Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rockroom - built to last?

As we say on the Rockroom website, one of the four Rockroom Winemaking Cooperative cornerstones is sustainability. That is a popular term right now, and not just in grape growing or wine making circles, and our view is that there is much work to be done to build clarity and understanding about just what sustainability means. For now we are happy to be part of that conversation and intend to make the topic of sustainability an important and growing aspect of what makes Rockroom wines special.
And so last week it was great to have some time to speak with Director of Vineyard Management Mitchell Klug. Mitchell recently joined the custom crush where we make Rockroom wines and that means we have access to this vineyard veteran as we continue to evolve our sustainability emphasis. (We could never afford access to a pro like Mitchell all by ourselves so here is another real plus to working with a premium custom crush facility.) By way of background, Mitchell has most recently overseen the development and management of a portfolio of over 25 vineyards and prior to that was in charge of nearly 1,400 acres of premium vineyards including the Opus One and To Kalon vineyards and he developed the sustainable farming program under the Mondavi Family wineries. Our meeting in San Francisco was a great discussion of the three legs of the vineyard "sustainability stool": environmental conditions, economics of the vineyard and social integrity of vineyard management. Look for more on this conversation in future posts, but for now I will say we are in good shape to continue evolving our sustainability mission.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blending 07 syrahhhhhhh

Here sits consulting winemaker Mike Z measuring out some samples for blending trials as we consider final thoughts before bottling the 2007 Rockroom syrah. Yes, bottling time is approaching for this our third vintage of the Santa Barbara County syrah from White Hawk Vineyard. "But I've only had the 2005!" you say, "What about the 2006?" Patience, grasshopper - you haven't missed it: it's in bottle aging mode. Now if you are a Rockroom co-op member (or know someone who is) you may have had some pre-release tastes. Tasted great whenever you tried it, right? - so why the long wait? Well, as anyone who has been tasting the 2005 since release will tell you, this wine gets better and better with a little time. So expect this year to see the 06 released and next year the 07.
And how did we end up with the blending trials? Well the baseline wine is really nice so we mostly just played with some small additions of syrah from other barrels to punch up certain bright flavors. And then for just a tad of dark fruit and tannin structure to fill out the mid-palate profile a bit, we went with a 2% add of dark, brooding petite syrah. This seemed to hold the wine together nicely, maybe because we were missing the contributions from stems that we got in prior years as the 07 was made with fully destemmed grapes. Whatever the reason, the minute tinkering was great fun and we look forward to a final verification test before bottling next month.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

W.O.W. Irish eyes are smilin'

What is a great pairing with Irish dinner of roast beef, cabbage, onions and new potatoes? Well, other than green beer? (Ugh) How about a Chateauneuf du Pape, 2003 from Domaine de Villeneuve? This wine sat on the shelf for a few years which allows it to show its great stuff. Just terrific with layers of bright fruit and more subtle spice and tobacco aromas. The lesson here is to get some Chat du Pee NOW and open today the one you got 3 years ago. Yum. These wines can be a little tight and one-dimensional in their youth and you think, "why did I spend forty bucks when I could have had a Spanish garnacha for twelve?". But then you age one for just a few short years and it just keeps opening up with layer after layer.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

WOW club pinot

Known as a producer of terrific single vineyard zinfandels, Seghesio has for several years now been turning out Russian River pinots. And each year they seem to steadily improve - the newly released 2007 Costieri may be the best yet. The way we have come to realize this is by being in the Seghesio wine club for years. While we would not normally seek out their pinots, it has been fun to see the evolution and enjoy the ever improving wines. And that is exactly why wine clubs are so fun - unexpected arrivals of unexpected wines that keep wine drinking interesting and spontaneous. Hmmm, maybe Rockroom should start a wine be continued

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Wine Spectator checks out Rockroom

Exciting news for Rockroom as we just received our first reviews from the trade. Here is what Wine Spectator's pinot noir critic James Laube had to say about the 2 current release pinots:

Tasting Highlights: California Pinot Noir
10 exciting new California Pinot Noirs...

ROCKROOM Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Hein Vineyard 2006 Score: 90 $44 Flinty minerality joins snappy wild berry and black cherry fruit that's fresh and zesty. Medium-bodied, complex and focused, gaining depth on the pebble-laced finish. Drink now through 2013. 50 cases made. —J.L.

ROCKROOM Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Bohemian Vineyard 2007 Score: 89 $44 Complex and distinctive, if a tad earthy, with touches of herb in the dark fruit mix. Full-bodied and persistent, with lots of spice and sage. Drink now through 2012. 100 cases made. —J.L.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Wine of the Week goes Foodie

For wine of the week this week let's just say it's anything that matches what you are eating. Or another way to do it (my preferred approach) is to figure out what to have with that wine you are going to open. So to help with that I have finally found (and installed on the Rockroom blog!) a handy dandy wine selector that I like. Use it to either suggest a wine for your food or a food for your wine. I have tried it out a number of ways and can say it is (mostly) an excellent quickie tool for making wine and food pairings easy. The only bug I have found so far is that to find duck dishes you have to look in the food listings under chicken. IMHO this does not elevate duck to the status it deserves but maybe that is just my personal taste coming through - I tend to love any meal that combines duck, mushrooms and pinot noir. So give the wine selector a try - it is over there on the right side of the blog. Fun!