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This is a great time of year to be in the wine country, it is before the summer tourist rush and all those new releases to try are more available. Plus some of the winemakers are not too busy, allowing them some time to travel, even to me! This week I got to catch up with Chad Melville of the famed Santa Rita Hills Melville Vineyard and estate winery. Chad is a great guy and super person and it was wonderful to taste through the line up of Melville wines, that he makes with the ultra talented Greg Brewer, (Brewer-Clifton) plus he brought in his own label he makes with his wife Samsara. Melville is a small winery that produces some of the best value wines in California, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Viognier and Syrah, all of which are very good to outstanding. It was a lot of fun to get the inside scoop to the vineyards used and learn Chad’s winemaking priorities, and I found out that he wants to make the most natural wine he can and express the terroir the best that he can, well so far so good, as you’ll see below I really loved all the wines I tried. His Samsara wines were stunning as well and they showcase his own talents as a star winemaker. Chad loves the cool climate wines and enjoys working with Pinot Noir and Syrah from his family vineyards as well as a couple of other premium sites that are well suited to his ideas. His Syrah has wonderful perfume and lovely zesty spices, making it his own little version of Cote-Rotie, truely it is an amazing wine, and the Pinots are just as good, so check out Samsara wines if you can and be sure to pick up some Melville too.

Melville Reviews 

2007 Melville Viognier Estate Verna’s, Santa Barbara County
This fresh and stylish Viognier is a great wine with seafood and good for most anytime with bright fruit and elegant layers of flavor. There is plenty going on right from the nose, with lots of honeysuckle, spice, yellow roses and citrus blossom leading to the restrained palate of citrus, apricot, peach and jasmine. Without being sweet, this white gives long flavors and perfume with a touch of oily butter cream. The finish is savory and refreshingly crisp and tangy. ($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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2007 Melville Chardonnay Inox, Estate (Stainless Steel, Un-wooded)
This zesty and super fresh Chardonnay is everything you would not expect from Chardonnay; it is lean, bright and mouthwateringly crisp, almost like a Sauvignon Blanc. There is New Zealand like grapefruit and minerals with touches of green apple and pear on the palate. There is little to tell you that this is in fact a California Chardonnay, and I might be hard pressed to identify it in a blind tasting, but it is very cool and interesting wine. There is only a tiny amount of this wine made and I bet it is most drunk with fine sushi! ($35 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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2006 Melville Chardonnay Estate, Santa Rita Hills
This rich and elegant Chardonnay is everything you could wish for in a wine and is a fan favorite, with a huge following for its’ value and class. There are not many Chards that come close to this one for price and quality, even in high-end restaurants this is still a deal. The nose is classic white Burgundy and palate is lush and giving, combining the best of both worlds. The palate has lots of depth with plenty of pear, apple and white peach fruits with light touches of toast, mineral, fig and vanilla. ($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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2006 Melville Pinot Noir Estate, Santa Rita Hills
This pure and clean Pinot Noir has depth and beautiful textures with rich fruit and super balance. High Kudos to the gang at Melville for making such a wonderful Pinot and letting us have it at such a good price! This is still a small production wine and I am always amazed at how good it is for the amount of money it is. There is bing cherry, plum and cranberry fruits with a rich layer of spices and minerals all of which add to the enjoyment. The finish is clear and of good length with just the right amount of oak notes and creaminess. 91-92 Points, grapelive

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2006 Melville Pinot Noir Estate “Terraces”, Santa Rita Hills
This terroir laced intense Pinot is really all about the vineyard and this most be some kind of special place, because this is great Pinot noir! Made exactly the same as the Estate Pinot, with about 50% whole cluster and the same barrel treatment, it delivers more of everything with an amazing perfume as well. Violets, currants and a hint of blueberry come at you before the rich palate of cherry and plum fruits. There are notes of raspberry, spice and smoke that highlight the purity of fruit and the sense of place. This classic wine is very difficult to get and may take some long hours to find, but it is very rewarding and worth the time and money! ($57 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive

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2006 Melville Pinot Noir Estate “Carrie’s”, Santa Rita Hills
This is another winner from this winery that keeps turning out great wine every vintage, and just keeps impressing with style and quality. This is a smoky and savory Pinot with a darker side than the other Estate wines in their line up, with black and blue fruits. There is lovely wild flowers, bacon and cassis on the nose, like a dark forest feel, but the lush palate is bright with black cherry, fresh plum and lavender oil. This is a complex and balanced Pinot that should develop nicely and a wine with balance and structure. The finish is impressive now, with sandalwood and vanilla scents and a lingering fruit and spice note. ($57 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

 Melville

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2006 Samsara Pinot Noir Melville Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills

Chad Melville and his wife’s private label, sourced from his Melville Estate Vineyard for this Pinot. This is a steal, go find it! Melville has really hit it right on here and I think it is a super wine, and ranks right up there with some of the other great wineries that use this Vineyard to such great effect, such as Brewer-Clifton, Lane Tanner and Bonaccorsi. This wine shows good richness and lovely aromatics highlighting the nature of Chad’s style of winemaking. The palate is elegant with softness and focused flavors, not a blockbuster, but a very complete and complex wine. The fruit is dark and very deep with black cherry, smoky berries and plums that keep pumping out flavors long after the glass is finished. There is subtle oak used to perfection, which adds a slight vanilla sweetness and a creamy velvet aftertaste. ($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Samsara

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