Shauna and Kent Rosenblum obtained the fruit for their 2008 Rock Wall Montepulciano from Randy Taylor’s vineyards in Contra Costa County. The grapes were fermented in small macrobins after spending some time out in the sun. The Rosenblums allowed 15%-20% whole berry inclusion, did a cold soak at 42 degrees, tannin addition and used of their house yeast, RP15, a Zinfandel yeast, as the core of their regimen. All new French oak was used for ageing. The wine started with strong oak aromas—dill initially—then notes of leather. Coffee became more pronounced with a little air. In the mouth, plush black cherry/strawberry led into light, supple tannins. Lighter bodied, the soft acids in the mid-palate made the wine seem a bit hollow. A fairly complex finish consisted of a briary cherry-strawberry mélange, with a crème fraiche note and slight bitterness. On the second day, the collective aromas screamed “Zinfandel”. Dill, herbs and vanilla up front, crossing into espresso, the fruit come through had a distinct briar-like quality. In the mouth, espresso notes preceded ripe, very plump briary fruit flavors. Slight, fine-grained tannins, and softer but more pronounced acids made for a round and rich mouthfeel. The wine was an unobtrusive companion to the mushroom pizza and did not overpower the blackened salmon. (14.1% ABV, 1 bottle tasted, production volume unknown, This wine is produced in small lots and tends to sell out to club members.)

WHO: Rock Wall
WHAT: Montepulciano
WHERE: Contra Costa County, CA
WHEN: 2008
HOW MUCH: $22
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