The Rhone Report

Jeb Dunnuck-December 2011

2010 Ojai Viognier Roll Ranch Vineyard Red 90
2008 Ojai Grenache Thompson Vineyard Red 89
2006 Ojai Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard Red 94
2010 Ojai Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard Red 93-95
2006 Ojai Syrah Santa Barbara County Red 90
2006 Ojai Syrah Roll Ranch Vineyard Red 92
2007 Ojai Syrah Roll Ranch Vineyard Red 92+
2006 Ojai Syrah White Hawk Red 93
2007 Ojai Syrah White Hawk Red 93+
2006 Ojai Syrah Presidio Vineyard Red 94
2007 Ojai Syrah Presidio Vineyard Red 94+
2007 Ojai Syrah Thompson Vineyard Red 94
2007 Ojai Syrah Melville Vineyard Red 94
2010 Ojai Syrah Melville Vineyard Red 91-93+
Ojai

This is another superb lineup by Adam Tolmach (and assistant winemaker Fabien Castel) and while decidedly California in style and ripeness, they all possess overriding elegant profiles, notable acid backbones, and age-worthy structures.
Prices here remain low and these are no brainer purchases in multiple bottle lots.
Website: www.ojaivineyard.com

2010 Ojai Viognier Roll Ranch Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $NA
Incredibly steely and juicy, the 2010 Ojai Viognier Roll Ranch Vineyard has edgy citrus, dried honeycomb, and mineral aromas that possess serious cut and vibrancy on the nose. Medium-bodied and showing more stone fruits on the palate, as well as racy acidity, this delicious Viognier should be enjoyed over the coming 3-4 years. (90 pts.)

2008 Ojai Grenache Thompson Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $33
Better than the ’07 and a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah, the 2008 Ojai Grenache Thompson Vineyard sports first rate aromatics of framboise, underbrush, gingerbread, white pepper, and crushed flower like nuances on the nose. Much more fleshy and fruit driven on the palate than the prior vintage, this carries a medium-bodied, supple, yet still focused and elegant feel, good acidity, and an enjoyable finish that keeps you coming back for another sip. Very easy drinking, and while this lacks length, I do like the balance. It should continue to evolve and aged gracefully for 6-8 years, if not longer. (89 pts.)

2006 Ojai Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley) $38
I reviewed the 2006 Ojai Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard in Issue 2, and it hasn’t lost a beat, with dazzling aromatics of smoked meat, toast, blackberry, chocolate, and spice cabinet characteristics on the nose. This is followed by a medium to full-bodied, brilliantly balanced wine that possesses a seamless, light texture, superb balance, and a very long finish. While the balance and texture allows this to drink beautifully, I still think it will be better in 3-5 years. (94 pts.)

2010 Ojai Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley) $NA
A gorgeous barrel sample, the 2010 Ojai Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard is a peppery, meaty, and mineral-laced Syrah that boasts a medium to full-bodied, structured palate, a chewy, rich texture, and fantastic purity of fruit. Very youthful and unevolved, yet with notable balance and the fruit to allow it to show well on release, this will benefit from short to mid-term cellaring and, as with most of Adam’s wines, age gracefully. (93-95 pts.)

2006 Ojai Syrah Santa Barbara County (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $28
The lightest, yet most mineral driven wine in the lineup, the 2006 Ojai Syrah Santa Barbara County is a fantastic value that delivers pure, edgy aromatics of crisp blackberry and raspberry fruit, wet stone, stale bread, pepper, and spice cabinet on the nose. While there’s no denying that this lacks the depth and some of the richness of the single vineyard offerings, this has notable complexity and freshness on the aromas. Medium to full-bodied on the palate,with vibrant acidity, a clean, focused texture, and plenty of fruit, this delicious Syrah might just surprise with its age-ability. Regardless, this is a solid multiple bottle purchase and should easily drink well for 5-8 years or more. (90 pts.)

2006 Ojai Syrah Roll Ranch Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast) $44
The 2006 Ojai Syrah Roll Ranch Vineyard continues to shine and I seem to rate it higher every time I taste it. Showing intense and noteworthy aromatics of black fruits, smoked meats, game, lavender, and loads of underlying minerality, this medium to full-bodied beauty sticks a good balance between fruit and structure on the palate. The balance here is impeccable and while a previous bottle had me wondering if there was more structure than fruit, this bottle lays that to rest and I think this is one for the cellar. While there is no denying it is delicious now, I would give bottles another 3-5 years, and then drink over the following decade or longer. (92 pts.)

2007 Ojai Syrah Roll Ranch Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast) $44
A big, meaty Syrah, with a deep, rich aromatic profile of chocolate laced black fruits, dusty earth, roasted herbs, licorice, and rolled stone, the 2007 Ojai Syrah Roll Ranch Vineyard is full-bodied on the palate and possesses a rounded, voluptuous texture (2% co-fermented Viognier may account for this), serious concentration and a firm, tannic core. Slightly unformed now, yet with brilliant potential, this needs to be hidden in the cellar for 5-6 years, and should drink beautifully for 15+ years. (92+ pts.)

2006 Ojai Syrah White Hawk (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $38
The 2006 Ojai Syrah White Hawk is up there with the best from this estate, showing brilliant, ripe aromatics of smoky currant and blackberry fruit, charcoal, toast, and floral characteristics on the nose. Not as intense or smoky as the Bien Nacido, but slightly more nuanced and spicy, the wine is medium to full-bodied on the palate and impressively balanced, showing a seamless, silky texture, ripe, borderline sweet fruit, no hard edges, and a long, enjoyably dry finish. This beauty should continue to show beautifully over the coming 10-15 years. (93 pts.)

2007 Ojai Syrah White Hawk (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $38 Possibly even a touch better is the 2007 Ojai Syrah White Hawk. Showing loads of upfront Syrah characteristics, with creamy raspberry and blackberry fruits, peppered pot roast, graphite, and crushed flower aromas all showing on the nose, this medium to full-bodied beauty has a supple, rich texture, sound underlying structure, and integrated acidity that emerges on the finish. While this has the fruit to shine now, it will be even better in 3-5 years, with upwards of 10-12 years of longevity. (93+ pts.)

2010 Ojai Syrah White Hawk (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $NA
Tasted out of barrel, the 2010 Ojai Syrah White Hawk shows upfront and perfumed characteristics with juicy raspberry, underbrush, and spice characteristics to go with a balanced, fresh, and clean palate. It should require 1-2 years of bottle age and have a decade of prime drinking. (91-93 pts.)

2006 Ojai Syrah Presidio Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $49
I reviewed the 2006 Ojai Syrah Presidio Vineyard over a year ago, and it’s still showing beautifully with a youthful, Northern Rhône (think Cornas) like personality. Raw meat, bacon, and searing white pepper frame ripe blackberry and raspberry styled fruits on the nose. Medium to full-bodied and still a baby in terms of maturity, with ripe, textured fruit, good structure, and plenty of length, this impressive Syrah needs 2-3 years of bottle age and will drink well for a decade or longer. (94 pts.)

2007 Ojai Syrah Presidio Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $49
Always one of the most exotic and cool-climate styled in the lineup, the 2007 Ojai Syrah Presidio Vineyard is loaded with violet-laced black fruits, black pepper, wet stone like minerality, and beefy nuances on the nose. Deeply concentrated and backwards on the palate, yet with a polished, supple texture, integrated acidity, and a structured, tannic finish, this serious Syrah needs 3-4 years of bottle age, and should drink well for 12-15 years or more. (94+ pts.)

2007 Ojai Syrah Thompson Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $40
Classic cooler climate California Syrah, the 2007 Ojai Syrah Thompson Vineyard, a blend of 80% Syrah and the rest Grenache and Mourvedre aged for 18 months in barrel, boasts knockout aromatics of smoked black fruits, ground pepper, meat juice, violets, and mint that give way to a medium to fullbodied, perfectly balanced, structured wine that has a pure texture, notable mid-palate depth, and laser like focus on the tannic finish. Still incredibly youthful, this needs 3-4 years of bottle age, and should drink well for 12-15 years. (94 pts.)

2007 Ojai Syrah Melville Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills – Sta. Rita Hills) $44
Upfront and perfumed, with an already complex bouquet of violets, bay leaf, smoked herbs, pepper, lavender, and wild berry fruits, the 2007 Ojai Syrah Melville Vineyard is suave and silky on the palate, showing a brilliant texture, no hard edges, and a seamless, pure finish. Easily the most approachable and supple in the lineup, this brilliant Syrah should still be even better in 2-3 years, yet also age just as long as some of the more austere efforts. Impressive all around and this gorgeous Syrah should not be missed by any California Syrah lover! (94 pts.)

2010 Ojai Syrah Melville Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills – Sta. Rita Hills) $NA
The 2010 Ojai Syrah Melville Vineyard, tasted as a barrel sample, is decidedly cool climate and exotic in profile, showing wild notes of peppered meat, peat moss, animal, and raspberry styled fruits. Medium-bodied, and certainly well textured, with notable length and a fresh feel, this has a slight feral edge that might make it controversial, yet it’s still expectedly youthful and unformed at this stage in the game. (91-93 pts.)

www.TheRhoneReport.com Issue 10, December 2011


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