2011 Ojai "Roll Ranch" Santa Barbara Syrah

SKU #1207668 92 points Vinous

 Brilliant ruby. Smoky, mineral-accented cherry and blackberry on the deeply perfumed nose. Vibrant, tightly wound black and blue fruit flavors pick up floral pastille and cracked pepper nuances with air. Taut and densely packed, finishing with noteworthy energy and length and harmonious tannins. This is still a baby. Making so many different wines from different varieties and vineyards "keeps the mind active," according to Adam Tolmach, and it also "keeps you curious-it's impossible to fall into a rut." Assistant winemaker Fabien Castel noted that Ojai has been steadily moving to fewer punchdowns during fermentation "to preserve elegance and avoid overextraction" and that the oak regimen continues to rely heavily on neutral and "really neutral" barrels. Tolmach said, again, that while he continues to be pleased "more often than not" by how the richer, more powerful wines that he made in the past have aged, "that's not the style that makes me happy."  (12/2014)

Wine Spectator

 Marked by a dusty, dried herb edge, this features fresh-turned loamy earth nuances, ending with firm, gripping tannins. Drink now through 2025. 232 cases made. (Web Only, 2015)

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Varietal:

Shiraz/Syrah

- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.
Country:

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.
Sub-Region:

California

- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.