Don't Forget to Look Up
Last week we were in full Italian Wine Mode, and why wouldn’t we have been? We had two Italian wine dinners, flanked on either side by pairs of Italian wine flights on each weekend, and a host of additional Italian wines brought into the shop for a fleshing out of the Italian section. It needed some love, I’ll admit that. In fact, when I got home last week after both dinners and on the weekend I continued my Italian centric focus and drank more Italian wines, a Barbera, Dolcetto, and Sagrintino. We were zeroed in on Italy, full stop. I tell you this so that you understand that when we were presented with these brilliant wines from a historic estate in California you can see that we were not in such a mindset for them. I tell you this so that when I say that these wines stopped us in our tracks and made us raise our heads, shaking them like we had just awoken from a deep sleep, that you will have some semblance as to how impressive these wines were; additionally you will understand just how difficult it was to pry our collective minds and focus out of Piedmont and Tuscany.
These wines did all of that.
It was such a monumental ask too. Thus such wines have to have been just outstanding, in all aspects. They were, and our heads were lifted and eyes re-opened to some wines that we thought we knew and remembered. Ever forget? Happened to us. Now this is why we taste and re-taste wines year after year, vintage after vintage because sometimes even we forget. Oh, and least we forget, wine changes from year to year. So periodically we need to sample it again so that it can leave a new imprint on our taste buds and our minds.
What were these wine that so altered our focus during a week of precision you ask? They were those of the Martinelli Family from Sonoma CA. Martinelli Vineyards were founded in the 1880’s by Giuseppe Martinelli and Lusia Valluntini. They decided on focusing their efforts on the agriculture aspect of wine, cultivating quality vineyards and then selling their produce production to other winemakers in the area. This is something that they still do, selling some 90% of their grapes to vintners nearby, but importantly, they retain the yields from some of their best vineyards and make wine from the remaining top 10% of their crop. Having begun growing grapes well over a century ago the Martinelli Estate has vineyards from over on the Sonoma Coast too deep within the Russian River Valley.
Being that the Martinelli Estate has a storied past, you may be familiar with them in the same manner in which I thought I was acquainted with them; through their Zinfandels. Yes, they make some delicious Zinfandels, we tasted two of them and brought them into the shop. However, they offer so much more than just their Zins now. They make Vibrant and finessed Pinot Noirs, balanced and rich Chardonnays. Martinelli Vineyards is showing some of the best aspects of what Sonoma has to offer in terms of quality wine. Between all their wines you absolutely get a sense as to what the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley terroir and climate is all about, and how they can raise not just the tasting profile of the wines but also the heads here at OWS&B.