Baxter, "Fox Hill Vineyard" Montepulciano 2015


Cal-Ital fans rejoice!

The Fox Hill Vineyard in Mendocino has been the top of my list of favorite vineyards for years. Baxter calls it Mendocino’s “best-kept secret.” Organically farmed, perched on ancient former riverbed soils on the Talmage Bench in Mendocino, it’s almost exclusively planted to Italian varietals. You can find Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Primitivo, and of course Montepulciano there. The foggy, cool days and frigid nights moderate the environment, with echoes of Italy, from foggy Piemonte to rugged Abruzzo. In my mind there’s no better site for so-called Cal-Ital wines of California.

The Montepulciano grape originally hails from Italy’s Adriatic coast, in and around Abruzzo. This beautiful 2015 offers up brandied cherries, fresh coffee, red plums, licorice, violets, and a spicy, mid-weight palate that is definitely not overcooked or extreme-abv. It’s got enough “heft” to match with more robust dishes but stays light and elegant, refreshing and lip-smacking to the very last sip.

Baxter releases their wines when they feel it is just right. Here they aged the Montepulciano for three years in old, large barrels, a simply astounding regimen that contributes to its breadth and breed. Truly old-world treatment that you simply don’t find much these days. 

Run by Claire and Phil Baxter; this marks Baxter’s 17th vintage at the eponymous label. Phil’s winemaking experience goes back even further than that, however – after studying at U.C. Davis, he worked for a number of Burgundy houses, including the distinguished Domaine de la Vougeraie, one of the most respected, iconic domaines in the region. All of their wines – literally all of them – are single-vineyard creations, highlighting a pure, honest sense of place in each bottle. We love it.

That Bugundian sensibility translates to Baxter’s California creations, something you’ll appreciate from the first pull of the cork. But make no mistake - the wine unfolds, getting better with air and time. We immensley enjoyed this the second day,along with an oregano-infused lasagna and roasted fall broccoli fra diavola from our fall garden! Don’t miss this wonderfully unique wine!

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