Vinous, November 2023
“I tasted a wide range of wines from Big Basin this year. Proprietor Bradley Brown and his team make gorgeous, minimalist wines from a number of sites, mostly in the Santa Cruz and Gabilan Mountains. Picking early for freshness, aging in neutral vessels, and a high percentage of whole clusters (typically 100%) in the reds are some of the hallmarks of the house style. Readers should expect distinctly mineral, structured wines.”Santa Cruz Mountains: California’s Hidden Gem by Antonio Galloni
2021 COASTVIEW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 95 POINTS
2019 HOWARD FAMILY VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 95 POINTS
2019 COASTVIEW VINEYARD “TERRACES” SYRAH 95 POINTS
2019 GABILAN MOUNTAINS GSM 95 POINTS
2018 GABILAN MOUNTAINS GSM 95 POINTS
2021 ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 94 POINTS
2021 RODNICK.FARM VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 94 POINTS
2021 ASCONA VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 94 POINTS
2021 WIRZ VINEYARD OLD VINE CARIGNAN 94 POINTS
2021 RODNICK.FARM OLD VINE MOURVEDRE 94 POINTS
2019 SIXTY-TWO TERRACES SYRAH (ESTATE) 94 POINTS
2019 ODEON CABERNET SAUVIGNON 94 POINTS
2019 ALTITUDE 2292 BORDEAUX BLEND 94 POINTS
2019 RATTLESNAKE ROCK SYRAH (ESTATE) 94 POINTS
2019 OLD CORRAL PINOT NOIR (ESTATE) 94 POINTS
2018 RATTLESNAKE ROCK SYRAH (ESTATE) 94 POINTS
2021 LESTER FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 93 POINTS
2021 HOMESTEAD BLOCK ROUSSANNE (ESTATE) 93 POINTS
2021 COASTVIEW VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 93 POINTS
2021 OLD CORRAL PINOT NOIR (ESTATE) 93 POINTS
2020 HOWARD FAMILY VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 93 POINTS
2019 COASTVIEW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 93 POINTS
2018 SIXTY-TWO TERRACES SYRAH (ESTATE) 93 POINTS
2018 GRIZZLY GRENACHE (ESTATE) 93 POINTS
2021 DUNE & MOUNTAIN PINOT NOIR 92 POINTS
2019 COASTVIEW VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 92 POINTS
2019 HOMESTEAD BLOCK ROUSSANNE 92 POINTS
2021 COASTVIEW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR
The 2021 Pinot Noir Coastview Vineyard is classic Big Basin. Deep, rich and resonant in the glass, the 2021 possesses notable depth and tons of character. Black cherry, plum, tea leaves, menthol, licorice and spice all soar out of the glass. This heady, imposing Pinot has so much to offer. I imagine it will be even better in another few years’ time
2019 HOWARD FAMILY VINEYARD CHARDONNAY
The 2019 Howard Family Chardonnay is fabulous. A wine of energy and tension, the 2019 offers a beguiling combinations of vibrancy from a cool site married to the richer notes that have developed in bottle. The interplay makes for a delicious and super inviting Chardonnay. Dried orchard fruit, citrus peel, almond and light earthy undertones all run through the 2019. This is a terrific effort from proprietor Bradley Brown and the team at Big Basin.
2019 COASTVIEW VINEYARD “TERRACES” SYRAH Not Yet Released
The 2019 Syrah Coastview Vineyard – Terraces is fabulous. Racy and sleek, the 2019 is endowed with serious depth. Dark fruit, leather, incense, tobacco, mocha, lavender and dried herbs are all ampliied in this big, bold Syrah from Big Basin. There’s so much to like.
2019 GABILAN MOUNTAINS GSM
The 2019 GSM Gabilan Mountains is a dense, powerful wine. Readers will have to cellar this for a year or two to allow the full breadth of its aromatics to emerge. Rose petals, sweet red berry fruit, blood orange and spice start to reveal themselves with some aeration. The 2019 was done with 100% stems and aged in a combination of concrete and neutral oak. In a word: fabulous.
2018 GABILAN MOUNTAINS GSM
The 2018 GSM Gabilan Mountains is one of the most complete wines I have ever tasted from Big Basin. The blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre works so well here. A blast of dark, sepia-toned fruit makes a strong opening statement. Leather, tobacco, incense and dried herbs develop in the glass, illing out the layers nicely. This bold Rhộne blend delivers the goods, big time. The blend is 39% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 26% Mourvèdre.
2021 ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR Not Yet Released
The 2021 Pinot Noir Alfaro Family Vineyard is a wine of total precision and classy. White pepper, chalk, mint and citrus accents lend nuance to this sculpted, wonderfully vibrant Pinot Noir. I especially admire the vibrancy here. Clean saline notes extend the inish effortlessly.
2021 RODNICK.FARM VINEYARD PINOT NOIR
The 2021 Pinot Noir Rodnick.Farm Vineyard shows all the savory mineral intensity that is so typical of this sector of the Gabilan Mountains. Bright red-toned fruit, crushed rocks, mint, white pepper, anise and orange peel are all beautifully delineated. This mid-weight, driving Pinot has a ton to offer. It’s another compelling effort from Big Basin.
2021 ASCONA VINEYARD PINOT NOIR Not Yet Released
2021 Pinot Noir Ascona Vineyard is packed with dark cherry, plum, leather, licorice, incense and dried herbs. This imposing, dense Pinot packs a pretty serious punch. There is a wild, exotic quality here that is impossible to miss.
2021 WIRZ VINEYARD OLD VINE CARIGNAN Not Yet Released
The 2021 Carignane Old Vine Wirz Vineyard is fabulous. In fact, it is one of the very best wines I have tasted from Big Basin. Rich, heady and effusive, the 2021 is packed with wild red cherry, cedar, tobacco, dried flowers and blood orange. The 100% stems add aromatic intensity but are also pretty much absorbed by the sheer power of the fruit.
2021 RODNICK.FARM OLD VINE MOURVEDRE Not Yet Released
A new wine in this range, the 2021 Old Vine Mourvèdre Rodnick.Farm Vineyard is superb. Soaring aromatics meld into a core of dark Mourvèdre fruit, spice, tobacco, leather and earthiness. Bright acids and clean mineral notes tie it all together. Readers will ind a wine of drive and tension. The 2021 was aged in neutral oak and concrete egg.
2019 SIXTY-TWO TERRACES SYRAH (ESTATE)
The 2019 Syrah Sixty-Two Terraces opens with striking aromatics. Crushed flowers, herbs, mint and earthy notes lend considerable aromatic presence to this potent, structured Syrah. Savory and mineral notes dominate over varietal character. This rugged, mountain Syrah has a ton to offer.
2019 ODEON CABERNET SAUVIGNON
The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Betchart Vineyard Odeon is a wonderfully classy, elegant wine. Scents of blackberry, tobacco, cedar, dried herbs, baking spice and plum all run through this old-school, super-expressive Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2019 deftly balances cool-climate savoriness with pliant, racy fruit.
2019 ALTITUDE 2292 BORDEAUX BLEND
The 2019 Altitude 2292 is a gorgeous Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot-based blend. Dried herbs, lavender, licorice, menthol, cedar and pipe tobacco give the 2019 striking aromatic nuance. There’s terriic energy and subtlety running through this vibrant, layered red blend.
2019 RATTLESNAKE ROCK SYRAH (ESTATE)
The 2019 Syrah Rattlesnake Rock shows the more elegant side of Syrah in its restrained aromatics and inessed, mid-weight personality. Crushed rose petal, mint, cedar and sweet pipe tobacco all grace this silky, wonderfully expressive Syrah. The 2019 is all class.
2019 OLD CORRAL PINOT NOIR (ESTATE)
The 2019 Pinot Noir Old Corral is a gorgeous, distinctive wine. Now with some time in
bottle, the 2019 offers lovely complexity and tons of nuance. Succulent red/purplish fruit, blood orange, star anise, spice, mint and sweet pipe tobacco all grace this mid-weight, curvy Pinot. The mix of Swan and Mount Eden clones work so well. This is all charm.
2018 RATTLESNAKE ROCK SYRAH (ESTATE)
The 2018 Syrah Rattlesnake Rock is in a beautiful spot right now. Floral and savory notes give the 2018 gorgeous aromatic presence that is immediately beguiling, Medium in body, the 2018 impresses with its delineation and vibrancy. It is one of the most distinctive wines in this range. Terrific.
2021 LESTER FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR Not Yet Released
The 2021 Pinot Noir Lester Family Vineyard offers up an explosive of sweet red berry fruit, mint, orange peel, spice and dried herbs. I would give this a year or two in bottle to come together, as the flavors are still quite primary. This is a pretty fruity style for Big Basin.
2021 HOMESTEAD BLOCK ROUSSANNE (ESTATE) Not Yet Released
The 2021 Homestead Block Roussanne offers a striking combination of varietal character and phenolic structure. It was vinified and aged in a combination of clay amphora and neutral oak. Apricot, dried herbs, chamomile and yellow flowers all open in the glass. The 2021 was bottle unfiltered and unfined. Readers should expect to see some cloudiness in the color.
2021 COASTVIEW VINEYARD CHARDONNAY
The 2021 Chardonnay Coastview Vineyard is gorgeous. Scents of green pear, jasmine, white pepper and slate abound. This gracious, ethereal Chardonnay is long on energy and nuance, both of which make it an absolute delight to taste today.
2021 OLD CORRAL PINOT NOIR (ESTATE) Not Yet Released
The 2021 Pinot Noir Old Corral is one of the more savory, earthy Pinots in this range. Dried cherry, mint, tobacco, cedar, herbs and crushed autumn leaves are some of the nuances that emerge over time. The Old Corral is a Pinot for readers who enjoy understated wines. The stem component is especially evident in this bottling.
2020 HOWARD FAMILY VINEYARD CHARDONNAY
The 2020 Chardonnay Howard Family is impressive, especially for the year. Rich, dynamic and super-expressive, the 2020 offers tons of complexity and nuance. Wild flowers, mint, sage and citrus all soar out of the glass. Wente clone Chardonnay is so showy here. This is a fine showing in a very challenging year. Bravo.
2019 COASTVIEW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR
The 2019 Pinot Noir Coastview Vineyard is a powerful, structured wine. Savory and mineral notes play off a core of dark fruit in this rather somber Pinot from decomposed granite and limestone-rich soils. Deceptive in its mid-weight structure and overall feel, the 2019 packs a pretty serious punch. I would open it well in advance, as air will help soften the formidable tannins. The 100% stems are evident, but also nicely integrated.
2018 SIXTY-TWO TERRACES SYRAH (ESTATE)
The 2018 Syrah Sixty-Two Terraces is a bit softer and more open than the 2019 tasted alongside it. It also shows more forward fruit, less stem character and suppler tannins, all of which lend notable immediacy. Succulent dark cherry, plum, new leather, licorice, spice and menthol build nicely into the generous, inviting finish.
2018 GRIZZLY GRENACHE (ESTATE)
The 2018 Grenache Grizzly is fabulous. Bold, pungent and super-expressive, the 2018 offers tons of exuberant fruit married to equally bold savory stem character and structure. Varietal and site character vie for attention. This is a decidedly wild Grenache, but all the elements are very well put together. tHE 100% stems play an important role in this wine’s personality.
2021 DUNE & MOUNTAIN PINOT NOIR
The 2021 Pinot Noir Dune and Mountain is a very pretty, aromatic wine. Crushed flowers, dried red cherry fruit, sage, tobacco and cedar are beautifully delineated. This is an especially airy style, but it works well. Vineyard sources are Coastview, Olsen and Rodnick.farm, done with 100% stems.
2019 COASTVIEW VINEYARD CHARDONNAY
The 2019 Coastview Chardonnay is classy and polished. Creamy and resonant on the mid-palate, the 2019 offers striking depth to match it’s mid-weight personality. Lemon confit, dried flowers, chamomile, marzipan and a kiss of French oak all grace this understated Chardonnay from Big Basin.
2019 HOMESTEAD BLOCK ROUSSANNE
The 2019 Roussanne Homestead Block is starting to show a touch of exotic character that has developed in bottle. White flowers, tangerine oil, mint, crushed rocks and spice are all very nicely delineated. This nuanced, savory Roussanne has a ton to offer.