2021 Occidental, Pinot Noir, Freestone-Occidental, Sonoma Coast.
It was great to taste the latest Occidental Pinot, made by Steve Kistler, one of California’s visionary and great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay winemakers, who is most well-known for his eponymous, Kistler Vineyards wines and who has been making world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from California’s north coast for over 30 years now, and an inspiring figure in the wine world. This beautiful and fresh ruby hued Pinot is gorgeously aromatic, pure and lively, while also delivering a rich core of black cherry, plum, raspberry and blood orange fruits on a supple medium bodied palate along with subtle wood framing, tea spice, rosewater, cinnamon, mineral tones and delicate earthy/briery elements. This is compelling and seductive stuff, previously called ‘Sonoma Coast’, this wine, now is labeled Freestone-Occidental to, as Kistler notes, more accurately reflect its place of origin. The fruit he says for this Pinot Noir is from his Bodega Headlands, Occidental Station, and Bodega Ridge vineyards, all mainly special Burgundy clonal selections. This vintage is outstanding, even for what is considered one of the entry level offerings, and I highly recommend stocking up on it, if you are lucky enough to find it, it is textured, elegant and excellent from start to finish.
The Occidental label, Steve Kistler’s personal wines, is based around his estate near the little town of Occidental. This property is located just 4 miles from the Ocean in ultra western Sonoma Coast, in the Bodega Headlands, with 85 acres of primarily Pinot Noir planted to a proprietary selection of unique Grand Cru Vosne-Romanée clones. Planted with Riparia Gloire and 101‐14 rootstocks and on marine sediment, these vines see an ideal south-facing as well as the Petaluma Gap’s breezy (cool) climate. This cool terroir rarely sees temperatures over 80 degrees and is what Steve calls a Pinot Noir wonderland. For Kistler’s Freestone-Occidental Pinot Noir he employs a careful, multi-sorting and mostly all de-stemming of the grapes with, as he explains, each vineyard block being fermented separately in two to four ton increments in order to capture as much individual site character as possible. These lots see a classic native yeast primary fermentation as well as native malolactic fermentation, before being rack to mainly used French oak barriques. The wine, Kistler continues goes into bottle after 14 months in the barrels with ultra low SO2 and the wine is unfined and unfiltered, and this helps promote the every nuance of the vintage and transparent flavors, which I found very alluring here in this distinctive, perfumed and joyous 2021 wine.
($68 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive