2013 Au Bon Climat "Knox Alexander" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir SKU #1308503


WE 96 VN 95 RP 92
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Professional Reviews

K&L Notes

By now it is certainly no secret how much we like the wines from Au Bon Climat. We've been inundating you with classy, structured, energetic wines from them for some time now including a series of vintages, dating back to 2012, that we make with them. This wine, commemorating the birth of Jim Clendenen's son Knox was first made in 1998 and is a "best parcel" selection from the two main vineyards that Au Bon Climat works with: Bien Nacido Vineyard and Le Bon Climat Vineyard. Long a counter to Au Bon Climat's "Isabelle" bottling, which is a best barrel selection, the Knox is always top notch on every level and is a true Pinot Noir lovers delight. (Bryan Brick, K&L)

Staff Reviews

  • Joe Bruno
    By: Joe Bruno
    K&L Staff Member
    This bottling from Au Bon Climat derives its name from winemaker Jim Clendenen’s son, Knox. The fruit for this wine is sourced from the finest lots of the estate Le Bon Climat and Bien Nacido Vineyard. Jim spent many years learning winemaking in Burgundy, and it’s therefore no surprise that this wine has a very distinct Burgundian soul. Aromas of dark cherry, ripe delicious apple, and white pepper are complemented with an earthy undertone of potting soil and bushes. On the palate, notes of raspberry and red cherry come to the table, followed by cocoa powder and soft vanilla. This wine’s texture is well balanced, with silky tannins being complimented by elevated acidity. It opens up quite nicely after decanting. A fantastic food pairing wine; would be perfect with Chinese Five-Spice rubbed duck breast
  • Anthony Gittings
    By: Anthony Gittings
    K&L Staff Member
    Au Bon Climat consistently makes exceptional wines that embody their terroir with precision and elegance. The fruit picked for this bottling is from the best blocks from their most famous vineyards, Le Bon Climat and Bien Nacido. The wine is refined and sophisticated, loaded with soft velvety tannin that seamlessly flows through across the palate. Bright cherries, dark chocolate, and a touch of vanilla are all found but, the clarity and texture really shine.
  • Bryan Brick
    By: Bryan Brick
    K&L Staff Member
    The 2013 “Knox” bottling from Au Bon Climat is ethereal, energetic and flat out wonderful. It is rare that I compare Domestic Pinot Noir to Burgundy, so often are those comparisons thrown out into the conversation and so infrequently do they hold any merit, but yet this wine compels me to do so as I believe it appeals to the Burgundy crowd equally as much as the Domestic drinkers. The main reason: the wine’s feel. From nose to finish this wine is reminiscent of those great Burgundies that transcend place and just become great wines. Heavily perfumed, but subtle at the same time the wine’s nose is packed with rhubarb, pomegranate husk, gunflint, crushed pebbles and a youthful barrel toast. Sunny and fresh on the palate this has an undercurrent of iron rich bloodiness and earthy savor keeping the serious mélange of cherry flesh, shaved fennel, whole raspberries, amaro spice and floral material from becoming too ripe, or edgy. This is just a superb food wine now with the power to go with something rich like porchetta or be the lithe background note to a simple fresh salad. The best thing about this bottle may be watching its evolution, my guess is this wine is going to pick up body and heft as it ages and will be a treat to drink over the next 12-18 years.
  • Christina Stanley
    By: Christina Stanley
    K&L Staff Member
    The vintner of Au Bon Climat, Jim Clendenen, takes the creation of his small-batch Pinot Noir very seriously. Having lived and worked in Burgundy for many years, he took that knowledge with him to the Santa Maria Valley, and began creating exceptionally high-quality Pinot with minimal interference in Mother Nature's processes, placing an emphasis on place and varietal. The Knox Alexander is particularly special as it is not only the top barrel select Pinot Noir of Au Bon Climat, coming from the Estate vineyards, but it's named after Clendenen's own son, Knox Alexander. The wine is light bodied and paler in hue than many California Pinot Noirs, but the palate is extraordinarily condensed in flavor, and the varietal's natural spice components shine through. Knox Alexander has an elegant acidity, with unique aromas and flavors of five spice, cardamom and black and white pepper.
  • Gary Norton
    By: Gary Norton
    K&L Staff Member
    There's a reason why ABC Pinot Noir is frequently peppered into blind Burgundy tastings: because it's about as Burgundian (a term I often wince at...) as non-Burgundy gets. Racy and linear, these are some of the highest quality domestic Pinot Noirs (and Chardonnays) on the market today, period. Racy red fruit, dusty earth, wild herbs and a spicy undertone to round it out. Drink it now or put it down for 10+ years. Up to you.


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