I have never seen Steve Kistler as relaxed as he appeared when I stopped by Occidental recently. I suspect much of that has to do with his formal stepping down from Kistler Vineyards, which he founded in 1978, and the beginning of a new chapter at Occidental, where he has been joined by daughters Elizabeth and Catherine. The 2015 Occidental Pinots are every bit as thrilling from bottle as they were when I tasted from tank prior to bottling. Stylistically, the wines are quite a bit more backward than the 2015 Kistler Pinots. In fact, even with all of the natural richness of the 2015 harvest, the Occidental Pinots are very tight and in need of at least a few years in the cellar. The 2015 Pinots were bottled in December, 2016. Ordinarily I would have also reported on the 2016s prior to bottling, but the October fires made that impossible. Needless to say, it is going to be fascinating to see what Steve Kistler comes up with in his second act. The first wines here have been positively dazzling. There is every reason to believe these wines are only going to get better now that Kistler and his daughters can focus 100% on Occidental. The range is set to expand next year with one more Pinot, but there will almost certainly be a few more selections that will be added over the near-term future.
- Antonio Galloni, Vinous, January 2018