Jeb Dunnuck

Click here to read Jeb Dunnuck’s Introduction to Santa Barbara County

Click here to read Jeb Dunnuck’s Review of the 2014 and 2015 Vintages

August 2017

I always love the tasting with Ojai Vineyard’s Adam Tolmach and Fabien Castel. Consistent with just about every winemaker I spoke to, both commented on the tiny yields of 2015, which Adam attributed to an accumulation of drought and salt buildup as opposed to poor weather in the spring. Over the past decade or so, the style of the wines from this estate has significantly changed with harvest occurring much earlier than in the past. Today, the wines lean heavily towards the racy, lean end of the spectrum, while still offering fruit and texture.

2014 Syrah Roll Ranch
Upper Ojai Ventura County

Smoking good, the 2014 Syrah Roll Ranch is up with my favorite vintage of this cuvée. Seeing more and more whole cluster, it offers beautiful blueberry, violets, and pepper in an elegant, yet opulent style that’s just a joy to drink.- JD 96 points

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2008 Syrah Henry Daniel
Coming from Bien Nacido, Roll Ranch, and Melville, the 2008 Syrah Henry Daniel is still youthful, yet has some maturity and development in its ripe blackberry, smoked meats, licorice and black olive. Deep, rich and concentrated, with plenty of depth and structure, it’s drinking gorgeously today, but will keep for another decade. Exceptionally well-balanced with incisively fruity flavors and layers of interest even at this early age, and its combination of polish and power takes it right to the head of the class. Do not be in hurry to drink it up soon as it promises to impress even more with age.- JD  95 points

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2014 Syrah White Hawk 
Santa Barbara County

The 2014 Syrah White Hawk is a stunner. Currants, lavender, decaying flowers, and hints of peppery herbs give way to a rounded, beautifully textured, sexy Syrah that still has building tannin and a great finish.- JD 95 points 

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2015 Chardonnay Puerta Del Mar
Santa Barbara County

Coming from a very western, downright cold site that’s farmed by the Jonata team, the 2015 Chardonnay Puerta Del Mar is clean, crisp and classically styled. Lemon, white flowers, ripe citrus and plenty of salty minerality give way to a gorgeous, tight, crisp beauty that will blossom with another 2-3 years in bottle.- JD 94+ points 

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2015 Chardonnay Bien Nacido
Santa Maria Valley

The 2015 Chardonnay Bien Nacido is pure class, with plenty of ripe apple, brioche, hints of buttered apple, and even a hint of exotic green citrus, on the nose. Fresh, concentrated and layered, with bright acidity, it will be even better in a few years and keep for a decade or more. This is a true white Burgundy lover’s Chardonnay.- JD 94 points 

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2015 Pinot Noir Blooms Field 
Santa Barbara County

The 2015 Pinot Noir Blooms Field is fresh and sappy, with lots of bright cherry, violets, flowers and hints of darker fruits on the nose. Like all the wines here, it has a distinct saltiness, and it’s beautifully concentrated and rich, with a great finish. This is a serious wine.- JD 94 points 

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2015  Pinot Noir Fe Ciega 
Sta. Rita Hills

One of my favorites in the lineup was the 2015 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega, which comes from a terrific site in the Sta. Rita Hills. Offering terrific, fruit forward notes of framboise, ripe cherries, spice and flowers all flow from this classic, elegant Pinot Noir. It has a sappy, grippy style, plenty of salty minerality and fine tannin. Give it a year.- JD 94 points

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2014  Syrah Bien Nacido 
Santa Maria Valley

One of the gems is the 2014 Syrah Bien Nacido, and it has the classic minerality, tapenade, violets and pepper of both the vineyard, and high-quality Syrah. Medium-bodied, fresh, elegant and lively, it shows off vibrant acidity and stunning purity. It will keep for a decade.- JD 94 points

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2016 Riesling Kick On Dessert
Santa Barbara County

We finished the tasting with the 2016 Riesling Kick On Dessert, the finest vintage of this cuvée to date. Lychee, honey, white flowers and hints of white peach and apricot give way to a gorgeously rich, impeccably balance sweet, downright irresistible dessert wine. 94 points

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2015 Riesling Kick On Ranch
Santa Barbara County

I also loved the 2015 Riesling Kick On, and it’s probably my favorite vintage for this cuvée. Green citrus, wet stone, green apple and spice flow to a fresh, elegant, beautifully textured Riesling that has a terrific, salty finish.- JD 93 points

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2015 Chardonnay Solomon Hills 
Santa Maria Valley

Another beauty is the 2015 Chardonnay Solomon Hills, and it shows more white flowers, lemon rind and mineral notes in a very fresh, racy, even tart, style. Still, the purity of fruit leads, and it has a great texture. Give this beauty a few years.- JD 92+ points

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2015 Pinot Noir Solomon Hills 
Santa Maria Valley

Another beauty is the 2015 Pinot Noir Solomon Hills, and is sees just a touch of whole cluster (15%) and is brought up mostly in neutral barrel. It’s lighter ruby color is followed by a darker fruited, earth, damp earthy quality that I love. It’s not a big wine, but it has plenty of tension, fine tannin and lots of saltiness that comes out with time in the glass.- JD 92+ points

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2015 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido
Santa Maria Valley

A solid example of the vineyard, the 2015 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido offers that darker cherry, earth, herbal, and fall aromas and flavors that’s classic from the site. Medium-bodied, textured and balanced, with plenty of tension and length, it needs short term cellaring, but is a pretty, classic Pinot. – JD 92 points 

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2014 Syrah Solomon Hills
Santa Maria Valley

Seeing a lot more whole cluster than normal, the 2014 Syrah Solomon Hills offers serious amounts of black olive, pepper herbs, and darker fruits, with an undeniable herbal edge, medium to full-bodied richness and a good finish. Adam compared this to Jamet, and I agree, but it really pushes on the herbal edge.- JD 92 points

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2016 Rose 
California

The 2016 Rose is a beautiful, salty, light colored and juicy rosé that does everything right. Racy and crisp on the palate that is built around a core of sweet fruit, this beauty makes you salivate for another glass.- JD 91 points

2015 Pinot Noir Puerta Del Mar 
Santa Barbara County

Framboise, dried flowers and cherry notes all emerge from the 2015 Pinot Noir Puerta Del Mar. This medium-bodied, fresh, and lively Pinot drinks in a cool, sappy, mineral-driven style.- JD 91 points

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2015  Syrah / Grenache (No So2) 
Santa Barbara County

Seeing no SO2, ever, the 2015 Syrah / Grenache (no SO2) is a nicely concentrated, blueberry, blackberry, cured meats and spice-driven red that is plump, rounded and sexy on the palate. It has tons to love, but I would drink it over the coming 3-4 years at the most.- JD 91 points

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2015 Syrah Santa Barbara County

Coming from a mix of all seven single vineyards, the 2015 Syrah Santa Barbara County is gorgeous, and lovers of elegant, cool-climate Syrah should snatch up this wine. Blackcurrants, blueberries, violets and hints of peppered meats give way to a rounded, supple, juicy palate that’s not lean in the least.- JD 91 points

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2015 Sauvignon Blanc Mcginley Vineyard 
Happy Canyon

The 2015 Sauvignon Blanc McGinley Vineyard is another racy, vibrant white from this team. Green Apple, lots of citrus and salty notes emerge from this racy, beautifully fresh, elegant wine that, like all of Adam’s wines today, has racy acidity as well as impeccable balance.- JD 90 points

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2015 Barbara Rich Vineyard
Upper Ojai Ventura County

Coming from a site in the upper part of Ojai, just next to Roll Ranch, the 2015 Barbara Rich Vineyard has a terrific nose of blackberry, cassis, peppery herbs and violets. The palate shows medium-bodied richness, a plump, rounded texture, and beautiful freshness throughout. It’s a charming beauty that leads with its fruit.- JD 90 points

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2015 Viognier Roll Ranch
Upper Ojai Ventura County

I loved the 2015 Viognier Roll Ranch, and while it’s racy and vibrant, it still has richness and texture. Stone fruits, melon, hints of white flowers and green citrus give way to a lively, racy, crisp effort that’s going to be a great meal starter.- JD 89 points

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2015  Pinot Noir Kessler Haak 
Sta. Rita Hills

From a vineyard right beside Clos Pepe, the 2015 Pinot Noir Kessler Haak saw 50% whole cluster (this started in 2014), and was aged in mostly neutral French oak. It has a distinct herbal edge as well as plenty of smoked meat, fennel and blackcurrant fruit, medium-bodied richness, good texture and a clean finish. This might be a love it or hate is style for most, but it’s certainly interesting, and has some upside.- JD 89+ points

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2015 Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

A relatively equal blend from the single vineyards, the 2015 Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County is a juicy, Pinot Noir that has plenty of texture, gripe and sappiness, with notes of framboise, forest floor and earth.- JD 89 points

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2015 Sangiovese White Hawk 
Santa Barbara County

Sweet cherries, spice and dried herbs all define the 2015 Sangiovese White Hawk, and it’s charming, medium-bodied, supple and elegant, with light tannin. It’s an enjoyable red to drink over the coming 4-7 years. – JD 89 points

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