I’m writing this post drinking a glass of Chateau Cheval Blanc. Last night I had Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Dominus Estate. No, I haven’t won the lottery or joined Bob Parker’s tasting staff, I have been experimenting with the Crushpad Fusebox.
Of course my wines aren’t the real thing but blends based upon these famous wines. I’m not sure if any one of these actually tastes that close to the real thing but that doesn’t really matter since the wines are very good examples of what can be made from Bordeaux varieties in California. Of the three wines I’ve blended so far, I’ve only had Dominus for real and the home blended version is pretty close to the mark, if a bit less concentrated.
Crushpad sent me this Fusebox back in 2007, no doubt hoping I would blog about it before now. It never really occurred to me to open the 7 half bottles in the pack by myself as the Fusebox is a natural center point of a wine party. Their idea is to gather friends together and have a blending party using 5 of the 6 Bordeaux varieties to create your own custom wine.
They have provided everything you need to do this properly with a graduated cylinder and 4 pipettes to create your blends. Easy to follow instructions, blend recipe cards and tasting aids are also included. In all, Fusebox is a complete wine blending course in a fun package that just might induce you to try your hand at winemaking.
I’m having so much fun I wish they sold a recharge kit with just the 6 half bottles you really need to create your blends. But their “mystery bottle” is a stroke of genius as it encourages you to blend up the entire kit in order to compare and figure out which blend they have put in that bottle.
The Fusebox is available at their website for $120. For what you get, that seems to be a fair price and it would make a great gift for any wine geek. Excuse me while I mix up some Niebaum-Coppola Rubicon…
Disclosure: Crushpad send me this Fusebox as a sample.
A couple weeks ago a wine sample arrived at my door. This is a fairly common occurrence here but I was intrigued to see it was a single bottle from Crushpad.
Could this be my first barrel sample of our open-source Roussanne, I wondered? Yes, it was!
Being near zero Fahrenheit outside the bottle was too cold to allow for tasting until the wine warmed up, so it sat on my desk for the rest of the day. The anticipation of tasting my first effort at non-home winemaking got the better of me later in the day and I poured out a sample… would this wine measure up to my expectations or would I be disapointed?
For a few moments, I thought the latter after sticking my nose in the glass and picking up SO2 along with fruit. After several minutes of vigorous aeration this aroma lifted, most likely due to a freshly sterilized bottle. I then was quite pleased to find a classically aromatic Roussanne with the characteristic waxy honeysuckle, stone fruit and ripe pineapple. The color at this stage is a lemon-yellow which tells you we have been aging the wine in oak. But there is no aromatic or flavor component from the oak as we have used neutral barrels.
The flavors are also what I expected with lean citrus and tropical fruit finishing very clean with good acidity. Overall, a very nice young wine that I look forward to see what happens with as we continue to stir lees and later blend with Marsanne and Viognier.
Members of my Crushnet group will have a chance to taste the wine late next month when I will be hosting a barrel tasting and blending party at Crushpad in San Francisco. We’ll also talk about naming and branding as labels will need to be prepared soon to ensure TTB approvals and printing.
If you are interested in buying some of this wine, join my group at Crushpad. Sometime in May I will close membership, so time is running out to get your hands on what looks to be a stunning $18 Cali Rhone blend.
It’s been a while since I last blogged here about the open-source Roussanne we are making at Crushpad.
After harvest in late October, the must started a slow, low temperature fermentation in two neutral oak barrels inoculated with two different yeast strains (D47 and QA23 for those interested in such things). Primary fermentation is now complete and the wine will settle in for aging for several months before blending and bottling.
I’ve recently asked group members on next steps in our Crushnet forum. The early consensus is to not allow the wine to go through malolactic fermentation and for the wine to be quite, but not fully, dry. Details are in a raw podcast interview posted for group members. I will be taking the interviews recorded to date and producing a full podcast on the project before the end of December.
If you are interested in joining the group, just visit Crushnet and signup.
Our grapes have been harvested and transported to Crushpad in San Francisco ready to start their journey from fruit to wine. That will start in about an hour from now but I’m 2,000 miles away in Minneapolis. That’s not a problem in this day and age as I’ll be joining via the Crushcam online. I’ll also be live blogging our progress here; stay tuned…
11:18 a.m. CDT – The Crushpad Cam is a bit choppy on my MacBook but the audio is fine… looks like the group is assembling now…
11:31 a.m. CDT – Alan has sent me pictures of the fruit… looks good with some raisins to sort out, etc. Several group members are online now on the Crushcam… and the first bin of Roussanne is in the sorting table now…
11:51 a.m. CDT – Several group members online chatting now trading Roussanne picks to try… sorting going well so far…
12:03 p.m. CDT – Now the group is getting geeky on yeast D47 & QA23 or shall we try BA11?
12:11 p.m. CDT – Sorting/Crushing complete… now the cold soak begins…
12:20 p.m. CDT – Just spoke with our winemaker and we will inoculate next Tuesday or Wednesday with D47 & QA23 yeasts (one in each barrel)… pressing is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CDT today, so I’ll be back on the press cam then… will also post some photos here.
6:02 p.m. CDT – Back on the Crushnet cam, now focused on the press… not sure what is going on right now…
6:49 p.m. CDT – The Roussanne is finally going into the press…
7:09 p.m. CDT – Seems the pressing is near complete… a nice report from group member Robin on the juice; sounds like we have a good one in the works… a lot more as we get into fermentation, etc.
I just found out that the grapes for our open-source Roussanne will be harvested this Friday. There’s still time to join the group and participate in the sorting and crush, either online or at Crushpad in San Francisco. Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll be here in Minnesota for harvest but there will be a few group members in attendance and I’ll be holding court online.
To join us, sign up at Crushpad and join the Winecast group.
Update: Well, harvest is on Friday but because the winery is 4 hours north of the vineyard, we’ll be sorting, crushing and pressing the grapes Saturday… I think I’ll live blog the event here Saturday morning/afternoon depending on your timezone.