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).