98 Points! 2018 ‘Sanford & Benedict Vineyard’ Pinot Noir
Not enough can be said about the quality consistently being produced by Gavin Chanin, and he’s produced some of the top wines of 2018. Pulling primarily from sites like Bien Nacido, Los Alamos, and Sanford & Benedict, Gavin’s wines are always exceedingly elegant, with bright acidity, yet they also have depth, length, and a sense of pure class. In addition, they show singular characters. As to the winemaking, the Pinot Noirs generally see a small percentage of stems, and the new oak is kept in the 20% to 30% range pretty much across the board. Unfortunately, quantities are minuscule, so most of these releases are under 200 cases.- Jeb Dunnuck
2018 ‘Los Alamos Vineyard’ Chardonnay- 95Points
Brought up in 20% new French oak, the 2018 Chardonnay Los Alamos reveals a light gold hue as well as a beautiful bouquet of stone fruits, toasted bread, almond paste, and honeysuckle. Beautifully textured, medium to full-bodied, and seamless on the palate, it’s a gorgeous Chardonnay as well as a brilliant value!
2018 ‘Bien Nacido Vineyard’ Chardonnay– 94 Points
Seeing the same 18 months in 20% new French oak, the 2018 Chardonnay Bien Nacido offers more salinity and minerality as well as notes of crushed citrus, sappy herbs, and crushed stone. It’s medium-bodied and has a bright, racy texture, good concentration, and a great finish.
2018 ‘Sanford & Benedict Vineyard’ Chardonnay– 95-97 Points
Not yet bottled, the 2018 Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict is still resting in 20% new French oak. Coming from a great site on the southern side of the Sta. Rita Hills, it offers a rocking bouquet of lemon curd, chamomile, toasted bread, spice, and a touch of crushed stone-like flinty minerality. Beautifully textured, medium to full-bodied, and elegant on the palate, it’s another brilliant wine from this estate.
2018 ‘Los Alamos Vineyard’ Pinot Noir– 95 Points
Moving to the Pinot Noirs, the 2018 Pinot Noir Los Alamos saw just a touch of stems (15%) and 18 months in 20% new French oak. Its light ruby color is followed by a perfumed, complex, medium-bodied 2018 with terrific purity of fruit, lots of spice, decayed flowers, and forest floor notes, gorgeous balance, and integrated acidity. It’s another beautiful, brilliant effort to enjoy over the coming decade.
2018 ‘Bien Nacido Vineyard’ Pinot Noir– 96 Points
The 2018 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido has a bigger core of dark fruit as well as lots of briny minerality, peppery herbs, and forest floor aromatics. Fermented with 35% stems and aged in just 30% new French oak, it just about screams Bien Nacido and is a great example of this vineyard. With plenty of structure, good acidity, and a great finish, it’s going to hit prime time with 3-4 years of bottle age and evolve for over a decade.
2018 ‘Sanford & Benedict Vineyard’ Pinot Noir- 98 Points
There are just seven barrels of the 2018 Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict, which is from one of the top sites in the Sta. Rita Hills. Fermented with 35% whole clusters and aged 19 months in 30% new oak, it has lots of salty red and black fruits, earth, forest floor, and spicy aromas and flavors, medium to full body, a stunning texture, great mid-palate depth, and enough tannins to warrant short-term cellaring. It’s a real “wow” Pinot Noir and easily the finest wine I’ve tasted from this estate.
2018 ‘Schock Family Vineyard’ Pinot Noir– 93 Points
The 2018 Pinot Noir Shock Family comes all from Santa Barbara County and was 90% destemmed and brought up in 15% new French. This intense, perfumed beauty has loads of Bing cherry, mulberry, and sassafras notes, medium-bodied richness, some firm, grippy tannins, and a good finish. Give bottles a year or three and enjoy through 2030.
2018 ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir– 96 Points
The 2018 Pinot Noir Reserve comes from the Durell Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast and was all destemmed and spent 16 months in 50% new French oak. This translucent ruby effort offers up a beautiful perfume of sweet framboise, spring flowers, spice, and ample foresty/piney nuances that develop with time in the glass. Medium-bodied, flawlessly balanced, and elegant on the palate, it has polished tannins and a great finish. It’s always fun to compare these Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs (which shine for their incredible purity and elegance) to the more savory, spicy, exotic Sta. Rita Hills releases, and readers are in for a treat trying these wines side by side.
2018 ‘Schock Family Vineyard’ Syrah– 92 Points
All destemmed and brought up in neutral oak, the 2018 Syrah Schock Family has a big blast of ripe red and black fruits, white pepper, minty herbs, and a touch of game on the nose. These carry to a juicy, cool-climate, medium-bodied Syrah with beautiful fruit, ripe tannins, and a great finish. It’s already hard to resist yet should keep for a solid 8-10 years.