Looking Back on Some 2014’s – Nick Franklin

Looking Back on Some 2014’s – Nick Franklin

The wine world is a noisy place. Each year brings new releases and new scores, and each year dozens of new wineries make their debuts too. Each release of new critics’ reviews galvanizes buyers around the newest wines—they want to stock whatever the freshest buzz is about! Sometimes really beautiful wines are forgotten in the noise.

For instance, we still have some quantity of a few of our 2014 Pinot Noirs from Ojai Vineyard. After two years of generous vintages few growers expected another hefty crop, but in 2014 the vines provided one anyway. The market was flooded with Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. Stocks weren’t fully depleted by the time buyers were wanting 2015s, so we obliged and moved on with more than we usually keep for library.

That’s good news for those of you reading this. Ojai Vineyard wines always benefit from time, and unfortunately Jo(lene) Consumer isn’t great at aging wines. A survey I once read (and am struggling to find attribution for) claimed that 80% of bottles purchased in a tasting room are opened within 48 hours. Even an extra year or two in bottle can be really meaningful, especially for Pinot Noir.

If you need some delicious Pinot Noir for the holidays, rather than prematurely cracking ‘15s (or ‘16s!) you’d do better scooping up these 2014s because they’re tasting great right now. As a set, this vintage provided charming Pinot Noir with great savoriness, aromatic thrust, and fine bones that have since had time to fatten up with fleshy mid-palate fruit.

This trio includes one bottle each of 2014 Kick On, 2014 Fe Ciega, and 2014 Solomon Hills—three bottles of 92+ Point Pinot Noir for a one-time price of $99.99—perfect as a gift for someone you love, or to stock up for holiday hosting (there’s nothing stopping you from ordering multiple trios for a case).

2014 Kick On Pinot Noir – this wine took some time for the fruit to emerge. Galloni said in his 93 Point writeup that it “shows the richer, earthier side of Santa Barbara Pinot. Crushed flowers, tobacco, menthol, licorice and pine are some of the notes that emerge first, while the fruit lies more in the background.” I’ve always picked up a stuffed mushroom, bacon-sage thing too…This ruby colored Pinot has taken on a substantial feel; the red cherry mid-palate glides in with that sensation of glycerol (slippery-sweet textured fruit) before closing with spicy tannic clench that’s just right. It’s delicious with broiled salmon and is a fine pre-meal drink too.

2014 Fe Ciega Pinot Noir – In Galloni’s 92+ Point review, he praised how “Exotic citrus and floral notes add an attractive upper register in a Pinot that is lifted and nicely focused throughout.” He also noted the wine was tightly wound, and “As such, it will benefit from at least another 6-12 months in bottle.” With time the sweeter red fruit core has expanded into the racy, tannic framework of this wine. It’s juicy and delicious with streaks of red miso and sappy, wild spice notes. This alongside deeply earthy foods like wild mushrooms or duck pâté will make your toes curl.

2014 Solomon Hills Pinot Noir – This wine is all about amplitude, with broad curves and great length in its punchy flavors. In Galloni’s 94 Point review, he called this “one one of the bolder, more forward wines in the range. A blast of dark red cherry, plum, mint, lavender and spice make a strong first impression. Succulent and juicy in style…” So while still showing pinpoint balance, folks who like Pinot Noir on the more lavish side will find lots to love in this wine. It’ll stand up to leaner cuts of beef even (a proper Wellington would be perfect).