Vinous, May 2022
“The Santa Cruz Mountains remains one of the most intriguing regions in the United States for the inquisitive oenophile. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and, more recently, Rhône varieties are rarely as vibrant and nuanced as they are here. With a few exceptions, the Santa Cruz Mountains is still very much under the radar, which presents a terrific opportunity to discover wines that offer world-class pedigree at prices that continue to be quite affordable.
Bradley Brown and his team at Big Basin make a number of wines, but the Rhônes are the standouts. As always, the house style favors energy and freshness, with a healthy dose of clusters felt in the wines’ aromatic and structural profiles. There’s a ton to like here.”—Santa Cruz Mountains: The Compelling 2018s and 2019s by Antonio Galloni
2018 COASTVIEW VINEYARD “TERRACES” SYRAH 96 points
2017 COASTVIEW VINEYARD “TERRACES” SYRAH 95 points
2019 WIRZ VINEYARD OLD VINE CARIGNAN 94 points
2019 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS SYRAH 93 points
2017 SIXTY-TWO TERRACES SYRAH (ESTATE) 93 points
2017 COASTVIEW VINEYARD GRENACHE 93 points
2017 RATTLESNAKE ROCK SYRAH (ESTATE) 93 points
2019 HOMESTEAD 92+ points
2019 DUNE & MOUNTAIN PINOT NOIR 92 points
2019 ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 90 points
2018 COASTVIEW VINEYARD “TERRACES” SYRAH
The 2018 Syrah Coastview Vineyard- Terraces is one of the best wines I have tasted from Big Basin. All the elements are so well-balanced. Deep and freshy, with terrific persistence, the 2018 has it all. The whole clusters are present but are strands in the fabric rather than a dominating element in the wine. Blueberry, lavender, menthol, licorice and cloves build into the deep, resonant finish as the 2018 shows off its captivating beauty.
2017 COASTVIEW VINEYARD “TERRACES” SYRAH
The 2017 Syrah Coastview Vineyard-Terraces is a bit more opulent than the 2018 tasted alongside it, and nearly as compelling, too. A burst of dark red/black fruit makes a strong opening statement. Rich and sumptuous in the glass, the 2017 is immediately alluring. Cedar, tobacco, dried herbs, incense, and spice add shades of complexity to play off the natural exuberance.
2019 WIRZ VINEYARD OLD VINE CARIGNAN
The 2019 Carignan Old Vine Wirz Vineyard is a total knock-out. What a wine. Deep, pliant and super-expressive, the 2019 is captivating right out of the gate. A rush of inky red fruit, pomegranate, blood orange, spice and rose petal race across the palate. There’s terrific depth and resonance here, not to mention a ton of personality.
2019 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS SYRAH
The 2019 Syrah (Santa Cruz Mountains) is fabulous. Bright and effusive, the 2019 is immediately captivating. Rose petal, sweet red cherry, mint, blood orange, cinnamon and licorice lend quite a bit of aromatic presence. This mid-weight yet deep, beautifully expressive Syrah is positively stellar. I suppose there are more “important” wines in this range, but the appellation Syrah is especially fine and a real highlight.
2017 SIXTY-TWO TERRACES SYRAH (ESTATE)
The 2017 Syrah Sixty-Two Terraces is redolent of red cherry, dried herbs, rose petal and amaro herbs. Intensely aromatic and savory, the 2017 is also quite bold and full of character. This brooding, layered Syrah has a ton to offer.
2017 COASTVIEW VINEYARD GRENACHE
The 2017 Grenache Coastview Vineyard is another terrific wine in this range from Big Basin. Varietal notes are dialed up in a fairly large-scaled, ample Grenache that conveys plenty of character, as well as the restrained manner that is such a signature of the Big Basin house style. Red berry fruit, spice, hard candy, leather and tobacco abound. The tannins are just a bit coarse, but that is 2017.
2017 RATTLESNAKE ROCK SYRAH (ESTATE)
The 2017 Syrah Rattlesnake Rock is a classic Big Basin wine. Deep, rich and explosive, the 2017 captures all of the natural intensity of this site and vintage. A blast of dark fruit, grilled herbs, menthol, licorice and gravel makes a strong first impression. I would be tempted to cellar the 2017 for at least a year of two, as it is pretty imposing. The tannins are just a bit astringent; otherwise, the 2017 is very nicely done.
The 2019 Homestead is a bold, powerful, Grenache-based blend. Intense red fruit, cedar, spice, tobacco, menthol and dried flowers all hit the palate. A wine of substance and power, the 2019 has a ton to offer. I would give it a few years in the cellar, as the tannins are a bit imposing today.
2019 DUNE & MOUNTAIN PINOT NOIR
The 2019 Pinot Noir Dune and Mountain is bright, floral and effusive. Crushed red berry fruit, rose petal, cinnamon, blood orange and mint are all laced together in this understated, classy Pinot Noir.
2019 ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR
The 2019 Pinot Noir Alfaro Family Vineyard is a wile, exotic wine. Spice, dried herbs, cedar, tobacco and dried cherries are all nicely lifted. This is an especially ethereal style, with a lot of stem influence coming through today.