Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It takes a lot of beer to make good wine

That is the saying anyway. For rockroom there is a time when both the beer and the wine come from California's Anderson Valley. This week we will harvest pinot noir just outside Philo CA and as we work with the grapes there just may be a few Boont amber ales floating around. It is good stuff. Or in the local Anderson Valley dialect known as Boontling, it is Bahl Hornin'!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

wow - Sonoma Coast pinot

Wine country's answer to Austin's Oasis restaurant has got to be River's End. Perched on a cliff in Jenner CA, you can watch the sun sink while sea lions frolic down below. This is where the Russian River spills into the Pacific ocean so the quaff of choice is a Sonoma Coast or Russian River pinot. Man I can almost taste our own 2007 Bohemian Vineyard pinot now! Oh well, while we wait for that there are some other good examples from this area. Siduri and Zepaltas are my faves but makers like Kosta Brown and Gary Farrell do some dandy wines as well. So pick up one of these Sonoma charmers soon and enjoy with a grilled slab of wild-caught salmon. You'll be glad ya did.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

start the presses

Today we pressed Napa cabernet sauvignon to barrel. Flavors were nice and full with an added bonus of good acidity given the somewhat early harvest. Tannins were relatively soft for this Howell Mountain vineyard as cab from 1000 ft. altitude can be a bit aggressive. We are using Sylvain and Taransaud barrels with tight grained French oak so will watch for subtle oak infusion over the next 18 months or so. This is our first pressing of the year so we are off to a great start!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

08 Napa cab is born!

Harvest is well underway with heat spikes in several spots pushing grapes to ripeness a week or two earlier than last year. This means our Napa cabernet is already happily fermenting away. These grapes came in very clean and the fermentation is going well so we will probably extend maceration (fancy word meaning sit there with the skins and juice all together) to get the full wow out of this super-premium Howell Mountain fruit. Then it's pressin' time into French oak barrels for that important 2 year nap!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

WOW - 2006 Hein pinot released

Official release of the first of the 2006 vintage - Anderson Valley, Hein Vineyard. Get some - yum.

Monday, September 08, 2008

WOW - 2006 is a wrap

With a bottling session Saturday we got the last of the 2006 co-op wines (our experimental not-for-sale stuff made right here in Austin) safely in bottles. 120 bottles give or take a few. Thanks to those who stopped by to help. Hopefully the takeaway bottles made it worthwhile. Some very promising stuff here. The really big news from Saturday is the barrel-aged bordeaux blend (BDX for short) that is a 60/25/15% blend of merlot/cab/cab franc. These grapes, from different Napa vineyards, were co-fermented so have lived together now for about 20 months. It is a happy partnership that is so far showing up as a really big wine. Finally, at the other end of the spectrum, is our simple blend, tagged simply Red #2. This is mostly a second wine made from pink "bleed juice", taken from our zinfandel and BDX grapes to concentrate them, fermented on merlot, cab, cab franc and zin press skin. The resulting wine was a light fruity red that was then blended with a little barrel-aged zinfandel to give it a little heft. Still an easy-drinking red that will be fun this fall. Finally, we bottled a small test batch of a new zinfandel vineyard blended with a bit of our standby zin (both Russian River AVA but very different grapes nonetheless). Early indications are that this best suited to being a blending zin as it displays some striking peppery and herbal aromas that might be too much all alone. We will watch to see how it develops but it is an interesting contrast to our fruit-driven standby vineyard.

Monday, September 01, 2008

W.o.w. - shiner anyone?

So in Texas when we talk "shiners" we usually mean beer and usually bock style Shiner Bock beer at that, but in the case of this week's wine of the week it is an unlabeled bottle of wine - a shiner - that happens to hold our own inaugural sparkling wine. The base wine for this was our 2006 Santa Lucia Highlands chardonnay and the wine is currently in champagne bottles becoming, we hope, our own tasty blanc-de-blancs. If you have wandered through the storage (or "elevage" as the French would say) caves/warehouses of a decent sparkling wine maker you have seen these shiners by the thousands laying humbly with their bottlecaps on waiting for a year or two or three to allow layers of flavor to develop in that bottle. This is methode champenoise and is the only way to laboriously make decent bubbly. How do you get a sparkler of your very own? Hang with us - we're willing to try making anything! And in this case it is going quite well I would say. Maybe we should pop one of these at the next co-op get together so you can see how good it is getting...