Close up pf grape leaves with sky in background


Antonio Galloni, Vinous

  • The 2018s from Occidental are simply magnificent. That's pretty much all there is to it. Steve and Catherine Kistler describe 2018 as a year with a long growing season. The relaxed, drawn-out harvest allowed for smaller picks and more time to sort. It was the first year Steve Kistler was fully at his new Occidental property and winery. In the cellar, Kistler opted to work with mostly destemmed fruit and gave the wines more time on the skins than normal. The result is deep, flavorful wines that combine fruit intensity at relatively low sugars with intense saline minerality, the signatures that make the best Pinots from the West Sonoma Coast so thrilling. I found all the 2018s improved materially with aeration, so I would open them well in advance. Lastly, I did not taste the 2019 Freestone-Occidental Pinot, as that wine was bottled later than usual because of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I will report on that wine as soon as I have a chance to taste it. In the meantime, readers will not want to miss the Occidental 2018s. They are reference point wines for an emerging appellation that one day may very well be viewed as iconic bottlings by future generations. - Antonio Galloni
  • 2018 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth

    Score: 96

    The 2018 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth is a gorgeous, elegant wine. Hints of rose petal, cinnamon and crushed red berry fruit all grace this lithe, understated Pinot Noir. In its first impression, the Cuvée Elizabeth is the most aromatic and lifted of these wines, but it gains volume and darker tonalities of fruit with aeration. If opened young, the 2018 will benefit immensely from being opened in advance. - A. Galloni
  • 2018 Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine

    Score: 98

    The 2018 Pinot Noir Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine is endowed with serious depth and intensity that give it a real feeling of vertical depth. The fruit profile leans towards the more blue/purplish realm, but it is the wine's understated richness that is impossible to miss. Bright saline notes underpin it all, leading to a beautifully sculpted finish that resonates with tremendous mineral intensity. In a word: dazzling. The Cuvée Catherine emerges from vines that surround the tasting room. - A. Galloni
  • 2018 SWK Vineyard

    Score: 100

    The 2018 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard, from the high, steeped section of the Bodega Headlands ranch, is one of the most hauntingly beautiful, mesmerizing wines I have tasted from Occidental. A Pinot of majestic complexity and nuance, the 2018 possesses stunning depth and intensity right out of the gate. Lavender, spice, crushed rocks, mint and blood orange infuse the 2018 with magnificent depth. The 2018 SWK has it all; captivating aromatics, beautifully layered fruit, and tons of structure. It is another fabulous wine from this benchmark Pinot vintage on the Sonoma Coast. - A. Galloni
  • 2018 Occidental Station Vineyard

    Score: 98

    The 2018 Pinot Noir Occidental Station is a dense, packed Pinot. Its huge core of fruit gives the Occidental Station tons of inner strength. Readers will have to be patient. Time in the glass brings out a whole range of inky red fruit, blood orange, exotic spice aromas and flavors, with swaths of tannin that wrap it all together. As always, the Occidental Station is quite a different beast from the other wines in the range, as it emerges from a site about fifteen miles from the winery that is quite a bit warmer and therefore lends a decidedly more exotic, ripe personality to the flavors. Even so, there is plenty of supporting structure and minerality to balance things out. - A. Galloni