Saturday, October 25, 2008

So today we!

So today, I get my best sweat pants and worst shirt on because its winemaking time. My neighbor Mikey 'eyes' and I have decided to make 16 gallons of something, but we would not what until we source the grapes and taste the options. He thinks Merlot, while I am dreaming Cabernet. We taste the Merlot grapes. Seem a bit flat and bland leaves me not-so-excited. Next taste the Cabernet: hmmmmm, good fruit and all around taste. Ok, 1 down. Next it’s the Zinfandel: Nahh, just not hitting my right where it should. Grenache? Sure, ok, but nah, not a Grenache? Alicante? No friggin way. Grandpa may be disappointed though, if he were alive. Sitting on the other side of the loading dock, all alone is a stack of Petite Sirah. Yes! Petite Sirah sounds about right. I imagine our creation of a dark a brooding chewy red to drink with my charcoal steaks. Nope, Pat, the lady running the joint tells us there’s white mold. White mold? Isn’t that....sugar? What does that tell us? Probably nothing so I ask Pat: “Hey Pat, this means what?” Pat Confirms my ‘nothing’. She offers a discount of $10 per case? Ok, sure. Hey Mikey eyes, let’s make Cab and PS!

4 36 pound cases of each and $220 later, we have his Cadillac trunk and backseat filled with grapes crates. ($23 per for the PS and $33 per for the Cab). We bring it all to his buddy Carlos's home crush and barrel facility: A big double room in his backyard he custom built. Out comes the old crank crush and away we go into 50 gallon tub for each. First the PS, then the Cab. This contraption does not de-stem, so into the mix goes our hands pulling most of the stems out. Easier said than done especially with the Petite Sirah. After about 2 hours of de-stemming and alternating breaks to taste Carlos's lineup from last year we cover the tubs with a sheet and we will revisit in 6 days. Carlos will push the ‘cap’ down daily for us.

Carlos poured us his 2007 Zinfandel which made me almost regret our choice of not making Zinfandel. Great fruit, a good tannic backbone with some black pepper and blackberries. Very nice and Carlos was very eager to hear our honest opinions. He then siphoned off some of his Pinot Grigio that seemed to have a bit of he sulphur still in it masking any fruit. Next was a creamy Chardonnay that had a wonderful mouth feel. The Sauvignon Blanc was very respectable as well with some lemon notes and slightly elevated acid level which would make it a wonderful match for a piece of nicely cooked Lemon Sole. Last was the Cabernet which I found super primary.

Carlos is an all around humble & nice guy with a real passion for home winemaking. To be honest, I never had one, but tasting some of his I surely can see the light. His Zinfandel was the single best homemade wine I have ever had. I had offered to make him custom labels for his wines, an offer he thanked me for, but mentioned that he really wanted to be proud of a single barrel before he would even consider doing such. I told him the Zinfandel is such a wine. Hopefully he takes me up on my offer.

Next week we barrel our wines. (I will take photos and post here for anyone interested). I had a great time and hope it's the start of something we can look forward to on a yearly basis.