high-end red Club Selections – July 2023
Occidental pinot noir “freestone-occidental” $89.99
Occidental’s slogan is “World-class pinot noir from unique sites on the coastal headlands in the Freestone-Occidental area”, which describes their annual production of single-vineyard wines that regularly earn top scores. The winery is no stranger to high scores from the Wine Advocate, with scores of 97 or higher being common. This one was granted 98 points by that publication.
Fans of this wine should know that it is owned by Steve Kistler, who is testament that majoring in creative writing may be the best background for a career as an uber-talented winemaker. He went from Stanford to Davis, took a year of winemaking courses there, then worked as Assistant Winemaker at Ridge Vineyards for two years before starting the eponymous Kistler Vineyards in 1978. Today he’s joined by his daughter, Catherine (right), who plans to lead the Occidental brand into the future.
The Freestone-Occidental pinot noir blends fruit from three of the winery’s vineyards – Bodega Headlands, Occidental Station, and Bodega Ridge vineyards. Crafted in the same manner as their vineyard-designated wines, all Occidental pinots are fermented with native yeasts and Malo-Lactic bacteria.
Tasting Notes: This wine is a classic expression of the Occidental house style typified by an energy, precision, and purity of flavor that combines lifted perfumey notes to the earthy notes so valued by pinot lovers.
Crystalline, bright, mouthwatering, with a saline-mineral finish. The wine evokes juicy red berries and a near perfect balance of finesse and energy – of bright, primary red fruits and saline elements. Its modest alcohol (13.3%) makes this wine a perfect complement to a wide range of dishes. Made entirely from free-run juice, it is delicious now and will develop nicely in bottle for another decade.