Sta. Rita HillsSYM

Melville is located in the coolest part of the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County in a new appellation called Santa Rita Hills. This up-and-coming property, already famous for chardonnay and pinot noir, also has syrah. When the vineyard was planted, all of the latest techniques were used– 3 by 8 foot spacing, vertical upright trellis with catch wires, the right clones and rootstocks. The father and son team of Ron and Chad Melville is a delight to work with. They take the attitude that no problem is too difficult to solve and are focused on producing the best grapes possible.

Growing syrah in this cool climate is a challenge, and, even with severe thinning, each year the grapes do not fully ripen until early to mid November. What we get is a very cool-climate syrah, a bit like Bien Nacido, only more distinctive. The close planting gives a more intensely flavored wine that is darker, and the spiciness inherent in cool climate syrah is more pronounced.

This wine is really only for the lunatic fringe who get into things like Cote Rotie. I think that’s why I like it so much! It is very hard to describe the herbal, spirit-y, peppery quality, and the way it is juxtaposed with the super intense berry fruit and zingy acidity. The wine is fascinating–definitely something to put away for a few years. For tasting today, it is best to open this wine a couple of hours before drinking to allow it to breathe. The way the wine is showing now, it might knock you out of your chair, it is so wild! Even the most jaded palates wake up to this one!