Maybe it is because I was always forced to title my papers in college and it often stretched my already exhausted and strained creativity, but when I make wine, I always feel it needs a name. That might not make any sense to anyone else out there, but it does to me. Heck, I want to name our house, though I have been forbidden to by Kevin and the girls (fun-suckers, I say).
So, I have been thinking very carefully about the name for this vintage (did you smell the burning?). Finally, I have arrived at a name and a label to go along with it.
I kinda like it alot.
And yes, I know I still have a carmenere out there unnamed. I am still thinking on that one. I told you my creativity is limited.
So, we squeezed some grapes, an amusing, slightly insane and definitely messy job. Next day when the juice came up to room temperature, I stirred in the yeast. Also known as the only yeast that Caputo’s carried that I had to go to customer service to find after I asked around at the really crowded market. Luckily, the yeast was from Lanvin an known producer (at least to me and seemed to be a somewhat generic bordeaux type. So, red wine. Yeah. Just what I have, so this works.
What are differences between using just juice (must) (though I mean not grapes skins) and must with skins. One of the things that changes when the skins are in play is the volume of the mix. It turns out that before fermentation juice and skins just kind of hang out together in mixture.. kind of like a soup… but after fermentation? Oy! Those skins rise to the top forming a thick layer that has to be broken through to get a good mixture.
Yes, those were crates of grapes, but I am not making jelly. I am making wine. With real grapes. Do we know what we are doing? Kinda sort.
In the meantime it has been an adventure.
Kevin and I headed off to Caputo’s Market and found the grapes. Boxes of grapes piled up. Sorted by varietal. Plastic pails of juice were also there. So now we had to decide what we were going to try. Which isn’t as easy to decide as you think. We decided to go with a blend of grapes and red grapes at that. So we walked up and down the aisle and finally decided on two varietals. Alicante, which is also (and more commonly in the US) known as Grenache and Carignan which is often found in Catalan and Languedoc wines.
Now there is a problem with our plan. We do not own a fruit press and we were not prepared to shell out $800 for one of the ones that they had at Caputo’s. So we decided to wing it. We brought the grapes home cracked into the crates and started squeezing them by hand. It was a messy process. But getting that up close and personal with your grapes teaches you something. The Grenache are really, really red. The Carignan, have black skins but green pulp and were sweeter than the Grenache. And they are really, really sticky.
We have left the skins in contact with the juice and will punch them down into the mix twice a day to enhance the color and the tannins. And we learned that it is trickier getting a sugar and potential alcohol readings with the skins in the way too. But now we are just waiting.
Boy, that sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Never fear, I am not hanging out with mobsters or any nationality… I am drinking wine from Don Sebastiani & Sons. This winery, an independent offshot of the Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery is terroir driven. The wine was poured by Greg Kitchen, the winemaker and Jack Meyer from their marketing department.
The wine poured was from their Crusher line of wines which are grower’s selections. We tasted the 2008 Petite Sirah from Clarksburg.
Speaking of Desert Wind Vineyards, our next wine selection was from their winery. The Desert Wine 2008 Ruah was poured by Amber Fries. If you are confused by Ruah as I was, then I am pleased to tell you that Ruah means wind in Hebrew. This winery is different from the others that we have encountered at the conference in that it is a destination winery. In addition to the tours, tastings and special events that we have come to expect as part of winery, Desert Wind also has dining and accomodations. Each of the four rooms is distinctly decorated in a southwestern theme. The small restaurant, Mojave by Picazo is also southwestern in theme.
oops. That is a little out there, but I like the thought of wine being poured with the regularity of ducks quacking. Which brings us to Duck Pond Cellars. Greg Fries, partner and one of the winemakers poured for us their 2008 Red Blend which is a mix of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The fruit is from the Desert Wind Vineyard which is also owned by the Fries Family.
Ok. Bachelor’s Buttons. Still it seemed the perfect name for a wine that was being “dated”. Denise Isenhower or Isenhower Cellars talks about the wine from her small winery. Oh, and the name? It comes from the flowers growing at their winery.. You probably guessed that because you are clever.
Speed dating a family? That sounds a bit kinky. Particularly by my Snow White standards… speed dating a vineyard? That sounds more like me. Though perhaps, I am becoming like Mae West when she said, “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”
Anywho…. next up on our speed dating agenda is the Ortman Family Vineyard’s O² Sangiovese. It is a second generation wine from the winery’s second generation wine maker. Enjoy!