Perhaps no wine region has done more to boost its profile in the past 25 years than the Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara. Once under the radar, the tirade of enormous scores, movie references (remember Paul Giamatti AKA Miles from Sideways), and critical praise have confirmed it as one of the best regions in the world for Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay for that matter).
The reason is actually pretty simple. It’s got a completely unique weather ecosystem unlike pretty much anywhere else in the world that allows for perfect ripening of Pinot Noir. The hot California sun provides the heat, but each afternoon – just as vineyards elsewhere in the state start to overheat and raisin the berries – cool Pacific breezes are drawn in from between the Purisima and Santa Rosa Hills. Some say the region is breathing.
Some of the nation’s very best vineyards are planted here. Sea Smoke, Sanford and Benedict, and Rita’s Crown to name a few. Tucked right in the middle are the pioneering vineyards of the Melville.
Founded by Ron Melville and winemaker Greg Brewer (Clifton-Brewer), the two built a little dynasty in the heart of Sta. Rita Hills. Year in year out, the duo produced wines consistently scored in the mid-90s by EVERY wine publication. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate wrote that they are “continually blown away by what Melville Winery puts in a bottle”. Wine & Spirits Magazine has included them on their list of Top 100 wineries… in the World!
Now with Ron’s son, Chad, as head winemaker, the wines may be hitting an even higher level of excellence. The 2016 Melville Estate Pinot (Chad’s first vintage at the helm) is an absolutely stunning bottle of wine that shames Pinots at twice the price. Drawn from micro-lots of some of their most famous single-vineyards, Chad approaches this wine like he’s conducting the philharmonic. Super bright with vibrant cherry fruit and the deep earthy overtones that you find in only the very best Pinots.
Antonio Galloni was duly impressed – giving it 95 points and a gushing review. Galloni said the Estate Pinot had “beguiling aromatic complexity and nuance” and a “sense of translucent beauty.” This one’s a case buy.
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95 Points- Antonio Galloni, Vinous
The 2016 Pinot Noir Estate is a blend of the seventeen clones on the property. Freshly cut flowers, spice, mint, blood orange and dried flowers give the Estate beguiling aromatic complexity and nuance. There is a sense of translucent beauty in the 2016 that is fabulous, while the 40% whole clusters are very nicely integrated. This is such a tremendous wine.
92 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
I’m the most proud of this wine,” Chad Melville says. “This includes all 16 clones, around 130 different lots. It’s like an orchestra, using what’s left from the single-vineyard blends. To be able to pull aside those other sweet vineyard spots to bottle separately and still have this wine keep kicking ass—I’m becoming a better farmer and learning the land.” Medium ruby in color, the 2016 Pinot Noir Estate has a very bright, sunny nose of tangerine peel, ripe red cherries, spiced cranberries and rhubarb with hints of tree bark, dried earth, oolong tea and crushed strawberries plus a white pepper hint. It’s light to medium-bodied with a silky texture, intense, juicy earth-accented red fruits, softly grainy tannins and a long finish.