Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Rockpile" Zinfandel Rosenblum Cellars 2007

For some reason, Rosenblum sent this wine to me as a sample. I'm not sure why, because this sure isn't my style of wine. It's not like I seek out 15.3% Zinfandels that hail from the Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)...ever. Especially not at 35$ a pop. So anyways, this seemed like the perfect thing to spring on my parents. My Mom liked it, my Dad was meh on it (actually saying that he preferred the Twisted Zin he buys for 7$), and Sarah didn't try it. Lots of sweet berries--strawberry, raspberry, black cherry, vanilla, and spicy, clovey elements. In a word, Zinfandel. Big, rich, and concentrated. Smooth, and like I said, big. It wasn't as unwieldy as I thought, but it's a mouth-full of wine that packs a wallop. Less hot than I thought it would be. Still, it reminds me a lot of soda. We drank this with Amatriciana (yeah, not a good pairing at all, what with the heat of the Amatriciana), but I also had a bottle of rose open that was a better match for the other pasta I made with a ton of roasted vegetables.  We also had a tomato salad, which was splendid with the Barnard Griffin Rose. The Zinfandel is expensive, but it's not poorly made. Just not my style. Your results may vary...if you like big Zins, this is worth checking out, as it's more about the exceptional fruitiness as opposed to alcohol. C


The really interesting wine that we had was the picolit Fragolino that Sarah and I bought at Il Tajut in Rome. It's a semi-sweet white dessert wine from Friuli. And that's all I know about it, because it doesn't have a label. It was so good at the restaurant that we bought a bottle for 20 Euro...but there's no information about it other than that it's picolit Fragolino. I had to have some awesome cheese with this, so I went to the Beverly Hills Cheese Store and somehow convinced the lady to give me the good stuff. She even told me that she "sold me cheese that she doesn't sell to just everyone." I guess it pays to know a little something? She hooked me up; these are three of the best cheeses that I've had. First, a Reblochon from Savoie in France. And a real one. They actually make this cheese in larger wheels so that it still tastes the same and can be imported within the USDA's stupid regulations about raw milk cheese. That means they make a larger wheel so that it can age for 60 days and taste the same. The main thing that strikes me about this cheese is the intense milky flavor that comes out. Really good, but no one else liked it as much as me...too put off by the stink. Next, I got a semi-hard cheese rubbed with nebbiolo must from Piedmont called Testo Barricato (head on the barrel). Also awesome. And last, I got the funkiest Blue cheese I've ever had--it's also from Piedmont, and is a blend of cow, goat, and sheep's milk. Actually tastes a bit like coffee...but it's also very intense. No name of other than Blu di Langa. Too much for everyone else. They all went well with the wine, which I'm glad to say made it back from Italy in awesome shape. Extemely floral, with lavender, honey, and peach notes, along with brisk acidity. Not too cloying or thick in texture--which is why I think this is only semi-sweet. Regardless, this wine is delicious and is a benchmark in my mind for sweet wines. It is without a doubt, the most delicious dessert wine that I've ever had (of course, I've got a lot of years to go, so we'll see if I ever have something that eclipses it). Delicious. A+

Addendum: I realized that I called this grape picolit...but that's incorrect. The dessert wine is actually made from Fragolino. How do I know? I went back and re-read my notes from Italy. Anyways, I was curious, and I Googled Fragolino...and it turns out that it is banned from production in the EU. Perhaps this is why the bottle was unlabeled? Who knows, but regardless, this article is worth a read.  

8 comments:

Cabfrancophile said...

Just a bad match here by the Rosenblum (well, mega alco-beverage conglomerate Diageo, owner of Rosenblum) folks. Makes about as much sense as sending a Chinon to a Mollydooker fan, though judging by how fruit bomb fans bash light bodied wines, you are way more diplomatic. Still, kind of a head scratcher.

I kind of like that Rockpile AVA because it is remote, at elevation and filled with rocks (yeah), but it's definitely one for big reds.

Jeff said...

Haha...bad match. It was way better than I thought it would be. In a way, I think as far as California Zins that I've had go, this was kind of restrained compared to say, Rombauer. I have to admit to not knowing a lot about Zinfandel...but I liked the Rockpile a lot more than the Harris Kratka. I would like to learn more about Zins, because they're so "American," but for every wine I get like this one, there are a couple dozen that are so over the top jammy and huge that I get discouraged. The other thought that I had is that this wine would pair well with a huge steak covered in bernaise or something--something to match its' size. Anyways, a good thing to try on someone elses dime, I guess. If I'd paid 35$ for this, I would have been fairly annoyed.

Cabfrancophile said...

The old vine zin category is definitely an interesting one. But most end up as dry (or off-dry) port. I did finally buy one, though, from a Pinot producer, Stephen Ross. It's still near 15% ABV--Zin is a sugar machine in most cases--but is kind of elegant with peppery nuances instead of raisiny hotness. It's like Syrah, it's best when Pinot makers do it and/or it's grown closer to Pinot territory.

Jeff said...

Yeah, I was wondering about this wine. It had so much sweetness that it reminded me of Port. I was actually thinking that this wine was almost a dessert wine...I think the reason that I didn't completely dislike this wine is that there really wasn't any raisin character to speak of...but there was still a lot of heat and spice. At the very least, it's been interesting to try some of these with a few more years worth of wine drinking under my belt. Before these two wines, it had been a long time since I'd had a big Zinfadel like this. Most of the Primitivo's that I've had have been much more restrained.

Cabfrancophile said...

I've been told Zin has a problem with uneven ripening. So some berries shrivel into raisins while others barely ripen. But definitely the biggest issue is the winemakers. They want big fruit and high extract. I guess they're doing it well if they avoid the raisin effect. I don't think they can dodge the high alcohol regardless of style, but they can definitely reduce extraction and direct the winemaking towards complexity over raw fruit. If they want.

You know, I avoid Primitivo because I mentally associate it with Zin. And the one I had, A Mano, was a ridiculous caricature of the bad Zin profile oozing with syrupy raisin extract. I should give some real Primitivo a try, though, and get some Plavac Mali while I'm at it.

Joshiemac said...

Dashe's Les E'nfant Terrible is an interesting expression of California Zin. I think it comes from Mcfadden Vineyard which is in the Potter Valley area of Mendocino County. So it's about as cold weather as Zin gets in this state or any other.

Joshiemac said...

I had a lot of fragolino when I lived in Bologna about 15 years ago. I was told that it was illegal and it was always in unlabeled bottles like the one you had. I seem to remember that it was illegal because sugar was added? Perhaps my memory is spotty due to all the fragolino and lambrusco I was drinking.

I do remember loving it. Doesn't the name mean little strawberry?

Jeff said...

Thanks for the tip on the Dashe. Maybe I'll check that out if I see it.

That's super cool you lived in Bologna. That's one place in Italy that I've never been, but I would love to go hang out there for a couple of weeks. Anyways, yeah, I think you're right that it means little strawberry in Italian. And it's super cool that you've had fragolino before. It's funny, because I had no idea it was "illegal," and spent a lot of time speculating about the weirdness of an unlabeled bottle. I figured that it was just some crazy farmer or something...and that's probably right. Anyways, I guess from research, it's not illegal because they add sugar, but rather because it's a different kind of grape vine--American--that's immune to phylloxera. And they don't want phylloxera in Europe even though most of the vines and rootstock are immune to it now. Anyways, the article at the end is an interesting read if you're into that kind of thing. I wonder if the wine is a different grape--Clinton or Concord--just because I didn't get any strawberry out of this grape at all. Floral and lavender, but I suppose that's pretty close to grapey, in a way. Anyways, I haven't been this excited about a wine for a long time. Maybe I'm getting jaded. I wish that I could get more of this. It's really good, and because I can't have it anymore, it's going to fuck up my perceptions of other wines.