Melville Small Lot Collection Carrie's Pinot Noir 2001
There is no place on earth quite like the Sta. Rita Hills. The highly unusual east-west (or transverse) mountain range, close proximity to the cold Pacific, consistent coastal fog, and steady afternoon breezes together create ideal conditions for growing cold-climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Ron Melville and his sons recognized that these exceptional conditions, combined with their commitment to “winegrowing,” would result in wines of remarkable quality. Melville Vineyards was established in 1996 in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills and has since become one of the most highly-regarded estates in California.
With the guidance of Head Winegrower, Chad Melville, Melville’s full-time vineyard crew nurtures their 120 estate acres organically, paying close attention to the health of both the vines and the soil. Farming aggressively, yet carefully, and with the utmost respect to Mother Nature, helps encourage the vines to produce small amounts of intensely flavored/concentrated fruit. At the time of harvest, they consider the wines to already be made, and strive to not interfere with their natural path in the cellar. To this effect, they maintain a minimalist approach by aging their wines only in neutral French oak and stainless steel and utilize whole cluster fermentation to contribute to the depth, structure, and complexity of their wines.
A superior source of California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills is the coolest, westernmost sub-region of the larger Santa Ynez Valley appellation within Santa Barbara County. This relatively new AVA is unquestionably one to keep an eye on.
The climate of Sta. Rita Hills is a natural match for Chardonnay and Pinot noir, thanks to the crisp ocean breezes and well-drained, limestone-rich calcareous soil. Here, grapes ripen just enough, while retaining brisk acidity and harmonious balance.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”