2016 Pence Ranch "Estate" Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

SKU #1364442 93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The excellent 2016 Pinot Noir Estate offers up a sapid bouquet of sweet spices, smoke, wild plum and rich soil. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied with rich tannins, a succulent core of juicy fruit, nice concentration and depth. This is a characterful, complex Pinot Noir with plenty of substance to enjoy over the next decade. (WK)  (4/2018)

92 points Wine Enthusiast

 This is a great and extremely fairly priced taste of what the Pence team is up to on the eastern edge of the appellation. Sweet sandalwood, red plum, mulberry, black tea, juniper and a hint of maple show on the nose. The palate combines tart black-plum skins with cherry tomato and dewy garden-herb flavors. *Editors' Choice* (MK)  (3/2018)

K&L Notes

Winemaker's notes: "Our Estate Pinot Noir represents the essence of our organically farmed vineyards with grapes sourced from every block, with multiple row orientations, sun aspects and clonal selections, all of which are planted in rich clay soils. Having these unique soils, creates a fuller and deeper impression in the mouth. Our estate wines reflect the essence of our terroir. Derived from a selection of our small blocks, these wines express the roundness derived from our rich clay soils, while also conveying the tension derived from the maritime influences that challenge our vines every day. Blending these blocks provides us the opportunity to produce wines that are immensely drinkable now, yet will also deliver great drinking for the next 5+ years. 14 months in 25% new French oak. 20% whole-cluster fermented. 592 cases." The Pence wines are made by the extremely talented winemaker Sashi Moorman of Sandhi, Domaine de la Côte etc.

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Price: $19.99
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Staff Image By: Kaj Stromer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 7/12/2018 | Send Email
Blair Pence may have fallen in love with Burgundy, but it's in the Sta. Rita Hills where he creates Pinot Noirs that are inspired by the complexity of the Cote d’Or but balanced by the warmth of the California sun. Notes of wood spice, red and black cherries, are all crafted into one juicy but complex wine. I can’t think of another Pinot Noir from the Sta. Rita Hills that I've like more at this price point. Truth be told, I can’t think of another Sta. Rita Hills appellation Pinot Noir for less than $20. This is a best buy and one to buy by the case.

Staff Image By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 7/9/2018 | Send Email
Great Pinot Noir under $20 is rare. Great estate grown, organically farmed, Sta. Rita Hills AVA Pinot Noir is like Unicorn rare! I had to ask our supplier three times over if this was the right wine...how could it taste this good, be so inexpensive and have huge critical acclaim...something had to be wrong...but nope, it was just one of those special moments when things that are too good to be true actually happen! Fresh red fruits, spice, loamy earth, underbrush, and a bright floral lift. A fruit forward and accessible Pinot but one that retains elegance and some lovely savory aspects along with the purity of fruit. Expertly crafted by famed winemaker Sashi Moorman (Sandhi, Domaine de La Cote). One of the best deals on our shelves today.
Top Value!

Staff Image By: Joe Manekin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/26/2018 | Send Email
While this is a new label for many of us, the overall consensus in the tough room that is our northern California weekly buyer tastings, was that this is delicious, balanced Pinot Noir. The fruit is juicy but also slightly savory, with flavors of plum and a slightly wild side that is nicely balanced with the fruit. A tasty new entrant for us in the crowded - but when well chosen, rewarding - world of California Pinot.

Staff Image By: Mari Keilman | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/26/2018 | Send Email
I didn't know anything about Pence Ranch before I tasted the 2016 SRH Pinot Noir but immediately I could tell that there was an organic/"natural" air to it and that the approach was definitely from an old world sensibility. With my interests peaked by the superior quality of such a value priced-pinot, I was driven to scope out their website. And while it took me two seconds to realize that Pence Ranch and Pence Vineyards are one in the same, immediately words like organic, self-sustaining and Burgundian where jumping off the page, and even without having to do ones' own online research, it's self-evident in the balance, lift and purity that this Southern California Pinot Noir possesses. It's very easy to have a heavy hand while making wines in Santa Barbara County, but the Pence Ranch is elegant, structured and vibrant while still achieving full flavor and concentration. This is one for the record books.

Staff Image By: Stefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/26/2018 | Send Email
There were so many mineral notes to this wine I was completely taken aback initially by the uniqueness of it and its site. I found it to be totally different than anything else coming out of the Santa Rita Hills, in a great way. There is nice fruit here, and it's highlighted by the intricate expressions of the different vineyards. If you're looking for something new and different out of California, this is the one for you.

Staff Image By: Keith Mabry | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/26/2018 | Send Email
The Pence draws you in with its brambly raspberry fruit and spice undertones and keeps you coming back for more with its silky palate feel. A generous yet balanced style that reminds me of some better know producers like Flowers and Melville but priced smartly and ready to drink. A perfect go-to style for weeknight or weekend drinking, whatever your budget may be.

Staff Image By: Ryan Moses | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/21/2018 | Send Email
What I'm struck by with Pence Ranch's SRH Pinot is the balance and elegance. In a region that can often see very big wines, Pence Ranch finds a way to carry the concentration without being overdone. Bright plum, delightful minerality, and cool acidity are among a melange of nuances found in this bottling. Crafted by one of the iconic winemakers of the region (Sashi Moorman of Sandhi, Stolpman) it is a triumph for the price and a bottle that is tasty now but will reward patience for those who can resist pulling the cork.

Additional Information:


Pinot Noir

- One of France's most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years. At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre. Outside of France it is produced under the names Pinot Nero and Blauburgunder in Italy's mountainous regions, as Spätburgunder in Germany and as Blauburgunder in Austria. In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In recent years, New Zealand has demonstrated its ability to interpret this hard-to-grow varietal, with successful bottlings coming from careful and attentive growers in Central Otago, Martinborough and Canterbury. Chile is also an up-and-coming region for Pinot Noir, creating fresh, fruit-forward, early-drinking and affordable Pinots from the coastal Casablanca Valley and the Limari Valley.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Maria/Santa Barbara

- Santa Maria and Santa Ynez make up the two AVAs of Santa Barbara County, an area known for its natural beauty and temperate climate. The best grape-growing areas, however, are located on the very coastal reaches of these two appellations, and are cooled by ever-present fog and ocean breezes (it is even cooler and foggier here than Carneros!). As expected, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive while the more inland zones lay claim to Bordeaux varietals and some Rhône blends.
Alcohol Content (%): 13.5