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04 Jun 2021 | Jessica Martinez

COOL CLIMATE, GREAT GRAPES, GIFTED WINEMAKER

A few weeks back I took a drive up to Santa Ynez for a few days to get a taste of the valley and some of what it has to offer.  It would take me a very long time to try everything up there, but of the few wineries I did get to, Melville is one of my favorites. They had some of the most elegant Pinot Noirs I’ve ever had from California. The scenery wasn’t horrible either.

Everything was still “outdoor only” in Santa Ynez Valley, and I will say it was a very chilly morning, but the grounds and winery were breathtaking.  We sat under a veranda of pretty purple flowers that brought life to what could have been a very gloomy day.  The experience of this weather was fitting; it was a bit foggy and windy, which happen to be some of the best conditions for growing the finest Pinot Noirs, and I was not disappointed.

Melville was founded by Ron Melville in 1989, who played a big part in the founding of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara County.  Ron shared his love of grape growing with his sons, and son Chad has taken over most of the day-to-day operations at the winery.

Melville is an estate winery, meaning they only work with the grapes they grow and which they have complete control over.

Melville is located closer to Lompoc where the soil is mostly dune sand interspersed with clay loam and shallow hard pans of shale.  The estate has 17 clones of Pinot Noir, 8 clones of Syrah, and 8 clones of Chardonnay.  All blocks are fermented separately and kept that way all throughout elevage.  Located just 10 miles from the ocean, the Melville estate experiences morning and evening fog with afternoon winds.  The cool climate and calcareous rock and sand help produce grapes with ideal natural acidity and flavor balance.

 

2019 Melville Estate Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills

This wine is 100% estate fruit from sandy soils and is a combination of 16 clones.  40% is whole cluster ferment and left on the skins and stem contact for 30 days. 2 weeks of fermentation. The grapes are then pressed and transferred to 10 yer old French oak barrels. Aromatically this wine has ripe red raspberry with orange zest and touches of rhubarb. The palate is full of savory black tea, dried eucalyptus and lingering bing cherries with soft tannins.

$34.99 per bottle

 

2020 Melville Estate Chardonnay Clone 76 Inox, Sta. Rita Hills

This stainless steel Chardonnay is cold fermented (5 months) and sees no oak contact or malolactic fermentation, meaning this wine is a pure crisp clean representation of the chardonnay grape. Aromatics of lychee, pear, and kiwi. Back notes full of floral honeysuckle nuances, Meyer lemon. Bright and lively acidity on the plate with salinity and linear acidity that zips down the palate.

$41.99 per bottle

 

2019 Melville “Block M” Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills

Savory and spicy notes of shiitake, mushrooms, cinnamon, star anise, and wet slate emerge initially with time, richer fruit components of strawberry, orange marmalade, and blueberry. Ripe tannins that give the wine depth and intensity

$57.99 per bottle

 

2019 Melville Sandy’s Block Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills

Skin and stem contact for 30 days two week fermentation and one week of extended mace ration. Neutral French oak with no sulfur added. This wine is full of ripe fruits such as black currents, bing cherries with orange, rose hips and smoky sandalwood. The wine has lively acidity as well as juicy, well integrated tannins that give the wine a strong backbone that wont quit.

$48.99 per bottle

 

2018 Melville Estate Syrah, Sta. Rita Hills

This wine is made up of 5 different clones of syrah. One of the clones lends a profile of high toned white pepper flowers and spice while another clones lends depth and richness to the wine. 60% of the wine is destemmed and spends 35 days with skin contact and aged in French oak barrels that are 10-15 years old. Notes of fig, savory rich meat, eucalyptus and black peppercorns. Dark lingering fruit, black olive, and a hint of nori on a very umami forward palate. The back end has delicate soft tannins with a fresh streak of acidity that anchors the powerful finish.

$35.99 per bottle

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