2018 Meliville, Syrah, Estate, Sta. Rita Hills.
The beautifully drinking deeply garnet/purple 2018 Melville Syrah has started to evolve nicely with complex layering and loads of savory crunch along with pretty undertones of violets and lavender as well as a dark berry core of dense fruit and an array of spice on the medium to ful bodied palate. This is an outrageously good bottle for the price, it fits nicely in the lineup here at Melville, where you find authentic flavors, quality and value throughout the range of the wines, even though I am particularly drawn to this Syrah, which has long been a favorite at this Lompoc estate in the sandy soils of the Sta. Rita Hills. Chad Melville’s latest collection, I just tried, includes two new wines for me, their Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay) Sparkling Wine and the “Block M” Pinot Noir, both of which deserve some follow up and along with this Estate Syrah I highly recommend. This 2018 vintage still has plenty of youthful energy and a flow of natural acidity and tons of umami character with meaty elements, in a way you are reminded of Northern Rhone cousins, but it is a pure California version with supple tannin, lush concentration and coastal saline, making for a distinct terroir example. The mouth has blueberry compote, Marionberry, plum and kirsch leading the way with hints of sweet and sour herbs, anise, camphor, cedar and lingering creme de cassis. This Syrah is just going to get better and better for more than a few years, this might be my favorite vintage I have tried, it is impressive stuff. I have also coveted the Melville Donna’s Syrah in the past, though it has such a following now, it is a tough find, while this one still flies under the radar and is easy to find, and it should be noted that 2019 looks to be another great vintage and that it is now released to the Melville mailing list and I look forward to getting some soon.

Since Chad Melville took the reins here the Melville wines have gone 100% estate grown and the farming has moved in a more sustainable direction, which shows in the intensity and his light touch with wood adds to the wines transparency, though it must be said the grapes here have always been remarkable and the wines too. After making wines with his wife under the Samsara label, Chad has found his sweet spot and it has been interesting to see what direction the focus would take here, but it really has been more than the sense of place has led the way, which is the best news I can give you, especially if you haven’t had the wines at Melville lately. The Melville Syrah, 100% varietal and all estate is, as Melville explains, a combination of five different Syrah clones (Estrella, Beaucastel 99, 1, 383, 470). The Estrella, 383 and 470 are planted on nutrient deficient, well-drained sand, which Chad adds brings out that wild flower bouquet, a trace of black olive and jazzy pepper note, while the Clone 99 from Block I is planted on denser sandy loams, that he adds, brings the depth and richness in this fabulous example of California Syrah. This is an ultra cool climate site, with the Syrah in 2018 comes into the winery in November, crazy late, but with exceptional and healthy grapes that have ripeness and complexity, while retaining vigorous freshness. Chard says he used 60% gently de-stemmed grapes with about 40% whole cluster and he fermented the Syrah in small 1.5 ton open top fermenters. Melville also notes that there was a total skin and stem contact for around 35 days, including a 7-day cold soak, almost three weeks of primary fermentation, and a two week extended maceration period before going into neutral French oak for 8 to 10 months. As I’ve said before, Syrah makes for some of the greatest (modern) California wines, and this one is wildly delicious, I suggest enjoying with simple foods and or mushroom dishes.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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