The Ojai Vineyard 2002 Syrah Melville Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
When you're looking for the best Syrah in California, where do you look? Aside from in some highly rated Pinot Noirs. In my occasionally humble opinion, the best and most consistent Syrah producer in the state is Adam Tolmach at The Ojai Vineyard. His parade of Syrah bottlings is dazzling in almost every vintage, like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade without all the hot air. (Boy, that sure reads like a joke even if it isn't particularly amusing.) Of all his Syrah bottlings, and there are about eight of them, it's his "Roll Ranch" Syrah that is consistently the most brilliant--from a vineyard in Ventura County!--and I'd encourage you to seek it out. But I also love the way he handles his Melville fruit (from Billy Buddbreak to harvest, it's his coolest climate vineyard). The 2002 Melville from the Santa Rita Hills (yes, I know, technically it's the "Sta. Rita Hills", but in 2002 it was still "Santa Rita Hills" and that's what's on the label so get off my back, OK?) made my eyes light up, my nose tingle and made me want to break into a chorus of "Sta. Claus is Comin' to Town." I don't say this too often, but just the color of the wine was beautiful--a deep and dazzling purple like Barney the Dinosaur run through a blender. The wine was a bit too cold coming out of my cellar so it took some time for it to warm and open, but when it did it revealed a lovely nose of pure blackberries, white pepper, spice, and a hint of flowers that I'd call violets. All of the purity and intensity of the nose seemed to hint at it being rather gooey and dense on the palate, but, instead, it had a firm backbone of acidity, chocolate undertones, and bright, layered fruit. I always know when I open an Ojai Syrah that I won't be disappointed, and that sort of consistency is relatively rare in the wine world.
The HoseMaster Score 877,088 Points
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