Au Bon Climat - 'Knox Alexander' Pinot Noir 2016

$130.00
Sale price

Regular price $130.00

"Rich and powerful, this well structured wine has a darker ruby hue as well as a beautiful nose of cherry, dried cranberry, earthy forest floor, ground herbs, smoked earth."

Named after Jim Clendenen’s son Knox, this wine is from the finest lots of Pinot Noir from the estate Le Bon Climat and Bien Nacido Vineyard since 1998. These two vineyards, separated only by the Sisquoc River, have slow growing vines planted in well drained poor soils, which produce really distinctive Pinot Noir. Both vineyards struggle to yield much most years, but the small amount that is harvested is of amazing quality. 

Vineyards: Knox is a blend of our two “estate” vineyards, Bien Nacido and Le Bon Climat. Both vineyards are in the Santa Maria Valley, with Le Bon Climat being located on the southern edge of this appellation. Le Bon Climat was planted in 1998 with low vigor rootstock in some well drained poor soil.  This combination of low vigor plants and poor soil limit the crop size and slow ripening. The two blocks selected to be used in Knox are Block 2 and Block 11. Block 2 was planted in 1994 with a wide mix of clones, which are 103, 113, 114, 115, 2A, Mt. Eden along with some Pinot Meunier. Block 2 has a south/west exposure which is good for morning sun though many mornings during the growing season the sun is blocked by our Santa Maria fog. Our other premium block of Pinot Noir at Bien Nacido is Block 11 which is planted with clones 667, 777, 115, 2A, Swan and Jackson in 1997. Block 11 is a steep, hillside block with north/west exposure.

Antonio Galloni's Vinous

Score: 96 points  "The 2016 Pinot Noir Knox Alexander is another head spinning wine in this range. The Knox Alexander is built on a core of Bien Nacido, and then supplemented with other sites that Jim Clendenen has planted over the years. Powerful, rich and also quite tannic, the 2016 is going to need at least a few years in bottle to fully come together. Even in the early going, though, it is very clearly a special wine with tremendous promise. I absolutely love the energy here. "

Jeb Dunnuck

Score: 92+ points  "Barrel fermented and aged in new French oak, the 2016 Pinot Noir Knox Alexander has a darker ruby hue as well as a beautiful nose of earthy cherries, forest floor, ground herbs, smoked earth. Medium-bodied, with good acidity and fine tannins, it has subtle background oak and will benefit from a year or three of bottle age and should keep for 15 years or more.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Score: 91 points  "Pale to medium ruby, the 2016 Pinot Noir Knox Alexander features scents of dried cranberry and red cherry, orange peel, potpourri and hints of smoked meats over a core of wild blackberry and black raspberry. The palate is light to medium-bodied with spicy fruits, a great frame of grainy tannins and integrated freshness, finishing long. 975 cases produced."

--------THE PRODUCER--------

Au Bon Climat

Au Bon Climat (ABC) is a leading winery in the Santa Barbara County region of California. They are the leading winery that inspired the hit movie: Sideways, due to the top quality of their Pinot Noirs. Au Bon Climat are known around the world for creating top Pinot Noir and Chardonnay - made more in a Burgundian, or traditional French-style, instead of the big and oaky wines that often come out of California.

 

--------THE GRAPE--------

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir produces some of the world's most expensive, most lauded, rarest and delicious wines. Equally it is one of the most difficult grapes to grow successfully and as a result it is quite hard to make a balanced Pinot Noir. It is historically from Burgundy, most specifically in the Cote de Nuits, so much so that people will refer to Pinot Noir as a 'Burgundy'.

 

--------THE REGION--------

California

California is the United States of America's largest and most important wine region. It produces 90% of the USA's total production - with the fair majority of that being red wines. Since it is 'always sunny in California' it is the perfect region to grow red grapes that need a lot of heat to ripen up. This has lead to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and an Italian grape varietal: Primitivo (Californian's call in Zinfandel) to being the most important red grapes. Chardonnay is the leading white followed by Sauvignon Blanc.

 

The best place to start when you are pairing food and wine is to think about the structural elements of both the food and wines. These elements are: sweetness, acidity, bitterness, umami, chilli heat and fat.

We have listed these elements in foods and how you can add wines with similar or contrasting elements to help create harmony in your matches.

Sweetness 

Sweet foods can overpower dry wines, white or red, making them appear acidic, neutral or bitter. In order to reduce this effect you should pair sweet foods with sweet wines. 

Acidity

Acidic foods, like fresh citrus, tomatoes or salads laden with vinaigrettes, will overpower the acidity in a wine making them appear flabby or less acidic than they were. In order to reduce this effect you should pair acidic foods with wines that have a higher acidity such as Champagne, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Acidity is a key element in creating balance in a dish or a food-and-wine match. If the foods are going to reduce the acidity in the wines then you need to add your own bit of acidity by bringing a more acidic wine to the table. It is the same principle behind adding lemon juice to seafood dishes, as seafood tends to have quite low natural acidity.

Bitterness

If a food is high in bitterness then it will make the wine appear bitter, or it will increase the perception of bitterness (tannins) in the wine. In order to reduce this effect you should pair bitter foods with wines that are not lean with high acid.  Rather choose wines with some sweetness, fruit or viscosity.

Umami (Savoury)

Foods that are highly savoury, like mushrooms, will increase the bitterness or acidic perception we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair umami rich foods with wines that are fruity and do not have medium-high tannins. 

Often foods that are more savoury are best matched with white wines like Chardonnay or Soave as these do not big tannins but have lots of fruity flavours.

Chilli Heat

Chilli heat is similar to umami-rich foods.  They will increase the bitterness or acidic perception as well as the alcoholic burn we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair chilli heat rich foods with wines that are fruity and/or have higher sweetness levels.

Wines that are off-dry like many Gewürztraminers or Rieslings could work best with chilli foods like a curry as they will be both a bit sweet but also very fruity. If you aren't a white wine drinker then you could consider red wines that have lower tannins such as a Pinot Noir or Gamay Noir. 

Fatty

Foods that are high in fat will make the wines feel flabby and less fruity. In order to reduce this effect you should pair fatty foods with wines that have high acidity. This is similar to the rule of adding in acidity (in the form of citrus) to seafood to help to cut down the perception of fattiness.  

These suggestions (there are no rules that apply to everyone) will help you to think about how to create pairings. It often isn't helpful to think about 'red wine and red meat' or 'white wine and fish' because it is actually the structural elements of the wine and food that need to be balanced. It is the acidity in white wines that works well by cutting through the fattiness of a piece of fish but you could get that acidity in a Pinot Noir. 

"Rich and powerful, this well structured wine has a darker ruby hue as well as a beautiful nose of cherry, dried cranberry, earthy forest floor, ground herbs, smoked earth."

Named after Jim Clendenen’s son Knox, this wine is from the finest lots of Pinot Noir from the estate Le Bon Climat and Bien Nacido Vineyard since 1998. These two vineyards, separated only by the Sisquoc River, have slow growing vines planted in well drained poor soils, which produce really distinctive Pinot Noir. Both vineyards struggle to yield much most years, but the small amount that is harvested is of amazing quality. 

Vineyards: Knox is a blend of our two “estate” vineyards, Bien Nacido and Le Bon Climat. Both vineyards are in the Santa Maria Valley, with Le Bon Climat being located on the southern edge of this appellation. Le Bon Climat was planted in 1998 with low vigor rootstock in some well drained poor soil.  This combination of low vigor plants and poor soil limit the crop size and slow ripening. The two blocks selected to be used in Knox are Block 2 and Block 11. Block 2 was planted in 1994 with a wide mix of clones, which are 103, 113, 114, 115, 2A, Mt. Eden along with some Pinot Meunier. Block 2 has a south/west exposure which is good for morning sun though many mornings during the growing season the sun is blocked by our Santa Maria fog. Our other premium block of Pinot Noir at Bien Nacido is Block 11 which is planted with clones 667, 777, 115, 2A, Swan and Jackson in 1997. Block 11 is a steep, hillside block with north/west exposure.

Antonio Galloni's Vinous

Score: 96 points  "The 2016 Pinot Noir Knox Alexander is another head spinning wine in this range. The Knox Alexander is built on a core of Bien Nacido, and then supplemented with other sites that Jim Clendenen has planted over the years. Powerful, rich and also quite tannic, the 2016 is going to need at least a few years in bottle to fully come together. Even in the early going, though, it is very clearly a special wine with tremendous promise. I absolutely love the energy here. "

Jeb Dunnuck

Score: 92+ points  "Barrel fermented and aged in new French oak, the 2016 Pinot Noir Knox Alexander has a darker ruby hue as well as a beautiful nose of earthy cherries, forest floor, ground herbs, smoked earth. Medium-bodied, with good acidity and fine tannins, it has subtle background oak and will benefit from a year or three of bottle age and should keep for 15 years or more.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Score: 91 points  "Pale to medium ruby, the 2016 Pinot Noir Knox Alexander features scents of dried cranberry and red cherry, orange peel, potpourri and hints of smoked meats over a core of wild blackberry and black raspberry. The palate is light to medium-bodied with spicy fruits, a great frame of grainy tannins and integrated freshness, finishing long. 975 cases produced."

--------THE PRODUCER--------

Au Bon Climat

Au Bon Climat (ABC) is a leading winery in the Santa Barbara County region of California. They are the leading winery that inspired the hit movie: Sideways, due to the top quality of their Pinot Noirs. Au Bon Climat are known around the world for creating top Pinot Noir and Chardonnay - made more in a Burgundian, or traditional French-style, instead of the big and oaky wines that often come out of California.

 

--------THE GRAPE--------

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir produces some of the world's most expensive, most lauded, rarest and delicious wines. Equally it is one of the most difficult grapes to grow successfully and as a result it is quite hard to make a balanced Pinot Noir. It is historically from Burgundy, most specifically in the Cote de Nuits, so much so that people will refer to Pinot Noir as a 'Burgundy'.

 

--------THE REGION--------

California

California is the United States of America's largest and most important wine region. It produces 90% of the USA's total production - with the fair majority of that being red wines. Since it is 'always sunny in California' it is the perfect region to grow red grapes that need a lot of heat to ripen up. This has lead to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and an Italian grape varietal: Primitivo (Californian's call in Zinfandel) to being the most important red grapes. Chardonnay is the leading white followed by Sauvignon Blanc.

 

The best place to start when you are pairing food and wine is to think about the structural elements of both the food and wines. These elements are: sweetness, acidity, bitterness, umami, chilli heat and fat.

We have listed these elements in foods and how you can add wines with similar or contrasting elements to help create harmony in your matches.

Sweetness 

Sweet foods can overpower dry wines, white or red, making them appear acidic, neutral or bitter. In order to reduce this effect you should pair sweet foods with sweet wines. 

Acidity

Acidic foods, like fresh citrus, tomatoes or salads laden with vinaigrettes, will overpower the acidity in a wine making them appear flabby or less acidic than they were. In order to reduce this effect you should pair acidic foods with wines that have a higher acidity such as Champagne, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Acidity is a key element in creating balance in a dish or a food-and-wine match. If the foods are going to reduce the acidity in the wines then you need to add your own bit of acidity by bringing a more acidic wine to the table. It is the same principle behind adding lemon juice to seafood dishes, as seafood tends to have quite low natural acidity.

Bitterness

If a food is high in bitterness then it will make the wine appear bitter, or it will increase the perception of bitterness (tannins) in the wine. In order to reduce this effect you should pair bitter foods with wines that are not lean with high acid.  Rather choose wines with some sweetness, fruit or viscosity.

Umami (Savoury)

Foods that are highly savoury, like mushrooms, will increase the bitterness or acidic perception we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair umami rich foods with wines that are fruity and do not have medium-high tannins. 

Often foods that are more savoury are best matched with white wines like Chardonnay or Soave as these do not big tannins but have lots of fruity flavours.

Chilli Heat

Chilli heat is similar to umami-rich foods.  They will increase the bitterness or acidic perception as well as the alcoholic burn we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair chilli heat rich foods with wines that are fruity and/or have higher sweetness levels.

Wines that are off-dry like many Gewürztraminers or Rieslings could work best with chilli foods like a curry as they will be both a bit sweet but also very fruity. If you aren't a white wine drinker then you could consider red wines that have lower tannins such as a Pinot Noir or Gamay Noir. 

Fatty

Foods that are high in fat will make the wines feel flabby and less fruity. In order to reduce this effect you should pair fatty foods with wines that have high acidity. This is similar to the rule of adding in acidity (in the form of citrus) to seafood to help to cut down the perception of fattiness.  

These suggestions (there are no rules that apply to everyone) will help you to think about how to create pairings. It often isn't helpful to think about 'red wine and red meat' or 'white wine and fish' because it is actually the structural elements of the wine and food that need to be balanced. It is the acidity in white wines that works well by cutting through the fattiness of a piece of fish but you could get that acidity in a Pinot Noir.