Christmas is a wonderful time for getting together with family and friends – and for Wine Camp. I’ve written about this before,
and about Dave Johnson, my brother-in-law’s brother-in-law, more or
less. We do this exercise in wine geekdom twice a year now, at Christmas
and Memorial Day.
I lost count of how many wines we tested each other on, and some of
the bottles have already been tossed. My notes, as usual, became less
extensive and more ambiguous as the afternoon wore on. But two wines
stole the show.
Bramare Malbec 2004 from Marchiori Vineyard in
Argentina’s Mendoza district, was stunning – rich and intense, with
flavors of cocoa that seemed to transport Dave back a few years to his
childhood; he described it as “Nestle’s Quik on steroids.” It had more
blackberry fruit than the blueberry flavor I usually attribute to
Malbec, which threw
me off track at first as I tried to guess its grape and provenance. So I
kept asking for another sip. Bramare is made by California wine great
Another California legend was responsible for the second stunner of the day. Rosenblum Petite Sirah 2004 from Rockpile Road Vineyard
in Sonoma County’s Rockpile AVA was ripe nearly but not quite to the
point of pruny, with notes of leather, cocoa (hey – Christmas is a time
for memories, after all!), plums and cherries. It was long, deep and
gorgeous with tight, stony tannins befitting the vineyard’s name.
I had the pleasure of visiting Rockpile Road Vineyard a few years
back and walking among the vine rows with Jack Florence, Jr., and his
father, Jack Sr. They produce Zinfandel and Petite Sirah that epitomize
mountain fruit, from steeply sloped vineyards overlooking Lake Sonoma at
the far western end of Dry Creek Valley. They sell their grapes mostly
to Rosenblum but also to Carol Shelton and perhaps one or two other
winemakers. Rockpile wines are hard to find – the AVA is small and only a
few wineries make wines from there, and only in small quantities. But
if you can find them they are worth a splurge.
I hope you had a joyful and delicious holiday, too! Please tell me in the Comments about the wines you enjoyed.