Friday, January 30, 2009

wine for your valentine

We just did a bit of a news flash about a couple specials on rockroom wine for Valentine's Day wine buyers. Wine is such a no-brainer for Val Day and our super sexy food friendly pinot noirs and chardonnay should be on more tables for dinner. Fun thing about niche wines like ours is that gift recipients won't see them on store shelves everywhere so it feels like a unique gift instead of just checkin' off the box with chocolates or roses. Anyway, enough of a ramble and I know I'm mostly preaching to the choir on this one!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

wine science

Co-op member Dave and daughter Sam have some dark pink plonk here as we made some science fair wine from grocery store grapes. A fun learning experience about fruit and yeast and what happens when they get together. And how's the wine, you ask? ...Uh, a fun learning experience...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

WOW Burgundy by any other name

A wine factoid that many of us learn early on is that a red French wine from Burgundy is always made from pinot noir. Great rule of thumb for us varietal-focused Americanos, right? Only it's wrong. Wine of the week this week is Beaujolais. Named for a region that sits inside the Burgundy appellation, these red wines are 100% gamay, not pinot noir. And it often says right there on the label "Red Burgundy Wine" as well as "Red Beaujolais Wine". Confusing, no? Now maybe you sip Noveau Beaujolais each November when it is released but this is different stuff - same grape but built for aging, these wines are beautiful. All fruit, no oak with soft tannins and aromas of fresh flowers, cherries and subtle spices. Simple wines that don't persist on the finish or keep up with bold foods, but for $12-25 these are a great deal. Especially look for the Francois Labet 2006 (the off-the-bottle label in this photo). Terrific wine. The other two pictured here are very good as well. Avoid the cheapest that just carry the "Beaujolais" name and spend an extra buck or two for "Beaujolais Villages" or one of the subregions like Julienas, Morgan, Brouilly or Fleurie (especially a hit on Valentines Day - which is coming soon!)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

wow - great American pinot still showing great

Loring pinot noirs are generally made in a style to be big, bold and fresh immediately upon release with less emphasis on how the wines will age. That is not just my experience over the couple dozen Loring wines I have had - it is the stated goal of winemaker Brian Loring. So when I ran across this 2004 Keefer Ranch pinot I thought it might be past its prime. So did I snub it? Sorry, no - curiosity got the better of me. Well not to worry! The wine was fabulous starting off with smoky, earthy aromas and finishing strong with bold fruit and soft oak nuances. Maybe the screwtop (an unusual feature on a $50 wine) held in all that goodness, but probably just good winemaking from a great vineyard. So don't hesitate to pop some American pinots that are a year or two or three past release - most hold up pretty well.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

wow - Not Champagne

Where the heck is Limoux? Because if it's on the way home from work I will definitely stop in to have some bubbly! Well Limoux, situated in southern France just up from the Spanish border, is just one of several regions in France making sparkling wine. In fact locals there claim sparkling wine, labeled as either Blanquette or Cremant if from Limoux, was invented in the early 1500s by the Benedictine monks at the local abbey and that dom Perignon stole the idea by taking it to Champagne when he was just passing through. Fun tempest-in-a-teapot rivalry that of course will never be settled since it is all REALLY ancient history. So what's the diff when compared with better known French bubbly? Well there can be a healthy dose of chenin blanc and little if any pinot noir so the wines will lean toward leaner, crisper style. Think fresh green apples. And there is no Champagne regional pedigree so you may have to search a bit for something like this Cremant de Limoux Brut from Domaine Collin. Now if you are in Austin don't search: just go downtown to Austin Wine Merchant on 6th Street and get a bottle. A screamin deal at 17 bucks.