Santa Maria Valley
I’d like to think our work could progress in a straight line, but there always is a bit of trial and error in crafting wine. You tack in one direction to achieve something only to find that you’ve gone too far, so you take a new sighting and cast off in a slightly different direction, hoping to achieve your goals. Perfection is never attained, but you strive to get closer to your aim.
In the old days of California wine, we grew big unruly bush vines that produced fruit that ripened unevenly. To deal with the uneven ripeness, we picked the grapes after the least ripe ones were ready. As viticulture progressed, we began growing the vines in vertical trellises that allowed all of the fruit to get the same amount of sun exposure, which evened up the ripening. Later, further refinements like shoot-thinning, lateral removal, and green thinning contributed to more even maturation. These techniques have allowed us to pick physiologically ripe grapes at lower sugar levels, and the Bien Nacido pinot is an example of what we can achieve. At lower sugar levels, we find these wines have more floral and spicy nuances. They are simply more aromatic. That powerful sweet/smooth textural sensation of wine at high alcohol levels is gone, and some will miss it. For me, however, these new wines of ours are fresher and livelier, making them a joy to drink and a pleasure to have with a fine meal. This is our 20th Bien Nacido pinot noir from our little section on the east side of Q Block, and I think it is our finest.
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir | Alc: 13.3% | Vinification: 20% New French Oak | Barrel Aging: 16 Months | Total Production: 629 cases
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“A vivid, totally alive wine, the 2010 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido is absolutely impeccable. Dark cherries, plums, mint, cloves and new leather are some of the many notes that take shape in the glass. The 2010 stands out for its delineation, nuance and breathtaking finesse. Cool veins of minerality support the finish. Next to the Solomon Hills, the Bien Nacido Pinot is a little more savory and aromatically nuanced, while the fruit is less overt. It will be fascinating to compare the two wines as they age in bottle.” – AG 97 Points
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
“Full ruby. Intensely aromatic nose evokes cherry, black raspberry, licorice, clove and musky flowers. red- and blackcurrant. Bitter cherry and dark chocolate flavors stain the palate and show very good depth, with a hint of dark chocolate adding a serious touch. Bright minerality firms the broad, chewy, long finish, which features dark berries and candied licorice. Here’s another 2010 red wine that deserves patience.” – JR 92 Points
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“The 2010 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido sees a touch of stem inclusion and roughly 20-30% new French oak. A balanced, rich effort, with notions of wild strawberry and black cherry fruit, lavender, spice and forest floor, it hits the palate with a rounded, supple texture, excellent mid-palate depth and juicy acidity that focuses the finish nicely. Richer and fuller than the Kick-on Ranch, it should benefit from short-term cellaring and have 10-12 years or more of longevity.” – JD 91 Points
Jancis Robinson Decanter
“Proprietor of Ojai, Adam Tolmach is one of the early generation of trailblazers in Santa Barbara County. Tolmach founded Au Bon Climat, Santa Barbara’s most famous winery, with Jim Clendenen in 1982. Today Tolmach crafts a broad range of superb wines from top sources in Santa Barbara at Ojai Vineyards, with an emphasis on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. A vivid, totally alive wine, the 2010 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir is impeccable. Dark cherries, plums, mint, cloves and new leather are some of the many notes that take shape in the glass. The 2010 stands out for its delineation and nuance. Cool veins of minerality support the finish. This is a stunning showing from Tolmach and assistant winemaker Fabien Castel.” 96 Points