The impressive talents of proprietor Nikki Pallesen continue to blossom with the 2021 vintage of her wines in bottle. The Rose is showing exceptionally well, the Chards more impressive than ever, and in this vintage a Red, which could have been labeled Grenache, has been introduced. Her production is on the rise, with a more than 9,000 bottles produced. Nikki’s style stays focused toward keeping it as hand-off as she can, and her commitment continues to reflect a very modest amount of new oak, and all neutral barrels for the Rose, Young Vines Bien Nacido Chardonnay, and Red Table Wine. Her Old Vine Chardonnay is seeing some new barrique blended with neutral, old barriques, but I couldn’t detect it aromatically, while it did show ever-so-slightly in a textural sense. Overall, the wines are gorgeous representations of the varieties, exemplifying a sound sense of origin and their focus on pure varietal expression.

The future looks bright for this rising star, I look forward to many wonderful coming vintages and her bright future!         

2021 Stars & Dust, Santa Ynez Valley, Crowded Table Rose (RT92) A classic blend of 52% Mourvèdre, 48% Grenache from the Kaerskov vineyard in Los Olivos, and the Tierra Alta vineyard in Ballard Canyon. This is a barrel aged Rose, which spends 7 months in neutral oak. 400 cases produced from 100% hand-picked fruit. The color is gorgeous, with a distinct, copper undertone. Shows fruit-driven notes of tangerine, apricot, Satsuma orange, a hint of citrus blossom with faint notes of crushed rocks. As it opens in the glass it develops a more masculine character showing rich, ripe fruit, perfect acidity, wonderful balance and finishes with a whispering note daring you to “take another sip”. Outstanding! Drink now-2025+

2021 Stars & Dust, Santa Maria Valley, Chardonnay, Young Vines, Bien Nacido Vineyard (RT93+) A small production Chardonnay crafted from 100% hand-picked fruit, aged for 10 months exclusively in neutral barrel. 140-12 bottle cases produced. Here the younger, 23-year-old vines show a deep, richly nuanced expression of Chardonnay with a focused bouquet of yellow peach, golden apple, crème fraiche-richness, and a smattering of crushed rock. The palate is equally luxurious but maintains sharp focus while conveying inspired energy. Another very attractive wine from Nikki Pallesen. Drink now-2030+   

2021 Stars & Dust, Santa Rita Hills, Chardonnay, Old Vine, Top of the Hill Vineyard (RT94) Crafted from 48 year-old vines and produced in miniscule quantities of a mere 100 cases. This wine employed 75% used (neutral) barriques, with just 25% new for its 10 months of aging. Bright, energy charged aromatics serve up notes of citrus blossom, chalky lemon, white peach, and hints of sea salt. The balanced palate is superb, showing the depth and dimension of fruit only bona fide old vines can deliver. Utterly magnificent! Drink now-2030+  

2021 Stars & Dust, Santa Rita Hills, Red Table Wine, Old Vine, West (Top of the Hill Vineyard) (RT92+) This bottling, crafted from hand-picked, 100% Grenache fruit is aged in old, neutral barriques, with just 100 cases produced. The translucence speaks toward the house style, which stays squarely focused on varietal and terroir expression. Notes of freshly picked strawberry, red raspberry, hints of eucalyptus and hibiscus build a charismatically attractive center piece. The palate is packed with ripe, fresh fruit, coating your mouth with lusciousness, the acidity is refreshing, the soft tannins ripe while artfully taking a background position. While Nikki tells me of her inexperience with crafting reds, this wine speaks exquisitely well of her talents and is all about the fruit and it being crafted with tender, loving care. Uber-deliciousness defined! Drink now-2026 to capture its fresh fruit.