Exuberance has always been a feature of our Bien Nacido Pinot Noir. This wine can be powerfully fruit-driven, even when graced with great balance, too. A lot of that can be attributed to the 1973-planted Martini clone vines, which is a richer clone of pinot. While rich fruit hardly draws complaints from Joe Consumer, over the years we’ve set out to complicate that nature with more floral and spicy elements in the mix (a little more wildness, you might say). The younger Dijon vines that are co-planted have helped with that in recent years.
But the 2016 vintage, our 25th vintage from these vines, provided us with ideal conditions to further the effort, with great acidity levels and ripe stems that were begging us to up the ante on our whole-cluster ratio. In 2016 this fruit ripened gradually, with cool onshore breezes giving a classic and deeply colored Santa Maria Valley expression. The younger vines (showing their 11th crop in this release) had especially good acidity, plenty to gobble up 30% whole clusters, while our more typical 15-ish% were kept in the old vine fermentation.
That dark cherry core is powerful as ever here, while those more wild stem aromas swirl around as fine accents: blackberry leaf, bay and rubbed sage at first, then with some oxygen those pretty botanical notes melt and reveal a more exotically woodsy kind of landscape. So that said, this wine will benefit from some time, in bottle or a decanter for now. It’s less about levity and charm as it was in the past few warmer years—this is a structured and brooding pinot that’s just dazzling to watch unfurl in the glass.
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir | Alc: 13.0% | Vinification: 20% New French Oak | Barrel Aging: 15 Months | Total Production: 742 cases
“I suspect one of the finest wines I’ve tasted from this incredibly talented team, the 2016 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido offers heavenly notes of red currants, forest floor, flowers, and spices, with subtle marine-like salinity. A wine that just glides over the palate, with incredible elegance, especially from this more masculine site, it has ultra-fine tannins, perfectly integrated acidity, and a great, great finish. It’s a incredible Pinot Noir from a great winemaker and a great vineyard. Drink it over the coming decade or more.” Jeb Dunnuck – 97 Points
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“The 2016 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard is endowed with striking inner perfume. Deep and resonant on the palate, with tons of nuance, the 2016 is also quite open at this stage. Dark red plum, cinnamon, sweet tobacco and dried flowers build into the creamy, inviting finish in a Pinot that has so much to offer.” 2019-2031 – AG 93+ points