Cultivo "Monterito el Grande" Fox Hill Vineyard 2020
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Direct Press Selection | April 2022
[PRESS 4 MIX • PRESS 4 RED]
Vanderbilt Ave seems to have an unusually high amount of winemakers in its present and former staff. Kirk Sutherland has his Erde Wines, Matthew Hawkins is at Clos Saron, and even Fifi, the former owner of this space, is making wine under his La Bascule label. Monica Palenzuela left us in 2019 to pursue her winemaking dreams and so far she is well on her way, as she was recently hired as Cellar Master at Napa’s famed Larkmead Vineyards.
In 2020 she interned with Sam Bilbro of Idlewild, who shares a winemaking facility and the Fox Hill Vineyard with Evan Lewandowski, which is planted all to Italian varieties. She made only 52 cases of this Montepulciano/Negroamaro blend and I took as much as I could get. Don’t expect to find this anywhere else! It’s made with 9 days of whole cluster fermentation, then aged in neutral oak, minimal sulfur added.
Sage, raspberry, black cherry and just a touch of feral aromas, it is unmistakably Italian in feel but keeps its own identity. The mixture of spicy blueberry, tangy cranberry, and ripe cherry on the palate is downright scrumptious. But the texture is where it all comes together, with fine tannin that reins in the juicy red fruit. The overall balance is impeccable and yet it doesn’t lose the tension that makes it an exciting, satisfying wine you will want to drink again and again. Pair it with anything from red sauce and pizza to grilled vegetables, burgers, and hard cheeses. [Jonathan Kemp, March 2022]