Join us April 19 at Les Marchands for the Santa Barbara Wine Futures.
Read the Great introduction to the 2013 vintage by Brian Mc.Clintic.
2010 Syrah Melville
Sta Rita Hills
Click Here to access the Selection.
It is hard to complain when life is easy and things come your way without effort, but then again there is a certain satisfaction in being forced to work hard, be on a deadline or having your hand forced by nature. The tension of knowing you teeter between catastrophe and success can be energizing. That is what the 2010 vintage brought to the syrah grapes from Melville Vineyard.
Even for the chilly Santa Rita Hills appellation it was an unusually cool and humid growing season with high disease pressure. We waited through several cycles of rain and warm dry weather, but the vines struggled and the grapes had difficulty ripening. When I finally chose to bring them into the winery there was no question that we needed to sort them cluster by cluster to keep only the healthy fruit. It was hard to discern what to discard as the juice was flowing and the clusters were falling apart, and in the end we discarded 40% of the crop. Their disintegrating state confirmed at least that the grapes were ripe, even at their lower than usual sugar levels.
It was difficult to start the long process of fermentation and elevage with doubts and fear for the integrity of the future wine. But at the first tasting when we pressed the syrah to barrel it was already showing pretty aromas and wonderfully nuanced and complex fragrances. The doubts faded as we began to realize that this was not the usual Melville, there was something special here, something unlike any of the other vintages. A generosity, but also a softness encapsulating a dizzying array of balsamic, spicy incense aromas cleared our worries about the quality of the wine.
Today the 2010 Syrah Melville is one of our favorite expressions of the varietal and certainly one of the most powerful transformations from grape to wine we have witnessed. There might be truth to the notion that only under hardship can beauty be revealed. We see this struggle in the northern reaches of the Rhone Valley of France where syrah barely achieves maturity in many years yet yields peppery, smoky exotic wines with fresh vibrant flavors that marry so well with hearty foods. This 2010 vintage confirms our belief that the best wines come from sites and years where the vines struggle to ripen their crop.
This is a wine that is delicious to drink today yet will continue to develop for another ten years at minimum.165 cases made.
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