2014 Big Basin Coastview Vineyard Chardonnay


Whether you start in Santa Cruz or San Jose, getting to the Big Basin Winery takes well over an hour of driving through Redwood forests on narrow winding roads. You may wonder how a vineyard came into existence so deep in the Santa Cruz mountains. But French immigrants began planting vines on these steep hillsides over 100 years ago. Today, having restored the old vineyard slopes, the Big Basin Winery maintains careful stewardship over the historic site, farming organically and keeping yields low. Located adjacent to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, in a zone that's cooled by ocean breezes but standing above the fog layer, the mountain vineyards produce wines with pure flavors and complex nuances. Founded in 1998 by Bradley Brown and Samantha Shakti-Brown, the Big Basin Winery is known primarily for a range of Rhone-inspired wines, such as cool-climate Syrah and classic blends of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. The winery also produces Pinot Noir, mostly from single vineyards in other parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA or in the Gabilan Mountains to the east of Salinas. The Browns are deeply committed to living and working in harmony with their land. The winery building was built from redwood selected from the woods on the estate. They practice organic viticulture (exceedingly difficult when so close to the old forests teeming with pests) and ferment their fruit using only native yeasts and often with a high inclusion of stems or whole clusters. Such dedication produces wines that not only taste delicious but capture the essence of a small farm in the Santa Cruz mountains. The vibrance and subtlety of Big Basin Pinot is what led to their being invited to join the group known as In Pursuit of Balance, a select organization dedicated to understanding, producing and promoting wines that are "balanced," that is to say, made with less manipulation and more restraint (lower alcohol and less extraction) than the California wines that typically earn high scores and cost a bundle. Big Basin is a winery that represents the very best efforts of California's younger generation of wine growers. You won ' t regret a visit to the Santa Cruz Mountains via a glass of Big Basin Pinot Noir. 


A ringer for a fine Mersault, Big Basin’s Coastview Chardonnay charms with peach, citrus and flowers; it has concentration, minerality, richness and depth without heaviness. One sip naturally leads to another. This delicious wine is a product of its terroir: a vineyard planted at an elevation of 800 m in the Gabilan Mountains, which run along the east side of the Salinas Valley. Summer days are sunny but not hot, and the rocky soils of granite, limestone and quartz radiate warmth overnight. 2014 was an early vintage without weather extremes. Because of an ongoing California drought, total yields, grape clusters and berry sizes were significantly lower. The winemaker loves the floral aromatics, verve and minerality that stand out in this vintage. This classy Chardonnay is lean and fresh, an approachable wine that will develop over the next three to five years. Give the wine time to open in the glass or try decanting! 


Whole cluster pressed and fermented on indigenous yeasts. Aged 11 months in (22% new) French oak barrels, followed by 5 months in one stainless steel tank.

Tasting notes

91 points – Wine Enthusiast; 90 points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.   On the nose, lemon peel, crushed rocks, lime and notes of anise lift from the glass. The palate offers concentrated orchard fruits, toasted nuts and a hint of tangerine. Intense but fresh, the wine impresses with energized acidity and minerality and great length.