Beekeeper Cellars, Montecillo Vineyard, Sonoma County 2014
About the Vintage
2014 may go down as the "vintage of the century for California Zinfandel," especially to the winemakers involved in the business of crafting this unique varietal. Winemakers loved it from the get go - great numbers and expressiveness even in their youth. The 2014 has attractive juicy character, great color, balance and correctness but with plenty of attitude, style and flesh. This was an optimal 29th harvest for the Montecillo Vineyard, a steep hillside which sits 1500 feet above the Sonoma Valley on the boarder of the Moon Mountain Appellation. The Vineyard was planted in 1984 by Mike Lee, Founder of Kenwood Vineyards and it was an inside secret that the cabernet off this hillside was saved for the best efforts at Kenwood. When Clay informed me we had access to the Zinfandel, I knew immediately I would make this wine with reverence to Mike Lee; a winemaking hero and a great man that inspired me to do great things. Thanks Mike.
About the Vineyard
Montecillo Vineyard (close to heaven) a steep hillside that sits 1500 feet above the Sonoma Valley on the border of the Moon Mountain Appellation just off Nuns Canyon Road. The vineyard was planted in 1984 by Mike Lee, founder of Kenwood Vineyards, and it was an inside secret that the Cabernet off this hillside was saved for the best efforts at Kenwood. When our gifted Winemaker, Clay Mauritson informed me that Mike Lee put aside access for us this Zinfandel block, I knew immediately I would make this wine with reverence to him; as he was a personal mentor, hero and winemaking visionary who inspired both Clay and I to do great things...this one’s for you, Mike!
Winemaker Tasting Notes
Montecillo will forever be famous for varietal correctness; this juicy, rich, textural 2014 hillside wine boasts defined cherry, blueberry and plum skin character, with assertive cracked pepper and spice. Beekeeper makes wines that showcase both our high standards and high quality fruit designations. Clay Mauritson and Emma Kudritzki Hall provide day to day winemaking and give Ian Blackburn (aka “chef”) with spectacular wine to blend and study. Unlike other Zinfandel producers, our goal is to showcase a vineyard’s site and Beekeeper style. Our strict grape selection minimizes the jammy character that often masks the qualities of a top vineyard site . Our high-tier aging and blending (Petite Sirah and press fractions) allows us to find the wine's inner “Beekeeper” balance. We use specially chosen French Oak barrels (100% French/ 15 months/ 25-30% new) that add refinement, texture, and nuance that integrate seamlessly by year two. Drink now, or let the wine improve for several years in the cellar and enjoy it until 2025. As usual, the virtue of patience is rewarded with properly aged Beekeeper wines. We also recommend drinking our wines just north of cellar temperature around 60 degrees.
Grape: 95% Zinfandel & 5% Petite SirahVineyard: Montecillo Vineyard
Appellation: Sonoma Valley AVA, Sonoma County
Vintage: 2014 - Bottled February 13, 2016
Winemaker: Clay Mauritson, Ian Blackburn & Emma Kudritzki
Aged: 17 months, French Oak (25% new)
Order Limit: 1-bottle maximum
92 Points- Review by Robert M. Parker, Jr. - eRobertParker.com (Mar 2016)
The 2014 Zinfandel Montecillo Vineyard from Sonoma Valley (242 cases) is a blend of 95% Zinfandel and 5% Petite Sirah. Another big-time winner from Beekeeper, this wine shows slightly less alcohol at 14.4%, but you really can’t tell the difference between this and the higher-octane models. Beautiful blackberry and black cherry is followed by spice, pepper, and plenty of body. This is a beauty – a palate-saturating, full-throttle Zinfandel to drink over the next decade.
We aim to make wine that reintroduces the quality wine audience to Zinfandel. Our favorite compliment “I don’t usually like Zinfandel, but I love yours.” We aim to build a reputation for quality inside the Cabernet and Meritage audience that has more in common with our style. We made this wine with all the attention and quality of the great wines we position ourselves around, and while some may not appreciate the premium effort and costs involved, we are resolved to make great wine that requires some patience and can reward additional cellarage.
Winemaker Tasting Notes
Pure and varietally correct; this juicy, rich, textural and succulent 2014 hillside wine offers lively and defined cherry & plum skin character, with assertive cracked pepper and spice. Beekeeper aspires to make wines that showcase our high standards and endless efforts. Clay and Emma focus on great winemaking day to day and give me great wine to blend and study. We choose to make wines that showcase “site” by limiting the amount of raisin in the wine and limit the jammy character which masks the qualities of a great vineyard and our quality winemaking efforts. Our use of specially selected French Coopers (100% French/ 15 months/ 30% new) adds wonderful texture, and nuance that should integrate well by year two. Drink now or let the wine improve for several years and drink until 2024. As usual, patience is rewarded with Beekeeper wines.