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All wine, most of the time

White and red ABCs

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Santa Barbara County 2013, Pinot Gris–Pinot Blanc, Au Bon Climat ($27.70, 12510690)
Pinot Gris (66%) from purchased grapes grown in the El Camino and Sierra Madre vineyards and Pinot Blanc (34%) from old vines grown in the estate’s Bien Nacido vineyard. Barrel-fermented. Underwent full malolactic fermentation. Matured on the lees in neutral barrels for six months. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Smoky, slightly sour, vaguely mineral nose with yellow fruit evocative of ground cherry jam. Plump and a little lumbering in the mouth. Round, chewy and, reducing sugar levels be damned, coming across as off-dry. The impression of sweetness is countered by streaming acidity but reinforced by unignorable butterscotch flavours. Dries out a little on the long finish overtoned with white grapefruit pith. Might work better in the context of a meal, especially one featuring white meat, though even then the lack of refreshment would be a downside. (Buy again? No.)

Santa Barbara County 2013, Pinot Noir, Au Bon Climat ($31.50, 11604192)
A blend of Pinot Noir (95%, from six vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley, two vineyards in the Los Alamos Valley and one vineyard in the Santa Rita appellation) and Mondeuse (5%, from the Bien Nacido vineyard). We kept most small lots of Pinot Noir separate for the first 6 months. Matured in oak barrels. Reducing sugar: 2.2 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Red berries, cola and sweet spice on the nose. A lactic note marks the palate. Fine tannins and fluent acidity give the fruit a semblance of structure but do nothing to counter its candied edge. Finishes clean and spicy if a little short. Supple and admirably un-Syrah-like for a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir but ultimately a bit cloying. That said, the wine will probably benefit from six months in the cellar. In the States, this can often be found for well under US$20, at which price its lack of éclat might be more forgivable. (Buy again? No.)

Technical information for these wines has been hard to find. They may have been made from organically farmed grapes. They may have been fermented with indigenous yeasts. They may or may not have been filtered or fined. Neither the ABC website nor the Quebec agent’s website are particularly helpful in this regard.

While members of the group, myself included, have enjoyed Au Bon Climat wines in the past, neither of these bottles pushed our buttons. Indeed, a couple of tasters declared that both wines’ “sweetness” (more properly termed their perceived sweetness, if the residual sugar figures are to be believed) made them difficult to drink. Even those who didn’t complain weren’t excited about them. A disappointment then.

MWG July 16th tasting: flight 3 of 6.

Written by carswell

September 18, 2015 at 12:17

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