the likes of a well-seasoned roasted chicken now and for more than a few years to come.