Friday, June 17, 2011

Wines I'm Making: 2010 Sangiovese Rosé Bottling (Second Batch)

Yesterday I bottled the second batch of 2010 rosé I made from our Sangiovese grapes. This second batch was something of an experiment, but, apparently, an at least moderately successful one. The summer of 2010 was very cool, but punctuated by a couple of intense heat spells that ruined a lot of grapes (many growers pulled leaves to increase sun exposure, hoping to encourage what had been very slow ripening caused by the otherwise cool weather, only to see their crop then hit by sudden heat that destroyed the exposed berries). The fruit that survived the short hot spells often ripened poorly. Our Sangiovese, a case in point, came in with very low sugar and less-than-optimally developed flavors.

I made rosé from the grapes using my usual method (about 19 hours on the skins), and that produced a pleasant, but very light wine that lacks the interest of the excellent, flavorful rosé I made with our 2009 grapes. As usual, I hated to throw away the pressed skins from the initial batch, which seemed to have a great deal of pulp and juice still attached. I therefore tried a second-run fermentation. That is, I added water and sugar back into the pressings to ferment a second wine--not expecting much success from it (I've made some dismal red wine this way). I left the mixture to soak for more than two days, partly because I wasn't especially interested in it, but that proved to be a good thing. This second-run wine that I've just bottled (and sampled for the first time) is quite acceptable--better than I'd hoped for. Having said that, it's not great. I think the lesson here is not that making second-run wine (which seems like cheating) is a good thing, but rather that in very lean years, like 2010, it pays to give rosé a much longer maceration than would normally be appropriate. Having said that, I'm not going to sneeze at the additional 25 bottles of wine my experiment yielded.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Art I'm Looking At: 2011 Art at the Source

Art at the Source is one of two major open studio events that allow artists working in Sonoma County to show and sell art directly to the public from their places of work.  Both events are held annually on a pair of weekends. Today, Sunday, June 12 was the last day of Art at the Source showings. Art Trails, the other local open studio event is held on two weekends in the fall, in October.

As usual, I got a late start on the last day, so only got to see about 15 artists--and that many mostly because I headed first for The Barracks, which brings a large number of artists together under one roof (in buildings that once were barracks at a naval air station on the western edge of Santa Rosa).

I particularly enjoyed the assemblage work of Maris Peach (, paintings by Suzanne Edminster ( and by Karina Nishi Marcus, and the hat block collection of hatmaker Amy Smith at Flying Color Studios. These open studio weekends are wonderful for the way they bring artists and the public into direct contact, but also for the chance meetings among art lovers they may engender. In Maris Peach's studio, I enjoyed talking with the artist about her work, about a little girl that found these doll parts frightening, and with a man--whose name I didn't catch--about  T. E. Lawrence and The Seven Pillars of Wisdom; later I enjoyed meeting a young photographer (a visitor, not an exhibitor) named Gwen that shared my eye for unintended art. An excellent way to bring art to the community and to bring the community to art.

The photo above is part of Maris Peach's extensive collection of the odds and ends she uses to make her assemblages; the strings of doll appendages immediately caught my eye. The bottom photo is part of the large collection of hat forms I found in the studio of Amy Smith--unintended art, but beautiful nonetheless. But Ms. Smith is not just a collector of hat blocks, she's a hatmaker that puts the forms to excellent use making all manner of interesting headgear.

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