Au Bon Climat, Knox Alexander Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley 2019


Stunning, sumptuous, though-provoking and captivating this is a Pinot Noir that shows the best quality of fruit grown in the vineyards of the Au Bon Climat winery. Made since 1999, it is a masterpiece of winemaking and vineyard management and is widely regarded as one of the top Pinot Noirs made in California.

This is the top selection of the best sites that the family own. It is svelte, elegant and broad, complex and approachable: this is a simply delicious wine and is one of the very finest Pinot Noirs you'll get in this part of the world for its price.

Jim Clendenen founded Au Bon Climat in 1982 as a way of respecting the cool Pacific climate, the marine soils and the east-west running hills and mountain ranges that gave the vineyards "a good place"or, a "Bon Climat". The choice of the French phrase came because if the obsession with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which Jim had identified as being perfect tools to show the quality of the land. And of course, forty years later, the proof is in the amazing puddings. As they say themselves, though fashions come and go in much of the other Californian wineries and regions, Au Bon Climat has been able to stay its course, because its course was set at such a high level to start with. Nuance, site-specificity, traditional styles and sustainable respect... these are ideals, not passing fashions.

The wines they make are excellent but never flashy. They don't go for high alcohol levels, but harvest grapes when they are balanced to create wines that will age gracefully and for a long time. I've been lucky enough to try one of their whites at 23 years old, full of freshness and complexity. They are exceptionally successful and it is mad, and very sad, that Jim died in 2021. Though leaving a wonderful legacy, he also left a massive hole. It's a challenge to maintain a drive like his, but one to which the team and family will rise, I am sure.

Named after the Jim's son, Knox Alexander (double-barrelled first name), is a wine unlike all of the others that are made on the estate, because it is a blend of the top sites of the family's own vineyards in Bien Nacido and Le Bon Climat (they named it that in an effort to establish their love for all things Burgundian!). In this way, it is a true representation of the best of the winery's sense of place. In his sister Isabelle's wine, which is a blend from at least six different single vineyards from three different locations, they get a sense of the best of the region of California; with this wine, you get a sense of the best of the specific Santa Barbara estate. Each barrel is tasted and identified, then left to mature further until a final tasting is carried out. The result is typically a powerful and slightly darker, more concentrated expression than Isabelle, but this can change, whereas Isabelle often stays more consistent because of the allowances made by blending from many different subzones across the region. Knox Alexander is wholly dependent on one source of grapes - risky perhaps, but the rewards when it's good (and it usually is) are sensational.

Balance, sophistication, length and complexity... these are the hallmarks of this extraordinary Pinot.

I haven't met Knox Alexander yet, he usually stays at the winery, leaving his sister to travel and tell the family story. She's a force of nature and a wonderful advocate for her family and for Californian wine (and for the USA, actually - fact) and has a typically 'older sister' relationship with her brother and when talking, it almost feels as though she like the wine more than her brother. Funny things, families...

Region: California

Country: USA

Grape(s): Pinot Noir

Style: Svelte, Structured, Silky, Round, Profound, Medium Bodied, Meditation, Elegant, Complex, Broad, Balanced

Best food matches: Steak, Soft Cheeses, Red Meats, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Hard Cheeses, Fine Dining, Charcuterie

Alcohol: 13.5%

Why buy from us?

When you buy wine from The Allotment Wine Co. you're helping a small Irish company that in turn supports small, sustainable wine producers who grow the grapes and make amazing wines. We only work with partners who share a deep respect and connection with the land and its traditions, witnessed in a firm commitment to quality and sustainability. All of which makes for better wines.

Delivery & Returns

You'll get free delivery when you buy 12 x 75cl bottles of wine online from The Allotment, saving you €7.99.

We charge €7.99 per delivery for quantities less than that.

Our hours for processing orders are between 9am - 6pm Monday to Friday.

We pack your online wine order along the following timelines:

Wine orders for delivery in Dublin, received before 12pm on weekdays are prepared so that delivery should be expected the next working day.

Wine orders for nationwide delivery, received by 12pm on weekdays are prepared so that delivery should be expected two working days later.

Customer reviews

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Patrick H.
Hi, I'm Chris Gifford.

And you're very welcome to The Allotment Wine Co.

When you wine from me, you're supporting a small Irish business which in turn supports small, sustainable wine producers, as well as other small, dedicated Irish wine importers.

When selecting wines, I look for partners who share a deep respect and connection with the land and its traditions, witnessed in a firm commitment to quality and sustainability. All of which makes for better wines.