2019 Monte Rio Cellars, Zinfandel, Grist Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley AVA, Sonoma County.
Famous Sommelier Patrick Cappiello’s Monte Rio Cellars makes some cheerful, bright and crunchy throwback wines, quaffable and fun stuff, like this Grist Vineyard Zinfandel from a historic 100 year old property in the Dry Creek Valley with all sustainable mature vines, it shows a different side of this grape with a lighter and dry herbal palate with crushed raspberry, tart cherry, strawberry and plum fruits leading the way. With savory and earthy notes, some wild sage and bitter spice adding to the old school feel, the Monte Rio Grist Zin is best paired with pizza and pasta dishes. These wines, made in partnership with Pax Mahle at Pax Cellars and are notable by their lack of pretense or snobby appeal, which is exactly what Cappiello was looking to do, which may surprise even his fans. As mentioned before, Patrick has been one of America’s top sommeliers since 2002 since he took over the cellar at NYC’s elite TriBeCa Grill. His lists have all got Wine Spectator’s “Grand Award” including TriBeCa Grill, Veritas, GILT, and Pearl & Ash. He was also named “Sommelier of the Year 2014” by Food & Wine Magazine, “Wine Person of the Year 2014” by Imbibe Magazine, and “Sommelier of the Year 2015” by Eater National. Pax and Patrick have found a distinctive path and style here at Monte Rio Cellars, more on the geeky cool, lower alcohol, edge, rather than mainstream, these are not going to be crowd pleasers, but joyful non the less.

Monte Rio Cellars, which utilizes historic, mainly Lodi Vineyard sites, made this wine from Zinfandel grapes is sourced from 45 year old vines in Dry Creek’s Grist Vineyard, which is farmed all organically and set on rocky soils with some volcanic influences and with warm days and cool nights, makes for prime Zin. This, like most of Monte Rio’s red is 100% whole cluster and carbonic maceration, after which it is pressed into stainless steel tanks for 12 days, to finish going dry. Then the Grist Zinfandel was matured for close to 10 months in old wood barrels, which allow for freshness and raw transparency. The winery adds, there was no sulphur is used in the winemaking process and that there was just 60 cases of this vintage produced, that means there is not much left at this point, and maybe that’s not a bad thing as it was intended to be drunk young. I have a few vintages of Monte Rio wines, various things and am finding bottles from time to time, that I probably should have opened years ago, but i still am enjoying them, as was the case here with this ruby/garnet hued Grist Zin, a wine that isn’t your sweet fruited and over the top style, and they so far had no worrying faults show up. Of the Monte Rio lineup, there are ones I particularly follow and drink myself, including the Skull Red, the Lodi Old Vines Zinfandel, the Sangiovese, which done this way is really delicious and the Mission grape red from ancient vines in Lodi, that is a real taste of California history!
($29 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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