2020 Occidental 'Freestone-Occidental' Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

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About the Wine

Occidental is the highly-lauded project of famed winemaker Steve Kistler and his family. Steve is most well-known for his eponymous label, Kistler Vineyards, which has been dedicated to making world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from California’s north coast for over 30 years.

While Steve remains CEO of Kistler Vineyards, his desire to focus solely on Pinot Noir was the impetus behind creating Occidental. Situated just 4 miles from the Ocean in western Sonoma’s Bodega Headlands, Occidental currently has 85 acres of primarily Pinot Noir planted to a proprietary selection from Grand Cru Vosne-Romanée clones on Riparia Gloire and 101‐14 rootstocks. The vineyards benefit from an ideal south-facing aspect (not shared by neighboring sites), as well as the Petaluma Gap’s cold, windy climate. In fact, the area rarely sees temperatures over 80 degrees. In short, it is a wonderland for Pinot Noir.

Similar to his philosophy at Kistler Vineyards, Steve embraces a “less is more” approach to viticulture and winemaking at Occidental. Steve’s ultimate goal was to reduce the size of the operation and increase the level of attention in order to make Pinot Noir that is rich with flavor, but not overly extracted or tannic. The vineyards are farmed with great skill and commitment by many of the same men and women who have worked alongside Steve at Kistler. In the winery, Steve works with his original cellar crew, many of whom have worked with him for twenty-five years.

Tasting Notes: 100% Pinot Noir. Aromatically the wine is red-fruit forward, with notes of brambly, barely ripe raspberries as well as damp earth and a hint of fresh herbs. On the palate, the wine is full of finesse with a combination of red and blue fruits, as well as a minerally finish.


Offers lots of energy, with a burst of plum and blackberry fruit backed by bouncy anise and bramble accents, all carried by fresh, lively acidity. Light savory details add range on the finish, as the fruit takes an encore. A bit showy in style, but most folks won't complain about that. Drink now through 2030. ~95 Wine Spectator

The 2019 Pinot Noir Freestone-Occidental has a medium ruby-purple color and pure, fragrant cranberry sauce, rhubarb, orange peel, dried flowers, saline, and underbrush on the nose. The light-bodied palate is classically coastal with crisp, tangy red fruits layered with earth and saline, and a long, ethereal finish. ~95 Robert Parker (v. 2019)

The 2019 Pinot Noir (Freestone Occidental) is a blend of mostly young vines from Running Fence, Bodega Ridge plus a bit of Bodega Headlands. Delicate and elegant, with striking depth, the 2019 is a total knock-out. Red/purplish berry fruit, lavender, rose petal, mint and blood orange are all beautifully delineated. The 2019 spent 11 months in barrel, 25% new, followed by 3 months in tank. It is a fabulous introduction to the vintage. I can’t wait to taste the vineyard designates. ~94 Vinous Media (v. 2019) 

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