Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Monte Rosso Vineyard

I don't know how I got started on this one since I don't even have any Monte Rosso Vineyard wines in the store.  I guess I must have read about it and got curious.  Anyway here's what I learned...

The Monte Rosso Vineyard is a 350 acre plot located at 1,200 feet altitude in the western facing Mayacamas mountains of Sonoma Valley.  It was first planted in the 1880's meaning the labor was backbreaking for man and beast alike and as we know from earlier studies, the Phylloxera menace was just ahead and poised to undo whatever planting was just accomplished.  So after replanting (post-Phylloxera), the vineyard produced well under a couple different names before Louis Martini bought the property in 1938.  It was Martini who dubbed it Monte Rosso for its iron and potassium-rich volcanic mountain soils.

Martini had been purchasing fruit from the vineyard owners for years before his 1938 purchase and shrewd Italian immigrant that he was, he recognized the indelible terroir stamp the produce showed.  To this day it is said no matter what the grape variety in the wine, the Monte Rosso terroir shows through.  One wine industry insider claims he's not sure he can always distinguish Monte Rosso Cabernet from Zinfandel so much as he can taste Monte Rosso terroir in the wine!

I just remembered why I decided to read up on Monte Rosso.  I read somewhere that it is supposed to be the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Sonoma and that makes sense given its location.  Monte Rosso is on the other side of the mountain (and county line) from Mt. Veeder of Napa.

As of 2013, Monte Rosso is also recognized as being a part of the new Moon Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area) which boasts the best Bordeaux grapes in the county.  The appellation's Cabernet Sauvignon of course is the best variety with black olive, anise, lavender, blackberry, coffee, and cocoa all in evidence.  Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Merlot all exhibit dark fruit minimally and in some cases, berries showing a tannic inky consistency.

More than twenty wineries market wines sourced from Monte Rosso Vineyard.  In 2002 Gallo purchased Louis Martini and they market several of those labels with Monte Rosso fruit.  More than forty wineries now call the Moon Mountain AVA home.    

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