Upper Ojai, Ventura County
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Of all our syrahs this is the one from the warmest climate site and always comes with a caveat. How does one find the specific varietal expression when the vines are not planted in their native latitude? Well, this is an issue that is confronted in France as well, not so much having to do with latitude but with climatic conditions—the celebrated examples of syrah are grown exclusively in cool northern Rhone, but there are prominent wines coming from the south and they make vastly different expressions of syrah.
In the case of Roll Ranch the warm climate gives the wine power in the form of tannins and alcohol but also a density and tightness that can take years to resolve itself. With this in mind we have actively tried through winemaking to bring finesse to this brooding beast. Each year we augment the thick fruitiness that is characteristic of Roll by co-fermenting a small amount of viognier with the syrah, and this contributes a subtle white flower perfume. Additionally, in the last few years we have been using a substantial portion of whole clusters in the fermentation which brings a woodsy, resinous background reminiscent of nutmeg or cedar.
I don’t know if it’s the magic that vineyard guru Martin Ramirez performs or whether Roll Ranch, under the dramatic striated cliffs of 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 has aged (first crop was in 1995) it is producing better and better quality grapes.
Blend: 98% Syrah 2% Viognier | Alc: 14.5% | Vinification: 14% New French Oak | Barrel Aging: 18 Months | Total Production: 319 cases
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“The 2012 Syrah Roll Ranch Vineyard is a deep, powerful wine. Brambly notes open up first, followed by sweet tobacco, wild cherry, herb and cedar. Big, slightly coarse tannins give the 2012 a slightly rustic edge. Otherwise, this is another impeccable Syrah from Adam Tolmach and Ojai.” – AG 93 Points
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“Riper, fleshier, and more hedonistic than the ’11 (but not as much as the differences in the vintage would have you believe), the 2012 Syrah Roll Ranch is a beautiful wine that’s loaded with notions of sweet cassis, blackberries, chocolate, mulled spice and underbrush. Ripe, sexy and opulent, with no hard edges and a great finish, it’s about as voluptuous and textured as Adam’s wines get today. In addition, the purity and polish to the fruit and tannin are exceptional. These traits are present in almost all of the new releases from Adam and Fabien, and while it gives their wines a slightly upfront, easy appeal in their youth, they’ll age beautifully given their harmony and balance. Drink this superb Central Coast Syrah over the coming decade.” – JD 94 Points