Santa Maria Valley, California
This cuvee is 100% Pinot Noir from the Le Bon Climat Vineyard located on the southern border of the Santa Maria Valley AVA, overlooking the Santa Maria River. The cool Pacific Ocean air runs right up the Valley to Le Bon Climat. Most days the breeze from the ocean is evident before noon. The day time highs seldom get above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and most days the highs are around the mid-70’s. Le Bon Climat was planted in 1997 with low vigor rootstock in poor soil. This combination of factors destined this vineyard to be slow growing and low yielding. The soil, clone and rootstock combination at Le Bon Climat produces two tons per acre average. Most of the vineyard is planted with clone 667 Pinot Noir, with some 777, 115, 2A and even a little Mt.Eden clone.
The two best lots of Pinot Noir from Le Bon Climat were blended to make the Clendenen Family Pinot Noir. The second lot was picked later allowing extra time on the vine for the stems of the clusters to lignify. During lignification the green stems turn brown and woody. These whole clusters, grapes with the stem attached, are dumped into the fermenters. Jim Clendenen likes to include whole clusters when possible because the fermentation is slower, since the grapes are still intact, and the stems in the fermenter add a layer of complexity. After fermentation the wine was aged in 100% new Francois Frères French oak barrels. After aging for 24 months the wine was bottled without filtration.
96 points – Wine Enthusiast
93 points – Antonio Galloni’s Vinous Media
92 points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate