Friday, December 14, 2007

crankin some zin

While the grownups yakked Alex supplied the muscle to separate our Russian River zin from its skins. Our co-op reds are now pressed and will age for a year or so in their barrels.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

pinot press

Our Carneros pinot noir finished primary fermentation and we pressed it today. 2 different pinot clones from the same vineyard - UCD18 for color and bright acidity, Dijon clone 115 for earthy aromas and flavors. Now for malolactic fermentation in barrel and aging. While we worked we sipped on a Loring Rosella's Vineyard pinot from 2005 - great inspiration for our humble little wine!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

uh-oh, wine is happening

During Prohibition there was an enterprising company that would send out blocks of dried zinfandel grapes with a label on the package that said "warning - do not add water and yeast or wine may result". Well I feel I must warn you that those grapes we had delivered to Austin are now turning into wine. Just the way it goes, expecially when you pitch in a little wine yeast. Here is a photo of the pinot noir frothing away as yeast eat sugar and spit out alcohol. The process is moving fast and we will be pressing pinot and zin in the coming week.

Friday, November 30, 2007

grapes arrive!

The grapes for our 2007 rockroom winemaking co-operative wines are now in Austin! Two different clones of Carneros pinot noir, 250lbs of primo Russian River Valley zinfandel and enough Santa Lucia Highlands chardonnay juice to make a nice little quarter barrel of chard. Moving these grapes toward wine-dom starts today and the weekend will certainly see some key steps take place. Call or email if you want to drop in and see how your wine is starting life!

Monday, November 19, 2007

wow - not screwy

Here is a nice little California pinot noir you should try - a good deal for around 20 bucks. Instead of a cork you will discover a neat little glass stopper on top. As cork replacements go it is more like opening a perfume bottle than a quart of Ripple. Nice.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

California crush finale

Rockroom's 2007 crush came to a close yesterday with the pressing of our White Hawk Vineyard syrah. The wines now begin their beauty sleep leading to bottling in 2008 or 2009, depending on varietal. Of course by then we will have some 06 wines to enjoy!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

wow - it's not what you think

You might be thinking that you have seen this bottle on the shelf before - a very decent Spanish garnacha for 8 bucks or so, right. But if you look closer (OK, not at the crappy phone pic above) you will notice this says Reserva and is a blend: garnacha and tempranillo (the grape of Rioja). And it says 1999. Currently on the shelf at the HEB on 41st street this is a fascinating wine for all of about $11. A real steal. Now where can you find a well aged red for under $15 right off the shelf? Get some of this- good stuff!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

w.o.w. - chard is ready

Hopefully you have a few bottles of our 2006 Carneros chardonnay bottled just 2 months ago. The wine is already showing nice classic chardonnay character and you really should pop one now so you know how it started out. Sure, age a couple of them but don't miss the chance to try this solid charonnay early. cheers!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

w.o.w. - chilly sauv blanc

As summer draws to a close here in Texas there is still enough sun and heat to merit popping a well chilled white. I was pleased to open one of our own rockroom wines - a 2005 Napa sauvignon blanc - and find it full of good citrus and floral aromas and grapefruit and green apple flavors. Crisp, bright and great with light food and a hot day. Some of you still have a bottle or two of this wine - enjoy it now while the weather is warm! Better yet, sip it next to the 2006 version we made and lets talk about which is better...

Monday, October 15, 2007

you've read the book and drunk the wine: time for the movie!

On a recent winemaking excursion to California a roving cameraman grabbed me for a quick interview on the goings-on at rockroom as we make the 2007 wines. Click here for a link to the movie - a preview to yummy wine yet to come...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pressing pinot

Today we pressed the Hein Vineyard pinot noir to barrels. The first of the 07 wine is on its way! The wine went into Francois Freres French oak "zebra" barrels which are made from some new and some old barrel staves. This will moderate the oak flavors in the wine so that they do not overpower that yummy Anderson Valley fruit. Be ready come Thanksgiving 2008.

syrah pumpover

Deep color and bold fruit flavors come out during a cold soaking of syrah grapes. Here some Napa syrah from the Page Nord vineyard get a pumpover of juice to keep washing the good stuff from the skins before fermentation begins. Judging from the dark pink foam that is forming it looks like some naturally occuring yeast are beginning to have their way with the graps.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Oregon pinot noir

A visit to Siduri in Santa Rosa, CA where we were busy sorting pinot noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley. It has been a challenging year in Oregon with overcast, rain and even hail in spots, but so far things look pretty good for Siduri as the fruit rolls in for some killer pinot.

picking begins

Harvest 2007 - Some picking bins of pinot at beautiful Van Der Kamp Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast.

Friday, October 05, 2007

One by one the rockroom vineyards are being harvested here in California. Hein Vineyard pinot noir was first as it came in last week on September 25th. Fermentation is going great and I think we are looking at a very good year for Anderson Valley. Bohemian Vineyard pinot noir, new for us this year, came in yesterday (October 4th). Little clusters with tiny tiny berries, I am very excited about this wine. Our wine will be a mix of Dijon grape clones 115 and 777 with a little bit of 667. The vineyard, just outside the tiny town of Freestone, was 36 degrees the morning of harvest and our hands were getting numb sorting grapes - this is one chilly site! As appelations go, this is much more of a Sonoma Coast climate than Russian River Valley, the designation that this vineyard carries. Another sorting yesterday was for a bit of a stealth project - a rockroom barrel collaboration on a single barrel of super-premium Napa cabernet sauvignon. But hey, if I tell you about it here, it won't be a stealth project any more!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

wow - bubbles!

Someone had a birthday around here this week and bubbly was in order. Bubbly and chocolate that is. Now Champagne is lovely with dark chocolate (like this Miles of Chocolate brownie) but what is even better? - Pink Champagne! No, not some syrupy thing - I am talking bone dry brut Champagne with just a touch of fruit from brief contact with pinot noir grape skins. Great aromas, crisp flavors and a long yeasty finish. It's Besserat Bellefon NV Brut Rose Champage in this case (about 40 bucks at Vino Vino on Guadalupe). And just so you know, Vino Vino is the place for pink bubbly from under $10 to $50+.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hanging out in the vineyard

Wine country is buzzing with harvest anticipation as warm sites pick and cool sites get ready. New to rockroom for 2007 is this cool site - Bohemian Vineyard in Freestone just a grape's throw away from the chilly Pacific. While much of Russian River picked pinot noir days or even weeks ago, these grapes will hang at least another week. Good for us as the best pinots come from these slow ripening sites.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Punching down some of the first pinot to come in - not ours yet: it is still hangin' out in the vineyard. Soon though...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

06 taste test

It may be harvest 2007 but let's not forget we have 2006 wines that need a little TLC! Today I sat down with barrel samples of our 06 Hein Vineyard pinot and played with some blends. Great news! - each barrel has something good to add and the resulting blend is better than any one barrel. More good news is that the wine will be ready to bottle as soon as harvest is done and the bottling line can be set up. Hmmm - could there be some pre-release wine to sample with roast turkey? Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Harvest has begun!

It's official - our Alder Springs chardonnay high up in the hills of Mendocino County (that's the vineyard in the photo) will be picked on September 3rd making it the first of our grapes to go to the custom crush in San Francisco. Hurray! I will be zipping out there soon, hopefully as grapes comes in and will keep you posted. Rest assured though, I have worked out detailed winemaking plans with the folks out there so there is no mystery about what to do when our grapes arrive at the crushpad. They have a great crew and have staffed up, added another top-of-the-line Italian membrane press and are ready for the big harvest that lies ahead. All reports I have been getting are that harvest this year is 1) about 2 weeks earlier across California and 2) healthy with no troublesome rain showers (causes mildew and dilutes flavors) or whithering heat (does not give grapes recovery time at night). Bottom line - we are looking good!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

wow - a bright white

Summer in Texas is coming to its steamy climax and the Hill Country grapes are getting picked for the 2007 vintage. A soggy summer for sure so hats off big-time to Texas growers who had their hands full getting grapes picked and vineyard fungus managed. As the heat continues, stock up on some fun refreshing whites. Like this inzolia (that's the name of the grape) from Italy. Actually Sicily to be exact. A rich, viscous wine unlike the usual simple Italian white, this one works well to sip on the porch or enjoy with something creamy - brie or alfredo sauce. A pretty big white but not at all chardonnay-ee so no worries for those of you not crazy about chard. I picked this bottle (and 5 others) up at Vino Vino on Guadalupe - with the 15% discount it was about $17. Good stuff.

Monday, August 20, 2007

bottling the 06 chard

Sunday ended up being bottling day for our co-op 2006 Carneros chardonnay. The second of 3 chard batches for 06, this one is classic Cali with that creamy vanilla caramel thing going on. Yum! This was of course to be expected as this wine was fermented from its raw juice state in a small French oak barrel and stored in that same barrel to pickup some of those expensive and exotic flavors. Labels will get printed soon and then we will have a "label your own" get together, so watch your email for that...

Monday, August 06, 2007

wow - a working vacation

I am taking a brief break from vacation to dutifully post a wine of the week: I suggest that next time you are in Berkeley, CA and hungry for a bite of lunch you stop in and enjoy a glass of the house zinfandel at Chez Panisse - no kidding! We found ourselves in this situation after a little Berkeley shopping (Zac had to have some Birkenstocks from Berkeley) and got lucky with no reservations as they had a couple no-shows. Fabulous lunch of course and great fun to visit Alice Waters' hallowed shrine of the Slow Food Movement. The wine is made for Chez Panisse by Green and Red Vineyards and is a yummy balance between great zin fruit and a bit of earthy seriousness.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

W.O.W. lamb and leganza

Hard to beat Spanish wines for fun, affordable food-friendly vinos. This week's wine of the week is a great example. Pulled recently from the shelf of the Austin HEB at 41st and Red River, this Condesa de Leganza, at almost nine years old, is one of the oldest reds you will find on a grocery store shelf. I am not sure if the winery held this 1998 Reserva wine back for that long or if it just got held up in the distributor's warehouse, but I suspect the former as it was not long ago that you could find the 1995 Reserva. Anyway, this 100% tempranillo from the La Mancha region of Spain is fabulous for a $14 wine and has all the marks of a Reserva Rioja at about half the price. Perfect with the braised lamb shank in the photo - btw, get the lamb (slow cooked to perfection and served with Mediterranean sides for the incredible price of 9 bucks) at Sarah's Mediterranean Market on Burnet at North Loop. If you like lamb, this is some of the best in town at ANY price - certainly a $25 entree at a good restaurant.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2007 wine planning

On behalf of you the co-op faithful, David P and I took up the grueling task of sitting down with our friends at the custom crush to plan for our 2007 wines. The focus yesterday was cabernet and with verasion starting in the California vineyards we need to get plans in order for the coming fall harvest. We are repeating Ink Grade cab for 07 and will make a few tweaks based on lessons learned in 06. Stay tuned for news of another cab we will do for 07 - in stealth mode now, but indications are it could be the biggest rockroom wine yet...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

wow- another great Spanish chiller

With only a fraction of the land and population lil' old Spain cranks out as much wine as the U.S. of A. And hot as it is they love refreshing chillers. Well we Texans can relate, no? So try this Montecillo white (100% viura grapes) from the Rioja region in north-central Spain. Great with little "caprese nuggets" (tomato, basil, fresh mozzerella, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil) on chewy bread. With almost white-Burgundy complexity and a bright, elegant finish, this may be the best $7 wine you drink all summer. Except of course for that killer chard we made...

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Today our rockroom bubbly took a major step toward being uh,... bubbly. Now the base wine here is some of our '06 Santa Lucia Highlands chardonnay that a few of us decided to make into our very own blanc de blancs. This was a lower alcohol, higher acidity batch than the stuff that went to bottle a couple weeks back (any of you drinking that yet?). As with champagne, the next step (the tirage), which happened today, was to mix in some sugar, some yeast, a dash of yeast nutrient blend to keep the yeast active and happy, and a little powdered bentonite (clay) to help settle the murk into a clump that can be "disgorged" later - like a year or so from now. So now we are learning about what makes bubbly - hey before you know it we will be sippin' it. And I have a feeling it is going to be tasty...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

WOW summer chiller

Captured on film - one of our own rockroom faithful chilling wine with ice?? Well climbing Texas temperatures drive us all to desperate measures now and then, so don't be too shocked by this wine of the week photo. The wine is our own co-op pinot gris (or grigio if you prefer) that we bottled last week. A nice refreshing wine with light citrus and melon aromas and flavors, a clean finish and a moderate alchohol level, it is best served really chilly. So if ice works for ya then go for it! Another trick is a quick visit to the freezer, but don't forget about it - I have a couple times only to return to a winesicle or (worse) an exploded winesicle. And remember, this wine was not cold stabilized so a couple days in the fridgey will precipitate out a little sediment of harmless potassium bitartrate (cream of tartar).

Sunday, June 24, 2007

bottling some coop juice

Bottling went well today and we have some 2006 wines ready and waiting. The pinot gris is a light wine with floral and melon aromas and simple clean flavors. The sauv blanc packs a bit more flavor and tends to citrus like grapefruit and lime with hints of passionfruit and great acidity that should help is play nicely with food. Worked fine for me with some greek dolmas for dinner! Now what can I say about the WhiZ? Beautiful bright pink with hints of cherry and strawberry this is a nice light quaffer. Plenty of flavor and acidity softened with about 1% residual sugar. Finally, the Santa Lucia Highlands chardonnay went to bottle with big, rich flavors - the usual apple and pear are in there but with a dose of pineapple and a really long lingering finish. This wine had a brief time in French oak barrel (Radoux medium toast) and it certainly picked up some nice caramel hints.

The pinot gris, sauvignon blanc and WhiZ are ready to drink and will be great summertime chillers. The chard is yummy now but will benefit from at least a few months resting in the bottle to allow some of the complex flavors to integrate. In fact, I expect that this wine will do well with even more age on it. Having said that all these wines have pretty low levels of sulfites and were only lightly filtered so don't expect to leave them in a hot pantry for a year or two. Also, none were cold stablized (c'mon - click the link and read about it!) so they will do best just chilled an hour or two in the fridge right before opening. If you stick em down in the deep celler of your Scottish castle or subject them to several days of fridge temps you should expect to see some tartrate crystals form at the bottom of the bottle. No worries - harmless stuff (cream of tartar) so just pour carefully to avoid that little bit of sediment. And enjoy! - These are the first of our 2006 handmade wines and they turned out really nice!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

w.o.w. - a so-weeet little wine that's not so sweet

I once read somewhere that riesling is the "red wine of white wines". Seemed goofy at the time which is probably why I really don't remember why the analogy was made. Now years (and many rieslings) later, I will speculate that it is because riesling, like most reds and unlike most whites, gets much better with some age. For some reason good riesling, while always easy to toss back young, can start life relatively simple - even boring? But given some time riesling develops complexity and the bright acidity helps preserve its freshness and make it a great partner for food. That goes for dry (mostly non-German) as well as sweet (mostly German) rieslings. So this summer treat yourself to some riesling, like this week's wine-of-the-week Jacob's Creek Reserve dry riesling from Australia ($14), and be sure to buy extras to age a little. Most are not expensive and you will enjoy them in a year or two (or more) when you rediscover them in your collection. I enjoyed this 2002 with Fathers Day gyoza and sushi at Maru and I have had it hanging around now for at least 2 years. I have one more '02 - maybe next Fathers Day?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

w.o.w. - fizzy chiller for summer

Summer wine just does not get much more fun that Vinho Verde from Portugal. Slightly fizzy, crisp, dry and clean with hints of citrus and apple this Famega vinho verde is a classic. Less than $6 a bottle (and a pretty blue-tinted bottle it is) you can even call this your sensible wine - only 9% alcohol, low calorie and inexpensive. I plucked it off the grocery store shelf. It went great with tilapia fish tacos - the citrus worked well with the fish and the bright acidity and clean flavor washed down Tex-Mex spice just fine. Don't be surprised if you see another vinho verde wine of the week - they are irresistable.

Friday, June 01, 2007

WOW - rockroom bottles a sequel...

So often the sequel just does not live up to the original, but every now and then along comes Aliens, The Wrath of Khan or The Two Towers to disprove that rule of thumb. Now our premier "professional grade" wine was/is really good stuff - the 2005 pinot noir from Anderson Valley's Hein Vineyard. As follow-up, yesterday I was in San Fran for the bottling of the sequel: 2005 Santa Barbara syrah from White Hawk Vineyard. Big, complex syrah loaded with fruit and bright acidity - this is no jammy shiraz! (not that there's anything wrong with shiraz, mind you!). Not necessarily better than the pinot but, like a good sequel, great fun all on its own. Watch for formal announcements in the future and a chance to purchase this bad boy. cheers!

Monday, May 28, 2007

wow - big flavors for memorial day

Big steak , big wines. Ribeyes off the grill are full of bold flavors and yummy marbling. To stand up to all that flavor a bold wine is in order, and firm tannins help 'cleanse the palate' between juicy bites of fattier cuts of beef. Both Siduri's Van Der Kamp Vineyard pinot noir (2002) and rockroom's Mendocino zinfandel (2005) were up to the challenge. Of course a nice cabernet is the go-to in situations like this, but these alternative did just fine for us.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

w.o.w. - more burgundian than burgundy ?

This week Kala hosted (hostessed?) a cozy wedding shower wine tasting in honor of one of our own co-op charter member (congrats Julie H!) and in the mix was a real beauty of a chardonnay. Not to take away from the beauty of the shower attendees, of course, (whew) but this 2005 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars "Karia" chardonnay was put up against a 2002 Chassagne-Montrachet white burgundy and emerged the clear fave. And not because this crowd was seeking a California butter-bomb cocktail chard. In fact, the Karia had brighter lemony acidity and all the mineral flavors of a good white burgundy but also had elements of tropical fruit with a long, soft finish. No harsh finish, no alcohol heat and NO big buttery vanilla-laden oak flavors to mask more subtle elements. A charming wine at about $30 that is pretty widely available at well stocked wine shops (our bottle came from the new Austin Spec's North). Terrific with steamed artichoke hearts dipped in aioli (as in the photo).

Friday, May 18, 2007

2005 Rhone blend(s)

For co-op folks making the 2005 Rhone Blend - it is now bottled, labeled and ready to go! Now strictly speaking, a "Rhone Blend" is made exclusively from varietals typical to the Rhone River region of southern France. For reds this would mean primarly grenache and syrah. When we made our blend in 2005 we also included some petite sirah which, DNA testing has proven, is a cross of syrah and a lesser known rhone varietal called peloursin. So petite sirah is Rhone too and we threw a little in our mix. However, when tasting through various blends on the way to coming up with our final wines to bottle, we tried one combo that included a bit of unoaked 2005 zinfandel (certainly not a Rhone varietal) - it was really nice! The bright fruit of the zin complemented the grenache-oriented aromas and filled a flat spot in the mid-palate flavor. Not sure what to call this blend, I just went with Red #1. So here is what we ended up with and what is going in each case of "Rhone Blend" for 2005:

Grenache (2 btls): We made a small batch of just grenache for blending purposes and with a chunk of that we decided to make a Chateuneuf du Pape style blend: 80% grenache, 15% syrah, 5% petite sirah.

GSPS (2 btls): This was our primary blend: 50% grenache, 38% syrah and 12% petite sirah blended as crushed grapes, fermented, pressed and aged together (some in oak and some in stainless steel).

Red #1 (8 btls): Mostly Rhone (41/31/8% of grenache, syrah & petite sirah) but with a bit of zinfandel (20%, not 10% as the label designer (me) typo-ed on the label) this is a well-rounded table red with enough acidity to play nicely with food but enough flavor to sip on its own.

So there is the lineup - next time you are by the rockroom be sure to pick up your wine!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

w.o.w. - bloody good! bloody cheap!

For the second week in a row your wallet/pocketbook/finance manager/sugar daddy is going to be very pleased with the wine-of-the-week. The Torres Family of eastern Spain (ya know, Catalunya, Barcelona, funny language roughly resembling spanish...) cranks out a range of good wines - white, pink, red - all nice. As we roll into summer I thought you might like to try their 2005 Sangre de Toro ("blood of the bull"), a light red that pairs easily with many foods (pictured here with Jessie's stir-fried berries over Blue Bell homemade vanilla). This dry fruit-filled red is a blend of garnacha and carenena - so maybe think French Cote du Rhone. Tannins are very subtle and there is no noticeable oak making this a nice quaffer - try it with grilled salmon, a salami sandwich, spaghetti or a nice duck confit. At $7 a bottle you will not be disappointed.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

w.o.w. - cheap, easy and lots of passion

I could make some comparison between my preference for women and sauvignon blanc but that may offend someone so I won't go there. Instead I will just tell you about this $9 bottle of wine that is the wine-of-the-week. If you have been wondering when the w.o.w. will be something really easy to find and inexpensive, here it is - Monkey Bay sauvignon blanc (2006) from Marlborough, New Zealand. Great with seafood and lighter fare (even sushi as pictured here, although my preference would have been a Kirin Ichiban). What is fun about this wine, like many Marlborough sauv blancs is that it is LOADED with the standard sauv blanc aromas and flavors: fresh cut grass, grapefruit, gooseberry, lime and passionfruit, passionfruit, passionfruit. I promise you, if you have any of these items laying around the house, in the lawnmower bag or growing in the ship's hold, take a deep whiff and then try this wine - you will see the comparison. Now some would say there is just too much of all of the above, like drinking Jolly Ranchers or something. Maybe so, but nothing will educate the palate on these classic sauvignon blanc flavors like the stuff from Kiwi-land. Then you can move on to a nice, subtle, complex French Sancerre... or maybe even that rockroom Napa sauv blanc lurking in the background.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

w.o.w. - Hannibal Lecter recommends...

Readers of Silence of the Lambs might have gotten their introduction to Amarone from that book, but did anyone run out and buy one? I know- you didn't have any fava beans around the house anyway, so why bother. Well here is your chance - this 2001 Amarone from Zenato is a classic - deep color and rich flavors of chocolate covered cherries, raisins and licorice. Really, really big red wine to pair with a full-flavored meal. We took advantage of a recent cool spell to match this wine with some yummy curried beef. Outta sight. Look to spend about 50 bucks on this wine at Spec's in Austin or Houston. Also Cova in Houston is featuring it - ask for Danny and he will be glad to pop one open for you.

Monday, April 23, 2007

w.o.w. - shine on

Spent Saturday hangin out in San Francisco with the gang at the winery and got some great info on status of the 06 wines and what is coming up for 07. After all the learnin' we were ready for some practical exposure so we popped some shiners (ya know - unlabeled bottles) of 05 syrah and 06 sauv blanc. So wait, you say, why are those wines of the week? I mean, where are we supposed to get shiners of new wine????? Well the rockroom of course! Stay tuned as we have some barrel samples of 06 wine ready for tastin...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

w.o.w. - cheap date

This week we offer some relief from the pricey and unavailable. Not that there is anything wrong with being pricey and unavailable, after all those are qualities that many work hard to achieve. We just don't like such qualities in others. People or wine really. Or maybe we want others to think that we think pricey and unavailable is just dandy and our kind of thing as long as we can get the pricey and unavailable quite easily at a steep discount. So let's act like this lovely Spanish white wine from Oro Penedes Hill is just that. After all, it is an exotic blend of Muscat, Xarel-lo, Macebo and Parellada grapes from the Penedes region (an area near Barcelona mostly known for bubbly called "cava" made from these same grapes). Certainly not boring with its interesting muscat-driven muskyness. In fact, Central Market in Austin has Chilean muscat grapes on the shelf (see photo above) and they are some of the tastiest grapes you will ever find. Nice with this wine as you will really get what muscat is all about. And not sweet by the way, like an Italian moscato or Texas muscat canelli. No, this wine is dry but loaded with floral and fruit aromas a flavors. And only about $10. I found it at HEB in Hyde Park. Pricey and unavailable around the corner. At a steep discount.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

wow - Miles would NOT approve

Well drinking through a few wines this week I just did not have one that was up to snuff for wine of the week. Therefore, a detour...

For those of you who saw the movie Sideways, remember when the tasting room guy asked Miles if he liked the cabernet franc he was sipping? He wrinkled his nose and dumped the glass in the spit bucket, dismissing cab francs in general for making bad wines. Of course at the end of the movie he sips his precious 61 Cheval Blanc from a styrofoam cup, I guess not realizing it is a blend of cab franc and merlot - the two grapes he trashes in the movie. Great case in point of a wine snob that does not know what he is talking about. Very common. Which is why the safe strategy is to never categorically dismiss any wine as you might be surprised at what you like. OK, so my rambling gets me to the point that I popped the cork on a 2004 rockroom cabernet franc and it is tasting really nice. It does have some of those herbal, earthy even veggie aromas that I guess Miles hates, but they come together in a way that is, well, almost pinot-like. Between that and its light color and soft tannins, this wine really made me think about pinot noir! Although I must admit that just about everything makes me think about pinot noir! Including wines that make me think - "man I wish I could dump this crap and have some pinot noir!" So where can you find some of this lovely cab franc? Well, only in the rockroom. Price? - sorry, like our other Austin-made wines it is not for sale, but it is certainly available for tasting. Just come by and say the word!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

rockroomer sighting!

rockroom co-operative operative David P was sighted recently in the deep South... In case you have not been keeping up, Saronsberg Wines of South Africa lured David there for harvest (which is now finishing up) so they could learn the secret ways of the rockroom. The above mugshot is from the Saronsberg home page - go there and read all about it. As a result, I predict great things from the 2007 Saronsberg lineup. Way to go Dave!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

wow its a burgundy

Ok, so you won't often see a w.o.w. recommendation from Burgundy as I think it is hard to find really exceptional Burgundies 'round these parts at reasonable prices. That said, this weekend rockroom hosted two "Wines of Burgundy" fundraiser tastings for Jessie's school and in the mix was a wine worthy of w.o.w. The 2003 Faiveley "Clos du Roy" is big for pinot noir with solid tannins (maybe due to the French heat wave of 2003?) that easily held up in the face of some chunky county-style pate' and blue-cheese stuffed mushrooms. Lots of complex flavors with smoky, spicy aromas, a dose of that French "barnyard funk" but also a solid dollop of good fruit (cherry?) flavors. Seems worthy of its Premier Cru status (which only about 11% of Burgundies get) yet a reasonable value at $34 from Austin Wine Merchant. Might be because the wine comes from the village of Mercurey which is in Burgundy's Chalonnaise subregion - south of the highbrow Cote D'Or sweet spot of Burgundy. Anyway, whatever the reason, it is a really solid wine o' the week.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

w.o.w. - you never forget your first Sardenian

This week's rockroom wine of the week comes to Austin from Sardegna via ... Las Vegas! Huh? Well of course Sardegna (Sardenia) is that big island off the west coast of Italy where all sardines go to spawn, or something like that. But you knew that. What you may not know is that our own JLin, who is currently serving as sommelier (aka wine goddess) at Rao's Las Vegas, is working her way through every Italian wine under the sun. Tuscan or otherwise. Sun or wine. Anyway, she has this to say about this fun little Sardenian white wine made by Argiolas called Costamolino:

"100% Vermentino grapes, it is a lively, bright white wine, redolent with the beautiful floral notes of lemon blossom and passionfruit and pineapple. On the palate, it is bright and creamy (thanks to a partial malolactic fermentation) with lemon verbena and honey all brought together by a tight core of acidity that makes all the flavors pop. It's more interesting than California Chardonnay (ugh in Texas heat) and less searing than Sauvignon Blanc, which can overwhelm with the acid and green notes.....
I hope you try it and fall in love with it. Italian white wines are so much more than Pinot Grigio..."

I found this wine for 14 clams at Central Market on Lamar. They did have one other Sardegna vermentino as well if you want to go all out and do a vermentino flight over a platter of fried calamari with garlic aioli or a bowl of chicken matzo-ball soup with extra egg noodles (as in my photog). Like buttah!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

wine of the week - killer new pinot

So for the first ever rockroom wine of the week (aka wow) here's a doozy. Zepaltas Suacci vineyard pinot noir. Loaded with bright fruit and silky texture this wine has a lingering finish that really shows the complexity possible with Sonoma Coast pinot noir grapes. Never heard of Zepaltas? He (Ryan) is the right hand dude at Siduri. And his photo is in the 3-31 wine spectator. And his first wine released under his own label - 2005 La Cruz pinot scored a WS 95. Move fast to get this wine at $48 plus shipping. Ryan tells me the La Cruz is sold out but call me crazy I like the Suacci better anyway.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bottling day

The 2005 zinfandel and chardonnay went to bottle today. We had several sets of hands pitching in so we made quick work of about 8 cases of zin and 5 of chardonnay. The zin went to bottle unfiltered while the chard was minimally filtered and NOT cold-stabilized, so if you put it in the fridgie for several days it might develop a small sediment of "wine diamonds" (hey, I didn't make that up - google it). Don't get too excited - these crystals can form over time, especially in cool storage conditions, as the natrually occuring tartaric acid in the wine precipatetes out of solution as potassium bitartrate (available on your spice rack as cream of tartar). Most American white wines are processed by chilling the wine in large vats before bottling to force this precipation to occur - better for retail sales to consumers who might think the crystals are bits of broken glass. We did not do this step on our white wines. In Europe, especially Germany where grapes are more acidic, minimally-processed white wines will often develop these crystals over time. Check it out next time you open an old Trockenbeerenauslese ;-).

New Chilean wine?

Saturday night it was time for our favorite Chilean rockroomie to throw his annual Val-Day bash. Thanks Jorge - it was a great party. Of course the party was complete with a few jugs of a homemade wine concoction of his very own. The jug labels said " Lust Fixer Elixer " and just plain "Sin", but sure tasted like sangria - some red wine, fresh fruit juice (those are oranges floating in the brew) a dash of brandy and a few other flavors. Yum!