2019 Monte Rio Cellars, Petite Sirah, Lodi, California.
Just 300 cases were made of Monte Rio’s outstanding inky and spicy Petite Sirah, which is loaded with black fruits and velvety tannins, making for easy too love dark wine that is perfect for these chilly Fall evenings and great with simple and flavorful dishes, it worked well with a wild mushroom pizza, but will be enjoyed with BBQ as well. The color is very saturated, purple in the glass and the nose has hints of acacia flowers, crushed blackberry, minty herbs and a touch of raw earthiness before a well rounded palate that is full bodied with layers of marionberry, currant, plum and black cherry fruits along with lavender, sage, sandalwood and faint tarry licorice. The Monte Rio Petite Sirah comes from organic 40 year old vines at the Bains Vineyard in Lodi and was fermented using 100% whole-clusters, with a carbonic maceration for 13 days and indigenous yeasts, finishing its primary in a combination of cement and stainless steel tanks before being gently pressed to neutral barrels where it aged 10 months before bottling. Patrick Cappiello has really turned out a tasty set of 2019s, like his Petite Sirah, and I am excited to see what his 2021s, which are just being released now, are like.

Patrick Cappiello’s winemaking career, as he notes, started in 2018, under the watchful eye of Pax Mahle of Pax Wine Cellars, who is a legendary California producer of Syrah, as well as a collection of lighter and fresher style wines. Monte Rio Cellars has focused on heritage and classic California varieties, which includes mainly a series of old vine Zinfandel from Dry Creek to Lodi along with Petite Sirah, which is fast becoming my favorite in the lineup, Sangiovese, a wild coferment of Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc and cool rarities like Rubired, a hybrid grape developed at UC-Davis in the 1950’s, It is a cross between Alicante Ganzin and Tinta Cao, and the Mission grape. The wines are made naturally with no additives with low SO2 and all the grapes are farmed with organic and or biodynamic practices, with most of the vines being from mature sites set on sandy soils in the Lodi AVA, like seen here with Cappiello’s excellent Petite Sirah. Monte Rio also does some quaffable lightly sparkling Piquette offerings that are low alcohol and vividly fresh, one white and one Rosé that are perfect for picnics and or as pre-meal aperitif. I have become a pretty big fan of these Monte Rio Cellar wines, which excite for their rustic and transparent, no pretense style and I recommend checking them out.
($23 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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