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July 2016

News Highlights

 Antipasti Cooking Class on August 21: Join us for a fun Sunday of food+wine.
Fingers crossed for the 2016 Vintage: Looking very good, but only time will tell.
Blending the 2015 Wines: First impressions include soft and silky tannins.
 Vendemmia Planning: Get your tickets and help us decide on the main course.

Italians advise that “years and glasses of wine should never be counted"—an invitation to enjoy life to its fullest: forget your age, enjoy time with friends and drink a little more good wine. Words to live by for the remainder of summer!

Before our focus turns toward harvest, we wanted to give you a sneak peak at the 2016 vintage and the 2015 wines here at Montemaggiore.  And if you live or travel in northern California, you might be interested in one of our upcoming events including an exciting new Italian Antipasti Cooking Class in just a few weeks.


Italian Antipasti Cooking Class on August 21st

Shrimp marinated in wild fennel, Roasted Pepper Rolls, Pugliese Focaccia—these are just some of the scrumptious Italian small plates featured in our upcoming cooking class. We’d love to have you join us in Healdsburg on Sunday August 21st for a fun afternoon of cooking together, eating with new friends, and of course enjoying some perfect paired wines!  Typically we focus on the cuisine of specific region such as Sicily or Tuscany, but for this class Chef Gloria has chosen some typical yet exceptional small plates from across the country. 

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Fingers crossed for the 2016 Vintage

In the vineyard, we’re at a dramatic turning point in the season, called verasion (pronounced ver AY zun), a word borrowed from French (like many wine terms). At this important milestone, the vines have stopped putting their energy into growing and are now focusing their energy on ripening the grapes.  Visually, we see the grapes changing from being hard and green to becoming soft and red (or in the case of the viognier, soft and golden).  Simultaneously, the acid levels are falling and the sugar level is rising.  Perhaps most importantly, the tannins and flavors in the skins are also undergoing major changes, so we need to make sure that the grape clusters receive the right amount of sunlight—just enough to develop complex flavors, but not too much or they’ll shrivel.

The timing of verasion indicates the timing of harvest.  Our growing season was jumpstarted by a very early February bud break and saturated soils from the long anticipated El Nino rains.  Moderate spring temperatures led to a lush canopy and nice fruit set in April/May. Vincent started to noticing verasion in mid-July this year, which is a couple weeks earlier than usual. Today at the end of July, we’re at about 75% verasion in our Hilltop Syrah block and about 10% in our Lower Cabernet block.  This means we’ll probably start harvesting in early September (much earlier than usual) and our last harvest will probably be several weeks later (less compact than usual). 

Overall it’s been a very good year thus far, but there's still time for Mother Nature to throw us a curve ball. Our crop level looks slightly down from average, but much better than last year, which was 36% down. Although we’re optimistic about the vintage thus far, as with Vincent’s beloved Chicago Cubs, a lot can still go wrong—so everything depends on a good finish!

Blending the 2015 wines: silky and smooth

For the past few weeks in the winery, Lise has been tasting barrels and preparing trial blends of the five different lots of 2015 wines (four of syrah and one of cabernet sauvignon).  Varying percentages of these lots will comprise our three red wines to be bottled next spring (Syrafina, Paolo’s Vineyard Syrah, and Nobile). Our goal is to make the best blends possible while maintaining the distinct character of each wine: the elegance in Syrafina, the big-bold flavors in PV Syrah, and the sophistication in Nobile. Lise is finding the tannin structure in the 2015 wines to be amazingly silky and smooth, much like the 2006s and 2009s.  After making a final decision on the exact blends of the three wines, the appropriate amounts of individual barrels will be put into a large tank and mixed.  Then the wine will be put back into barrels for another nine months of aging.  Lise wants to get all this done prior to harvest so that the wine has a chance to “meld” before bottling in the spring.

Vendemmia Celebration Planning

Club members should mark the date of Saturday October 22 for Vendemmia, our annual harvest extravaganza. Although we won’t actually pick grapes that day, we intend to celebrate a bountiful harvest among the vineyards with foods that pair perfectly with Montemaggiore Wines.  This year, we’re still deciding on the main dish, so we’ve decided to ask you for your preference!  In the past, popular dishes have included paella, tri-tip, and roast pig.  So please VOTE for your preferred main dish, and reserve your Vendemmia tickets at the same time. 

Reserve Tickets


Final Note: As always, we welcome your visit to our mountainside estate vineyards and winery in Sonoma County. Simply confirm an appointment on-line or give us a call (707.433.9499). If you have wine-loving friends who might be interested in learning about Montemaggiore, enjoy a glass of Montemaggiore wine with them or send them to our website!

Enjoy the rest of the summer—and please, don't count the years or glasses of wine!