2019 Monte Rio Cellars, Primitivo, Lodi, California.
A delightfully easy, fun and deliciously quaffable this new Monte Rio Cellars Lodi Primitivo from the all organic Shergill Vineyard is made from 10 year old Primitivo Clone (of Zinfandel) vines in this region famous for its Zinfandel wines, but with this one being of a new generation in style, with a lighter, low alcohol, natural and fresher manner about it and is a great addition to the re-imagining of California wines. This vintage perfectly captures the best of this kind of wine with lovely ripe fruit, bright acidity and loads of drinking pleasure with pure Zin crushed raspberry, pomegranate, fresh picked plum and tangy red peach fleshiness along with whole cluster pop with racy cinnamon, peppery notes, a touch of stemmy bite and delicate floral details, as well as some dusty tannins, lavender, earthy cedar and minty herbs. In recent years we’ve seen some very interesting versions of Zin with Monte Rio’s being an excellent counter culture example, coming in at just 12.5% natural alcohol and very low SO2, it joins another old world or old school inspired offering from Martha Stoumen, who’s Mendocino Zinfandel is similarly rustic and vibrantly charming, this are wines not to over think, but made to be enjoyed young with friends and every day meals. This 2019 Monte Rio Primitivo opens nicely and delivers a fine performance on the medium bodied, with a carbonic fermentation softness and showing playfully zesty edginess, perfect with Pizza and or BBQ chicken.

Monte Rio Cellars is owned by famous Sommelier Patrick Cappiello, who along with his friend and famed Syrah maker Pax Mahle produce a series of ultra small production, hand crafted and naturally made wines, most of which are Zinfandel, though they have started exploring rare varietals, including a bottling of Mission grape (also known as Pais or Listen) and a California hybrid known as Rubired. The wines, like this one are done using 100% whole cluster and see a Carbonic Maceration for 9 days in stainless steel, then are pressed into a concrete tank for 8 days, with no sulfur (sulphates) used in the winemaking, all with just indigenous yeast fermentation(s). This Primitivo was then aged 10 months in old wood barrels, with everything done to enhance transparency and intentional rawness of form to make these wines feel authentic in their profiles. I am really getting into these Monte Rio wines, they take an attitude adjustment and an openness of mind to understand and give yourself to their nakedness of spirit and character. Pax also does a lineup of wines that usually just go to their wine club that are in the same vein, with an interesting array of varietals from Trousseau Gris to Charbono, which may have been influenced by the Monte Rio’s success. The 2019s from Monte Rio Cellars are a significant step up and I highly recommend checking them out!
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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