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FAMILY WINERY SERIES HEADING INTO THE SECOND YEAR OF ITS SINGLE VINEYARDS ESTATE PROGRAM, TRINCHERO NAPA VALLEY IS No Ordinary Winery A by Meridith May / photos by Rob Brown load of ripened, blue-tinged Cabernet Sauvignon berries has just arrived at Trinchero Napa Valley in St. Helena, and winemaker Mario Monticelli is there to greet the truck, filled with 35-pound lug boxes stacked eight high. The boxes are all filled to the rim with fruit from the winery’s Cloud’s Nest Vineyard in the Mt. Veeder AVA, high above the valley floor in the Mayacamas. The boxes are constructed so that they can be stacked without any crushing—no compaction of fruit. All the clusters are intact, and Monticelli reaches in to taste the sweetness of these 2010 harvest grapes. They will be stored in refrigerated rooms, spacious walk-ins that not only allow the grapes to chill, but also offer Monticelli the opportunity to chill out. Most winemakers are nervous at harvest, espe- cially the unpredictability from this past year with unusual weather conditions that began as early as spring and did not let up until harvest. “The 75-degree grapes can chill in volume in this refrigerated room—down to 45 degrees—and once chilled and weighed, I know exactly how many grapes I have to process tomorrow, or even the next day,” he smiles with a cavalier glint in his eyes. The only white wine produced at Trinchero Napa Valley is a Sauvignon Blanc. The 2009 Mary’s Vineyard Sauv, Calistoga (SRP $24) is paired with a Bibb lettuce and endive salad with Bartlett pear, crispy speck, locally-farmed Laura Chenel chèvre in a golden balsamic vinaigrette. The wine, from fruit grown in Calistoga at the foot of Mt. St. Helena, is all stainless steel–fermented with no ML, resulting in notes of pineapple and seashell minerality. The efficiency of the operation means low stress for the wine- maker and permits timing the fruit processing so that it proceeds at one to two tons an hour; production is so organized that there’s no employee overtime to deal with—and even more important, no surprises. The Single Vineyard Program In 2007, Mario Monticelli was brought in by the Trinchero family to start a new program. Prior experience at small family-owned and -operated wineries and a consulting opportunity with Napa guru Philippe Melka made him the right man for the job. Under Monticelli, the brand would take an upscale turn, not only revamping its labels with a sleek sophisticated look, but refocusing the image of the wines through a stunning single vineyard program that would span seven of Trinchero’s estate vineyards within five appellations in Napa Valley. Reflecting a former grocery brand taken to a breathtaking new level of high- end, small-production wines, Trinchero’s new image draws as much on the company’s impressive vineyard properties as it does on the family’s traditional roots. The “new” Trinchero is dedicated to showcasing Bordeaux varietals in the spotlight of Napa Valley esteem, while adhering to the principle of over- delivery on value. 60 / the tasting panel / december 2010

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