96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: The 2013 Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvee Elizabeth displays black raspberries, black and red currants, beautiful purity, a deep, almost DRC-like complexity because of the forest floor, and ethereal lightness in spite of rather intense fruit notes.
96 points Vinous: The Pinot Noir Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth is dark and pliant, with terrific underlying energy that gives the wine its dynamic, vibrant personality. Dark cherry, plum, violet and spice all flesh out in the glass. A wine of pedigree and nuance, the Cuvée Elizabeth is super-expressive today, not to mention a real joy to taste.
Occidental is the highly-lauded side project of famed winemaker, Steve Kistler and his business partner, Mark Bixler. Steve is most well-known for his eponymous label, Kistler Vineyards, which has been dedicated to making world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from California’s north coast for over 30 years
While Steve remains CEO of Kistler Vineyards and is very much in charge of day to day operations, his desire to focus solely on Pinot Noir was the impetus behind creating Occidental. Situated just 4 miles from the Ocean in western Sonoma’s Bodega Headlands, Occidental currently has 20 acres of primarily Calera clone Pinot Noir planted, with another 60 acres in development. The vineyards benefit from an ideal south-facing aspect (not shared by neighboring sites), as well as the Petaluma Gap’s cold, windy climate. In fact, the area rarely sees temperatures over 80 degrees. In short, it is a wonderland for Pinot Noir.
Similar to his philosophy at Kistler Vineyards, Steve embraces a “less is more” approach to viticulture and winemaking at Occidental. Steve’s ultimate goal was to reduce the size of the operation and increase the level of attention in order to make Pinot Noir that is rich with flavor, but not overly extracted or tannic.