Melville: Setting High Standards for Sta Rita Hills Wines

Melville is a family-owned and operated estate winery consisting of 125 acres along Hwy 246 in the Sta. Rita Hills. About 75% of the plantings are of Pinot Noir and the balance of Chardonnay and Syrah. Melville was founded in 1989 by Ron Melville, a successful grower who moved to the Santa Rita Hills from Sonoma County’s Knights Valley. Ron’s son Chad (pictured here) serves as winemaker, having been trained on the job by Gregg Brewer who made the wines until 2016. Melville’s wines are all estate bottled and of exceptionally high quality.

We last reported on our tasting of the Melville portfolio in our recent report on  Sta. Rita Hills:  A New Look.  We were very favorably impressed with all of Chad Melville’s wines then, and in this tasting we are even more impressed with his wines. He is among the very best winemakers in the region.

The Melville Estate Vineyard

The Wines

Melville 2020 Estate Chardonnay Sta Rita Hills ($40) 92   The 2020 Estate Chardonnay is whole cluster pressed, fermented in neutral oak barrels with no malo and aged 10 months in neutral French oak.  It displays hints of honeysuckle, pear and cling peach on the nose and has a surprisingly creamy mouth feel with excellent balance and good acidity. It also shows good freshness and a clean long finish. Made from several Dijon and Heritage clones planted in 1997.  13.4% alc.

Melville 2020 Estate Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills  ($40) 95 The 2020 Estate Pinot Noir displays a medium ruby red color with a pomegranate and wild dark cherry nose. It has a firm texture, is beautifully concentrated on the palate, and is focused and clean with an earthy and herbal nuance. Sourced from 16 different clones, 40% whole cluster, fermented in small open top fermenters, and aged in neutral oak for 18 months.  A silky polished wine and an exceptional value.  Made from several clones with very low yields (1.5 tons/acre). 14% alc.

Melville 2019 Anna’s Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills ($62) 95 This Pinot Noir is sourced from an 8-acre vineyard of sandy soils planted to clones 114 and 667 and is 67% whole cluster fermented.  It displays a light red color and a red cherry nose.  Fruitier than the estate Pinot Noir, it is soft and silky on the palate with round tannins, a sense of minerals, and nuances of mushrooms/earthiness. Although not as complex as the estate wine, it is more pure and elegant. A very pretty, feminine wine.  Aged in neutral oak for 18 months. 13.7% alc.

Melville 2018 Estate Syrah Sta. Rita Hills ($38) 93    The Estate Syrah is a fresh and savory cool climate wine.  Medium dark ruby red, it is made from clones 383, 470, Estrella 1 and 99 and displays a spicy nose with notes of herbs and resin. Bold on the attack, it shows dark red fruit with herbal nuances and has a refined texture.  40% whole cluster fermented in 1.5 ton open top fermenters and aged in neutral oak. 13.9% alc.

Melville 2020 Rancho Nuevo Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills 94    This Pinot Noir  displays a medium dark ruby color and offers effusive scents of dark rose petals  and black cherry. It is big and smooth on the plate with medium-firm chunky tannins and a loamy note.  Finishes with a very long floral expression. A pure dark fruited Pinot Noir with ripe flavors.

Melville 2019 Donna’s Syrah Sta. Rita Hills ($62) 95  Donna’s Syrah is another cool climate Syrah sourced from a small 3.6 acre parcel of sandy soils planted with Clone 1 and the Estrella Clone. 100% whole clusters fermented in open top fermenters and aged 18 months in neutral French oak. It is rich and spicy on an effusive nose and is fruit forward with red and black fruit. It is boldly flavored and mouth filling on the palate, soft on entry but firmly structured with tannins more present on the finish. 14.2% alc.



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