I’ve loved the Cabernet from Monte Rosso Vineyard for as long as I can remember, and I consider myself lucky that my good friend Mike Martini – whose family bought the ranch in the late 1930’s – continues to share a couple of blocks with me every year. With elevations that range from 900 to 1,200 feet, the aptly named (by Mike’s grandfather) Monte Rosso is a classic mountain vineyard, resting firmly on the southwest side of the Mayacamas mountain range in the Sonoma Valley AVA. Sitting above the fog line with undulating hillsides, the vineyard’s iron-rich soils are red, rocky and well drained. Vines struggle for nutrients here, and the rich concentrated fruit shows it. This harvest marks the 9th vintage for this wine.
The 2009 vintage gave winemakers in Sonoma lush, beautiful grapes for great wine. Late spring rains delayed irrigation and a warm spell in June helped curtail excessive canopy development. The growing season counted only four or five days of intense heat, instead of the nearly 14 days we get in a typical growing season, helping to reduce demand for water when the resource was relatively scarce. Though rainfall was little more than two-thirds the norm for the third year in a row, the timing of the precipitation was on the vine's side. With little to no frost and a mild, relatively cool growing season, the forces of nature worked in unison in 2009 to give vines and grapes the best scenario possible.
Cabernet grapes from the Monte Rosso Vineyard need little in the way of winemaking technique. We picked the grapes by hand and gave them the small lot treatment, fermenting them in small tanks which we pumped over several times a day. After pressing, the wine rested a month in seasoned French oak barrels; it was then transferred to new French oak barrels – from the Nevers forest – where it aged for 24 months prior to bottling.
“One sip of this wine and you know you’re in mountain territory. Bold Cabernet flavors of black cherry, wild blueberry and blackberry fill the mouth, and there’s a minerality in the background that reflects the mineral red soils of the Monte Rosso site and brings structure to the wine. The oak brings hints of cinnamon spice, vanilla and coffee without overpowering the fruit. With chalky tannins and zesty acidity, this is a gutsy Cabernet that’s built for the long haul.”
92 points Wine Advocate, 92 points Vinous Media
Harvest Dates: October 21st, 2009
Blend: 95.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4.8% Cabernet Franc
TA: 6.17 gm/L
Cases Produced: 561- 9L cases