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Chad and Mary Melville produced small lots (typically 75 to 100 cases) of Pinot Noir and Syrah sourced from selected vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County. Their emphasis is on winegrowing with little manipulation in the winery. Whole clusters are used in the fermentations.
Chad is an escapee from the stock market world who moved to the Sta. Rita Hills in the mid 1990s to plant a vineyard. The Melville Winery has since become one of California's premier producers of Pinot Noir.
The winery's tasting room is open Friday-Sunday from 12:00 to 4:00 and by appointment at 1500 East Chestnut Court Unit A, in Lompoc. 805-331-2292.
2009 Samsara Kesslar-Haak Vineyards Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 162 cases, $38. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very reserved nose offering hints of dark berries, spice, stem and oak. The fruit-powered attack of plum and black raspberry is flanked by mildly aggressive tannins, with the fruit flavors falling off quickly on the finish. Tasted the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the aromatics were still lacking, but the fruit was more vibrant and appealing. Good (+). Reviewed January 11, 2012 ARTICLE »
2009 Samsara Rancho La Viña Vineyards Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., 120 cases, $46. · Darkly colored in the glass. Some reduction on the nose with aromas of black berries, earth, charred oak and campfire. Full-bodied core of purple fruit in a burly, husky style finishing with black grape fruit and astringent tannins. A little softer in the mouth the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with less oak on the nose indicating the wine will benefit from more time in bottle. Decent. Reviewed January 11, 2012 ARTICLE »
2009 Samsara Melville Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 120 cases, $48. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very non-descriptive and reserved nose offering hints of forest floor and oak. Richly fruited and dense with flavors of black raspberries and Hoison sauce lingering on the fruit-filled finish. Big, slightly harsh tannins make this a fatiguing wine. Still tannic the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Needs protein (read steak) to neutralize the tannins. Decent. Reviewed January 11, 2012 ARTICLE »
2008 Samsara Ampelos Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., 123 cases, $42. From a biodynamically farmed site. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Beautifully nuanced aromas and flavors, strapping and hearty but more reserved than the other two 2008 Samsara bottlings. It offers black raspberries, creamy strawberries, cinnamon and ginger flavors with an earthy undertone, holding on tightly on the dramatic finish. Keeps getting better and better in the glass over time. A delicious, supple, tannin-filled wine with personality. I drank this with roast duck and it was a match to die for. Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »
2008 Samsara La Hermanas Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 108 cases, $44. · The darkest of the three Samsara Pinot Noirs tasted. More subdued on the nose but picking up interest in the glass over time revealing aromas of dark stone fruits, spice, oak, and dark roses. Delicious and vivid plum and blackberry flavors with an underpinning of dark chocolate and vanillin. Only in California can you get high-spirited fruit like this. Drink this with a big ribeye steak. Very good. Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »
2008 Samsara Turner Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 96 cases, $46. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Welcoming aromas of black cherries, berry jam, purple rose petals and a hint of spice. Tasty core of dark red Pinot fruits with a subtle stem note and a slight confected accent. Nicely balanced with fine-grain tannins and a silky mouthfeel and some persistence of fruit aromas on the finish. A solid wine, but offering a monotone of fruit flavor. Good (+). Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »