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May 2017

News Highlights

 Summertime Sippers: purchase 6+ bottles and receive $10 shipping.
 2016 3Divas: perfect for an aperitif or dinner pairing.
 2016 Rosé: ideal for an al fresco meal or lazy afternoon.
 Seasonal Recipe: a white Rhône cocktail with saffron bitters.
 Upcoming Events: visit us in the northern California and Colorado.
 From Lise: wine cocktails... really?

Italians say ”Water makes you feel bad while wine makes you sing”, particularly apropos in the days when water was actually dangerous. Today in California, we respect both water and wine—in fact, now that Spring has finally arrived in Sonoma County, we’re focused on turning this winter’s rainfall into that song-inducing elixir, wine. Our record-breaking rainfall has recharged the aquafers, while piling up a healthy snowpack in the Sierras. And with their finest display in years, large drifts of wildflowers now blanket our green hillsides with a kaleidoscope of purples, yellows, and blues.

In the vineyard, all this precipitation is a mixed blessing. Of course we appreciate the water, but the native grasses are starting to grow into the vine canopy, while wet soils make it difficult to mow without getting stuck in the mud! All the available water has encouraged the vines to put out lots of shoots and leaves. But we don’t want the grapevines to spend too much time and energy growing extra greenery—we really prefer they focus on producing concentrated fruit. Looking forward as the weather warms up, we’ll be crossing our fingers for steady temperatures and low winds so that the delicate pollination phase leads to a balanced and even-ripening crop this year.

Summertime Sippers with $10 shipping

For wine lovers, the upcoming warm weather means it’s time to swap out some of the hearty red wines on our tables for more whites and rosés. Coincidentally, Montemaggiore is releasing our 2016 3Divas and 2016 Rosé for the occasion (see below for details). We only have a small amount of each, 125 cases for the 3Divas and just 60 cases for the Rosé-- with the heat of summer coming before you know it, don’t delay in getting your order in.

For the remainder of the month of May, you’ll receive $10 flat rate shipping on any order of 6+ bottles of any combination Montemaggiore’s current wines*—just use the May17 coupon code at checkout. We hope that will encourage you to stock up for a fun-filled summer of barbeques, picnics, and lazy weekends. *Note that this is Ground Shipping to all states except AK, AL, DE, HI, KY, NH, MS, OK, UT.

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3Divas, perfect for an aperitif or dinner pairing

For those of you who’ve been waiting since the last vintage sold out: the 2016 3Divas is here! And it’s just as aromatic and tasty as in prior vintages, but perhaps even more vibrant in flavor. The blend of Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne provides luscious tropical fruit and citrus blossom aromas with honey and nut undertones on the palate. This wine has the creaminess of barrel fermentation along with a wonderful freshness and liveliness. 125 cases made. $25 per bottle.

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Rosé, ideal for an al fresco meal or lazy afternoon

The 2016 Rosé is our last vintage of estate Rosé from Paolo’s Vineyard since we recently sold the vineyard. Fans of our rosé know that it’s a flavorful quaffing wine that’s perfect for almost any food—especially any summertime picnic food. Salumi, cheese, olives, pasta salad, grilled chicken—everything goes well with rosé. We make an intentional rosé, from grapes specifically grown and harvested for the purpose. Thus it has true rosé flavors such as strawberry and plum, along with a flavorful intensity and vibrant color. 60 cases made. $25 per bottle.

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Seasonal Recipe: White Rhône Cocktail

We've recently discovered the beauty of wine cocktails with bitters.  Laura and Tara, the owner-bartenders at Duke’s Spirited Cocktails in Healdsburg, developed a refreshing, low-alcohol summertime cocktail recipe using either 3Divas or Delizia. The recipe includes a few drops of saffron bitters, sparkling water, and lemon in addition to our wine.  You’ll be amazed at the nuance and intrigue that the saffron adds to the wine.  Put your hesitations aside and mix up a pitcher—enjoy this drink at brunch, in the afternoon sunshine, or before dinner!

Upcoming events in California and Colorado

We’d love to connect up with you in the coming months! If you live or work in Northern California or Colorado, here are some events we hope to see you at:

From Lise: Wine Cocktails… really? 

I’m not too fond of mixed drinks probably because I think of them as sweet, not pairing with food very well, and getting me more tipsy than I would like. I readily admit that these misconceptions may stem from ignorance and inexperience, but then again, life is too short and I’ve chosen wine as my alcoholic poison/passion of choice. Fine wine fuels my love of both travel and food, sparks my curiosity with its backstory, and captures my interest from year to year, varietal to varietal. Given that I am keenly aware of the care and energy going into its making, I revere fine wine like others might a piece of artwork: I would never presume to mess with a masterpiece.

So the latest trend of wine cocktails really had me baffled. I understand people from the old country like Vincent’s parents put ice cubes in their homemade wine. As for me, the most I would “adulterate” a wine would be to stick it in the refrigerator. Then again, I suppose I do like a good Sangria on a warm afternoon. Oh, and Kir Royales are fun for special occasions. And I do love glühwien (hot mulled red wine) after a long day of skiing. But those aren’t really made with “good” wines. I would never (ever?) adulterate a fine wine.

So what exactly are these wine cocktails I keep hearing about? A revival of wine coolers? The good news is no, we don’t need to relive the fashions of the 1980s with the likes of fruity, sweet, insipid Boone’s Farm. Instead, my primary realization is that the vast majority of today’s wine cocktails are really sparkling wine cocktails made with Prosecco, Champagne, or the like. Perhaps a bit more creative than a mimosa or bellini—but along the same lines: alcohol + bubbles + light sweetness. Makes sense. Other wine cocktails are made by adding fruit to a fairly bland, cheap wine base such as a sweet rosé or moscato.

But the true revelation for me are the wine cocktails involving bitters, a type of alcohol I didn’t think much about. Bitters are made by infusing a distilled spirit (or reduced wine) with an intricate mix of roots, barks, spices, herbs, fruit peels and botanicals. You might recognize vermouth, amaro (which means “bitter” in Italian) and chinato as types of bitters. Familiar brands include Angostura, Lillet, Aperol, and Campari. While some bitters are meant to be enjoyed by themselves as an aperitif or digestif, the ones we’re interested in are the “cocktail bitters” used in very small amounts, measured in drops or dashes. While you can certainly buy decent ones from BarKeep or Scrappy’s, most experienced bartenders will make their own signature cocktail bitters.

My favorite wine cocktails use a few drops of bitters added to a fruit-forward wine along with some sort of bubbles (sparkling water or wine). The bitters add an amazing counterpoint, depth and complexity to the base wine. A good example is the White Rhône Cocktail using either 3Divas or Delizia. The saffron bitters add a new dimension and intriguing savory note to fruit-floral-honey flavors of the wine. Don’t worry about “watering down” the wine since a flavorful wine like 3Divas or Delizia still shines through. And since this wine cocktail is much lower in alcohol, Vincent and I can enjoy a couple glasses to quench our thirst.

Would I ever sit down to enjoy a nice dinner with a wine cocktail? No, but now at least I can appreciate a good wine cocktail at a nice brunch, on a hot afternoon, or before dinner. Another great thing about wine cocktails is that they are fun to experiment with—especially when bitters are involved. Try it… you may like it!

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Enjoy the spring!  Enjoy some great whites and rosés—we hope they make your tastebuds sing!!