Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rain: 0.15 inches Overnight (November 18-19, 2011)

We had a little rain overnight last night (0.15 inches). Today, the 19th was cold but clear--although by early evening it was raining again. Last night's rain brings our 2011-2012 total to 3.1 inches, a little behind normal rainfall for this time of year, but we'll see where we are tomorrow.

[Update: We got another half inch last night (the night of the 19th). That brings the total to 3.6 inches. Average rainfall in Santa Rosa for November 20 is more than five inches, so we are well below normal at the moment.]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wines I'm Drinking: Pedroncelli 2010 Dry Creek Valley Dry Rosé of Zinfandel

Rosé of Zinfandel? If those words bring "White Zinfandel" to mind and make you cringe, you're probably not alone, but that's an unfortunate effect of the huge commercial success in the 1980s--mostly among unsophisticated wine drinkers--of White Zinfandel, a wine that was usually blandly flavored and cloyingly sweet, and thus a travesty of Zinfandel. From a marketing perspective, it was a stroke of genius, however: it provided an outlet for large quantities of (red) Zinfandel grapes in the US, where demand at the time was mostly for white wines. But relax: White Zinfandel has largely disappeared from the shelves, and few seem to lament its demise.

Setting aside the White Zinfandel association, why not rosé of Zinfandel? Any good red grape ought to make a good dry rosé, and I've often wondered why we don't see more dry rosé wines from Zinfandel or from Cabernet or many other grapes. I suppose, the answer is purely one of economics. No commercial winery will make such wines if they believe they won't sell, and few Americans appreciate rosé. No winery will use grapes to make rosé if they know a fully red wine from the same grapes will sell better and at a higher price. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see this wine. I decided to try it because the label emphatically calls it a "Dry Rosé of Zinfandel." A dry Zinfandel rosé is a fairly rare beast.Tasting notes follow.  

A pretty pink--somewhere between coral and watermelon with something of the scent of strawberries and suggestions of honey or honeysuckle on the nose. Unfortunately, this is not bone dry. To my palate, it's sweet (although it's not White Zinfandel). The sweetness is moderate and offset by decent acidity, and there's even a hint of tannic bite. The fruit flavors suggest very ripe strawberries rather than the dark, brambly flavors I usually associate with Zinfandel. Moderate length on the palate.

I suspect I'd have liked this if it had been truly dry. It's got just enough sweetness that it tires the palate quickly, however, and I find it hard to think what food it might go with--spicy foods or garlic-laden foods, perhaps? Probably best on its own as a sipping wine. This may appeal to some, but I'd call it fruity, uncomplicated, and easy to drink, but with no attributes to give it any special interest, and I won't be buying it again. $9.49 at Oliver's Market, in Santa Rosa.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wines I'm Making: Sangiovese Rosé Still Fermenting--Day 19 (November 13, 2011)

We picked our Sangiovese grapes on October 24, 2011 and I pressed them the following day. The juice has been fermenting--very slowly--since the 25th. Today is day 19 and tiny bubbles are still rising in the carboy. The main activity is finished, though. CO2 is no longer keeping the spent yeast and other solids suspended, so the wine has mostly cleared and the true color is becoming apparent. I transferred the new wine to a smaller (3 gal.) container on the 11th to minimize air contact. In the next day or two it'll be time to rack it off the remaining lees and lightly sulfite it. Normally there's time for two rackings to completely clear the wine before Thanksgiving, but this year we picked so late that we'll probably have to wait until around Christmas for new rosé.

Birds I'm Watching: Spring Lake (November 12, 2011)

I've been very busy with work the past few days and have had little time to write anything. Sitting at a computer all day gets tedious rather quickly--but work is work.

Yesterday, feeling the need for a break and some exercise, I took a brisk walk around Spring Lake in Santa Rosa, which is just down the road from me. I didn't see anything unusual, but got to watch this very pretty Townsend's Warbler picking insects out of the willows along the shore. Below is an inquisitive Ruby-crowned Kinglet that was with the warbler, along with Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Bushtits.

 For more information about bird watching in Sonoma County, see my Website Sonoma County Bird Watching Spots.

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