Jeb Dunnuck on the 2016 Vintage

The vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands

We’re pleased to announce that our 2016 wines have just received accolades at In “Brilliance from Sonoma,” Mr. Dunnuck calls our 2016 Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir a “sensational wine” that is both “seamless” and “beautifully balanced.” This Estate wine as well as our 2016 Pisoni Estate Chardonnay, he writes, are “some of the top wines from California”: “possessing a Montrachet-like perfume” with a “terrific sense of energy and elegance.” The report singles out eight of our other 2016 releases for note, including our 2016 Lucia Syrah Soberanes Vineyard (“A year in, year out awesome wine” that is “already hard to resist”) and our 2016 Lucia Syrah Soberanes Vineyard; which earned this reviewer, a former writer for Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, a “wow” for its “medium to full-bodied, layered style that just begs to be drunk.”

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2016 Pisoni Estate Chardonnay
96+ points

A wine you don’t see very often (it’s only released via the mailing list), the 2016 Chardonnay from the Pisoni Vineyard in the southern part of the Santa Lucia Highlands is year in, year out, one of the most impressive Chardonnays coming out of California. Offering a Montrachet-like perfume of stone fruits, white flowers, toasted oak, and obvious crushed rock-like minerality, this beauty is medium to full-bodied, crisp, vibrant, and fresh on the palate. Tight, backward, and only hinting at its ultimate potential, hide bottles for 3-4 years and it will keep for a decade.

2016 Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir
97 points

The 2016 Pinot Noir is another sensational wine from this Grand Cru terroir in the Santa Lucia Highlands. From broken granite soils and aged in 65% new French oak, it’s an elegant, finesse-driven example of this cuvée which tends to lean more toward a pedal-to-the-metal style. Classic crème de cassis, sous bois, violets, and rock, earthy minerality flow to a medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, seamless Pinot Noir that, like the Chardonnay, is tight and reserved. Give it 2-3 years, count yourself lucky, and enjoy bottles over the following decade.

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92 points

Brought up in 35% new French oak and from the Soberanes and Pisoni vineyards (and mostly Wente clone), the 2016 Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands is a ripe, textured, impeccably balanced Chardonnay. Revealing plenty of melon, pineapple and salted citrus characteristics, it shows the classic, elegant style of the vintage as well as the fruit-forward character of the Santa Lucia Highlands.

More intense and flamboyant, the 2016 Chardonnay Soberanes Vineyard boasts awesome notes of white citrus and pineapple, with subtle brioche and marzipan developing with time in the glass. It’s textured, medium to full-bodied, and concentrated, yet incredibly elegant as well.

Pinot Noir

93 points

The appellation 2016 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands is a beauty. Sourced from Soberanes, Garys’, and Pisoni, it’s a silky, seamless effort that offers lots of upfront black raspberry and cherry fruits intermixed with crushed flowers and exotic spices. It has the fruit of the appellation yet has elegance and finesse as well. Drink it over the coming 6-8 years.

The 2016 Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard sports a darker ruby color as well as broad, expansive aromas and flavors of black cherries, red currants, spice and sous bois. This medium to full-bodied, earthy, beautifully concentrated effort has a touch of Côte de Nuits-like character and will drink beautifully for 7-8 years.

The 2016 Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard is another terrific 2016 from this estate. Brought up in 40% new French oak, it offers a focused, elegant, medium to full-bodied style as well as terrific notes of violets, blueberries, spice, and earth. It has terrific purity, elegance, and length, and is one of the finest examples I’ve tasted of this cuvée.


The 2016 Syrah Soberanes Vineyard got a “wow” in my notes and offers a rich, medium to full-bodied, layered style that just begs to be drunk. With lots of dark berry fruits, spice, and assort meaty/bacon fat-like characteristics, as well as polished tannin and a great finish, it bears more than a passing resemblance to a great Côte Rôtie. Drink it anytime over the coming 8-10 years.

Cornas-like notes of black olives, peppered meats, and assorted dark fruits emerge from the 2016 Syrah Garys’ Vineyard and it’s another powerful, textured, medium to full-bodied wine from this terrific team. This big, beefy, concentrated effort will keep for upwards of a decade as well.

2016 Lucia Susan's Hill
95 points

A year in, year out awesome wine, the 2016 Syrah Susan’s Hill comes from a tiny parcel of the Pisoni Vineyard which is located on the southern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands. More medium-bodied, elegant and silky, with plenty of cassis fruits, bouquet garni, pepper, and floral notes, this beauty hits the palate with fine tannin, nicely integrated acidity, and terrific purity of fruit. As with the other Syrahs here, it’s already hard to resist yet will keep for 8-10 years.

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