August 24, 2017
2015 COASTVIEW VINEYARD CHARDONNAY – 91 points
2015 ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR – 92+ points
2015 LESTER FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR – 94 points
2015 COASTVIEW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR – 92+ points
2015 HOMESTEAD – 90+ points
2014 COASTVIEW VINEYARD SYRAH – 91+ points
2014 COASTVIEW VINEYARD TERRACES SYRAH – 93 points
2014 RATTLESNAKE ROCK SYRAH – 93 points
2014 ODEON – 91 points
2013 FRENCHIES RANCH – 92 points
"Bradley Brown’s Big Basin Vineyards is certainly one of the top estates in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In addition to his sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains, he also pulls from numerous cool-climate sites in Monterey County as well. These latest Pinot Noir see plenty of stems and mostly neutral barrel, and are going to benefit from short term cellaring.
Coming from a higher elevation site (2,300 feet above sea level) in the Gabilan Mountains, east of Monterey, the 2015 Chardonnay Coastview Vineyard (100% Chardonnay aged 12 months in 25% new barrels) is rock-solid and offers notes of white peach, citrus peel, matchstick and green herbs. With medium-bodied richness, good acidity, plenty of depth and a clean finish, it will improve with a year or two and keep for a decade or more.
I loved the 2015 Pinot Noir Alfaro Family Vineyard from Big Basin and this beauty was fermented with 100% whole clusters and spent 15 months in 25% new French oak. It’s a dark fruited, smoky, earthy Pinot Noir that offer lots of blackcurrant, black raspberry, smoked herbs and earth in a medium-bodied, rich, structured, slightly chunky style. I love its fruit, but it needs short term cellaring.
The 2015 Pinot Noir Lester Family Vineyard saw a touch of destemming (there’s 70% stems) and was brought up in 25% new French oak. Its medium ruby color is followed by terrific notes of red currants, raspberries, spice and underbrush aromas and flavors. Lightly textured, elegant, and silky, with impressive balance, it’s a touch mid-weight, yet has impressive length on the finish. This is a beautiful Pinot Noir I suspect will evolve nicely.
Another terrific 2015, the 2015 Pinot Noir Coastview’s deep ruby/purple tinged color is followed by classic notes of black cherries, dried herbs, earth and spice- cabinet. With medium-bodied richness, bright acidity, present, chewy tannin, and plenty of length, give it a few years to come together and enjoy bottles through 2030.
Moving to the Rhône blend releases and made from 43% Mourvèdre, 16% Syrah, 14% Grenache, 14% Carignan, and the balance Cabernet Sauvignon, mostly from the Gabilan Mountains, the 2015 Homestead offers a peppery, savory, spicy, meaty style as well as medium to full-bodied, richness, solid complexity and a clean finish. It’s shut down slightly since I tasted this last year, so give bottles another year or three.
The 2014 Syrah Coastview Vineyard (96% Syrah and 4% Viognier, not destemmed and aged in one-third new barrels) is a more classic, cool-climate beauty that offers textbook notes of black raspberries, white pepper and hints of bacon fat. It’s medium-bodied, elegant and seamless on the palate, with enough chalky tannin on the finish to warrant short term cellaring.
The deep purple colored 2014 Syrah Coastview Vineyard Terraces is a blend of 96% Syrah and 4% Viognier that saw plenty of whole cluster and aging in 40% new 300-Liter barrels. Blackberries, raspberries, spice, scorched earth and hints of licorice all emerge from this youthful, concentrated, impeccably balanced beauty that has great acidity and a clean finish. It’s a beautiful Syrah that will be at its best from 2020-2030.
Coming from Bradley’s estate vineyard just outside his winery, the 2014 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah is a beautifully complete, balanced Syrah that has ample black and blue fruits, freshly cracked pepper, and leafy herb aromatics, medium to full-bodied richness, good acidity and moderate tannin on the finish. Give bottles 2-3 years and drink over the following decade. This cuvee was mostly destemmed (there’s 9% whole clusters) and spent 21 months in 300-liter French oak, 24% being new.
From sites in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, the 2014 Odeon checks in as 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Syrah, and 3% Viognier aged 21 months in 17% new French oak. It sports a vibrant purple color to go with spice-laced notes of blueberry pie, dried flowers and licorice. Ripe, rounded and supple, with a mouthfilling, chewy style, it’s a pleasure bent red to enjoy over the coming decade.
Incorporating a splash of Viognier, the 2013 Syrah Frenchies Ranch offers an exotic bouquet of blackberries, blueberries, mint, peach pit and sappy herbs. Rich, concentrated and structured, with lots of fruit, it has a great texture and a good finish. It needs short term cellaring to gain some integration and elegance, but is solid stuff."