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.)
The 2008 Raffaldini Montepulciano, from the Swan Creek AVA in North Carolina, received extended oak ageing. It starts with some VE/VA up front, fleshy ripe strawberry/raspberry and oak terpene notes. In the mouth, strawberry flavors dominated with a structure of finely dusty, suede-like, lightly drying tannins, a light body and softer acids. It finished creamy, with a waxy edge. On the second day, a more distinct though faint aroma of rose petals accompanied the previously noted fruit. The fruit flavors became accented by a hibiscus-like note. Supple, smooth, fine, tannins and good acids and balance defined its structure. The finish was more truncated and more drying on the second day. This wine was a nice companion to the mushroom pizza and did not compete with any of its elements. Paired with blackened salmon, it worked structurally, clashed somewhat, aromatically. (12.5% ABV, 2 bottles tasted, production volume unknown)
The 2008 Mandola Spino, from Duchman Family Winery, is a 100% varietal wine sourced from fruit grown in the Reddy Vineyards and the Mandola state vineyards in the Texas High Plains and Texas Hill Country. Temperature-controlled fermentation was followed by nine months in French oak. The wine starts with aromas of bright, fleshy strawberry, a faint floral hint, and a slightly funky edge. Cranberry and strawberry flavors dominate this light-bodied wine with, light fine tannins, some heat and lower acids. The finish is a bit hollow feeling. On the second day the faint funky aromas persisted, taking on a more vegetal character, but were dominated by fleshy macerated strawberry followed by a floral/oaky note. In the mouth, strawberry dominated cranberry and a slight mineral-like astringency. The structure took on more definition with taut, fine, slight tannins, vibrant acids, good body and balance. The medium-length finish was juicy with cherry/cranberry flavors and a vague floral hint. The rustically-styled wine blended in well with a mushroom pizza but clashed aromatically with blackened salmon. (12.5% ABV, 1 bottle tasted, 662 cases made)
The 2007 Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano started with earthy aromas of char, light brett-like notes and a hint of cherry. These persisted into the next day with fruit becoming a bit fleshier. Cherry/cranberry flavors lay on a structure of grippy, drying tannins with a dusty texture, a hint of bitterness, and juicy lasting acidity. A very long finish of cherry and cranberry ended with some heat. Nice food companion that does not compete with truffle and mushroom pizza and pairs well with blackened salmon. (13% ABV. 2 bottles tasted).
This Zinfandel-based blend is upper medium depth garnet in color with a medium opacity, becoming ruby at the rim. Rich plum and berry aromas up front. Pleasantly piney notes soon emerge, backed by hints of sweet oak. More time in the glass brings out subtle char and espresso aromas. It quickly becomes very tangy and ends very, very racy with a steely, scalpel-sharp note. Very fine tannins are slight, velvety textured, smooth and have a tea-like astringency. The 15.7% alcohol is well-carried and perhaps tamed by the racy, high acidity, which lifts the tone of the plum and berry flavors but also tends to overshadow them. The lingering finish is a dynamic kaleidoscope of acidity, plum and berry flavors, heat and mild, velvety astringency. For the time being, it can be paired with high-acid foods. Paired with Greek salad (grilled chicken, feta, Persian cucumbers and balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing).
It is generally accepted that wine growing and making originate in what is now the country of Georgia. With a few exceptions, Georgian varieties have existed in a juxtaposition of global obscurity and vast planting in the cradle of viticulture.
The King Andrews Muscat Blanc is, well, muscat. Nothing problematic about it, but nothing particularly attention-grabbing about it, either. If you like the sweet version, however, be forewarned that this is made in a somewhat drier style. The winery describes it as citric with hints of grapefruit and recommends pairing it with thin-sliced pan-grilled turkey breasts.
This was rich with dark blue and black fruit and a floral hint. Smooth, suede-like tannins were paired with a slight sweetness, a hint of astringency and appropriate acidity.