Literally translated from Italian: "There is no two, without three". Although the equivalent English proverb would be "when it rains, it pours", the literal meaning is most appropriate here because Montemaggiore is announcing our third vintage of Syrah (and there's no second vintage without a third)! Also of interest in this newsletter is our Release Weekend where you can taste the new Syrahs, a special three-vintage Syrah vertical, new wine lovers of the month, and some information on Montemaggiore's very distinctive wine press.
New Releases: first ever Reserve Syrah
Benvenuti 2004 Syrahs! For the only time in
our short five-vintage history, we created two different Syrahs
in 2004, both from our mountainside estate vineyards. The Hilltop
Reserve comes from the topmost block of Paolo's Vineyard, which has
the rockiest soils, the best sun exposure, the smallest grapes—and
produces the most intense wines. Typically this block adds a
distinct depth and intensity to our Syrah, but 2004 was such an
exceptional year, we decided to bottle these six barrels separately.
Note that this wine recently won a double gold medal at the
prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition. You'll appreciate the
intense blackberry, chocolate, espresso, and
bacon-fat flavor profile, along with its ageability in your cellar.
150 cases were made. $45 per bottle ($36 for Club Primo members, $38.25 for Club Secondo).
The 2004 Paolo's Vineyard Syrah also benefited
from an exceptional growing year. The cold, wet, dark spring of 2003
led to fewer bunches in the vineyard in 2004 (grape bunches are
formed internally the spring before they emerge). Our deficit
irrigation practices caused the individual grapes to be much
smaller. Fewer bunches with smaller berries leads to a deep
intensity in the wines. We were further rewarded with wonderfully
mild and even summer temperatures-the 2004 harvest was our earliest
on record. What a spectacular year! With a bit more subtlety and
finesse than the Hilltop Reserve, the 2004 Paolo's Vineyard Syrah
shows off deep blueberry, backberry, white pepper, and vanilla
aromas and flavors. For the third year in a row, the Paolo's
Vineyard Syrah is priced at $32 ($25.60 for Club Primo, $27.20 for
Our 2004 Syrahs are available now at the winery, and can be ordered online—in a few months
you'll see them in select restaurants and wine shops. To learn more about the wines, check out the wine area on our website or join us at Montemaggiore in Healdsburg for our Release Weekend on July
21-22. Although there is no fee for the event, please RSVP because you will need directions!
Let's Get Vertical
With three Syrah vintages being
released, we've put together a three-pack vertical set as a special
introduction to Montemaggiore wines—perhaps for yourself, a
relative, or even a colleague. This special vertical consists of the
2002, 2003, and 2004 Paolo's Vineyard Syrahs. Verticals from
individual vineyards are fun, educational tools for discerning
common vineyard attributes along with vintage variation. You can
also observe how Montemaggiore Syrah ages, trying to pinpoint how
specific characteristics develop with time. This vertical of
Montemaggiore Syrahs even provides a great start to a wine tasting
party comprised of friends or neighbors! Priced at $86, the special
vertical includes a 10% discount!
Of course this Special Syrah Vertical can be ordered online.
Wine Lovers of the Month: Alan and Sue
Continuing on the theme of verticality, we'd like to introduce you to some rock-climbing friends of ours: Alan and Sue! These two wine lovers hail
from Nottingham, England and Alcalali, Spain (depending on the
season). Alan started rock climbing at the tender age of 14: "It was
the first time I had ever seen a crag and some instinct inside me
just said 'climb it', so I did. No ropes, no proper boots, no safety
equipment. I sometimes look back and wonder how I didn't die there
and then." At the age of 59, Alan has just recently climbed his most
difficult assent, with a 5.13b rating (see Wikipedia for an explanation). While Climb
magazine calls Alan the "wise old man of climbing", we just call him
plain crazy! When not climbing, Alan and Sue enjoy traveling, music
(from Mozart to Led Zepplin), and tasting wine. Upon visiting
Montemaggiore, they saw Lise struggling to secure wine hoses with
ropes, and Alan taught her some very useful climbing knots!
Sonoma County Showcase, July 12-15
If you are planning
to be in the Healdsburg area in mid-July, you may be interested in
the 25th Annual Sonoma County Showcase of Wine and Food for four
days of incomparable culinary experiences! On Thursday and Friday,
various wineries will be hosting special lunches and dinners.
Unfortunately, Montemaggiore's luncheon is sold out, but we'd love
to have you join us in the Helquist/Seghesio Tent for the Friday
night Gala. On Saturday and Sunday is the flagship event, the Taste
of Sonoma, where 100+ wineries and 60 chefs offer fantastic samples
of their wines and food. The event also includes cooking
demonstrations, winemaker seminars, tasting panels, and a
marketplace featuring Sonoma County artisanal products. For more
details on the events and to order tickets visit sonomawine.com. For a
special discount to our mailing list members only, you will receive
a $25 discount on the 2-day Taste of Sonoma by entering "wineclub"
as the promotional code during checkout.
Winemaking 101: Pressing Facts!
Soils, weather, harvest date, yeast, and
barrels are often heralded as crucial to wine quality. Vastly
underappreciated, however, is the wine press. Following the
fermentation and after the "free run" wine is drained from the tank,
a wine press squeezes out 5-20% more red wine from the grape pomace
(skins and seeds). The "press wine" can make or break a bottled
wine, and press design is critical to high quality press wine.
Generally viewed as inferior, most wineries expect so little from
their press wine that it's blended into to lower-quality second tier
wines instead of an individual vineyard's free run. Here at
Montemaggiore, we produce such small amounts of so few wines that
every drop must be top quality. In fact, we believe that press wine
can actually improve the overall structure, texture, and ageability
of our wine. Hence, we splurged on purchasing the Rolls Royce of
wine presses, the JLB Basket Press from Vaslin-Bucher.
The basket press, a design originating with the ancient Egyptians
and their reed baskets, is undergoing a renaissance as of late.
Wineries such as Araujo, Quintessa, and Chateau Petrus utilize the
JLB in the pursuit of maximum quality. A very simple design, the
basket press utilizes a perforated "basket" (at first reeds, then
wooden slats, now stainless steel) and a vertical piston or ram to
gently squeeze out extra wine from the grape pomace.
Historically, basket presses have yielded little wine, required
long cycle times (to fill, press, empty and refill a basket), and
were difficult to sanitize. Thus winemakers cheered the efficiency
of the first tank presses (also called membrane or bladder presses).
In the center of the perforated tank, an inflatable balloon exerts
tremendous pressure over a small surface area, thus rapidly
producing a lot of press wine. But tank presses quickly yield wine
that is virtually flavorless while containing harsh and astringent
Today's basket presses like the JLB utilize stainless steel,
quick-loading rigs and computerized control systems. Their gentle
press cycles produce a deep, flavorful, soft wine. Although one
might not think a small amount of press wine would matter, even
adding 2% of a harsh wine will make a significant impact.
Conversely, when we add an average of 7% top quality press wine from
our JLB basket press, this gives Montemaggiore wines perfect grip
Upcoming Events in California
For those of you who live or travel in California, you can taste our wines at the above-mentioned upcoming
Or just come visit us on your own schedule. We are open for tours and
tastings by appointment (707.433.9499 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ciao and have a wonderful Summer!