March 11, 2015




2012 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

Retail: $109.95 / btl (12 btls/cs) 


The new estate by Steve Kistler

Steve Kistler, CEO & winemaker of Kistler Vineyards has started a new project on the Sonoma Coast, and it’s getting rave reviews.  With the 2011 vintage, Kistler’s top Pinot Noirs — Cuvée Catherine and Cuvée Elizabeth — became Occidental wines.  For the 2013 vintage, Steve built a new winery next to the Bodega Headlands Vineyard, amidst 40+ acres of vines overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Occidental is a family project, whereas Kistler Vineyards has partners.  You guessed it, Steve’s daughters are Catherine and Elizabeth.  Occidental is exclusively a Pinot Noir winery, with 3 Sonoma Coast vineyards — SWK, Bodega Headlands and Occidental Station.  These vineyards are planted to a selection of proprietary clones of Pinot Noir, developed by Steve Kistler over 20+ years, and derived from Vosne Romanée Grand Cru vineyards.  Annual production for the first years will be about 6,000 cases.

Kistler and Occidental produce some of the finest Pinot Noir in California. The wines are made in a truly Burdundian style — hand harvested, cold soaked, fermented in open-top tanks, and carefully aged in French oak. They exude California fruit concentration but with moderate alcohol levels to achieve a style that is impressive but never explosive. 


2012 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

Retail: $109.95 / btl (12 btls/cs)

2012 was an ideal growing season at the Bodega Headlands and Occidental Station vineyards, and produced compelling Pinot Noir with plenty of site character. The 2012 Sonoma Coast possesses the energy, precision and purity of flavour that gives the wine lift and perfume, along with deeper-pitched soil tones, which contribute complexity. The wine is punched down 2-3 times daily, undergoes spontaneous malolactic fermentation and is aged in French oak (60% new) for 12 months. 


Praise for Occidental Winery

Robert Parker, Jr.
A new project owned and managed by Steve Kistler, Occidental has 18 acres of Pinot Noir planted primarily with the Calera clone on low yielding root stock Riparia Glorie. I tasted two Pinot Noirs from the 2011 (the debut vintage) and 2012 vintages. While a lot of noise is made about getting lower sugars in California, and that alcohols have gotten too high, this particular site appears to provide full phenolic ripeness at a much lower sugar level. Moreover, if the crop yields are kept low, excellent intensity and richness are also present. So perhaps in selected microclimates, California is capable of making very concentrated, age-worthy wines with alcohols in the 12.5-13.5% range. Although those terroirs and sites are few and far between, this would appear to be one of them.

Antonio Galloni
Occidental is Steve Kistler's new Pinot Noir project, which is starting essentially as a spin-out from Kistler Vineyards. Steve Kistler remains CEO of Kistler Vineyards and very much in charge of day to day operations. At the same time, Kistler understandably wanted to manage a small project of his own with an eye towards his two younger daughters who will one day run Occidental. For the moment, the Occidental range is composed of two Pinots; the Pinot Noir Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine and Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth, which are the same wines that were sold under the Kistler label through the 2010 vintage. Kistler is building a new winery in Bodega, where 20 acres of Pinot are planted and another 60 are in development. The Occidental Pinots will be marketed through the Kistler mailing list for the next 2-3 years, after which Occidental will become its own free-standing, independent winery. The focus will continue to be solely on Pinot Noir.


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