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Sixteen 600 Moon Mountain Chardonnay 2018 (750ML)

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Stand at the top of Montecillo or Monte Rosso Vineyard as the wind whips, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the distant skyscrapers of San Francisco to the south, and there’s no mistaking that you’re far, far above the valley floor. </br> </br>That’s why it was imperative the region that houses these vineyards have an identity of its own. In 2013, Moon Mountain District became an American Viticultural Area (AVA) distinct from the Sonoma Valley. Several marquee vineyards, and the people who farm and work with them, have just begun to make its impact clear. </br> </br>Between the town of Kenwood and city of Sonoma, Moon Mountain starts around 400 feet above sea level and rises as high as 2,200 feet. It’s 17,663 acres, with just 1,500 of those planted to wine grapes. Above the fog, those vines benefit from coastal winds with long, warm days and cool, dry nights during the growing season. </br> </br>Volcanic soils bring it all together. Curled up against one of the Napa Valley’s most desirable AVAs, Mount Veeder, where volcanic soils also rule, Moon Mountain is a confounding treasure of fine grapes. It grows predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, coveted by winemakers on both sides of the Mayacamas Mountains. </br> </br>Organic viticulturalist Phil Coturri farms more than 600 acres of vines in Sonoma County, nearly all of them on Moon Mountain. That includes Amapola Creek Vineyards & Winery, Kamen Wines, Lasseter’s Trinity Ridge, Stone Edge Farm and his own Winery Sixteen 600. </br> </br>He says grapes from the region produce wines with “elegant bigness.” The tannins are supple and round, the acidity bright, the wines dark, inky and expressive of volcanic soils, able to achieve good phenolic ripeness at moderate alcohol levels. Ahead, the sites that define the AVA.