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Reviews from The Wine Advocate, Robert Parker


2018 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 96

Pale to medium ruby-purple, the 2018 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth bursts from the glass with very pure cranberry and boysenberry preserves, black tea leaves, blood orange and loads of floral nuances, with soft earthy undertones. The palate is seamless, with a cashmere-like texture and transparent, saline-laced fruits. It finishes tremendously long and detailed.

– Erin Brooks


2018 Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine

Score: 100

I revisited the 2018 Pinot Noir Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine again and again and just could not get enough of this expressive, singular wine. Medium ruby in the glass, aromas of iron and blood orange segue to pure blackberry and raspberry preserves, tea leaves, dusty earth and garrigue. Silky, pure, detailed and seamless, it articulates that perfect balance of bitter and sweet found in great amaro—and great Pinot Noir. It has an intense, fresh and lacy frame of tannins that will allow it to age a long time. This 2018 vintage was bottled in 750-milliliter bottles and magnums, the first time Occidental has employed a larger format.

The Running Fence vineyard encompasses 65 acres on the 250-acre Bodega Ridge property in Occidental, purchased by Steve Kistler in 2008 after a long search for his own property. Vines were planted in 2012, and experientially, at least, this 2018 illustrates the capability of young vines to produce exceptional wines. This wine has a personality and uniqueness that suggests the Bodega Ridge property is maturing into a site capable of grand cru expression. The Running Fence is the first vineyard-designate from these 65 acres, but Steve and his daughter Catherine (who will become the next winemaker) hope to discover more special pieces of this vineyard as they learn how it expresses differently from the Bodega Headlands site next to it. Steve notes that the soil and clones are similar; the low-yielding Riparia Gloire rootstock is the biggest difference between the two vineyards. In this marginal climate, it will promote earlier ripening, a critical factor in Occidental's philosophy of capturing grapes on the edge of ripeness. It has also turned out to be a prescient choice in the face of climate change and destructive wildfires.

– Erin Brooks


2018 SWK Vineyard

Score: 98

The 2018 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard is crystalline, ultra pure and distinct in its delicate character from the other single-vineyard wines in the Occidental lineup. The aromas are layered and nuanced, with red and black raspberry fruits accented by shifting tones of potpourri, salted licorice, dried citrus, dusty earth and amaro. The light-bodied palate is silky and saline while offering surprising depth and detail of flavor, and it finishes with an expansive flourish of spices. Wow!

– Erin Brooks


2018 Occidental Station Vineyard

Score: 98

Medium ruby in color, the 2018 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Vineyard has intense, liquid-like raspberry and boysenberry aromas, layered with notes of dusty earth, Earl Grey tea leaves, salted licorice and graphite, continuing to blossom with time in the glass. The medium-bodied palate merges intense, detailed fruit character with seamless freshness and a finely pixelated texture. It finishes with tremendous detail and perfumed flavors that seem to hang on forever in the mouth. Wow!

– Erin Brooks


2015 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 97+

Medium ruby-purple in color, the 2015 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvee Elizabeth opens with a profoundly earthy nose, revealing notes of underbrush, fungi, fertile loam and black truffles over a core of crushed black cherries, raspberry preserves and wild strawberries with touches of star anise and black pepper. Medium-bodied with compelling tension between the wildly intense red and black fruit flavors and the incredible freshness, it has a taut, finely grained frame and long mineral-tinged finish.

– Lisa Perrotti-Brown


2014 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 97

Medium ruby-purple colored, the 2014 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvee Elizabeth has a compelling black pepper, garrigue and bay leaves laced nose over a core of Bing cherries, fresh raspberries and crushed cranberries, plus a waft of fertile earth. The medium-bodied palate fills the mouth with a wonderful intensity of pure red berry and earth-inspired flavors, with tons of spices and a great frame of grainy tannins, finishing very long and with moreish vibrancy.

– Lisa Perrotti-Brown


2015 Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine

Score: 96+

The most inland vineyard, the 2015 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Cuvee Catherine sports a medium ruby-purple color and wonderfully floral nose with notions of red roses, lavender and lilacs over a core of cranberries, Bing cherries and rhubarb plus touches of tilled soil, sage and mossy bark. Medium-bodied and possessing bags of finesse in the mouth, the palate features incredible freshness off-setting the bold fruit with a firm yet finely grained texture and amazing length.

– Lisa Perrotti-Brown


2015 SWK Vineyard

Score: 98

Medium ruby-purple colored, the 2015 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard is a little reticent to begin, slowly opening to allow glimpses at an incredible array of earth, mineral and savory characters—moss, loam and ceps—over a beautifully perfumed core of red cherries, violets, raspberry leaves and red currants plus a touch of iron ore. Medium-bodied with a rock-solid frame of grainy tannins and electric freshness, it has an incredibly tightly wound palate of red fruit and savory layers with a very long, minerally finish.

– Lisa Perrotti-Brown


2014 Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine

Score: 98+

Medium ruby-purple colored, the 2014 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Cuvee Catherine has a youthfully subdued yet staggeringly beautiful perfume of lavender, moss-covered bark, fallen leaves and rose hip tea over a core of pomegranate, kirsch and black raspberries with a waft of wild thyme. Medium-bodied with a taut, very well-structured palate, it has firm, ripe, exquisitely fine-grained tannins and a lively backbone of freshness supporting the intensely fragrant fruit and earth layers, finishing with some mineral hints. It really needs another year or two in bottle and should drink over the next 15+ years.

– Lisa Perrotti-Brown


2014 SWK Vineyard

Score: 94+

Medium ruby-purple in color, the 2014 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard appears to playing it close to the chest at this early stage, offering subtle suggestions of red cherries, raspberry leaves, Provence herbs and fragrant earth with a hint of Sichuan pepper. Medium-bodied, elegant, fine and tightly-knit on the palate, it has a wonderfully lively backbone and persistent earth and herb layers on the finish. Not giving quite as much as the other two vineyard-designate wines, I’ve been cautious with my scoring and look forward to seeing what this wine can do over the next decade.

– Lisa Perrotti-Brown


2013 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 96

The 2013 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvee Elizabeth displays black raspberries, black and red currants, beautiful purity, a deep, almost DRC-like complexity because of the forest floor, and ethereal lightness in spite of rather intense fruit notes. This beauty should age gracefully for a decade.

– Robert Parker


2013 Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine

Score: 95

The 2013 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine, which like its sibling sees about 33% new oak, is made mostly from Calera clonal material. The wine offers up loads of beautiful strawberry, kirsch liqueur notes, a medium ruby color, forest floor and floral notes. A beauty, this wine should drink nicely for at least a decade.

– Robert Parker


2013 SWK Vineyard

Score: 90+

The 2013 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard, is 100% destemmed, ripe but more restrained, spicy and well-made, with good upside, but needs another 1-2 years of bottle age.

– Robert Parker


2012 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 98

As good as the Cuvée Catherine is, there is another Occidental Pinot that is profound. There are 2,000 cases of the 2012 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth. This wine reminded me of my earlier days in Burgundy tasting the Grand Cru Musigny. Incredible floral notes, sweet raspberries and blueberries as well as wet rocks soar from the glass of this profound, medium to full-bodied, gorgeous Pinot Noir made from 100% Calera clone. Stunning ripeness, great acids, and terrific delineation are all present in this super-intense, fragrant, modern classic from Steve Kistler. It should drink well for at least a decade, possibly a lot longer.

– Robert Parker


2012 Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine

Score: 93

2012 is the second vintage for Steve Kistler’s personal project. The 2012 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine represents 1,000 cases, aged in about 30% new oak. Beautiful strawberry, red cherry and blueberry notes jump from the glass of this dark ruby wine. Attractive aromatics are followed by a medium-bodied, luscious wine with elegance, minerality, and plenty of blue and red fruits, good acidity and a long, long finish. This beauty can be drunk over the next 5-10 years.

– Robert Parker


2012 SWK Vineyard

Score: 98

As good as the Cuvée Catherine is, there is another Occidental Pinot that is also profound. The 2012 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard also comes from his 65 acres planted in Occidental. This is a 1,000-case cuvée from a site that sits above the Bodega Headlands Vineyard. With a dark ruby color like its siblings, it is made from 100% Calera and sees only about 30% new French oak. This wine offers a copious mouthful of red, blue and black fruits, medium to full body, terrific acidity, and intense black raspberry and black cherry fruit along with spring flowers, forest floor and spice box. This is a stunning, super-complex, compelling Pinot Noir to drink over the next decade or more.

– Robert Parker


2011 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 95

The 2011 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvee Elizabeth was picked at under 23 brix. As Steve Kistler admitted, it would have been impossible to get this level of flavor in warmer sites without harvesting at much higher numbers. Beautiful raspberry, pomegranate, red and black currant, incense, camphor and spring flower aromas jump from the glass of this perfumed, refined, medium-bodied Pinot Noir. It has the intensity of flavor and length to possibly be a game-changer in terms of picking at low sugars and getting the boldness and drama of flavor that always accompanies the greatest wines. The 2012s were both gorgeous and, again, I wrote the word “game-changers” in my tasting notes for both of them.

– Robert Parker


2011 Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine

Score: 93

The 2011 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Cuvee Catherine reminded me of a grand cru Musigny from Burgundy. Elegant floral, raspberry, red and black cherry, forest floor and crushed rock aromas soar from the glass of this medium-bodied, beautifully knit, surprisingly concentrated Pinot. Made from yields of no more than one ton of fruit per acre, the intensity and depth of flavor were easy to obtain. It should drink well for 8-12+ years.

– Robert Parker


2019 Freestone-Occidental

Score: 95

The 2019 Pinot Noir Freestone-Occidental has a medium ruby-purple color and pure, fragrant cranberry sauce, rhubarb, orange peel, dried flowers, saline and underbrush on the nose. The light-bodied palate is classically coastal with crisp, tangy red fruits layered with earth and saline, and a long, ethereal finish.

– Erin Brooks


2018 Freestone-Occidental

Score: 95+

The 2018 Pinot Noir Freestone-Occidental comes mostly from younger vines at the Occidental property but is made with the same attention to detail as the other wines in the portfolio, using free-run juice. Its nose is an aromatic well, offering crushed blueberries, charcuterie, Earl Grey tea leaves, graphite, saline, bitter orange peel and potpourri aromas. In the mouth, it explodes with lush fruits that give way after their initial rush to bitter, citrusy, minerally accents. It has a fine grain, seamless freshness and long, layered finish. It's enjoyable now but will age well over the next five to eight-plus years.

– Erin Brooks

Reviews from Antonio Galloni, Vinous


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.

– Antonio 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.

– Antonio 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.

– Antonio 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.

– Antonio Galloni


2018 Freestone-Occidental

Score: 94

The 2018 Pinot Noir Freestone Occidental is a truly remarkable wine. Maybe that is the vintage, or the added complexity the vines are acquiring with time, but the 2018 Freestone Occidental makes me incredibly curious to taste the rest of the 2018s. Bright, focused and beautifully sculpted, the 2018 is a wine of total elegance and finesse. Moreover, it captures the savory, energetic, saline style that is so typical of this part of the Sonoma Coast.

– Antonio Galloni


2017 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 95

The 2017 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth is a very pretty and expressive wine. Bright floral notes and red-toned fruits grace this supple, racy Pinot from Occidental. Hints of Asian spice and blood orange add pretty, exotic overtones. The 2017 was done with fully destemmed fruit, but it has a very attractive savory quality. This is such a classy and restrained Pinot, but there is plenty of density and weight as well. I can't wait to see how it ages.

– Antonio Galloni


2017 Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine

Score: 97

The 2017 Pinot Noir Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine is a gorgeous wine with striking aromatic presence and tons of energy. Red berry fruit, pomegranate rose petal, mint and sage overtones all open up with a bit of time, but the 2017 requires a bit of patience. Even in the early going, though, the 2017 has a level of purity that is breathtaking.

– Antonio Galloni


2017 SWK Vineyard

Score: 96

The 2017 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard is rich, heady and bursting at the seams with personality. Black cherry, menthol, licorice, plum, espresso, lavender and savory herbs infuse the 2017 with striking layers of complexity and sheer character. Poor soils give naturally low yields and a wine with serious concentration as well as power. Statuesque and towering, the 2017 is a drop-dead gorgeous beauty, but it needs time to be at its best.

– Antonio Galloni


2017 Occidental Station Vineyard

Score: 97

The 2017 Pinot Noir Occidental Station is stunning from the very first taste. The purity of the fruit here is simply dazzling. Soft curves, silky tannins and soaring aromatics give the Occidental Station tons of allure. Super-ripe red cherry, red plum, blood orange, mint and sweet spice infuse the 2017 with tremendous nuance. All the elements meld together in a racy, inviting Pinot that hits all the right notes. The Occidental Station is the one wine in this range that has stems (30%), but they aren't especially notable. In a word: stunning.

– Antonio Galloni


2016 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 96

The 2016 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth is a fascinating wine to taste for a number of reasons. One of them is that the Bodega Headlands Pinot was formerly in the Kistler range, which makes for an easy comparison of the wines Steve Kistler made at Kistler and those he makes now at Occidental. The stylistic shift between then and now is startling. Once a dark, inky Pinot, the 2016 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth is perfumed, intensely savory and nervous in feel. Crushed rose petal, mint and chalk add nuance to a core of bright, red-toned fruit. Intensely saline and vibrant, the 2016 is magnificent today.

– Antonio Galloni


2016 Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine

Score: 96

A new wine in this range, the 2016 Pinot Noir Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine is sourced from Steve Kistler's Bodega Ridge estate, where the Occidental winery is located. Blood orange, red raspberry, mint, dried flowers and star anise are all laced together in this very pretty, expressive Pinot Noir. The 2016 is translucent and wonderfully energetic at the outset, but then gains volume with time in the glass. It is another gorgeous and highly nuanced wine in the range.

– Antonio Galloni


2016 SWK Vineyard

Score: 97

The 2016 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard emerges from the highest point of Steve Kistler's Bodega Headlands property. Vibrant and exquisitely beautiful, the 2016 is a striking wine that is going to need a number of years to come together. There is a lot here, but the 2016 is painfully closed at this stage. Dark red cherry, plum, blood orange, mint and rose petal all develop in the glass, with bright saline notes that give the wine shape and energy. Today, the SWK is utterly exquisite, but my impression is it will be an even better wine in a few years' time. 

– Antonio Galloni


2016 Occidental Station Vineyard

Score: 945

The 2016 Pinot Noir Occidental Station is another stand out in this range. High-toned, aromatically expressive and silky, the 2016 is incredibly harmonious. Today, the Occidental Station is the most open-knit and sensual of the wines, which makes it easier to drink on the earlier side. Silky tannins add to the wine's considerable appeal. The inclusion of 25% whole clusters adds nuance throughout.

– Antonio 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.

– Antonio 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.

– Antonio 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.

– Antonio Galloni


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.

– Antonio Galloni


2014 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 97

The highlight in this range from Occidental, the 2014 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth is brisk, perfumed and aromatic. It is also nowhere near as alluring for the near term as the Sonoma Coast or Occidental Station. Here the expression of fruit is intensely linear, with biting acidity and plenty of tannic underpinning. Blue and purplish-toned fruit, licorice, lavender and violet give the Bodega Headlands its distinct darker shades of expression. The flavors are both vivid and transparent. In my view, the Cuvée Elizabeth is the most complete of these wines. Don’t miss it.

– Antonio Galloni


2014 Sonoma Coast

Score: 93

The 2014 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is a tremendous appellation level Pinot. Deep, textured and resonant, the 2014 possesses striking depth and elegance not to mention impeccable overall balance. Succulent red cherry, smoke, licorice and blood orange infuse this deeply expressive Pinot Noir from Steve Kistler's Occidental winery. Readers who can find the 2014 should not hesitate. It is every bit as impressive from bottle as it was from barrel. Quite frankly, the Sonoma Coast Pinot is not that far off the level of the vineyard designates.

– Antonio Galloni


2013 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 96

The Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth is dark and pliant, with terrific underlying energy that gives the wine its dynamic, vibrant personality. Dark cherry, plum, violet and spice all flesh out in the glass. A wine of pedigree and nuance, the Cuvée Elizabeth is super-expressive today, not to mention a real joy to taste.

– Antonio Galloni


2013 Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine

Score: 95

The 2013 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine is gracious, inviting and deeply expressive. Sweet red cherry, blood orange, white flowers and mint are seamlessly melded together. The Cuvée Catherine is the most succulent and overt of the single vineyard Pinots from Occidental.

– Antonio Galloni


2013 SWK Vineyard

Score: 96+

The 2013 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard is the most tannic and structured of these Pinots from Occidental. As such, it is going to need at least a few years in bottle to unwind. Beams of chalky tannin underpin a deeply expressive Pinot endowed with intensely mineral and savory overtones. Vivid and beautifully sculpted throughout, the 2013 is impressive, even in the early going.

– Antonio Galloni


2013 Sonoma Coast

Score: 93

Occidental’s 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is a superb appellation-level wine that approaches the quality found in the vineyard designate bottlings. Sweet, perfumed aromatics and bright, chiseled fruit are two of the signatures in a Pinot endowed with a striking interplay of energy and finesse. The Sonoma Coast Pinot is the hidden gem in the Occidental range.

– Antonio Galloni


2012 Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 97

Darker tonalities of red and purplished hued fruits emerge from the 2012 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth. Lavender, violets, cloves, new leather and spices blossom in the glass as this sensual, layered Pinot shows off its compelling personality. As is often the case, the Cuvée Elizabeth is all about texture and resonance. The 2012 is a model of total finesse.

– Antonio Galloni


2019 Freestone-Occidental

Score: 94

The 2019 Pinot Noir (Freestone Occidental) is a blend of mostly young vines from Running Fence, Bodega Ridge plus a bit of Bodega Headlands. Delicate and elegant, with striking depth, the 2019 is a total knock-out. Red/purplish berry fruit, lavender, rose petal, mint and blood orange are all beautifully delineated. The 2019 spent 11 months in barrel, 25% new, followed by 3 months in tank. It is a fabulous introduction to the vintage. I can’t wait to taste the vineyard designates.

– Antonio Galloni


2018 Freestone-Occidental

Score: 94

The 2018 Pinot Noir Freestone Occidental is a truly remarkable wine. Maybe that is the vintage, or the added complexity the vines are acquiring with time, but the 2018 Freestone Occidental makes me incredibly curious to taste the rest of the 2018s. Bright, focused and beautifully sculpted, the 2018 is a wine of total elegance and finesse. Moreover, it captures the savory, energetic, saline style that is so typical of this part of the Sonoma Coast.

– Antonio Galloni

Reviews from Jeb Dunnuck


2018 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 98

Always the richest in the lineup, the 2018 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvee Elizabeth is another magical wine in the making. Gorgeous crème de cassis, smoked herbs, earth, and graphite all define the bouquet, and it hits the palate with a wealth of fruit, classic Pinot Noir elegance, ripe tannins, and a blockbuster of a finish. This magical, deep, layered, seamless Pinot Noir is another killer wine in the vintage that's going to benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and cruise for 10-15 years in cold cellars.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2018 Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine

Score: 99

Coming from the oldest blocks around the estate, the 2018 Pinot Noir Running Fence Vineyard Cuvee Catherine sports a deeper ruby hue as well as a gorgeous nose of black raspberries, scorched earth, graphite, and charcoal, with more floral notes emerging with time in the glass. Flawlessly balanced on the palate, it has building yet ultra-fine tannins, a great mid-palate, bright acidity, and a distinct salinity and minerality on the finish. This gorgeous, thrilling Pinot Noir ranks with the crème de la crème in the vintage. Give bottles a year or two and enjoy over the following 10-15. It will probably merit a triple-digit rating at maturity.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2018 SWK Vineyard

Score: 98+

Lots of mulberry and bright cherry fruits as well as toasted spice and sappy herb notes emerge from the 2018 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard, and this medium to full-bodied beauty has a great mid-palate, some smoky oak, ripe, grippy tannins, and a rock star of a finish. Reminding me of a great Clos de Bèze from a riper year, it continues to offer more and more dark fruits and violets with time in the glass as well as more obvious structure. Do your best to hide bottles for at least 3-4 years, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following decade or more.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2018 Occidental Station Vineyard

Score: 97

Slightly deeper hued, the 2018 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Vineyard has a rich, spicy nose of cassis and ripe black cherries supported by beautiful bouquet garni and floral nuances. It has background oak, medium to full body, ripe yet building tannins, and just a beautiful purity as well as freshness that keeps you coming back to the glass. It has enough tannins and acidity to benefit from short-term bottle age, but it has a rounded, elegant texture as well and is far from unapproachable today. It should have 15 years of longevity.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2017 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 97

One of my favorites in the lineup (but we are splitting hairs), the 2017 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvee Elizabeth comes from the estate vineyard located around the estate, lying at 400 to 750 feet in elevation. Mostly potential at this point, its dense purple hue is followed by incredibly pure notes of black raspberries, mulberries, pine forest, spring flowers, and an almost iodine/seaside-like salinity and minerality. Medium to full-bodied, with bright acidity, it’s an energetic, racy yet brilliantly balanced, lengthy Pinot Noir that’s going to benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and keep for a decade. This is another thrilling wine from Steve Kistler and family.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2017 Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine

Score: 95+

Coming from vines around the estate, on the same ridge as the Bodega Headlands Vineyard, the 2017 Pinot Noir Running Fence Vineyard Cuvee Catherine is a barrel selection that was first produced in 2016. Its medium ruby/purple color is followed by gorgeous notes of black and blue fruits, violets, wet stone, spring flowers, and hints of bouquet garni (thyme and bay leaf). With bright, vibrant acidity, a tight, focused texture, and beautiful length, it’s another stunning 2017 that’s going to benefit from a year or three of bottle age and keep for a decade. It’s as classy as they come.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2017 SWK Vineyard

Score: 95

The 2017 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard is beautiful stuff, offering a complex, ethereal style as well as a gorgeous nose of kirsch and black raspberry-like fruit along with complex sappy flowers, spice box, salty, seaside-like minerality, and forest floor. This ruby/purple-hued 2017 has medium-bodied richness, terrific overall balance, an incredible floral quality, and a great finish. It needs air if drinking any time over the coming year or two, and it will be at its best from 2022-2030.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2017 Occidental Station Vineyard

Score: 96+

Coming from a more inland vineyard that’s one of the first to be harvested, the 2017 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Vineyard sports a deeper ruby/purple color as well as a tighter yet intense style carrying lots of almost blue fruits, violets, peppery spice, and spring flowers. Despite showing ample power and richness, it has a vivid spine of acidity, ripe, present tannins, and a great finish, all pointing to a solid decade or more of prime drinking. I think it will show every more complexity with a year or two of bottle age.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2016 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth

Score: 98

The 2016 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlines Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth is another more elegant, almost perfect wine from this estate. Thrilling notes of smoked red cherries, earth, forest floor, and graphite all give way to a medium-bodied, vibrant, racy wine that has flawless balance, crunchy, vibrant fruit, notable tannins, and a great finish. This is another awesome wine that will benefit from a year or two of bottle age and keep for a decade.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2016 Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine

Score: 97

Coming from the oldest block just outside the estate (although these are all relatively young vines), the 2016 Pinot Noir Running Fence Vineyard Cuvee Catherine is the first vintage for this cuvée and it's a barrel selection made in the winery. Awesome notes of black and blue fruits, crushed flowers, violets, and hints of charcoal give way to a medium to full-bodied, concentrated, thrillingly textured Pinot Noir that does everything right. As with all these 2017s, it’s vibrant and elegant, yet has terrific concentration, good mid-palate depth, and a great finish. Give it a year or two.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2016 SWK Vineyard

Score: 98+

The only wine to see some whole clusters, the 2016 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard is one of the more structured, backward wines in the lineup. It reveals a deeper ruby color as well as a complex bouquet of darker raspberries, earth, graphite, and smoky notes. Rich and medium to full-bodied, it has great balance and concentration as well as building tannins. It's another classy, age-worthy wine from Steve Kistler that's going to benefit from bottle age and keep for 10-15 years or more. It ranks with the top wines of the vintage.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2016 Occidental Station Vineyard

Score: 96

The 2016 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Vineyard is a more rounded, mouthfilling effort compared to the other cuvées (it also sees a touch of whole cluster) and is medium to full-bodied, beautifully textured, and layered, with classic notes of forest floor, flowery spice, earth, and sweet black raspberry fruit. It has a wonderful finish, the purity of fruit that's common from this address, and the class to evolve for 10-15 years or more.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2016 Freestone-Occidental

Score: 96

Possessing a great nose of black raspberries, kirsch, violet, and forest floor, the 2016 Pinot Noir Freestone-Occidental is bright and juicy, with elegance and beautiful purity of fruit. Showing fine tannins, a lovely floral quality, integrated acidity, and a great finish, this is pure class

– Jeb 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.

– Jeb Dunnuck


2014 SWK Vineyard

Score: 96+

The 2014 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard is the most reticent of these Pinots, as it was last year. Intense fruit and structure come together, but the wine is not at all ready to give everything it has. Dark red and purplish fruit overtones are lifted by the wine’s bright acidity and tannic underpinnings. This nervous, taut Pinot needs a few years to settle down, but it has tremendous promise.

– A.Galloni

It is always gratifying to receive high marks for our wines from people we respect.


Erin Brooks from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate recently shared her thoughts on our 2019 single-vineyard pinot noirs.

2019 SWK Vineyard - 100 points

Medium ruby, the 2019 Pinot Noir SWK Vineyard has a slowly unfolding fragrance of blood orange, cranberry jelly, rhubarb, iodine and pipe tobacco, blossoming to new layers with each return to the glass. The medium-bodied palate begins with a saline, iodine-like character before unfurling layer after layer of deep red fruit and accents of mushroom and forest floor. Energetic yet graceful, it boasts a refined, elegant tannic structure, seamless acidity and tremendously detailed flavors on the extended finish. Its ethereal, earthy perfume echoes the scents of a California forest and offers that touch of magic that really takes this wine to the next level.

2019 Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine - 99 points

The 2019 Pinot Noir Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine is just as exceptional as its 2018 counterpart, offering an energetic, finely detailed expression with the deep red fruit and amaro-like spices characteristic of this vineyard. It has a medium ruby color and singular, continually shifting aromas of orange, rhubarb and cranberry and tones of wildflowers, pipe tobacco, iodine and amaro. The medium-bodied palate boasts fine, powdery tannins, bursts of fresh acidity and extraordinarily pure, detailed flavors that define the very long, ethereal finish.

2019 Bodega Ridge Vineyard - 98 points

The 2019 Pinot Noir Bodega Ridge Vineyard is a brand-new single-vineyard cuvée from Occidental. It comes from the Bodega Ridge property, where Steve Kistler began developing 65 acres of Pinot Noir in 2012. The first single-vineyard cuvée from this property was the 2016 Running Fence Vineyard. The Bodega Ridge comes from 25 acres at the top of the property, planted mainly on southwest-facing slopes behind the tasting room, overlooking the Running Fence Vineyard. Medium ruby-purple in color, it offers a broodier expression than the red-fruited Running Fence, with scents of blue and blackberry jam, fir needles, seaweed, salted licorice and soaring violet—a set of aromas that Catherine Kistler aptly calls "ultraviolet blue." The medium-bodied palate has an abundance of finely grained tannins and excellent concentration without losing its purity and detail, and it boasts a tremendously energetic, lengthy finish. It's an incredible first iteration that will develop savory complexity over the next decade or more in bottle. As the vines mature, Steve hopes to be able to make about 1,000 cases a year.

2019 Occidental Station Vineyard - 98 points

The 2019 Pinot Noir Occidental Station Vineyard has a medium ruby color and a beautiful fragrance of blood orange and red berries with bursts of lilac and wildflowers, plus accents of tobacco leaves, fir and iron. The medium-bodied palate offers generous, grainy tannins and refreshing acidity framing its layered flavors, and it opens to ethereal perfume on the very long finish. Wow!

2019 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth - 97 points

The 2019 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth has a medium ruby color and fantastic aromatic layers—it's the kind of wine that keeps you returning again and again to the glass—with pure scents of crushed cranberries, rhubarb, saline, amaro, woodsmoke and dusty earth. The palate is medium-bodied, silky and bright with the dark-red fruits characteristic of the best 2019 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs. Intense, seamless and pure, it blossoms to tones of dried lavender and tobacco on the finish and has everything it needs for a long life in the cellar.

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