Antonio Galloni – VINOUS August 2020

Antonio Galloni

August 2020

There are many highlights in this range from Adam Tolmach and Fabien Castel at Ojai. The whites, both from 2019 and 2018 are impressive across the board. I also found much to like in the 2017 Syrahs. Picking on the early side and aging in neutral oak are two of the many choices taken to emphasize freshness in the wines. Most of the Pinots and Syrahs see some whole cluster, but the stem component is rarely overpowering. More than anything else, these wines give consumers a terrific opportunity to explore the personalities of a number of top sites at prices that are exceedingly fair.

2018 Chardonnay Puerta Del Mar

The 2018 Chardonnay Puerta Del Mar is bright and finely sculpted. Lemon oil, white flowers, mint, and a range of saline-infused overtones all grace the 2018. Weightless and yet full of flavor, the 2018 is positively stellar. It is yet another fabulous white in this range of new releases from Ojai and a terrific example of the far western edge of Santa Barbara County that is outside of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. 95 Points

2017 Syrah Duvarita

The 2017 Syrah Duvarita Vineyard is deep, fleshy and super-expressive. Even so, the tannins are just as formidable. Time in the glass lets the dark red fruit slowly open up, while veins of salinity take on greater presence. More than anything else, I admire the marriage of sheer textural intensity and richness with the mineral-driven cut that is such a Duvarita signature. The 2017 is positively stellar. 95 Points Antonio Galloni

2018 Pinot Noir Kessler Haak

The 2018 Pinot Noir Kessler Haak Vineyard offers an intriguing array of brambly notes and red berry fruit. Medium in body, with striking aromatics, the Kessler Haak has so much to recommend it. The 2018 is maybe not as obvious or direct as some of the other wines in this lineup, but it has tons of character. It’s the sort of wine that reveals itself gradually, over time. It is also one of the more floral, savory wines in this range. The 2018 was done with 50% whole clusters, the most in the Ojai range. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni

2018 Pinot Noir Puerta Del Mar

The 2018 Pinot Noir Puerta Del Mar is so precise, so beautiful. Here the lines are finely sketched, like a pencil drawing. Freshly cut flowers, mint, blood orange, pine and sage give the Puerta del Mar its distinctly bright aromatic profile. Medium in body and bursting with saline-infused energy, the Puerta del Mar is a gorgeous cool-climate Pinot. This is an especially fine edition. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni

2018 Chardonnay Solomon Hills

The 2018 Chardonnay Solomon Hills is the most overt of the three vineyard-designate Chardonnays I tasted from Ojai. Passionfruit, pineapple, lemon oil and jasmine infuse the 2018 with distinctly tropical overtones. Medium in body and open-knit, the 2018 has plenty to offer. I will admit, though, this is not my favorite expression of Santa Maria Chardonnay. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni

2018 Chardonnay Bien Nacido

The 2018 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard is such a classic wine from this site. Nuanced, translucent and yet so full of flavor, the 2018 dazzles from start to finish. There is a level of detail and nuance to the 2018 that is just remarkable. Scents of tangerine oil, mint, dried flowers and apricot envelop the palate as this gracious, alluring Chardonnay gradually opens in the glass. The 2018 has a bit more new oak than has been the case in the recent past. I love the precision here. In a word: sublime. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni

2018 Riesling Kick On Ranch

The 2018 Riesling Kick On Ranch is a gorgeous, exotic white. The slightly sweet style (3 grams of residual sugar) takes some adjustment, as all the other whites in this range are, of course, dry. Passionfruit, mint, candied lemon peel, ginger and dried flowers are some of the notes that grace this utterly exquisite Riesling from Adam Tolmach and Fabien Castel. Half of the wine saw about eight hours on the skins, an approach that works beautifully here. I loved it. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni

2017 Syrah Solomon Hills (Special Bottling)

The 2017 Syrah Solomon Hills Special Bottling is a gorgeous wine that straddles the line between Syrah and Pinot in terms of its feel. Silky, pliant and super-expressive, the 2017 is positively dazzling. Inky red purplish fruit, rose petal, blood orange, pomegranate and sweet spice infuse the 2017 with myriad layers of aromatic and flavor complexity. I would prefer to drink it over the next decade, while the flavors remain vibrant. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni

2017 Syrah Bien Nacido

The 2017 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard is effusive and lifted, but there is plenty of depth, too. Leather, cedar, rose petal, tobacco, game, black pepper and earthy notes give the Bien Nacido a very distinctive, feral personality. I would open this a few hours in advance to allow some funk to blow off. The 2017 is such a classic Ojai wine. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni

2017 Syrah Roll Ranch

The 2017 Syrah Roll Ranch is the most complete of the four 2017 Syrahs I tasted. The deeply-pitched aromatics are immediately captivating. There’s plenty of depth to match, too. Dark red cherry fruit, cedar, leather, tobacco, menthol and dried flower all meld together in a Syrah that has it all: perfume, fruit and structure to burn. The 75-85% whole clusters (the most of the Ojai Syrahs) work beautifully here, as does a dollop of Viognier. This is such a classy wine. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni

2013 Apricots

The 2013 Apricots is a blend of equal parts Sangiovese from White Hawk and 50% Grenache from John Sebastiano that spent 18-22 months in neutral oak. Rich, deep and so expressive, the 2013 is wonderfully deep. Inky dark fruit, lavender, leather, spice and licorice infuse the 2013 with striking depth and resonance. A wine of substance and power, the 2013 has it all. 94 Points  Antonio Galloni

2019 Riesling Dessert Wine Kick On Ranch

The 2019 Riesling Kick On Ranch is a tiny production of just four barrels, made from botrytised fruit. Light, floral and so expressive, the 2019 is delicious on its own, but will also work well with fruit-based desserts and lighter cheese. Residual sugar is modest, which keeps the wine fresh and light on its feet. In a word: delicious. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni

2019 Viognier Roll Ranch

The 2019 Viognier Roll Ranch is fabulous. An explosion of floral and citrussy notes literally bursts from the glass. Bright, taut and full of energy, the Ojai Viognier is exquisitely beautiful. Picking early helps retain freshness and also gives the wine a sense of translucence that I can only describe as totally beguiling. Don’t miss it. The 2019 was done entirely in oak, all neutral. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni

2018 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega

The 2018 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard is another of the highlights in this range. Dark blue/purplish fruit, lavender, mint, sage and licorice present an alluring expression of the Sta. Rita Hills. Like so many wines in this range, the 2018 is deep and flavorful, yet not at all heavy. Even so, there is a resonance to the Fe Ciega that is impossible to miss. The tannins just need a bit of time to soften. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni

2018 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido

The 2018 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard is a deep, ample wine. Black cherry, leather, licorice, cloves, menthol, spice and dried leaves build in a resonant, deeply expressive Pinot that shows a virile, almost somber side of this Santa Maria site. I would give the 2018 a few years to fully come together, although it is pretty delicious right now. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni

2018 Sauvignon Blanc McGinley

The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc McGinley Vineyard is rich, textured and incredibly inviting. In many vintages, the McGinley Sauvignon is a bit edgy, but the 2018 is all about palate resonance and breadth. Dried pear, mint, chamomile and dried flowers all open up effortlessly. Although the 2018 is not especially varietal (at times it is more Chenin-like), it sure is beautiful. This is a gorgeous expression of Happy Canyon, on the eastern edge of the Santa Ynez Valley. Poor soils on this site naturally yield small crops. 93 Points  Antonio Galloni

2018 Sans Soufre Ajoute John Sebastiano

The 2018 Grenache-Syrah Sans Soufre John Sebastiano is a blend of Grenache and Syrah done with no SO2, an approach that really gives the flavors tremendous energy. Cedar, mint, blood orange and floral accents wrap around a core of red berry. Exuberant and forward, the 2018 offers plenty of sheer appeal. 92 Points

2017 Sangiovese White Hawk

The 2018 Sangiovese White Hawk Vineyard is one of the most expressive wine in this set of new releases, and also a wine that is easy to look past, given how strong this range is. Bright and punchy, with tons of varietal character, the 2018 has so much to offer in the way it marries Sangiovese acids and structure with California fruit. I find it irresistibly delicious. 92 Points Antonio Galloni

2018 Roussanne Bien Nacido

The 2018 Roussanne Bien Nacido Vineyard nicely balances the richness of Roussanne with the energy that is such a signature at Ojai. Apricot, tangerine oil, white flowers and exotic tropical accents all grace this super-expressive, inviting white. Beautifully textured and creamy in the glass, with terrific phenolic drive, the 2018 has so much to offer. More than anything, though, it is supremely delicious. 92 Points Antonio Galloni

2017 Barbera Rich Vineyard

The 2017 Barbera Rich Vineyard is pliant, deep and super-expressive. Bright acids perk up a core of sweet red cherry fruit, with lovely structure to back it all up. The Barbera is another of the hidden gems in this lineup. 92 Points Antonio Galloni

2018 Grenache John Sebastiano

The 2018 Grenache John Sebastiano is a very pretty wine. Silky tannins wrap around a core of bright red fruit, flowers and cedar as varietal notes emerge effortlessly. Gracious, perfumed and polished, the Grenache is one of the many wines in this range readers will have a hard time keeping their hands off. 92 Points

2018 Sauvignon Blanc Portico Hills

The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Portico Hills is loaded with varietal character. Crushed rocks, sage, pear, and white flowers bring out the bright side of Sauvignon Blanc. Next to the McGinley, which is a richer wine, the Portico Hills is all nervous and sculpted in feel. Then again, that is the difference between Happy Canyon and the more coastal influence of Los Alamos. 91 Points Antonio Galloni

2017 Syrah John Sebastiano

The 2017 Syrah John Sebastiano is wild and powerful right from the very first taste. Dense dark red fruit, leather, smoke, spice, tobacco and game bring out the wilder side of Syrah. I imagine the 2017 will be even better once it sheds some of its baby fat and imposing tannins, but I would not wait too long, as slightly oxidative note suggests the 2017 will offer a relatively short window of peak drinking. 91 Points Antonio Galloni