Montecillo Vineyard (close to heaven) a steep hillside that sits 1500 feet above the Sonoma Valley on the border of the Moon Mountain Appellation - just off Nuns Canyon Road. The vineyard was planted in 1984 by Mike Lee, founder of Kenwood Vineyards, and it was an inside secret that the Cabernet off this hillside was saved for the best efforts at Kenwood. When our gifted Winemaker, Clay Mauritson informed me that Mike Lee put aside access for us this Zinfandel block, I knew immediately I would make this wine with reverence to him; as he was a personal mentor, hero and wine-making visionary who inspired both Clay and I to do great things…this one’s for you, Mike!
Montecillo will forever show off its varietal correctness, its high elevation rocky blue fruit expression and the exceptional 2016 vintage brought out the best features from this vineyard. Amazing balance and purity along combined exaggerated hang-time and provided profound color saturation. Blue and purple toned fruit skins, fresh cracked black pepper, and broader than normal character and capacity will mark 2016 as an “A+” quality vintage. Fortunately, we also welcomed our first use of precious T4 barrels, a special French oak barrel that we love for high tier Zinfandel. The burnt match and exotic vanilla will eventually integrate into this dense and delicious wine. In its youth, it will show off the fleshy fruit character; but in time, our terroir, low yields, hillside charm, and acidity will emerge and something special will be witnessed…. for this I am confident. When you work with the best, you need not expect anything less… and I can’t wait to see this effort evolve.
The 2016 vintage was ideal for most of the Sonoma County, but especially fantastic for Zinfandel. Early bud break with a moderately cool and consistent summer without many heat spikes, allowed for optimal maturation. Color, concentration and purity are off the charts and on behalf of winemakers everywhere - we can all use a few more years like 2016. We think this vineyard intersects with our continued elevation of standards, expectations and believe the 2016 to show really favorably on release but also a long runway for adding complexity, and finesse; which it may lack in it its youth, but will reward patience with with an exceptional bottle of red wine. Optimal drinking window in 2022-2028.