Translated from the Italian: "One hand washes the other, and together they wash the face". As opposed to the English equivalent, the Italians emphasize a joint accomplishment. Thus this quote gives us an excuse to highlight our most recent joint accomplishment, the 2005 Paolo's Vineyard Syrah—made possible only by Lise (the winemaker) and Vincent (the winegrower) working hand-in-hand. Also included in this newsletter is information on an upcoming luncheon at Montemaggiore, our olive oil and rose release, our "Grazie" to Club Members, and three inspirational Wine Lovers —along with a short tutorial on natural fermentation.
2005 Paolo's Vineyard Syrah
Since Syrah is our specialty, we are very excited to introduce the newest vintage of our flagship wine. All our grapes come from the same estate vineyards managed organically in the same fashion as in the past, but there are two differences with the 2005 Syrah.
First for the obvious change: the label. We dramatically changed our label based on feedback that our unique purple-and-red label did not reflect the serious, sophisticated, and refined nature of the wine inside. Thank goodness we pride ourselves in our winegrowing and winemaking as opposed to our marketing genius!
The second difference concerns the yeasts which fermented the grapes. In 2005, Lise allowed one third of the Syrah grapes ferment naturally, without adding any yeast. Natural fermentations often lead to more complex wines, a smoother texture and more site-specific flavors, which we hope shows in the 2005 Paolo's Vineyard Syrah. See the end of this newsletter for more information on natural fermentations.
To learn more about the 2005 Paolo's Vineyard Syrah, check out the wine area on our website. Available now by ordering on-line or picking up at the winery, you'll see it in a few months at select restaurants and wine shops. Pairs well with grilled meats and vegetables including lamb, tuna, and zucchini.
Day in the Vineyard
We'd like to invite you to join us on Saturday, May 24 for a day in Montemaggiore's estate vineyards to learn about the techniques that make our Syrahs unique and terroir-specific. After working up an appetite with an extensive tour of the vineyards, you'll enjoy a fabulous four-course, spring-inspired meal prepared by Chef Paul Smith (sous chef to Bobby Flay)—enjoyed on our deck with spectacular views overlooking Dry Creek Valley and northern Sonoma County. Reservations are required, and only four seats remain!
Club Release of 2007 Rosé and Olive Oil
We'd like to announce two special releases exclusively for wine club members, simply because we produced so little. In late 2007 we made twenty cases of Syrah Rosé and four cases of extra-virgin olive oil, which we are offering on a first-come first-served basis. The cost of each bottle is $25 (750ml of wine, 375ml of olive oil)—unfortunately there is a two-bottle limit on each. Wine Club members can just drop us an
email, and we'll confirm your order with the shipping address and other details that we have on file.
First for our story behind the much-anticipated olive oil. After planting 800 Tuscan olive trees in 2002, each year we've been hoping to press enough olive oil to share. In 2005, we produced two gallons of olive oil, which we (the Ciolinos) quickly consumed. In 2006, we had such a small harvest that we invited friends to come pick their own olives to cure for eating. But in November of 2007, we harvested enough olives to produce five gallons of olive oil. Now we are ready for the inaugural release of our unfiltered, extra-virgin olive oil—smooth and buttery, with a bit of a spicy tang.
The 2007 Syrah Rosé is a dry rosé wine, made in the classic Provençal style. We harvested about two weeks before we would normally for red wine, de-stemmed the bunches, and then pressed the grapes after 36 hours on the skins. The juice was barrel-fermented to dryness at a cool temperature over the course of three weeks. The color is deep ruby, while the aromas are an intriguing mix of floral and berry notes. Serve slightly chilled with any summertime faire.
"Grazie" to Wine Club Members
Over the vintages, we have found that our best customers come from… our best customers! Our most loyal customers, our Wine Club members, have done a better job marketing our wine than anything we could do ourselves. In order to reward both Club members and their friends whom they introduce to Montemaggiore, we have initiated a plan we call Grazie ("thank you" in Italian):
Go to our website for more about Montemaggiore's Wine Club and the Grazie plan.
- Friends of Wine Club members receive a 15-20% discount on their first order! Whether ordering online, via fax, over the phone, or by visiting the winery, the appropriate club discount will be applied simply by naming the Wine Club member.
- The Wine Club member will be entered to win a Wine Country Weekend for two at Montemaggiore! For each first-time buyer you introduce to Montemaggiore, your name is automatically entered in our annual lottery. If your friend becomes a wine club member, we'll enter your name ten times in the lottery. If Paolo chooses your name out of the hat, you and a guest will be invited to our home amongst the vineyards for a fabulous Wine County Weekend!
Wine Lovers: The Besemers
In the spirit of featuring fascinating members of the Montemaggiore family, we'd like to introduce our latest wine lovers: the Besemers. Truthfully, David and Kathryn are the actual wine lovers (although their 12-year old daughter Ayla has helped Lise "punch down" the grapes during crush). This fall, the Besemers will embark on an exciting five-year trip around the globe aboard a 47-foot trawler. David and Kathryn's dream has been to educate Ayla through first-hand experience in the world, as opposed to through traditional middle school, video games, and shopping malls. Ayla is looking forward to sharing her adventures and discoveries with other children whose parents aren't quite that crazy. Check out their website to learn more about their exciting journey:
Winemaking 101: Natural Fermentation
In 2005, a portion of our Paolo's Vineyard Syrah was fermented naturally, without adding any yeast—which had a profound affect on the wine. Instead of intentionally adding a single cultured yeast, Lise allowed the yeasts from vineyard, winery, and/or winery equipment to convert the sugar to alcohol. In fact several species of yeast probably performed the fermentation. Natural fermentations (aka native fermentations, spontaneous fermentations) have been making a comeback because they tend to lead to more complex flavors, a smoother texture and a more site-specific character in the wine.
The advantages of a natural fermentation, however, do not come without risks. Most strains of yeast are not optimal for making wine because they can produce off aromas and flavors. In addition, many natural fermentations become "stuck", where the yeasts die off before they've fermented the wine to dryness (leading to a sweet wine)—typically because the yeasts can't tolerate high alcohol and temperature. Luckily, we didn't have either of these problems in 2005.
Our goal with this fermentation experiment was to produce a more complex wine, one with smoother texture and breadth of flavor. In her winemaking, Lise focuses on mouthfeel because she believes this to be the most important impact a winemaker can make. Aromas and tannins, for example, are best left to the grapes themselves. A winemaker can affect texture through fermentation style, extended maceration, and fining (such as with egg whites). In the case of our 2005 natural fermentation experiment, we were definitely pleased with the silky texture of the wine. Let us know what you think!
Final Note: As always, we welcome your visit to our mountainside estate vineyards and winery, simply contact us for an appointment: phone 707.433.9499, or e-mail email@example.com. Have a great spring!