What We Say 2009 Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel
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Mission Codename: Lifetime Achievement
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red in search of a stellar, single-vineyard California Zinfandel, worthy of our Operative’s exacting tastes.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Amapola Creek Vineyards & Winery
Wine Subject: 2009 Zinfandel – Monte Rosso Vineyards -Viñas Antiguas
Winemaker: Richard Arrowood
Winemaker Backgrounder: Today, Agent Red brings you a wine from legendary winemaster, Richard Arrowood, who’s distinguished winemaking career began in the 1960’s. In 1974, mister Arrowood became the winemaker – and employee number one – at Sonoma County’s Chateau St. Jean. Over the next decade, Arrowood focused on crafting some of the worlds finest single vineyard wines in the region. Today, Richard Arrowood focuses on crafting stunning wines at his own Amapola Creek Vineyards & Winery.
Vineyard Backgrounder: The fabled Monte Rosso Vineyard, owned by the Louis M. Martini Winery since 1938, is considered to be among the most highly regarded vineyards in the Sonoma Valley. The vineyard is also considered to be the jewel in Louis M. Martini’s crown. Louis M. Martini sells their own 2009 Monte Rosso Zinfandel for $50.
The vineyard sits at the southern end of the Sonoma Valley AVA. One of the oldest wine growing regions in California, the first vines being were planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacama mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Zinfandel.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark burgundy with the look of Concord grape juice at the darker heart of the wine. At the edge, a band of garnet encircles the glass. After swirling, short, thick, wine-stained legs take a long time to form, before moving very slowly down the glass.
Smell – Lush and balanced, with an initial rush of blackberry, black cherry and and sweet Bing cherry. Just behind these, aromas of blackberry bramble, dark chocolate, sweetwood, brown spice, dried tobacco, cracked pepper and subtle mint.
Feel – Instantly grippy, with plush tannins giving the wine a crushed velvet feel that spreads throughout the palate. A lively acidity frames the fruit, driving flavors all around the palate.
Taste – Deep, dark and purple, with delicious dark plum, blackberry preserves, black cherry and stewed plum. As the wine opens up, it also reveals tobacco leaf, black tea leaf, smoky dark spice, black pepper and flinty minerals.
Finish – Super long and velvety with sustained black fruit that gradually yields to earthy flavors, spice and cracked pepper at the very end.
Conclusion – Today’s exquisite 2009 Amapola Creek Monte Rosso Zinfandel is dark, delicious and very balanced wine. With plenty of dark fruit, this wine is long on flavor and with its plush feel, our tasting panel found itself taking large gulps of the wine – rather than dainty sips. This is a wine that encourages you to really drink it. And, to inhale it; the nose is simultaneously sweet and dark. The more you swirl the wine, the more both aromas and flavors really come to life. Fine tannins give the wine a velvety feel. For a relatively young wine, it drinks perfectly – which makes us think that it will only get better with more age. This wine gets our very hearty recommendation.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Amapola Creek Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Amapola Creek Vineyards & Winery
About This Wine:
The remarkable fruit from the gnarly old vines at Monte Rosso Vineyard enabled us to make a truly distinctive Zinfandel. The wine was aged for twelve months in a combination of new and seasoned French and American oak barrels. This beautifully balanced wine offers aromas of blackberry, cherry and cracked pepper, with a hint of floral characters on the finish. The tannins are gentle, and the mid-palate features a complex arrangement of showy black brambleberry fruit, underscored by nuances of vanilla and warm spices. The concentrated flavors are rich and textured, with a long finish characterized by balanced tannins and acidity.
This wine is unfined and unfiltered. Drink now or hold for 10-plus years.
Vineyard: The unique character of our 2009 Zinfandel derives from more than four decades of winemaking expertise combined with the mountain terroir of the historic Monte Rosso Vineyard and its famous red soils. These 118-year-old vines yield a meager three-quarter ton to one ton per acre, in a good year. The distinctive fruit is enhanced by the mineral-rich, well-drained, decomposed volcanic ash soils and by the cooling breezes of San Pablo Bay. The vineyard’s high elevation exposes the fruit to additional sunlight, ensuring consistent ripening. Tight eight-by-eight-foot vine spacing, diligent pruning, and dry-farming techniques also concentrate the flavors of Monte Rosso grapes.
Vintage: During this semi-drought year, a heat spell started in late June, and the temperature remained warm, with a heat spike at the end of August, pushing harvest up by several weeks. The Monte Rosso crew hand-harvested the Zinfandel mid-September and again towards the end of the month. Once again, this Zinfndel crop produced intense flavors and colors. The 2009 vintage proved to be exceptional, yielding complex, balanced, and ripe fruit that resulted in lush, full-bodied wines.
About The Winery:
The Amapola Creek story began…
…in 2001 when Richard and I discovered a very special place on the western slope of the Mayacamas Mountains – those magnificent mountains which rise between and separate the Sonoma and Napa valleys. From the first moment we set foot on the 120 acre ranch that we now call home, we both felt a sense of recognition. It was almost as if we had known and loved the place in another lifetime. There is in fact, a deep connection to the past here. The orange volcanic soils reveal the mountain’s own fiery history and traces remain of the old stagecoach road which once ran through the property. Stone walls still stand where Chinese immigrants built them over a century ago.
At the time, we were completely smitten by the expansive and yet intimate beauty. Immediately in his mind’s eye, Richard saw the mountainside vineyards he would plant on the steep slopes and the new winery nestled amid a stand of ancient oak trees. In my mind’s eye, I saw a beautiful place to retire. I imagined our peaceful home on the crest of the ridge where we could relax at last and I envisioned our evenings enjoying the sunset views of the Sonoma valley with the mountains in the distance.…. Clearly, there was some disparity in our visions of the future.
Yet the story has a happy ending: Richard has 16 acres of vineyards from which to craft the best wines of his career, and together, we share the peaceful home we built on the crest of the ridge – with its views of the sunset…and the winery!
With warmest regards,
About The Winemaker:
Richard Lee Arrowood was born in San Francisco and raised in Santa Rosa, California, in the heart of Sonoma County. He began his winemaking career in 1965, working at Korbel Champagne Cellars while attending college. He earned a B.A. in organic chemistry at California State University, Sacramento, and completed graduate work in enology at California State University, Fresno. Less
From Korbel, he moved first to United Vintners and then to Sonoma Vineyards, where he worked for Rodney Strong and further developed his appreciation for the potential of single vineyard sites. In 1974, the founders of Chateau St. Jean chose Richard as their first employee and winemaster.
Within a few years, Richard had gained critical acclaim and a world-wide reputation for his wines. He produced vineyard-designate Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Fumé Blanc, Johannisberg Riesling and Gewürztraminer bottlings in unprecedented numbers: from the 1980 vintage, the winery marketed nine single-vineyard Chardonnays from within Sonoma County.
Appellation: Sonoma Valley
Vineyard: Monte Rosso
Brix: 24.3° / 26.1°
TA at Harvest: .81gm/100ml
pH at Harvest: 3.29 / 3.55
Aging: 12 months in new and seasoned French and American oak barrels
Winemaster: Richard Arrowood
Production: 293 cases
Bottled: March 3, 2011