Ojai Syrah 2019, Santa Barbara County, California

The cool, often foggy climate of northern Santa Barbara County turns out to be one of the most ideal places to grow Syrah anywhere outside of the northern Rhone Valley in France. Here we have three valleys that run East-West to the cold Pacific Ocean, so they feed brisk coastal breezes inland and Syrah ripens gradually. Instead of the thick, jammy bombast that Syrah shows from warm vineyards, here you get that mysteriously earthy, exotic and spicy side of the varietal. The nose provides a complex profile of incense, well-oiled leather leather, balsamic and violets, while a deep notion of mocha cherries and mulberry promises rich pleasure for the mouth. It works out that way, too. The palate is suave and easy, with front-loaded fruit that glides into savory notes of tobacco, umami and chai spice. The finish is enlivened by sneaky floral notes and fine tannin that keeps you coming back for more. Vineyard Blend: Syrahs from John Sebastiano 66%, Roll Ranch 13%, Bien Nacido 2.5%, Grenache from John Sebastiano 18.5%. 2019 vintage: Syrah 81.5%, Grenache 18.5%. Vinification: open top fermentation with 22% whole clusters. Barrel aging: 16 months in neutral French oak barrels.