Robert Parker, Jr.'s The Wine Advocate

August 2012: Issue 202

2010 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County
Rusack’s 2010 Chardonnay is gorgeous. Layers of flavors blossom in every direction as this striking Chardonnay opens up in the glass. Honeysuckle, nectarines, flowers of all sorts and a subtle hint of French oak wrap around the palate in this exceptional, classy Chardonnay from Rusack. The style is voluptuous yet well-balanced. In 2010, the vineyard sources are 68% Bien Nacido and 32% Sierra Madre. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2016. 91 points

2010 Reserve Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley
The 2010 Chardonnay Reserve is considerably richer and riper than the Santa Barbara County bottling. Ripe tropical fruit, mango, butter and French oak come to life in this large-scaled, creamy Chardonnay. Here, too, all of the elements are in gorgeous balance. The Reserve is layered, rich, multi-dimensional and flat-out beautiful. It is another striking wine from Rusack. The vineyard sources are 89% Sierra Madre and 11% Bien Nacido. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2016. 93 points

2010 Syrah, Ballard Canyon Estate
Readers in search of a delicious Syrah that won’t break the bank should check out Rusack’s 2010 Syrah Ballard Canyon Estate. The 2010 literally bursts from the glass with layers of beautifully delineated fruit. Juicy dark cherries, flowers, mint and spices come alive in this energetic, focused Syrah. The 2010 impresses for its intensity and polished personality. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2016. 92 points

August 2011: Issue 196

2009 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County
The 2009 Chardonnay is quite attractive in its expressive tropical fruit, sweet French oak and minerals. All of the elements come together nicely in this poised, mid-weight Chardonnay. There is a lovely interplay of minerality and textural creaminess on the generous finish. Hints of melon, pears and vanilla linger on the close. 91 points

2009 Reserve Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley
The 2009 Chardonnay Reserve is quite a bit fresher and more vibrant than the Santa Barbara County bottling. Bright notes of citrus, lime, crushed rocks and green pears run through this vibrant, beautifully delineated Chardonnay. The 50% new oak barrels are barely noticed, if at all, in this superb white. The pointed, chiseled finish is truly exceptional. 91 points

2009 Reserve Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
The 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve is made from Fiddlestix and Rio Vista, both in the Santa Rita Hills. It is a super-impressive wine endowed with tons of richness and finesse in its black cherries, sweet spices, flowers and licorice. The layers of fruit build beautifully towards the focused, intense finish. This is a hugely promising wine, but it closed up quickly in the glass and may require a year or two in bottle to show the full breadth of its pedigree. 92+ points

2009 Pinot Noir, Solomon Hills Vineyard
The 2009 Pinot Noir Solomon Hills Vineyard is another striking wine from Rusack. Plums, dark cherries, cinnamon, mint and flowers wrap around the palate in this fleshy, generous Pinot. A persistent vein of minerality frames the fruit all the way through to the exceptional, polished finish. The 50% new oak barrels are very nicely integrated. 93 points

2008 Syrah, Ballard Canyon Estate
Another beauty, the 2008 Syrah Ballard Canyon Estate is a wine of both elegance and power. Medium to full-bodied with plenty of crisp black raspberry and black currant fruit intermixed with hints of crushed rocks and spring flowers, it is a restrained, elegant effort with good overall equilibrium. Consume it over the next 5-6 years. 91 points

August 2010: Issue 190

2008 Syrah, Ballard Canyon Estate
Another beauty, the 2008 Syrah Ballard Canyon Estate is a wine of both elegance and power. Medium to full-bodied with plenty of crisp black raspberry and black currant fruit intermixed with hints of crushed rocks and spring flowers, it is a restrained, elegant effort with good overall equilibrium. Consume it over the next 5-6 years. 91 points

2008 Syrah, Santa Barbara County
The outstanding 2008 Syrah Santa Barbara exhibits mineral-laced, dark raspberry, kirsch, and blacker fruit characteristics, a velvety texture, medium to full body, and an elegant, soft, seductive personality. Drink it over the next 4-5 years. 90 points

2008 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
The outstanding 2008 Pinot Noir Santa Maria is the buy among this quartet. A classic example of Central Coast Pinot Noir, with notes of forest floor, roasted herbs, sweet raspberries, and black cherries, this is a fleshy, pure, exuberant Pinot Noir with good acidity buttressing the wine’s beautiful flavors. Drink it over the next 2-4 years. 90 points

2008 Pinot Noir, Reserve, Sta. Rita Hills
The outstanding yet backward 2008 Pinot Noir Reserve is medium to full-bodied, exhibiting plenty of strawberry and black cherry notes. It is the first wine to show some noticeable oak. It is a bigger, beefier, more structured wine and seems built to last 8-10 years at the minimum. This wine is loaded, but it is easily the least attractive for drinking at present. Nevertheless, it has high potential. 91+ points

August 2009: Issue 184

Rusack Chardonnay, Reserve, Santa Maria Valley, 2007
The delicate yet powerful aromatics of the 2007 Chardonnay Reserve include intriguing notes of brioche, honeysuckle, pear, and tropical fruits. Full-bodied and rich with admirable delineation and zesty acidity that buttress the wine’s substantial flavors, it should evolve for 3-4 years or longer - 90 points.

Rusack Pinot Noir, Reserve, Sta. Rita Hills, 2007
The dark ruby/purple-tinged 2007 Pinot Noir Reserve offers elegant floral, black cherry, and raspberry notes interwoven with subtle oak, earth, and forest floor. Pure, rich, deep, and full-bodied, this big, backward Pinot will be even better with another 1-2 years of bottle age, and it should drink well for a decade - 90+ points.

Rusack Pinot Noir, Rancho Santa Rosa, Sta. Rita Hills, 2007
The full-bodied, Burgundian-styled 2007 Pinot Noir Rancho Santa Rosa reveals an intriguing bouquet of salty sea breezes intermixed with black cherries, graphite, and smoky game. Tart acids push this wine toward a leaner, more restrained style, but its weight, richness, and texture are impressive. It will benefit from another year or two of bottle age, and should age easily for a decade - 90 points.

Rusack Pinot Noir, Solomon Hills Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, 2007
The densest and most concentrated effort is the 2007 Pinot Noir Solomon Hills Vineyard. Beautiful blueberry, black raspberry, black currant, graphite, licorice, and subtle smoke characteristics are followed by a full-bodied red displaying sweet tannins, beautiful density, and an exuberant, robust personality. It can be consumed over the next 7-8 years - 91 points.

Rusack Syrah, Ballard Canyon Estate, Santa Ynez Valley, 2007
Slightly more complete, the 2007 Syrah Ballard Canyon Estate exhibits notes of blackberries, spring flowers, licorice, and graphite. Full-bodied and dense, it is capable of lasting for 7-8 years - 90 points.

August 2007: Issue 172

Rusack Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, 2005 - 90 points

Rusack Reserve Chardonnay, 2005 - 91 points

Rusack Reserve Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, 2005 - 90 points

August 2006: Issue 166

“Rusack is clearly on the upswing in quality as evidenced by these two impeccable offerings. The full bodied 2004 Syrah Santa Barbara (91 points) reveals hints of blackberries, blueberries, acacia flowers and crushed rocks. Deep, rich, heady and impressively constructed. It is meant to be consumed over the next 7-8 years. Even better is the 2004 Syrah Ballard Canyon Reserve (92+ points). Inky/blue/purple to the rim, it offers scents of graphite, white flowers, blueberries, blackberries and black raspberries. This full-bodied, pure, layered, multifaceted, stunning Syrah should be drunk over the next decade.”

“This is an attractive quartet of offerings, although the overwhelming wood and tannin in the 2004 Pinot Noir Reserve (88? points) may present a problem. It possesses plenty of intense flavors, but the wood and tannin dominate at present ..hence the question mark. There is much more harmony to the 2004 Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley (90 points). A gamy, earthy, red fruit, and spice-scented perfume emerges from this deep ruby/plum-colored Pinot. Good intensity, medium to full body, and loads of earthy berry fruit-like characteristics suggest it should be consumed over the next 3-4 years. Abundant notes of apple crisp, peach, and quince as well as a touch of orange rind characterize the elegant, medium-bodied, fruit driven 2004 Chardonnay (89 points) . It should drink well for 2-3 years. More intense, oaky, oilier and honeyed is the 2004 Chardonnay Reserve (90 points) , which smells like honeyed Fuji apples. It is a nicely textured, medium to full-bodied, well made white to consume over the next 1-3 years.”

August 2005: Issue 160

“This winery has been making some serious qualitative moves, and all four of their 2003 cuvees performed extremely well.”

2003 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County – 89 points
“…reveals a light gold color with a greenish hue as well as honeyed citrus, orange, and honeysuckle characteristics, crisp acidity, medium to full body, and a tightly-knit personality with the wood well-controlled. It promises to drink well for 4-5 years.”

2003 Chardonnay, Reserve, Santa Maria Valley – 90 points
“More complex, honeyed, and displaying more lees contact is the broad, full-bodied tropical fruit-scented and flavored 2003 Chardonnay Reserve. It shares much of its sibling’s characters, with fuller flavors, more texture, and a long, crisp finish. Consume this impressive, Burgundian-styled Chardonnay over the next 4-5 years.”

2003 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley – 89 points
“The dense ruby/purple-tinged 2003 Pinot Noir offers up sweet scents of black raspberries, currants, licorice, and crushed rocks. An intriguing effort with well-integrated wood, tannin (soft), and acidity, medium to full body, good structure, and abundant depth, it should evolve for 5-6 years.”

2003 Pinot Noir, Reserve, Santa Rita Hills – 89+ points
“…elegant, finesse-styled 2003 Pinot Noir Reserve exhibits more strawberry and berry fruit characteristics. …it balances structure, muscle, and tannin with a delicate fruit component. Give it 1-2 years of bottle age, and consume it over the following 5-7 years.”

June 30, 2005: Issue 159

2003 Syrah, Ballard Canyon Reserve – 90 points
“The outstanding 2003 Syrah Ballard Canyon Reserve reveals more floral, blackberry, and vanillin notes along with medium to full body superb density, outstanding purity and texture, and a long finish with moderate tannin. Give it 1-2 years of bottle age and drink it over the following decade.”

2003 Syrah, Santa Barbara County – 88 points
“Rusack’s 2003 Syrah Santa Barbara exhibits roasted coffee, smoke, tar, black currant, and cherry characteristics in its medium-bodied, ripe, elegant, pure personality. Enjoy it over the next 5-6 years.”

August 31, 2004: Issue 154

“…these are undeniably the finest offerings I have yet tasted from Rusack... Kudos to Rusack for offering a quartet of very serious wines.”

2002 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County - 89+ points
“…flavorful, delicately nuanced, restrained yet authoritative”

2002 Chardonnay, ‘Reserve’ Santa Maria Valley - 91+ points
“…full-bodied, restrained, powerful, rich” ”Given its structure and intensity, this beauty should age uncommonly long ... 7-8 years.”

2002 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley - 88 points
“…delicious, berry-infused concoction of cherries, raspberries and cola in a sexy, lush medium-bodied attractive style."

2002 Pinot Noir, ‘Reserve’ Santa Rita Hills - 90 points
“…beautifully integrated acidity, tannin, wood and alcohol, this gorgeous Pinot Noir will drink well for 5-7 years.”

2002 Syrah, Santa Barbara County – 88 points
“This stylish, dark ruby/purple colored Syrah offers up a classic bouquet of crème de cassis, wood smoke, and a hint of asphalt. Well-made and medium-bodied, with enough acidity for definition...Drink this mid-weight Syrah over the next 7-8 years.”

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