Upper Ojai, Ventura County
This wine marks my twentieth release of Roll Ranch Syrah, and what a journey it’s been making this wine! This vineyard in the warm reaches of Upper Ojai has always stood out as our warmest climate syrah. For many years it was a strutting powerhouse of flavor—massive, tannic and boisterously fruit driven—which got us a lot of good scores and new followers. In more recent years I’ve tried to tame the beast, so to speak, without neutering the wine in a way that would alienate its biggest fans.
When there’s so much density of character, a wine can be afford to chiseled at and remain large-scaled and powerful. The biggest change we’ve made is increasing the amount of whole clusters to a substantial majority. In the past what vexed me with this wine was the sheer dominance of fruitiness and the hardness of tannin—it just needed so much time! Stem inclusion fixed both those issues: while still dense with fruit, the in-berry carbonic fermentation helps that fruit float rather than plod, and stems lend an overlay of spicy and herbal complexity. Also, at warm and sunny Roll Ranch, stems give tannins that are fine and mouth-coating, without the grit and hardness we used to accept from the site.
That said, if you accept that a bridled beast is still the same beast, that’s what I’ve found here. There’s still gusty, rocking fruit in Roll Ranch Syrah. The small, drought-affected crop of 2015 followed suit with enormous flavor—typical Roll Ranch flavors of dark cherries, plum and apricot drive forward with surprising length, before the fruit ebbs and reveals more dusty and drying flavors of mocha, allspice and rubbed sage. Though it doesn’t demand ten years or Fred Flinstone’s hunk of meat the same way Roll Ranch used to, neither of those would hurt either!
Blend: 98% Syrah 2% Viognier | Alc: 14.5% | Vinification: Barrel fermented in French Oak, 15% New | Barrel Aging: 16 Months | Total Production 213 Cases
Another age-worthy wine is the 2015 Syrah Roll Ranch, which comes from a site just outside of Ojai. Beautiful notes of lavender, blueberries, ground pepper, and assorted leafy herbs all give way to a medium to full-bodied, silky, impeccably balanced Syrah that shows ample underlying structure and tannic grip. Nevertheless, it has a beautiful layer of fruit and offers pleasure even today. Jeb Dunnuck- 94 Points
Antonio Galloni’s VINOUS
“The 2015 Syrah Roll Ranch offers striking interplay of the natural richness of the year with a good bit of freshness and translucence, especially for such a big wine. Dark red and purplish berry fruit, rose petal, lavender and spice all flesh out effortlessly. In 2015, the Roll Ranch Syrah stands out for its finesse and total sense of class. The Roll Ranch emerges from a parcel of own-rooted vines.” 2020-2030 94 Points