Close up pf grape leaves with sky in background



  • 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
  • 2015 SWK Vineyard

    Score: 98

    A wine that was ethereal and alluring from tank, the 2015 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard has come together beautifully since I last tasted it. Exotic, thrilling aromatics set the stage for a brilliant, utterly impeccable wine long on class and nuance. Racy and plush, with tremendous flavor intensity and tons of supporting minerality, the 2015 simply has it all. This another magnificent wine from Steve Kistler and Occidental. - A. Galloni
  • 2015 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth

    Score: 97+

    The 2015 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth is precise, nuanced and every bit as riveting from bottle as it was from barrel. Above all else, the Bodega Headlands deftly balances tension and fruit intensity. A burst of sweet red cherry, blood orange, mint and raspberry jam infuse this beautifully layered, nuanced Pinot Noir. Bright saline notes punctuate the super-expressive finish. Even in 2015 the Cuvée Elizabeth remains pointed and intensely mineral. What a gorgeous wine it is. - A. Galloni
  • 2015 Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine

    Score: 98

    The 2015 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine is just as seductive from bottle as it was from tank just prior to bottling. At times delicate, while in other moments much darker and more imposing, the Cuvée Catherine is a wine of myriad contrasts. The exquisite aromatics alone are compelling, but it is the wine's overall balance and completeness that stand out most. This riveting, multi-faceted Pinot will offer fabulous drinking for many years. I can't wait to see how it develops in bottle. - A. Galloni
  • 2015 Freestone-Occidental

    Score: 94

    The 2015 Pinot Noir (Freestone Occidental) is superb. Rich, dense and inviting, this Occidental's appellation wine captures the essence of the vintage in its radiant, enveloping personality. Dark red cherry, plum, lavender, licorice and spice notes abound in this exuberant, alluring Pinot. The 2015 shuts down very quickly with air, so I would not open it in advance. Ideally, though, readers should be prepared to hang onto these wines for at least a few years. The Occidental appellation wine now carries the Freestone Occidental designation. It is the same wine I previously reviewed as the estate's Sonoma Coast Pinot. Most importantly, though, it is fabulous. - A. Galloni


Jeb Dunnuck

  • 2015 SWK Vineyard

    Score: 98

    The 2015 Pinot Noir SWK is another heavenly effort from Steve Kistler. The most finesse-driven, elegant, and medium-bodied in the lineup, it offers a perfumed and floral nose of red fruits, spice, and forest floor. With integrated acidity, ultra-fine tannin, no hard edges, and perfect balance, this beauty just glides over the palate and has everything you could want from this variety. It’s already hard to resist yet will keep for a decade or more. - J. Dunnuck
  • 2015 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth

    Score: 99

    The 2015 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands is the richest, deepest, and most concentrated in the lineup. It offers slightly more black fruit as well as hints of graphite, cassis, flowers, and forest floor/leafy herbs. It still shows the more fresh and lively style of the Sonoma Coast, with brilliant acidity, yet it hits the palate with an incredible amount of beautiful fruit, plenty of tannins, and a layered, complex style that keeps you coming back to the glass. As with the other releases here, it needs a year or two of bottle age. - J. Dunnuck
  • 2015 Occidental Station Vineyard Cuvée Catherine

    Score: 98

    A wine that flirts with perfection is the 2015 Pinot Noir Cuvée Catherine. From a site off Occidental Road, closer to 116, and aged in roughly 25% new French oak (there was also a touch of stems used), it offers a heavenly bouquet of perfectly ripe black raspberry fruit, loads of spring flowers, spice, and crushed violets, medium to full body, ultra-fine tannin, and remarkable elegance and purity. Incredibly complete, with sensational aromatics that are backed up a fresh yet also layered, rich, and multi-dimensional mouthfeel, it's a monumental Pinot Noir that will benefit from short-term cellaring. - J. Dunnuck