Jeb Dunnuck: New Releases from California
Jeb Dunnuck | May 3, 2021
New Releases From California
“This small article looks at a new release from California that I wasn’t able to get into recent regional reports. Don’t miss the reviews from Ovid, TOR, Opus One, Carter Cellars, and Big Basin, all included in this report.”
2014 FRENCHIE’S RANCH SYRAH (ESTATE) 95 points
2016 RATTLESNAKE ROCK SYRAH (ESTATE) 94+ points
2016 COASTVIEW VINEYARD “TERRACES” SYRAH 94+ points
2016 COASTVIEW VINEYARD SYRAH 94 points
2016 SIXTY-TWO TERRACES SYRAH (ESTATE) 94 points
2018 HOWARD FAMILY VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 94 points
2016 GABILAN MOUNTAINS GSM 93 points
2018 COASTVIEW VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 93 points
2018 LESTER FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 93 points
018 COASTVIEW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 93 points
2018 ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 92+ points
2017 ALTITUDE 2292 92+ points
2018 OLD CORRAL PINOT NOIR (ESTATE) 91+ points
2017 HOMESTEAD 91 points
2016 COASTVIEW VINEYARD GRENACHE 91 points
2014 FRENCHIE’S RANCH SYRAH
Bottled in a Bordeaux bottle with a wax covering, the 2016 Syrah Frenchie’s Ranch Reserve offers a denser, purer, more full-bodied style that packs serious crème de cassis, classy oak, graphite, and peppery aromas and flavors. I love the purity of fruit here, and while it’s a slightly more modern style of wine, it has classic Syrah character, perfect balance, ripe tannins, and a great finish. It’s certainly my favorite in the lineup. Drink bottles over the coming 10-12 years, if not longer.
2016 RATTLESNAKE ROCK SYRAH
From the home estate in the Santa Cruz Moutains, the 2016 Syrah Rattlesnake Rock is a firm, mineral-laced, yet concentrated and textured Syrah that’s going to benefit from bottle age. Red and black fruits, spiced meat, bacon fat, and dried flower notes are just some of its nuances. A concentrated, classic mountain Syrah, it needs 2-3 years of bottle age and will cruise over the following decade.
2016 COASTVIEW VINEYARS “TERRACES” SYRAH
Cut from the same cloth as the Coastview Vineyard, the 2016 Syrah Coastview Vineyard Terraces is slightly darker and richer, with smoky black fruits, crushed stone, and graphite notes giving way to a medium to full-bodied, rich, concentrated Syrah with a more age-worthy vibe. It’s certainly a bigger, richer wine than the straight Coastview Vineyard release and has a touch more texture as well. It too will have 10-15 years of longevity.
2016 COASTVIEW VINEYARD SYRAH
Lots of cool climate dark berry fruits, mint, flowers, and peppered game notes emerge from the 2016 Syrah Coastview Vineyard, yet it hits the palate with plenty of rich, sweet fruit and opulence. Possessing ripe tannins, a round, elegant texture, high yet integrated acidity, and a great finish, it’s a beautiful Syrah from this team that’s already hard to resist (it benefits from air) yet has a solid 10-12 years of longevity ahead of it.
2016 SIXTY-TWO TERRACES SYRAH
The 2016 Syrah Sixty-Two Terraces comes from a vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, from steep slopes and relatively younger vines, and it saw 27% stems and 21 months in barrel. A sweet bouquet of red and black fruits, tobacco, smoked meats, peppery herbs, and bouquet garni flows to a medium to full-bodied, voluptuous Syrah with beautiful depth of fruit, ripe tannins, and a great finish. This is another terrific Syrah I’d be happy to drink any time over the coming decade.
2018 HOWARD FAMILY VINEYARD CHARDONNAY
Coming from a site in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the 2018 Chardonnay Howard Family Vineyard is a richer, more medium to full-bodied effort compared to the Coastview release and gives up more orchard and orange blossom fruits as well as some honeyed minerality and integrated oak. Rich, beautifully balanced, and layered on the palate, it’s another gem of a wine from this estate.
2016 GABILAN MOUNTAINS GSM
Lots of red plums, smoked black cherries, leafy herbs, violets, and candied orange nuances emerge from the 2016 GSM Gabilan Mountains, which is 45% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 25% Mourvèdre. This meaty, complex, medium-bodied GSM blend has terrific overall balance, ripe yet firm tannins, and a great finish. Drink it over the coming 7-8 years.
2018 COASTVIEW VINEYARD CHARDONNAY
The light gold-hued 2018 Chardonnay Coastview Vineyard has a clean, crisp, medium-bodied style carrying lots of pear and honeyed melon fruits as well as a touch of toasted almonds and floral nuances. I love its balance and it has both richness and freshness as well as a clean, classy finish. It’s a terrific Chardonnay.
2018 LESTER FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR
Mulberries, dried flowers, forest floor, spice, and herbes de Provence-like notes emerge from the 2018 Pinot Noir Lester Family Vineyard, a medium-bodied, charming, sweetly fruited beauty with ripe tannins and a great finish. It offers more fruit and opulence than the other releases here yet still has some classic Santa Cruz Mountain structure. It has a solid decade of prime drinking ahead of it.
2018 COASTVIEW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR
Coming from a cool site outside of Monterey, the 2018 Pinot Noir Coastview Vineyard boasts a ruby hue as well as a complex, nuanced nose of red fruits, spring flowers, and scorched earth. Opening up nicely with time in the glass, it’s medium-bodied and has firm yet ripe tannins, nicely integrated acidity, and outstanding length. I love its overall balance as well as is purity. It’s going to integrate some background oak with 2-3 years of bottle age and keep for a good decade.
2018 ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR
Lots of crunchy cherry and strawberry fruits as well as notes of bay leaf, bouquet garni, and forest notes emerge from the 2018 Pinot Noir Alfaro Family Vineyard, another medium-bodied, firm, focused, yet sweetly fruited Pinot Noir from this estate that’s going to benefit from a few years in the cellar. Its purity as well as balance are spot on.
2017 ALTITUDE 2292
The 2017 Altitude 2292 checks in as mix of 52% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the balance Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. A classic cool climate Bordeaux blend, it offers crunchy cherry and mulberry fruits as well as bouquet garni, sappy herbs, and sweet earth nuances. Medium-bodied, pure, elegant, and balanced, with ripe yet certainly present tannins, hide bottles for 2-4 years and enjoy over the following decade.
2018 OLD CORRAL PINOT NOIR
The light ruby-hued 2018 Pinot Noir Old Corral, which comes from a small vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, offers a medium-bodied, elegant, Côte de Nuit-like vibe in its crunchy cherry and mulberry fruits as well as forest floor, bay leaf, bouquet garni, and subtle gamey nuances. It has a vibrant, pure, crisp style on the palate, with firm tannins and good acidity, yet also a good core of sweet fruit that gives it some up-front appeal. Nevertheless, it’s going to benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and have a good decade of longevity.
Plenty of crunchy black cherry and blackberry fruits, roasted herbs, and licorice notes define the 2017 Homestead, and it’s medium-bodied, with a fresh, elegant texture, beautiful tannins, and outstanding length. It’s impeccably made. A blend of 52% Grenache, 23% Carignan, 20% Syrah, and the rest Mourvèdre, it will keep for 7-8 years.
2016 COASTVIEW VINEYARD GRENACHE
The medium ruby-hued 2016 Grenache Coastview Vineyard comes from a cooler vineyard in Monterey County and offers lots of bright black cherry and redcurrant fruits as well as leafy herbs, pepper, and licorice, with even a touch of iron/marine-like minerality. Medium to full-bodied and nicely textured, with firm tannins and notable purity, it needs a year or three to integrate some oak and should have a solid decade of longevity.