Upper Ojai, Ventura County

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SYRMost warm climate vineyards have no problem ripening their fruit, the issue is whether they can produce balanced wines. Vineyards in warm sites make grapes with too much sugar and too little acidity, and the resulting wines are often awkward. However, Roll Ranch is different. I don’t know if it’s the magic that vineyard guru Martin Ramirez performs, or whether the Roll site, under the dramatic striated cliffs of mighty Topa Topa Mountain, is fortuitously endowed; but somehow this vineyard produces a singular and exciting syrah every year. And we have noticed that as the vineyard ages (first crop was in 1995) it’s producing better and better quality grapes. I am particularly thrilled with this 2008, there is a freshness and tension that is riveting.

The Roll syrahs have always needed some cellar time before they are at their best, and I think drinking them at about 10 years of age is ideal, however this one is quite precocious. There is a beguiling aroma of crushed raspberries and blackberries with discreet woodsy notes poking through the effusive fruit. The flavors are explosive; a rich round attack is followed by very fine textured and soft tannins. The flavors linger on the palate and finish with a nice bitter-chocolate quality. The other night (11/11/12) Helen and I sat down on the couch after a busy day and had a glass of this beauty and I must say that it’s delicious to drink right now!

Blend: 98% Syrah 2% Viognier | Alc: 14.5% | Vinification: 20% New French Oak | Barrel Aging: 18 Months | Total Production: 339 cases

Press Reviews

Wine Spectator

“Pure ripe and complex dark fruit aromatics show spice and floral accents in this red, which is rich yet graceful in texture, with fine grained tannins. Offers blueberry, wild berry and boysenberry flavors that turn elegant on the finish.” -JL 94 Points

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

“Another deep, expressive wine, the 2008 Syrah Roll Ranch fleshes out beautifully on the mid-palate. All the elements are in symmetry. This is a more radiant, ripe style of Syrah within the Ojai portfolio. The wine’s textural finesse compensates for a bouquet that is not especially varietal, at least today. The Roll Ranch stands apart from the rest of the Syrahs. It emerges from a warmer, earlier ripening site that is typically harvested in early September, a good month (or more) earlier than the rest of the Syrahs.” – AG 93 Points

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

“Inky purple. Pungent cherry, plum and dark berry aromas are complemented by bitter chocolate, licorice, herbs and espresso. Deep and rich on the palate, offering impressively concentrated cherry pit, blackcurrant and candied licorice flavors and a sweet mocha tone on the back. The bright, penetrating, gently tannic finish features a sappy, sweet note of dark berries and very good energy.” – JR 92 Points

Connoisseurs Guide

“In 2008, this perennially successful combination of vineyard and vintner comes through with flying colors again and, in this case, reminds of the pitfalls that await those who might judge a wine solely on its alcohol content. Its label may claim 15.3% abv., but there is no unwieldy excess here, and it is a rich and remarkably composed Syrah of keen focus and real sophistication. It is at once substantial and exceptionally well-balanced with incisively fruity flavors and layers of interest even at this early age, and its combination of polish and power takes it right to the head of the class. Do not be in hurry to drink it up soon as it promises to impress even more with age.”  96 Points