2021 Melville Sta. Rita Hills Syrah

Syrah - 750ML
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WA 96 WE 96
WA 96

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, December 2020

The 2021 Syrah Estate, vinified with 40% whole clusters, has a medium to deep ruby color and pretty aromatic nuances of peppercorn, earth, mint and cocoa and a core of blueberry and blackberry fruit. The medium-bodied...
WE 96

Wine Enthusiast, March 2023

This is cool-climate Syrah at its finest, full of energy, umami and spice. Concentrated aromas of boysenberry and white and black pepper make a juicy nose. The palate wraps generous, complex flavors of berry, rosemary and...


Color & Type Red
Varietal Syrah
Country USA
Region California
Sub-region Central Coast
Appellation Santa Barbara
Sub-appellation Santa Rita Hills
Vintage 2021
Size 750ML
Percent alcohol 13.7%
Closure Cork

In 1996, founder Ron Melville's desire to grow cold-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah brought him to the Sta. Rita Hills where he established his winery, situated amongst the beautiful rolling hills where the grapes are grown exclusively in their three estate vineyards.

Melville currently has 120 acres under vine. The soil is mostly Lompoc dune sand, interspersed with clay loam and shallow hard pans of Monterey shale. The estate currently has 16 clones of Pinot Noir, 9 clones of Syrah, and 6 clones of Chardonnay - all on a variety of low-vigor rootstocks. All blocks are fermented in small lots and isolated through their entire period of elevage, which provides Melville’s team with an ongoing exhibition of how they can fine tune vineyard practices in order to achieve the most unmanipulated and site-specific wines possible.

Melville “grows their flavors,” using no new oak and adding only yeast.

The fruit for this wine comes exclusively from Melville’s Sta. Rita Hills estate and is a combination of two different Syrah clones (Estrella and Clone 99). The Estrella is from Donna’s block which is planted on well-drained, nutrient-deficient sand. The neutrality of that soil always lends an intoxicating, high-toned bouquet of flowers and spice while the Clone 99 from Block I is planted on denser sandy-loam soil, bringing depth and richness.

70% of the fruit is gently de-stemmed with 30% remaining as whole clusters. It’s all fermented in small 1.5 ton open top fermenters. Total skin and stem contact average 30 days (7 day cold soak, 2+ weeks fermentation, and 1+ week extended maceration). From the press, the wine is transferred directly to neutral barrels (5-20 year old French oak) where it remains sur lie with no sulfur until May, when it is gently pressure racked for the first time and prepared for bottling in August.

The 2021 Melville Sta. Rita Hills Syrah is a remarkable expression of the Syrah varietal with the distinctive character of the Santa Rita Hills sub-appellation in Santa Barbara, California. This American wine, produced by the esteemed Melville winery, is a testament to the excellent viticultural practices of the Central Coast region.

The wine pours a medium to deep ruby color, indicative of the concentrated, bold flavors that await within. The nose is immediately struck by the complex aromatic profile, with fragrant notes of peppercorn, earth, mint, and cocoa interwoven with a rich core of blueberry and blackberry fruit.

On the palate, this Syrah is medium-bodied, with a detailed and concentrated flavor profile that mirrors the nose. Chalky tannins provide a robust structure, while mouthwatering acidity adds a spark of energy to the palate. The finish is long and fragrant, promising further complexity and harmony as the wine continues to evolve in the bottle over the next 3-5 years.

This 2021 Syrah is a perfect representation of cool-climate Syrah at its absolute finest, brimming with energy, umami, and spice. The palate presents a generous array of complex flavors, including berry, rosemary, and clove, all wrapped up in a beautifully grippy package. With an alcohol content of 13.7%, it is beautifully balanced and leaves a lasting impression.

Highly lauded by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast, each giving the wine a score of 96, this Syrah is a testament to the winemaking prowess of the Melville winery and the unique terroir of the Sta. Rita Hills. It has been sealed with a cork, preserving its quality and ensuring its potential for aging. This is a wine of great sophistication, promising an exquisite tasting experience for all those fortunate enough to sample it.