Foxen has been the talk of the town for quite some time now. This winery receives nothing but high critical praise on the regular, more often than not bringing in 90+ point scores. The John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir is a picture-perfect representation of high-quality central coast Pinot Noir. This is a dream of a bottle, ready to drink now, but certainly has the chops to age.
Foxen is named in memory of William Benjamin Foxen, an English sea captain, and the co-founder Dick Doré's great-great-grandfather, who came to Santa Barbara in the early 1800s. In 1837 this Santa Barbara County pioneer purchased Rancho Tinaquaic, a Mexican land grant that originally totaled nearly 9,000 acres and comprised most of what is now known as Foxen Canyon. Foxen's first vintage was in 1985, made in the old blacksmith shop on the ranch.
Today, David Whitehair has taken over the winemaking duties. David began his winemaking career at Brander Winery in Santa Ynez, and expanded his experience with Cloudy Bay in New Zealand and then Chalk Hill in Healdsburg, California. David then returned to his beloved Santa Barbara County, and a chance meeting with Bill Wathen led to his immediate hiring at Foxen in the fall of 2007. David became Foxen’s assistant winemaker in 2008 and was promoted to winemaker in 2016.
Aging: 16 months in 38% new French Oak.
Tasting Notes: 100% Pinot Noir. The nose is extremely bright and full of very giving red fruits. On the palate, this is a delightful medium body showing just a touch darker fruit quality with forest floor and baking spices. This is good to go now but could age for another five to ten years.
The 2018 Pinot Noir John Sebastiano Vineyard is bursting at the seams with energy and intensity. A touch of whole clusters (25%) adds energy to a Pinot that impresses with its explosive power and overall tension. The bright red fruit is extremely primary today. I would cellar the 2018 for a few years to allow more aromatic nuance to develop, but that will be challenging, as it is so compelling right now. ~95 Vinous Media
Moving south to the Sta. Rita Hills, the 2018 Pinot Noir John Sebastiano Vineyard comes from a mix of clones and was partially destemmed and aged in just under 40% new French oak. It has a pure, medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced style as well as lots of classy darker berry fruits, toasted spices, loamy earth, and sappy herb-like aromas and flavors. It's another balanced, impeccably put together Pinot Noir from this estate ~94 Jeb Dunnuck
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