Au Bon Climat, 66% Pinot Gris, 34% Pinot Blanc, 2009
It is one man in particular that every so often makes me crave American wine: Jim Clendenen, the Californian winemaker behind Au Bon Climat. The ABC Pinot Noir and Chardonnay I have tried so far were delicious and, if you consider how insanely expensive Californian wine can be, reasonably priced. As it has been a while since I had the pleasure and as I love all Pinot varieties I could not resist getting a bottle of ABC's Pinot Gris and Blanc blend.
With a label like this, impossible to imagine in France and probably even in Germany, I don't have to tell you what went into the wine, but for you lovers of more "natural" winemaking I can add that this ABC is an unfiltered organic product of spontaneous fermentation.
So there we have all the ingredients that, as conventional wisdom has it, should make for a wine with character. This was also what I was expecting, not so much because I think organic winemaking automatically results in good wines, but because of my previous encounters with ABC wines.
The 66/34, as I like to call it, at first presented a reserved bouquet, and even after a wait the aromas were more on the delicate side. A certain spiciness combined with vanilla hand lotion and smoky pear aromas and butteriness I associated with the Pinot Blanc and used barrique barrels, whereas citrus, apple and orange peel came from the Pinot Gris. Both parts joined in a pleasant but still delicate bouquet.
On the tongue the 66/34 interestingly felt a little more like Pinot Blanc to me, although the Pinot Gris was still very noticeable. A wine with both a creamy and fresh side, the 66/34 had relatively fresh acidity but also a good creamy oak texture, both coming together quite nicely and enhanced by a bit of spice and bitter orange plus a finish with a light mineral and vanilla touch. There clearly is substance, but not in a heavy way.
Overall a very likeable wine, but both me and my drinking companion felt it lacked that special something to really excite us - for me it was in particular that mid-palate there was not enough depth for the wine to really catch my attention. Be by no means discouraged, but considering how much the other ABC wines excited me, the 66/34 is just a good wine.