Apstein on Wine – Michael Apstein

Gambal+Work, Sta. Rita Hills (Central Coast, California) Pinot Noir Francesca Vineyard 2018 (96 points, $65)

The Gambal is Alex Gambal, an American who moved to Burgundy in 1993, worked for a wine broker in Beaune, attended enology school there, and eventually established his eponymous winery in 1997. Over the ensuing 20+ years, he made an array of excellent Burgundies and established himself as a top small producer. He recently sold his Burgundy winery, but clearly has maintained his love for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with his new endeavor, Gambal-Work. Work is Peter Work, a Dane who moved to Santa Ynez Valley about 20 years ago, purchased land, planted a vineyard in what would become the center of the Sta. Rita AVA and became an advocate for organic and biodynamic farming. The Francesca Vineyard is a cool location because it is wind-swept and located at the Western end of the Sta. Rita AVA, close to the Pacific Ocean. This Pinot Noir reflects the site splendidly. Weighing in at a modest 13.3 percent stated-alcohol, the flavors dance on the palate, giving the Burgundian sensibility of flavor without weight. Captivating woodsy notes lead to a Janus-like combination of savory and raspberry-like flavors, reflecting the magical duality of great Pinot Noir-based wines. An attractive leanness and great acidity reflect the cool site. It’s a brilliant contrast to their Pinot Noir from the Bentrock vineyard and shows that terroir is alive and well in California, if you know how to find it and not smother it with overdone winemaking.

Gambal+Work, Sta. Rita Hills (Central Coast, California) Pinot Noir Bentrock Vineyard 2018 (97 points, $65)

The darker, more mineral profile of Gambal+Work’s Bentrock Pinot Noir is reminiscent of a Burgundy from the Côtes de Nuits. It has the same splendid duality that the Francesca Pinot Noir conveys, but with more black (rather than red) fruit and a deeper, more tar-like mineral component, reflecting a warmer site. Similar to the Francesca, its suave texture and bright acidity makes it hard to resist now. Similarly long, this energetic Pinot Noir, like its stablemate, finishes with the barest hint of bitterness, adding to its appeal. These are two of the most appealing and captivating California Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted in a long time. Grab some friends and try them side by side to experience the magic of terroir yourself.

Gambal+Work, Sta. Rita Hills (Central Coast, California) Chardonnay Bentrock Vineyard 2018 (95 Points, $45)

It should come as no surprise that Gambal-Work’s Chardonnay should be outstanding, considering the beauty of Alex Gambal’s white Burgundies. This tightly wound one from the Bentrock vineyard displays a chalky minerality reminiscent of a top Chassagne-Montrachet. Youthful and reticent, it needs time in the glass to express itself. And even then, it is not an opulently styled Chardonnay. The focus here is on minerals, not so much fruit, which is hiding in the background. Its grandeur is apparent in an explosive finish. It is beautifully balanced — nothing sticks out — so a few years in the bottle should be very rewarding. Those looking for oaky richness in their Chardonnay should look elsewhere. Those looking for stylish and expressive ones will be very pleased. These wines are not a gamble. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist, but it’s true).

Gambal+Work, Francesca Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (95 points, $65) is breath-takingly alive and vibrant.  A stone-y mineral quality dominates and enlivens the palate. Pure and linear, the focus is definitely on the mineral aspect, not on the fruitiness of the grape. It’s a long and refined wine that tingles the palate with each sip. 

Gambal+Work, Bentrock Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (95 points, $65) A chalk-y mineral component in the wine grabs your attention and nicely offsets the wine’s re-strained fruitiness. It’s a touch riper and rounder than their Francesca Vineyard bottling, but all the elements are beautifully integrated in this wine, whose charms explode in the finish.

If forced to make a comparison with Burgundy (and after all, that’s Gambal’s breeding ground), the Francesca bottling speaks of Puligny Montrachet while the Bentrock evokes Chassagne-Montrachet. 

The Underground Wineletter – John Tilson

2016 Gambal+Work Chardonnay Francesca Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills
Light yellow in color this Chardonnay exhibits a lovely subtle citrus perfume with a kiss of vanilla accented by a floral nuance.  With great style, balance, and finesse, the wine is flavorful with very pure fruit showing hints of white peach and citrus with a very faint vanilla tinge.  Bright and crisp with a lingering finish, this is a very impressive young Chardonnay that should show further development over many years into the future – Outstanding Plus.

2016 Gambal+Work Chardonnay Bentrock Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills
Light yellow in color this wine has a gorgeous floral perfume with subtle hints of spice and citrus. On the palate, it has lovely fruit with richness and depth that is expressed in a very elegant and finesseful style.  The subtle flavors of peach and citrus are accented by a faint floral undertone and are followed by a lingering finish.  This is a really gorgeous young Chardonnay that has many years of development ahead - Outstanding Plus.

Wine Spectator – Kim Marcus

GAMBAL+WORK Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills Bentrock Vineyard 2018 92 points | $65 | 450 cases made | Red
Vibrant and alluring, with muscular minerality to the mix of dried rose petal, dark currant and allspice flavors. The rich, structured finish delivers concentrated forest floor and savory notes. Drink now through 2026. 450 cases made. ~K.M.

GAMBAL+WORK Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills Francesca Vineyard 2016 93 points | $65 | 150 cases made | White
A big, creamy white, offering a luscious mix of dried apricot, apple tart and glazed pear flavors that feature a backbone of glistening acidity. Oily richness shows on the broad finish. Drink now through 2024. ~K.M.

GAMBAL+WORK Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills Bentrock Vineyard 2016 92 points | $65 | 75 cases made | White
Steely, with hints of dried tarragon to the well-structured ripe apple, dried peach and pear flavors.  Mineral and stony notes show on the crisp finish.  Drink now through 2023. ~K.M.

GAMBAL+WORK Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills 2017 90 points | $45 | 175 cases made | White
Lithe and rich-tasting, this white features apple pastry and ripe pear flavors that show refined buttery notes. Very toasty on the finish, with creamy accents. Drink now. ~K.M.

Wine Enthusiast – Matt Kettmann

Gambal+Work 2018 Bentrock Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills) 95 Points
This all-star project between Burgundy's American legend Alex Gambal and Danish-American biodynamic leader Peter Work is producing head-turning wines. This pitch-perfect bottling balances toasty hazelnut, chamomile and buttery brioche aromas with Meyer lemon spray and hints of gardenia on the nose. Generous buttercream and honeysuckle flavors are edged in by sizzling acidity, sandstone minerality and a pinch of baking spice toward the finish. 2018 Vintage Tasted: May 2022

Gambal+Work 2018 Francesca Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills) 94 Points
There's an earthy line of tar, charred meat and dark cherry on the umami-laden nose of this bottling from a small vineyard on the western side of the appellation. The palate is tense and tarry with charcuterie and sour-cherry flavors, making for an engagingly savory array. 2018 Vintage Tasted: May 2022

Gambal+Work 2018 Bentrock Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills) 96 Points
Co-proprietor Alex Gambal puts his Burgundian knowledge to work on this cool-climate vineyard, delivering aromas of churned earth, chaparral scrub, red flower and cherry on the layered nose. A grippy structure grabs hold of the palate, allowing sagebrush, snappy red fruit and a hint of baking spice to ride long into the finish. 2018 Vintage Tasted: May 2022

Gambal+Work 2016 Bentrock Vineyard Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills) 95 Points
Clean and bright aromas of sharp lemon, crushed chalk and lightly toasted almond are very reminiscent of Alex Gambal’s bottlings from Burgundy on the nose of this promising collaboration with Peter Work of Ampelos Cellars. There is phenomenal tension to the palate, with tightly woven chalk and seared nectarine flavors. 

Gambal+Work 2016 Francesca Vineyard Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills) 92 Points
This is the brand new project from Alex Gambal and Peter Work of Ampelos Cellars in the Sta. Rita Hills, where Gambal is hoping to replicate his Burgundian style. This wine’s round aromas if white peach, sea salt caramel and nectarine syrup lead into an energetic palate that’s sharply citrus at first before the chalky minerality takes hold.


And for our Danish friends, here is a link to a review from Renelangdahl.

Det her handler ikke om banal national stolthed. Vi har danske vinmagere overalt i verden, men tilfældigvis har en danskfødt vinbonde, Peter Work på Ampelos Cellars i Santa Rita Hills, Californien, begået en vinøs genistreg. Og det råber jeg ud til alle! Køb det, støvsug den danske importør, når vinen bliver frigivet.   continue reading >>