by Fred McMillin
for December 15, 1997

Brioso Ain't So-So

Prologue:

1984—The young Montevina Winery was established in 1973 by retired Gilroy banker Walter Field. The Shenandoah Valley enterprise has Jeff Meyers as enologist and produces a whole group of Zinfandel wines, including a ZINFANDEL NUEVO, exhibiting fragrance and complexity.

...Robert Balzer's "California Wines"

1985—Montevina has helped bring recognition to the Shenandoah Valley as a serious wine-producing area. Its Zinfandels include a fresh, carbonic maceration style.

Anthony Dias Blue's "American Wines"

1993—The most striking of all Montevina Zinfandels is the carbonic maceration Brioso, with extraordinary fruit essence aromas and flavors which range from fruit cordial to fruit pastille.

...James Halliday's "Wine Atlas of California"

The Rest of the Story: So what's carbonic maceration? Well, uncrushed grapes are put into a fermenting vat. Carbon dioxide displaces air in the tank. Consequently, an unusual type of fermentation takes place inside of the uncrushed grapes. This produces the extraordinary fruitiness that the above experts noted.

With some 15 vintages under his belt, Jeff Meyers has the technique down pat. I slipped a bottle into my last blind tasting of reds from nine wineries. When the ballots were counted, the BEST BUY winner was none other than Jeff's latest 1996 Brioso... a real steal at $7.

The Wine:
1996 Brioso (100% Zinfandel), Shenandoah Valley, CA
Montevina Winery, Plymouth, Amador County, CA
Contact—Stan Hock, (707) 963-3104
Service—Put in frig 30 to 60 minutes before serving.
Food Affinities—This is light and tasty, suitable for a wide range of dishes, from fowl to ham to lamb.
Price—Only seven bucks!

Epilogue: with tongue firmly in cheek, the winery reports the results of their poll to check the awareness of their name in the marketplace. The only two respondents who had heard of Montevina replied, a) "It's the name of a card game," and b) "It's the dance Gore did at the Democratic convention."


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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