Italian grape varieties that were once an integral part of Mendocino viticulture are again drawing the attention of wineries here as well as other regions in the United States.
The wines we have made at Monte Volpe (which means Fox Mountain) since our first releases in 1991 are rich in color, fragrance, flavor and offer a great deal of finesse. Their structures are reminiscent of their Italian ancestry, but they display a vibrancy that is the hallmark of wines that are produced from fully ripened grapes.
The focus of this brand is on the classic red varieties of Tuscany
and the supple white cultivars of Friuli.
2011 PRIMO ROSSO
A blend of many old world varietals: Zinfandel, Barbera, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Syrah, Negroamaro and Nebbiolo; that were grown on the hillsides of the Ukiah Valley. This wine has a dark purple-garnet color, with fruity aromas and flavors of plums, blackberry jam, spice and earth with hints of toasty oak. Rich full flavors, ample tannins and balanced acidity seamlessly carry through to a long, complex finish.
The grapes were hand-harvested at an average of 26.0 degrees brix in the months of September and October, 2007. After crushing the grapes into small open-top stainless steel tanks, the must was cold soaked for 4 days and pumped over and punched down twice daily for 2 weeks during fermentation, before being pressed off into French, Eastern European and American oak barrels. After aging in barrels for 36 months, the wine was egg white fined, rough filtered and bottled on June 1st, 2010.
Enjoy this wine with grilled steaks, pasta with forest mushroom sauce and lamb chops with rosemary sauce.
2010 PEPPOLINO - Mendocino
Peppolino is a wine that offers the winemaker the opportunity and freedom to create a truly unique wine, which is the most expressive form of winemaking. Gently handcrafted from specially selected lots, this blend of three classic central and southern Italian varietals has come together to create a wine of great structure and elegance. In the Tuscan dialet, Peppolino is the word for the herb thyme.
This is a wine of great structure. Exotic aromas of violet, spices, and notes of black licorice weave throughout the vibrant blackberry fruit and tar character. Firm tannins and velvety middle culminate in a long lasting, harmonious finish that laced with toasty oak. This wine’s complexity and depth of flavor will continue to evolve with further bottle aging.
Enjoy with grilled steaks, pasta with forest mushroom sauce and lamb chops with rosemary sauce.
2012 PINOT GRIGIO - Mendocino
Pinot Grigio has quickly become one of the most popular white grape varieties in the world. This rust-gray tinted skinned grape, enjoyed for centuries, is said to be a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. However, it seems unsure whether it is a red or white wine grape, hence, grigio, meaning gray. Monte Volpe is the oldest producer of Pinot Grigio in California.
This blend has produced a rich, floral wine with aromas of tropical fruits, cantaloupe melon, and multi-colored Jonathan apple with a hint of wet stone. A lively mouthful of spicy apple and stony minerality is balanced by crisp acidity throughout the finish.
Excellent as an apperitivo or serve with seared scallops with Beurre blanc sauce, grilled swordfish or chicken picata.
2012 TOCAI FRIULANO - Mendocino
This is our 14th vintage of Tocai Friulano. Tocai is native to widely planted in the Friuli Province of Northeastern Italy. The Tocai Friulano name is said to be derived from the local word for the small juice-style glass used to serve wine in taverns and restaurants. The Friulan’s call this relative of Sauvignon Blanc “the brother of sauvignon” because of the growing characteristics of the vines; however that is where all similarity ends. The grape has no connection to Hungary’s Tokaji or France’s Tokay d’Alsace. In Mendocino County, this grape produces wines that are richly honeyed and floral. Monte Volpe is one of the oldest producers of Tocai Friulano is the United States.
This wine is rich and fruity. It starts with aromas of honeysuckle, pineapple and hints of sandalwood followed by clean, crisp flavors of pink grapefruit and pineapple. Balanced acidity and a lingering finish makes this wine a benchmark for all other Tocai’s to pursue. It is the perfect marriage of Old World tradition and California flair. Unlike most white wines, Tocai Friulano becomes even more interesting as it ages. The wine develops additional layers of spice coupled with a rich oily texture, also common with the great Rieslings of Germany.
This wine pairs deliciously with seafood dishes like Thai curry calamari, steamed Dungeness crab, garlicky clams and with many dishes from the Pacific Rim.
2011 TOCAI FRIULANO - Late Harvest “Dolce Alexandra”
Only twice in a decade do we get the opportunity to produce late harvest wines. It is a special combination of the timing of the weather (rain and heat) and the variety of grapes. 2011 was a difficult vintage for most of us on the north coast of California because of the large amount of early rains during the harvest. It was however a great year to make late harvest wines. We have made 3 versions of this wine over the years and this is the most spectacular. As the Tocai Friulano from Lowell Stone’s Fox Hill Vineyard was beginning to ripen, a large amount of rain appeared along with some very warm temperatures which caused the perfect conditions for Botrytis Cinerea (Noble Rot) to form. After several weeks of watching the Botrytis spread and intensify we decided to harvest. We have never seen nor heard of in our lives a brix of 60 degrees. After months of trying to get the wine to ferment in French Burgundy barrels beyond 7% alcohol we gave-up. The wine was then aged for two years to increase its complexity and stability. The resulting wine is thick and viscous, like apricot honey, with a final residual sugar of an amazingly decadent 43%. Truly, one of the finest dessert wines ever produced!
A fabulous wine to pair with very sweet fruit desserts or to enjoy with very ripe creamy Gorgonzola cheese, or just pour it over vanilla ice cream.
2010 SANGIOVESE - Mendocino
In 2009 the conditions were less than ideal. A year with less than ideal rainfall was matched with very erratic mix of very hot and very cool days during the summer. This caused many of the mid-ripening varieties to ripen late and thus be susceptible to the early rains in October. Luckily our Sangiovese vineyards are in good locations and were harvested before the rains producing wines that are dark purple-garnet in color with aromas and flavors of ripe boysenberry, smoky cherry, spicy wood and earth, with ripe, full tannins and a seamless balance that carries through to a long, lush finish.
In these vineyards, shallow rock laden soils, warm southwestern exposures and cool nights produce grapes with superb balance, concentration and fruity aromas and flavors. The grapes were hand-harvested at an average of 26 degrees brix from September 22nd to the 29th. After crushing the grapes into small open-top stainless steel tanks, the must was cold soaked for 4 days and then pumped over and punched down twice daily for 2 weeks during fermentation, before being pressed off into French Burgundy oak barrels (25% new). After aging in barrels for 26 months, the wine was egg white fined, rough filtered and bottled on January 2nd, 2012.
Enjoy with grilled steaks, pasta with forest mushroom sauce and lamb chops with rosemary sauce.
This is the 7th release of our proprietary white wine blend, Sesso. “Sesso” is Italian for “sexy” and this is a sexy wine indeed! It is produced in the tradition of the great white wine blends of the Collio region of Friuli, in Northeastern Italy.
All the grapes were hand harvested at an average of 23.8 brix. After crushing, pressing and cold settling the juice was 100% barrel fermented in French oak, of which 34% was new heavy toasted French Burgundy barrels from the Vosges forest. The wine was aged for eight months on the yeast (“sur-lies”) and hand stirred and topped twice a month without the use of sulfur dioxide. Approximately 33% of this wine has undergone a natural malolactic fermentaton in the barrel during the spring and was bottled on June 22, 2011.
The wines were blended and bottled to produce an extremely fruity, complex and rich wine that is balanced by crisp acidity. Intriguing flavors and aromas of melon, pears, honeysuckle and toasty oak complete the framework for one of the most unique white wines produced in California.
2011 PRIMO BIANCO
This is a blend of seven different varietals: Tocai Friulano, Chenin Blanc, Arneis, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cortese. The wine is rich and intensely fruity with appealing aromas and flavors of peach, key lime, hazelnut, and wet stone, with a hint of brioche aroma from the sur-lie aging. The wine is nicely balanced by crisp acidity and a long, lingering finish.
Excellent as an appertivo on a sunny afternoon with friends or when paired with roasted game hens, scallops, grilled sea bass and chicken braised in white wine.
Aglianico (eye yah nick oh) is native to southern Italy in the provinces of Basilicata and Campania where it is known as the Barolo of southern Italy. Monte Volpe is one of a handful of producers of Aglianico in California. It is a very difficult variety to grow here because it buds out early so it is susceptible to Mendocino counties harsh frost season and it ripens very late so it is potentially ruined by our early rains in the autumn. 2010 was a difficult vintage for late maturing red varieties. Early rainfall in the middle of October and a very erratic mix of very hot and very cool days during the summer. This caused many of the mid-ripening varieties to ripen late and thus made them susceptible to the early rains in October. Luckily our Aglianico vineyard is located above the Ukiah Valley on an eastern benchland and the soils are shallow and a mixture of large rocks and clay so the water penetrates right through the soil. This is our first vintage of varietal labeled Aglianico. These grapes were hand harvested at the end of October after the early rains producing a wine that is dark purple-garnet in color with aromas and flavors of ripe boysenberry, smoky cherry, spicy wood and earth, with ripe, full tannins and a seamless balance that carries through to a long, lush finish.
2012 NUBE BIANCO
In 2004 when we purchased an old tree farm in Potter Valley, which is at the headwaters of our beloved Russian River, we had a good idea that it was going to be a great place to grow many white grape varieties, especially Italian. With its high altitude, short season, rich soils, warm days and very cool nights Potter Valley produces grapes with low PH’s, high tartaric acids and an abundance of fruity aromas and flavors. 2012 was a wonderful year compared to the difficult 2010 and 2011 vintages. What made this vintage wonderful is the fact that there was no early rains so we were not in a hurry to harvest the grapes before they were properly mature.
100% of this wine comes from our Nube Bianco Vineyard. This vineyard is located on the eastern side of Potter Valley on a slight bench above the Russian River, about a quarter of the way into the valley. This eastern fork, along with its western fork that, runs through Redwood Valley, represent the headwaters of the legendary Russian River. Here the river is at its best and purest form. Altitudes in these two valleys run between 1200ft to 800 ft. elevation. We planted this vineyard with mostly white grape varieties. The main plantings here represent Arneis, Moscato Bianco, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Tocai Friulano.