Antonio Galloni

September 2019

This is gorgeous set of wines from Adam Tolmach and Fabien Castel at Ojai. As always, the wines speak to understatement and nuance more than power and are deeply expressive of site. There are many highlights in this range, but the 2017 Chardonnays and 2016 Syrahs are especially of note. I also find quite a bit to admire in some of the more obscure wines such as the Sangiovese, the Barbera and the Grenache-Syrah, all of which are flat-out delicious.

2017 Chardonnay Puerta Del Mar Special Bottling

The 2017 Chardonnay Puerta del Mar Special Selection is a blend of barrels that spent more time in oak and saw more new wood. Not surprisingly, those choices bring out a more tropical set of aromas and flavors. Orange peel, spice, vanillin and passion fruit all develop nicely in the glass. I find the greater oak influence here works very nicely to complement the naturally more austere leanings of Puerta del Mar. The result is a gorgeous, expressive super-classic Santa Barbara Chardonnay loaded with personality. I loved it. 95 Points 
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2016 Syrah Solomon Hills Special Bottling

The 2016 Syrah Solomon Hills Special Bottling is powerful and explosive in the glass. It is also embryonic and in need of cellaring. Dark-fleshed fruit, mocha, licorice, grilled herbs and lavender are some of the nuances that develop, but more than anything else, the Solomon Hills Syrah is a wine of density, power and structure. It should age beautifully. Readers should note that in 2016 all of the Solomon Hills Syrah is in the Special Bottling. In other words, there is no regular bottling. 94+ Points  Antonio Galloni
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2017 Chardonnay Puerta Del Mar

The 2017 Chardonnay Puerta del Mar really bristles with energy, tension and nuance. Lemon confit, white flowers, crushed rocks and a whole range of mineral/saline notes give the Puerta del Mar its sense of drive. This is one of the more chiseled Chardonnays in the range, and also very typical of this part of the appellation. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2016 Syrah Roll Ranch

One of the many standouts in this range, the 2016 Syrah Roll Ranch dazzles with explosive aromatics and tons of vertical extension. A whole range of dark red fruit, blood orange and floral overtones give the Roll Ranch a decidedly exotic feel that is truly captivating. The high percentage of whole clusters here comes through loud and clear. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2017 Chardonnay Solomon Hills

The 2017 Chardonnay Solomon Hills is dense and also surprisingly closed in on itself. Powerful and phenolic in feel, the 2017 is going to need at least a few years to come into its own. The Solomon Hills is by far the most reticent of the Ojai Chardonnays I tasted, and yet the impression is that it will develop into something special in a few years’ time. 93+ Points  Antonio Galloni
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2017 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega

The 2017 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega is another super-expressive wine in this range. Dark red/purplish berry fruit, lavender, spice, mint, iron and earthiness give the Fe Ciega a real sense of gravitas. Deceptive in its mid-weight personality, the 2017 packs a real punch. Dried flowers, grilled herbs, menthol and licorice develop later, adding further shades of complexity. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2017 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido

Ojai’s 2017 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard is a pretty, gracious wine that will drink well with minimal cellaring. Dried rose petal, sweet red cherry and mint are all beautifully lifted in this very pretty and expressive Pinot Noir. The 2017 is exotic, beguiling and loaded with character. Half of the fruit is from Martini clone vines planted in 1973, while the other half is sourced from the more modern, interplanted rows of Clone 777 Pinot, all in Block Q, which lies at the eastern end of this large, sprawling ranch. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2017 Pinot Noir Kessler Haak

A wine of density and power, the 2017 Pinot Noir Kessler-Haak is brooding in the glass. Lavender, rose petal, spice and wild cherry infuse the 2017 with notable depth and complexity. The 50% whole clusters work well here, but the Kessler-Haak remains a dark, brooding Pinot in need of at least a few years in the cellar. There is plenty of personality just waiting to emerge. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2017 Chardonnay Bien Nacido

The 2017 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard is a bit more tropical than most years. Layered and sensual, with striking balance, the 2017 is open-knit, silky and incredibly inviting. Weightless and airy, with lovely nuance, the 2017 is already easy to drink and enjoy. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2016 Syrah Duvarita

The 2016 Syrah Duvarita is a dark, brooding wine. Black pepper, game, iron, blood, smoke, licorice and grilled herbs all come through in this decidedly potent Syrah. Some slightly angular contours and a touch of reduction remain, but time in bottle will help. Even so, readers should expect a virile Syrah with a lot of cool-climate character. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2012 Apricots

The 2012 Apricot is an unusual Grenache/Sangiovese blend from White Hawk that spent two years in barrel. Like most of the more esoteric wines in this range, Adam Tolmach and Fabien Castel find a way to make things work, as they do here. Wild flowers, cedar, sweet pipe tobacco and dark red fruit are given an extra kick of energy from the bright acids that give this wine so much of its feel. There is so much to like here. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2017 Sans Soufre Ajoute

The 2017 Grenache-Syrah Sans Soufre John Sebastiano offers terrific depth and tons of textural resonance. The pure intensity of the fruit is just remarkable. I am not sure how the 2016 will age, but it is incredibly delicious now. Although quite bold and fruity, the 2016 also has quite a bit of underlying grip. 92-93 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2017 Pinot Noir Puerta Del Mar

The 2017 Pinot Noir Puerta del Mar captures all the personality of this cool climate site in its intensely gamy, saline and savory character. Dried herbs, dried cherry, herbs, mint, game, black pepper and earthy notes all add to the wine’s distinctive personality. Readers should expect a Pinot with a strong animal character. 92 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2016 Barbera Rich Vineyard

The 2016 Barbera Rich Vineyard is yet another highlight in this range. Vibrant plum fruit gives the 2016 tons of varietal expression. Interestingly, Adam Tolmach and Fabien Castel chose to make this wine with 75% whole clusters, which is not at all customary with Barbera in Italy, and yet that approach works brilliantly here. Pliant and wonderfully nuanced, the 2016 has so much to offer. 92 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2016 Syrah John Sebastiano

The 2016 Syrah John Sebastiano is a wild, powerful wine. Game, smoke, black pepper, licorice, tobacco and incense add striking aromatic nuance. On the palate, the John Sebastiano is powerful, resonant and weighty. The 2016 will appeal most to reader who appreciate the gamier, more animal side of Syrah. I find the 2016 a bit rustic, but there is certainly no lack of personality. 92 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2017 Grenache John Sebastiano

The 2017 Grenache John Sebastiano is a very pretty wine. Sweet floral notes add brightness and energy to this classy, gracious wine. The Grenache is one of the most inviting and distinctive wines in the Ojai range. 91 Points  Antonio Galloni
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2017 Viognier Roll Ranch

A highlight in this range, the 2017 Viognier Roll Ranch Vineyard is laced with apricot, mint, tangerine and dried flowers. Light tropical notes add character, but this remains a gracious, floral, mid-weight expression of Viognier. The 2017 offers a lovely combination of freshness and creaminess. Fermentations took longer than the norm to finish in 2017. As a result, the wine spent 7 months more in barrel, but that only seems to have helped give more complexity. 91 Points  Antonio Galloni
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