Ventura County, Upper Ojai
It’s already been a thrill for us to taste this 2016 Syrah, which represents the first cool vintage since we’ve reworked our approach to extraction with this wine. Around 2012 we had reassessed our approach to Roll Ranch Syrah, wading into further use of stem inclusion to open up some its chewier tendencies. Wading then became a plunge into majority whole cluster fermentation and pumpovers in subsequent vintages.
The 2016 vintage showed a partial rebound out of the drought. Yields came up from the paltry 2015 year but were still shy of average. Throughout even July and August the marine layer pushed well up into the Upper Ojai Valley where Roll Ranch sits, and those cool mornings provided a more gently ripened nature to this boisterous fruit.
Stepping away from the plummy opacity that dominated this wine’s youth in years past, there’s some transparency into the finer, once slow to show aspects of Roll Ranch. There’s more room for the co-fermented Viognier to express itself, melding with the Syrah to express lavender chocolate, just torn Apricot, and rich seductive flavors of ripe cherry and muddled raspberry. What is lavish gets balanced by appealing dustiness and the earthy punctuation of dried herbs and nutmeg from the stems. It will continue to evolve a long while, but this Roll Ranch Syrah just rocks already—how nice is it to not have to wait ten years first?!
Blend: 100% Syrah | Alc: 13.6% | Vinification: traditional open top fermentation with 20% whole clusters | Barrel Aging: 20 months in French oak barrels, 27% new | Total Production: 264 cases