Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

#236 April 2018

Click here to get to know the Wine Advocates new reviewer William Kelley and his introduction to Santa Barbara County.

2014 Syrah Solomon Hills Special Bottling- Santa Maria Valley

There are five barrels of the superb 2014 Syrah Solomon Hills Special Bottling from The Ojai Vineyard, a youthful and brooding Syrah that unwinds in the glass with notes of raspberries, plums, grilled meat, bay leaf, cracked pepper, violets and tapenade, framed by a light touch of reduction that dissipates with aeration. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, velvety and seamless, its fine-grained tannins enveloped in an ample core of attractively sapid fruit. Its balance and sense of harmony are superb, and I’m sure it will be even better with a few more years of bottle age. 2020-2035
95     William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2015 Bloomsfield Pinot Noir- Sta. Rita Hills

There are five barrels of the superb 2014 Syrah Solomon Hills Special Bottling from The Ojai Vineyard, a youthful and brooding Syrah that unwinds in the glass with notes of raspberries, plums, grilled meat, bay leaf, cracked pepper, violets and tapenade, framed by a light touch of reduction that dissipates with aeration. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, velvety and seamless, its fine-grained tannins enveloped in an ample core of attractively sapid fruit. Its balance and sense of harmony are superb, and I’m sure it will be even better with a few more years of bottle age. 2020-2035
94    William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2016 Bien Nacido Chardonnay- Santa Maria Valley

The 2016 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard is a very classy wine, unwinding in the glass with notes of citrus zest, crisp orchard fruit, fresh peach, citrus blossom and subtle honeycomb. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, bright and pure with a delicately glossy attack, deceptive mid-palate depth, and a long, focused finish. While this is quite understated in style, it reveals more and more dimension and nuance the longer it sits in the glass, and possesses the balance and structure to evolve gracefully for seven or eight years. 2018-2026
94    William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2008 Henry Daniel Syrah- California

The second iteration of this cuvée, the 2008 Syrah Cuvée Henry Daniel (named for Adam Tolmach’s son) is still an impenetrably opaque ruby-black, unwinding in the decanter and glass with a youthful bouquet of crushed currents, blackberry, bay leaf and burnt sage, with a subtle framing of nutty oak on the upper register. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, powerful and—in Tolmach’s phrase—bombastic, with an ample core of ripe fruit, an imposing chassis of fine-grained tannins that’s beginning to soften, and a formidable payload of extract. Importantly, it also possesses the balance to support all that substance. “At the time I was still stuck on extracting every last bit of character from those grapes,” says Tolmach, and I suspect that the 2017 rendition of this cuvée will reveal more complexity and detail at the same age, but it’s still a formidable bottle of Syrah with a good two decades of longevity—and, I suspect, its best days—ahead of it. 2018-2038
93+    William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2014 Bien Nacido Syrah- Santa Maria Valley

The 2014 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard is youthfully promising, wafting from the glass with a youthfully reserved bouquet of dark berries, grilled meat, tapenade and cracked pepper. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, with excellent concentration and a lovely core of crunchy fruit, but framed by fine-grained, polished tannins that lend this wine a certain elegance. It’s still very primary, so I’d expect this to be long lived. 2019-2035
93    William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2015 Puerta Del Mar Pinot Noir- Santa Barbara County

The 2015 Pinot Noir Puerta del Mar offers up aromas of raspberry, cassis, currant leaf and lilac. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fine-boned and savory with velvety tannins, a crunchy core of fruit and a long, sapid finish. This is one of the more reserved offerings in the portfolio, and I’d be inclined to cellar it for a year or two before pulling corks, though it can be approached now.2018-2028.
92+    William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2016 Solomon Hills Chardonnay- Santa Maria Velley

The 2016 Chardonnay Solomon Hills reveals a lovely bouquet of crisp apple, citrus blossom, white peach and stuck match, which is still digesting its sulfur addition from bottling. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, tight-knit and saline, with bright acids and a long, briny finish. This will need a little time to bounce back after bottling, but it’s an inherently lovely wine that I’d be inclined to give a year or two in bottle. 2018-2028
92   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2016 Bien Nacido Roussanne- Santa Maria Valley

Adam Tolmach’s 2016 Roussanne Bien Nacido Vineyard is excellent, opening in the glass with notes of buttered apples, honeycomb, mandarin and candle wax. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, limpid and elegantly textural, with a deep core, succulent acids and a certain restrained richness that really evolves as this Roussanne reaches room temperature. It’s a beautifully balanced rendition of this underappreciated variety that should gain in character and complexity for a decade or more. 2018-2028
92   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2016 John Sebastiano Syrah/Grenache- Sta. Rita Hills

The 2016 Syrah Grenache John Sebastiano Vineyard (No So2) offers up a rich, fruity nose of blackberry, plum preserve and Provençal herbs. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, supple and juicy, with deliciously immediate fruit and a fine-grained, savory finish. Vinified without any added sulfites, this will offer delicious drinking in its youth. 2018-2021
92   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2016 Puerta Del Mar Chardonnay- Santa Barbara County

The lovely 2016 Chardonnay Puerta del Mar offers up a crisp bouquet of citrus zest, white flowers, sea breeze and struck match. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, elegantly glossy and bright, built around a racy line of acidity and concluding with a tangy, chalky finish. 2018-2026
92   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2016 Roll Ranch Viognier- Upper Ojai, Ventura County

The 2016 Viognier Roll Ranch is a beautiful wine, wafting from the glass with an understated bouquet of peach, apricot and white flowers. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, with nice juicy acidity and tension at the core, and a long, vibrant and perfumed finish. While this certainly possesses a texture and perfume that are unmistakably Viognier, it’s a comparatively delicate, refreshing interpretation of the variety—in terms that Northern Rhône lovers will understand, more Perret than Cuilleron. Enjoy it over the next five to six years. 2018-2023
92   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2015 Rich Barbera- Upper Ojai, Ventura County

I was very impressed by the 2015 Barbera Rich Vineyard, a lovely wine that wafts from the glass with a generous bouquet of black cherry, balsamic reduction and plum preserve. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, layered and velvety, with the bright acids typical of this variety underpinning a lavish core of dark fruit.2018-2026
92   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2014 White Hawk Syrah- Santa Barbara County

The 2014 Syrah White Hawk Vineyard from Adam Tolmach is a lovely wine, offering up aromas of grilled steak, blackberry, cassis and singed plums. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, rounded but savory with fine-grained, youthfully chewy tannins that will melt away with a little bottle age, and a generous core of sapid fruit. This is likely to be one of the more approachable Syrah cuvées from The Ojai Vineyard in the 2014 vintage. 2020-2030
92   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2017 Rose- California

The 2017 Rosé is very pretty, offering up aromas of red apple, peach and apricot, followed by a bright, medium-bodied palate with crisp acids, lovely precision and a light touch of spritz. Enjoy it this year or next.
91   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2016 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

The 2016 Pinot Noir from The Ojai Vineyard reveals aromas of plums, raspberries, potpourri and sweet spices. On the palate, it’s supple, open-knit and medium-bodied, with mouthwatering acids and melting tannins behind its generous core of fruit. This should offer a lot of pleasure in its youth. 2018-2025
90  William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2015 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir- Santa Maria Valley

The 2015 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard offers up an expressive bouquet of raspberries, orange rind, baking spice and coniferous forest floor. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, supple and open-knit, with lots of earthy, spicy fruit and melting tannins. It’s a very pretty wine, but I found myself wanting more intensity and cut. Perhaps I just drink too much Burgundy.2018-2024
90   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2015 Fe Ciega Pinot Noir- Sta. Rita Hills

The 2015 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega reveals a sun-kissed bouquet of rhubarb compote, strawberry preserve, red cherries, orange rind and underbrush. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, rich and textural, with an ample core of ripe fruit, gently chewy tannins and a tangy finish. This is an attractive Pinot Noir, though it’s not the most harmonious of Tolmach’s 2015s, and my suspicion is that it caught just a touch too much sun.
90   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button

2015 Santa Barbara County Syrah

The 2015 Syrah Santa Barbara reveals classic notes of roasted red and black fruit, grilled meat and bay leaf, followed by a medium-bodied, succulent palate with an ample core of fruit, fine tannins and a tangy, savory finish. This is an attractive, fairly priced expression of Santa Barbara Syrah.2018-2026
90   William Kelley
add-to-cart-button


Explore our Current Release & Library Wines

Visit our Online Store