July-August 2019
Number Eighty-Two

2016 ALITITUDE 2292 – 91 points
2016 OLD CORRAL PINOT NOIR – 92+ points

2016 Chardonnay “Coastview Vineyard”- Big Basin Vineyards
While I like the 2017 Howard Family Vineyard bottling of chardonnay quite well from Big Basin, one steps up a bit with the 2016 Coastview Vineyard bottling. This is a touch riper than its younger sibling, tipping the scales at 13.7 percent, but is cool and classy in both the nose and palate. The bouquet offers up a complex mix of pear, golden delicious apple, a hint of honeysuckle, almond, a touch of fresh nutmeg, lovely soil tones and discreet base of buttery oak. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and complex, with lovely depth at the core, a very elegant profile, good acids and lovely length and grip on the balanced and very classy finish. This has a bit more depth at the core than the Howard Family bottling and a more refined, complex backend. Lovely wine. 2019-2025. 91+.

2015 Syrah “Coastview Vineyard Terraces”- Big Basin Vineyards
This wine is produced from a special, particularly steep section of the Coastview Vineyard and was planted to Syrah in 2007. The 2015 vintage is only the second that has been bottled on its own from Big Basin, with the wine coming in at 13.5 percent octane and having been fermented with indigenous yeasts and two-thirds whole clusters this year. The elevage takes place in 300 liter oak puncheons, with one of the three new for this vintage. The wine offers up a fine nose of cassis, sweet dark berries, pepper, a touch of black olive, spit-roasted game, a good dollop of soil, new leather and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep. full-bodied, complex and solid at the core, with excellent focus and balance, ripe tannins and lovely grip on the long and complex finish. This is first class Syrah that is just starting to stretch its wings and is approachable with some decanting time, but really deserves a bit more bottle age to allow the tannins to soften up a bit more and the wine really to start hitting on all cylinders. Fine juice. 2022-2050+. 92.

2016 “Altitude 2292”- Big Basin Vineyards
The “Altitude 2292” from Big Basin Vineyards is a ripe, but measured wine, coming in listed at 14.2 percent octane. The cépages here is forty-four percent Cabernet Sauvignon, thirty- eight percent Merlot, eight percent Cabernet Franc, six percent Malbec and four percent Petit Verdot, so this is a Bordeaux-inspired blend that includes all the major varieties found on the Gironde. It includes forty-two percent whole clusters this year and was raised in one-third new oak. The wine delivers a complex and youthful bouquet of cassis, dark berry, cigar ash, a fine base of dark soil tones, a hint of the chipotle pepper to come with bottle age and a discreet base of cedary wood. On the palate the wine is deep, full and still fairly primary, with a good core of fruit, firm, ripe tannins and fine focus and grip on the long and complex finish. This wine is built for the cellar and needs a good eight to ten years to start to stir, but it should prove to be excellent once it has started to soften up and blossom. 2027-2065+. 91.

2016 Pinot Noir “Lester Family Vineyard”- Big Basin Vineyards
The 2016 Lester Family Vineyard bottling of Pinot Noir from Big Basin Vineyards is an excellent wine on both the nose and palate. The wine comes in at 13.5 percent octane and was made with one hundred percent whole clusters, fermented with indigenous yeasts and raised in twenty-five percent new oak for eighteen months prior to bottling without fining or filtering. The nose still has a whisper of youthful stemminess in its complex blend of red and black cherries, cola, woodsmoke, a bit of gamebird, a fine base of soil tones and a very gentle foundation of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nascently complex, with a fine core of fruit, excellent soil signature, suave, moderate tannins and a long, tangy and very promising finish. The 2016 Lester Family Vineyard bottling from Big Basin is certainly approachable today, but it is still a toddler and I would try to tuck it away in the cellar for at least the next five years and really let it start to come into its own. It is a lovely wine. 2024-2055+. 92.

2016 Pinot Noir “Old Corral”- Big Basin Vineyards (Santa Cruz Mountains)
The Old Corral bottling from Big Basin is one of their estate vineyard bottlings, as the fruit for this wine hail from three different blocks of pinot noir owned by the winery. The soils here are much rockier than in the Lester Family vineyard (witness the two other blocks besides the Old Corral are named Boulder Block and Rocky Blocks), and the wine is a touch lower in octane than the Lester Family bottling, coming in at a svelte 13.2 percent. It is made entirely with whole clusters, indigenous yeasts and again, aged eighteen months in cask, with a quarter of the barrels new. The bouquet is pure and very refined out of the blocks, offering up scents of black cherries, chicory, gamebird, complex, stony soil tones, a dollop of fresh thyme, a discreet framing of new wood and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is medium-full, complex and nicely transparent, with a good core of fruit, moderate, seamless tannins, good acids and fine length and grip on the focused and complex finish. This is a bit more tightly-knit out of the blocks than the Lester Family bottling, but my gut feeling is that with sufficient bottle age, this may just nose out the Lester for pride of place in 2016. It is going to be a lovely wine for a long time! 2025-2055+. 92+.