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BIEN NACIDO ESTATE AND SOLOMON HILLS ESTATE

John Tilson • 8/4/17        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

Bien Nacido Vineyard 2014

 Solomon Hills Vineyard

Beginning in 2005 the Miller family, owners of Bien Nacido Vineyard and Solomon Hills Vineyard, began to make a small amount of wine under their label. Owners of Bien Nacido Vineyards since 1969, this vineyard has been the source of many great wines made by early wineries like Au Bon Climat, Qupé, and Bonny Doon as well as newer wineries such as Tyler and Chanin (to read about these wineries click here and to read about Bonny Doon click here). The Solomon Hills Vineyard was planted in 1999 on the western edge of the appellation in a very cool area. Grapes from this vineyard now are also being used to produce some really terrific wines by a number of different wineries (to read about the history of the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards click here).

Up until the 2014 vintage the wines made by the Miller family were called Bien Nacido Vineyards and Solomon Hills Vineyards. From 2014 forward the wines are now Bien Nacido Estate and Solomon Hills Estate. The latter names more accurately represent the origin of the wines made on the estate.

Trey Fletcher
I recently paid another visit to the winery to taste wines with Trey Fletcher, winemaker since 2011, and assistant winemaker Anthony Avila (to read the article based on a prior visit click here). This time I tasted 2013s, 2014s, 2015s, and 2016s. Make no mistake about it, the wines currently being made here are great across the board and of consistently very high quality. However, the production of each wine is very small varying from under 100 cases to just over 400 cases per year. The distribution too is limited. Currently the wines are available in small quantities in 10 states plus California and Canada and the U.K. However, the wines can be purchased direct from the winery as follows:

The Estate Club

The Shopping Cart
Note: The wines for sale here are allocated based on availability and the shopping cart is only open once or twice a year. To order current releases the best way to order is to call the tasting room 805 318 6640 and place an order to be picked up or shipped (shipping is currently available to 24 states).

My tasting notes follow. Don’t miss these wines!

2013 Bottle
2013 was the second California drought year. The wines were impressive in barrel and now, after bottling, they are even more impressive showing great fruit with intensity and balance. They should age beautifully.

 bien nacido bottles 13 and 14 2

Bien Nacido Vineyards Santa Maria Valley

2013 Bien Nacido Vineyards Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
The grapes for this wine were sourced from 4 different blocks with 3 different soil types. The production was 413 cases. With a deep color the wine has a great perfume with spice tinges and floral berry nuances. It is structured and flavorful with lots of fruit showing floral nuances and a distinct minerality. The is a lovely beautifully balanced Pinot Noir with lots of character and charm. It will age beautifully for many years into the future – Extraordinary.     $60      Current Release

2013 Bien Nacido Vineyards Syrah Santa Maria Valley
This wine is made from grapes grown on vines planted in 1995. The Syrah vines are planted with a small number of  Viognier vines. The production was 300 cases. With a dark color the wine has a deep perfume showing intense Blackberry fruit with the faintest tinge of spice. Rich, full, and concentrated on the palate the wine maintains a sense of balance and is not at all heavy. The tannins are well integrated and there are layers of Blackberry fruit accented with faint floral nuances intermingled with hints of smoky spice – This is a great Syrah – Extraordinary.    $60    Current Release

Solomon Hills Vineyards Santa Maria Valley

2013 Solomon Hills Vineyards Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
The grapes for this wine were harvested from vines grown on sandstone. The production was 407 cases. The wine has a very nice color and a lovely berry perfume. It is fruit forward with berry and cherry nunaces and beautifully balanced. Well crafted and flavorful this Pinot Noir exhibits a lot of charm and is delicious to drink now, but will also age well into the future – Outstanding Plus.    $60    Current Release

bien nacido and solomon bottles  13 and 14

2014 Bottle
2014 was a continuation of the drought years. The wines show a lot of fruit and are well structured.

Bien Nacido Estate Santa Maria Valley

2014 Bien Nacido Estate Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 280 cases. It is made from grapes grown on vines that were planted in 1973. Light yellow gold in color the wine has a deep perfume that is faintly exotic with hints of pineapple and floral undertones. It has gorgeous fruit with exotic tinges and a faint underlying tinge of citrus. Balanced with a nice underlying crispness this is a lovely Chardonnay – Outstanding Plus.     $45     Current Release

2014 Bien Nacido Estate Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 484 cases. It has a very nice color and a lovely floral perfume with a tinge of spice. With very pure berry fruit showing a faint spiciness the wine is beautifully balanced, very harmonious, and has a lot of charm. It will drink well young, but will also repay aging for an extended period – Outstanding Plus.    $60    Spring 2018 Release

2014 Bien Nacido Estate Pinot Noir LXXIII Santa Maria Valley
This is the first year for this wine. I did not taste it, but would expect it to be quite special. It is made from grapes grown on the old vines that were planted in 1973.
90 cases produced.    $NA    Fall 2018 Release

2014 Bien Nacido Estate Pinot Noir The Captain Santa Maria Valley
This is also the first year for this wine. The production was 116 cases. It is made from grapes grown from 3 different high elevation blocks of Bien Nacido with 2 different soil types and 2 different clones. It is unique and different than the Bien Nacido Pinot Noir. With a deep color the wine has a complex perfume that is faintly briary and spicy with an underlying berry fruit nuance. It is full and rounded with a firm underlying structure and shows berry fruit with spice tinges and an underlying crispness on the finish. It will need bottle age to round out and it will be very interesting to watch the evolution of this wine over time – Outstanding Plus.    $NA    Fall 2018 Release

2014 Bien Nacido Estate Syrah Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 318 cases. It has a dark color and a deep blackberry perfume. Very fruity showing a myriad of black fruits the wine is structured with good backbone and well integrated tannins. This is a Syrah that will benefit from bottle age to round out and become more expressive – Outstanding Plus.    $60     Spring 2018 Release

2014 Bien Nacido Estate Syrah X Block Santa Maria Valley
This is the first year for this wine. Historically the fruit from this block has gone to Bonny Doon and Qupè. They were the ones who convinced the Miller Family to graft over Riesling to Syrah. The rest is history. I did not taste the wine, but I would expect it to be quite special.
110 cases produced.   $NA   Fall 2018 Release   

Solomon Hills Estate Santa Maria Valley

2014 Solomon Hills Estate Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 233 cases. It has a light yellow gold color and a lovely floral citrus tinged perfume. Rounded with very pure floral tinged fruit this Chardonnay is very stylistic with a nice crispness showing floral and citrus nuances – Outstanding.    $45     Current Release

2014 Solomon Hills Estate Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 316 cases. It has a very nice color and a lovely perfume of berries and cherries. On the palate the berry and cherry are very pure and bright with just a tinge of floral spice. Balanced and very expressive this is a lovely Pinot Noir with lots of early appeal – Outstanding Plus.    $60     Spring 2018 Release

bien nacido bottles syrah and chard 14 and 15

2015 Bottle
At the time of my visit the 2015 reds had just been bottled. Trey said they were very closed so I did not taste them. The 2015 vintage was yet another drought year with a very reduced crop and very healthy vines and grapes. Across California as well as France and other areas of the world 2015 is a great vintage. Therefore, I would expect the wines here to be very special. The 2015 Pinot Noirs will again include the very small production LXXIII and The Captain Pinot Noir bottlings as well as another Syrah from the X block.

Bien Nacido Estate  Santa Maria Valley

2015 Bien Nacido Estate Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 452 cases. Light golden yellow in color the wine has a lovely tropical tinged perfume.  With lots of fruit showing faint hints of apricot with citrus tinges this is full, rich, and flavorful Chardonnay that also retains a balance and elegance. It is harmonious with lots of early appeal – Outstanding Plus.    $45     Fall 2017 Release

2015 Bien Nacido Estate Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
337 cases produced.    $60    Spring 2018 Release

2015 Bien Nacido Estate Pinot Noir LXXIII Santa Maria Valley
66 cases produced.    $NA    Fall 2019 Release

2015 Bien Nacido Estate The Captain Santa Maria Valley
90 cases produced.    $NA    Fall 2019 Release

2015 Bien Nacido Estate Syrah Santa Maria Valley
318 cases produced.    $60    Spring 2019 Release

2015 Bien Nacido Estate Syrah X Block  Santa Maria Valley
45 cases produced.    $NA    Fall 2019 Release


Solomon Hills Estate Santa Maria Valley

2015 Solomon Hills Estate Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 330 cases. It has a light yellow gold color and a deep citrus tinged perfume with floral nuances. Bright and pure with citrus tinged fruit this is a lovely Chardonnay with a nice underlying crispness that shows through on the finish – Outstanding.    $45    Fall 2017 Release

2015 Solomon Hills Estate Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
312 cases produced.    $60     Spring 2019 Release

2016 Barrel
2016 was the last drought year. Again it was a reduced crop and the wines show structure and concentration.

Bien Nacido Estate  Santa Maria Valley

2016 Bien Nacido Estate  Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 450 cases. Light yellow gold in color it has a deep perfume with floral/herbal undertones. On the palate there is lots of fruit with floral tinges and a nice underlying crispness on the finish – Outstanding Potential.   Fall 2018 Release

2016 Bien Nacido Estate  Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 400 cases. The wine I tasted was not the final blend. It had lovely fruit in a slightly lighter style than the 2016.  Spring 2020 Release

2016 Bien Nacido Estate Pinot Noir LXXIII Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 75 cases. It has a deep color and a lovely floral tinged perfume. It is concentrated and balanced with lots of fruit and a firm underlying structure – Outstanding Plus Potential.    Fall 2020 Release

2016 Bien Nacido Estate Pinot Noir The Captain Santa Maria Valley
I did not taste this wine.
100 cases produced.    Fall 2020 Release

2016 Bien Nacido Estate  Syrah Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 400 cases.  It has a very dark color and deep Blackberry fruit perfume. Very rich and full with lots of fruit and well integrated tannins this is a Syrah that is balanced and harmonious – Outstanding Plus Potential.    Spring 2020 Release

2016 Bien Nacido Estate  Syrah X Block Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine is only 45 cases. The fruit from these old vines historically has gone to Bonny Doon and Qupé. This is a very impressive Syrah. It has a very dark color and a deep perfume of Cassis and blackberry. Rich, full, concentrated, and rounded with great balance it exhibits a myriad of  black fruits rendered in a very harmonious style – Extraordinary Potential.     Fall 2020 Release

Solomon Hills Estate Santa Maria Valley

2016 Solomon Hills Estate Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 350 cases. It is light yellow in color and has a gorgeous floral tinged perfume. Balanced with very pure fruit showing a faint floral tinge this Chardonnay is very stylistic and delicious – Outstanding Plus Potential.     Fall 2018 Release

2016 Solomon Hills Estate Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
The production of this wine was 350 cases. It has a deep color and a lovely berry tinged perfume.  With lots of floral briary tinged fruit this Pinot Noir is also expressive and balanced – Outstanding Potential.    Spring 2020 Release

What a line up of wines to look forward to. Like I said earlier, don’t miss them!

Bien Nacido


 

 

 

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