Jeb Dunnuck – August 2021

Jeb Dunnuck on The Ojai Vineyard

August 2021


2018 Syrah – Solomon Hills Special bottling

The 2018 Syrah Solomon Hills Special bottling is special juice indeed, and it’s up with the crème de la crème of the vintage. Red and black fruits, pepper, smoked game, and flowers all emerge on the nose of this Côte Rôtie look-alike. Coming from the only block of Syrah in this vineyard, it’s rounded and seamless on the palate, with incredibly elegance and purity. I’d be thrilled to drink a bottle any time over the coming decade. 97 Points

2019 Pinot Noir – Fe Ciega

Lots of framboise and strawberry fruits as well as more Burgundian forest floor and earthy nuances define the 2019 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard, one of the standouts in the lineup. With brilliant focus and precision, a great mid-palate, and ripe tannins, it’s going to be well worth following over the coming decade. 96 Points

2018 Syrah – John Sebastiano

Another wine that got a big “Wow” in the notes was the 2018 Syrah John Sebastiano Vineyard. This medium-bodied, Côte Rôtie look-alike offers a brilliant bouquet of ripe red and black berry fruits, white pepper, flowers, iron, and bouquet garni. Fresh and incredibly complex, with silky tannins and no hard edges, this is a California Syrah for the Jamet lovers out there! 96 Points

2018 Pinot Noir Special Bottling – Fe Ciega

The 2018 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard Special Bottling was brought up all in new barrels, and it too has a Burgundian vibe in its darker berries, spice, flowers, and dried herb-like aromas and flavors. More structured, tight, and backward, it needs a solid 2-3 years of bottle age. 95+ Points

2018 Syrah – Bien Nacido

The 2018 Syrah Bien Nacido is also brilliant, with a more Hermitage-like leather, meat, and olive vibe in its ripe dark fruits and peppery nuances. It’s another medium-bodied, pure, beautifully balanced Syrah from this estate that does everything right. 95+ Points

2019 Chardonnay – Bien Nacido

Lots of orchard fruits, buttered lemon, toasty oak, and honeysuckle emerge from the 2019 Chardonnay Bien Nacido, a clean, vibrant Chardonnay from one of California’s great vineyards. Brought up in just 6-7% new French oak, it opens up with time in the glass and shows more and more fruit as well as some classic chalky, salty minerality on the finish. It’s a beautiful Chardonnay. 95 Points

2019 Chardonnay – Puerta Del Mar

More stone fruits, honeyed limes, and salty notes emerge from the 2019 Chardonnay Puerta Del Mar, another brilliant Chardonnay from this team that’s focused, concentrated, medium-bodied, and elegant. It offers more minerality and dried herb notes with time in the glass. This is the finest vintage of this cuvée I’ve tasted. 95 Points

2019 Pinot Noir – Kessler Haak

The 2019 Pinot Noir Kessler Haak is also straight-up beautiful, with a more masculine, peppery, herbal style to go with plenty of darker cherry fruits, medium body, gorgeous purity, and a nicely structured style that’s going to evolve nicely for at least 8-10 years. 95 Points

2017 Henry Daniel Syrah

Named after winemaker Adam Tolmach’s son, the 2017 Syrah Henry Daniel comes from an even split of the John Sebastiano and Bien Nacido vineyards and sees roughly 25% stems and 20 months in neutral oak. Cassis, black raspberries, dried meats, and toasted spice nuances all define the bouquet, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with a cool-climate, fresh, complex style, silky tannins, and a great finish. Drink it over the coming 10-15 years. 95 Points

2018 Chardonnay Special Bottling – Puerta Del Mar

The 2018 Chardonnay Puerta Del Mar Special Bottling is more reductive and closed, yet has impressive stone fruits, a kiss of hazelnuts, and that classic Santa Barbara County salinity and minerality. It needs another year or two in the cellar. 94+ Points

2019 Sauvignon Blanc – Presqu’ile

From a vineyard outside of Santa Maria, the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Presqu’ile offers medium-bodied aromas and flavors of candied lemons, bouquet garni, flowers, and some herbal nuances to go with bright acidity and a good core of fruit. I love its overall balance, and this is another beautiful, vibrant, lengthy example of Sauvignon Blanc from Ojai that’s well worth seeking out. 93 Points

2019 Pinot Noir – Bien Nacido

More shrimp broth, chalky minerality, gunpowder, and both red and black fruits emerge from the 2019 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido, a classy, surprisingly elegant Bien Nacido with silky tannins, medium-bodied richness, and outstanding length. It’s a classic representation of the savory, earthy style of this site aromatically, but the tannins and texture are as seamless as they come, and it shows more fruit and texture than you expect. It’s another beautiful, elegant, compelling wine from this estate that will evolve for a decade. 93 Points

2018 Syrah – Cottonwood Canyon

A new wine from a cool climate site in the Santa Maria Valley, the 2018 Syrah Cottonwood Canyon offers up a plump, medium-bodied, red and black-fruited style that reveals moderate acidity, ripe tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It’s certainly a more opulent wine from this estate that shines for its fruit and texture, yet it still plays in the meat, olive, gamey end of the spectrum. 93 Points

2018 Syrah – Duvarita

Lots of white pepper, spiced meat, baking spices, and both red and black fruits all emerge from the 2018 Syrah Duvarita Vineyard. Coming from sandy soils, it has considerable finesse and elegance, medium body, ripe tannins, and outstanding length. It would stand up admirably with the best Saint-Josephs out there. 93 Points

2018 Syrah – Roll Ranch

The 2018 Syrah Roll Ranch is also medium to full-bodied, with a ripe, rounded mouthfeel that conceals significant tannins and structure. This blue-fruited, peppery, floral Syrah is going to need 3-4 years in the cellar. It has a history of aging beautifully and I would be surprised to see it drinking well at age 15. 93 Points

2019 Sauvignon Blanc – McGinley

The 2019 Sauvignon Blanc McGinley is a downright pretty, elegant Sauvignon with classic crushed citrus, flowers, and some salty, rocky nuances in its medium-bodied profile. It’s beautifully balanced, has good mid-palate depth, and brings texture as well as freshness. 92 Points

2019 Grenache – John Sebastiano

From a site on the eastern side of the Sta. Rita Hills, the 2019 Grenache John Sebastiano Vineyard offers up a terrific nose of ripe raspberry and strawberry-like fruits as well as a more floral, spicy style. This carries to the palate as well, and it’s medium-bodied, beautifully balanced, and elegant. Don’t let the elegant, mid-weight style fool you, this will keep for 10-12 years. 92 Points

2015 Apricots

A blend of Sangiovese and Barbara (this is the first vintage to use Barbara), the 2015 Apricots is made with the idea of higher acids and age-worthiness. Its vivid ruby/purple color is followed by a terrific bouquet of bright cherries, rose petals, spice, and dried flowers. This carries to a medium-bodied, nicely textured, elegant red with plenty of up-front charm. It should keep for 7-8 years. 92 Points

2019 Pinot Noir – Puerta Del Mar

The light ruby-hued 2019 Pinot Noir Puerta Del Mar, which comes from more loamy, fractured shale soils, is all about prettiness and delicacy, with bright strawberry and cherry fruits, a touch of flowers, medium to light body, and a seamless texture. It’s going to age gracefully on its balance and overall harmony. 91 Points

2018 Barbera – Rich Vineyard

Exotic blue fruits, raspberries, and peppery herbs all emerge from the 2018 Barbera Rich Vineyard, a juicy, delicious, easygoing red that will drink nicely for 3-4 years. 91 Points

2019 Syrah – Santa Barbara County

A year in, year out winner is the 2019 Syrah Santa Barbara County. Medium ruby-hued and semi-opaque, it has a great, perfumed nose of ripe berry fruits, violets, and peppery herbs that carries to a medium-bodied, silky, wonderfully balanced Syrah that’s going to deliver loads of pleasure over the coming 4-6 years. 91 Points

2019 Pinot Noir – Santa Barbara County

The appellation 2019 Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County is a gem, offering a medium-bodied, mineral, marine-like style that seams to have lots of Bien Nacido-like character. More stems, peppery herbs, and red and black fruits define this savory Pinot Noir, which has terrific complexity and outstanding length. It should keep for 7-8 years with no issues. 91 Points

2019 Riesling – Kick On Ranch

The herbal, spicy, mineral-laced 2019 Riesling Kick On doesn’t really scream Riesling, yet it’s medium-bodied, crisp, and focused on the palate, with a singular, unique style. I’m sure it will keep for 4-5 years, and probably longer. 91 Points

2019 Sans Soufre Ajouté

The 2019 Sans Soufre Ajoute John Sebastiano vineyard is half Grenache and half Syrah that had no SO2 added. It’s a medium-bodied, forward, undeniably delicious red with soft yet present tannins, lots of blue fruits, some peppery herb notes, and outstanding length. It should be consumed over the coming 3-5 years. 91 Points