Au Bon Climat, Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir


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This is a brilliant and delicious charmer of a wine: classy and smooth and full of bright red and bramble fruit, it is a wake-up call to point us to great wines that don't come from Europe.

This is real epicurean wine and is extremely versatile too; from grills to seafood, Indian to cordon bleu, you'll get masses of quality and complexity with every glassful. Its freshness is retained in the first five years or so, when it then starts to develop into more complex flavours of forest floor, dried fruits and more perfume than you'd find in Duty Free.

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 leaving a wonderful legacy, but also 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.

This wine is now even more popular than it was when I first had it in the early 2000s, largely because of the impact of the film Sideways. Based around the wineries of Santa Barbara, it championed the notion of Old World wine styles being made in the New World of California and held special respect and deference to Pinot Noir. This then led to the best wineries in Santa Barbara being inundated with demand for their wines (anything would do!) and of course, ABC were not in any rush to change their methods. In fact, their story was almost the perfect foil for the film and its message of tradition, nuance and longevity.

Region: Santa Barbara

Country: USA

Grape(s): Pinot Noir

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

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

Great choice and excellent service. Received my delivery the next day.
Paul H.
Amazing service from the get go!
I emailed Chris looking for wine recommendations for a birthday gift. Got a really speedy, helpful reply and not only that but he hand delivered it on time to the birthday girl wishing her a happy birthday. Absolutely bowled over by the service. Cannot recommend highly enough.
Michelle McM.
Could not recommend The Allotment enough. The selection is fantastic and each wine that I've drank from them has been utterly phenomenal. Delivery was no hassle and I had the wine at my door in 2 days. Couldn't have asked for a better experience.
Luke B.
Good range of interesting wines. Good personal attention to their orders. Very customer focused. I would be happy to recommend this company to any prospective customer.
Jim D.
A great experience ordering from The Allotment Wine Company. A wide variety of wines to try something new and at good prices with super quick delivery! Really convenient too as opposed to trying to find parking!
N. Dowling
Delicious and interesting range of wines delivered promptly to my door. Not far off that lovely feeling of coming back laden from a good wine store but without any of the traffic or the worry of breaking the wine en route (very impressive travel wrap).
M. Dorman
Chris fields a fine range of excellent, keenly-priced wines. Orders are safely packaged and dispatched efficiently and promptly. Strongly recommended.
David M.
Great selection of wines, hassle free ordering, payment and delivery. Highly recommended.
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.