Thanks, Robin, Denise and Alan!
Your audio wine guide
Thanks, Robin, Denise and Alan!
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.
The next element we need to consider for our open-source Roussanne, is target TA (total or titratable acidity). Since pH is the measure of the intensity of acidity, I will include both of these together in this post.
Roussanne is a high acid variety so we should have good acidity to work with right off the vine. If needed, we could acidify with tartaric acid which is very common in California winemaking and not something to be avoided, unless necessary, like watering back. The high acidity of the Roussanne can be blended back some with the addition of fatter varieties like Marsanne or Chardonnay which we will explore further as we go along.
So the main decision here is the intensity of the acidity, measured by the pH. The higher we go makes the wine more impressive by itself but sacrifices it’s friendliness with food. My preference is for the most food friendly wine here but I’m open to your comments and suggestions.
Next, we’ll get into yeast; such fun!
I had high hopes to be able to feature some of the hybrid wine grapes developed to withstand the weather extremes here in Minnesota. So I searched out producers of Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, La Crescent, and Marquette. But I came up short on my afternoon of tasting at two local wineries and searching in local wine stores so these “indigenous varieties” will be written about another time.
So my backup plan was to write about my new obsession with Roussanne. As you know from my now daily posts, I’m making a wine from this grape at Crushpad along with many of you. Part of the research before crush is to nail down the style and other characteristics of Roussanne so I’ve been tasting quite a few of these wines of late. One of these wines hails from the CostiÃƒÂ¨res de Nimes in the Languedoc Roussillon region of France: Chateau L’Ermitage, “CuvÃƒÂ©e Sainte CÃƒÂ©cile.”
But before I review this wine, let me back up and talk about Roussanne and what makes this an “indigenous variety.” When Tyler introduced this theme, he asked us to find a wine made with grapes native to the region the wine is made. Unlike other RhÃƒÂ´ne grapes that are actually from Spain (Grenache being a good example) Roussanne can trace it’s heritage back to France’s RhÃƒÂ´ne Valley. Sticklers for detail might point out that Languedoc Roussillon is not the RhÃƒÂ´ne, but CostiÃƒÂ¨res de Nimes is just across the river from that famous region, so this wine is technically “indigenous.”
Roussanne gets it’s name from it’s russet color when ripe and is one of the more difficult grapes to grow. A late variety to ripen, Roussanne is very susceptible to rot and mildew. Therefore, it’s one of the most obscure white varieties with only a few hundred acres grown outside of it’s native RhÃƒÂ´ne. In the northern RhÃƒÂ´ne, Roussanne can only be blended with Marsanne. In the south, other varieties such as Grenache Blanc and Viognier are also permitted along with Marsanne.
Roussanne is known for it’s unique herbal aromatics and bracing acidity so blending with other grapes is most often what winemakers choose. In California and Australia some are bottling the variety on it’s own but the vast majority of the best examples are taken from the southern RhÃƒÂ´ne model and blended with Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne and sometimes Chardonnay.
One of Roussanne’s most interesting aspects is it is one of a few white wines that benefit from extended bottle age. Somewhat like Riesling, the wines are fresh and bold when young but take on very interesting bottle character with 10 or even 20 years of cellaring.
Chateau L’Ermitage is located in CostiÃƒÂ¨res de Nimes, literally across the river from the southern RhÃƒÂ´ne. Along with sea breezes from the Mediterranean, the vines benefits from soil mostly made up of fine pebbles which is typical of this terroir. Chateau L’Ermitage grow traditional RhÃƒÂ´ne varietals Syrah, Grenache, MourvÃƒÂ¨dre, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier.
Chateau L’Ermitage Blanc, “CuvÃƒÂ©e Sainte CÃƒÂ©cile”, CostiÃƒÂ¨res de Nimes 2006 ($20) – A blend of 70% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc and 10% Viognier.
Very floral and fresh with ripe pineapple, white peach, orange peel and almond aromas. Rich in the mouth with ripe pineapple and pear flavors finishing bone dry with good acidity. A very nice introduction to Roussanne blends at a steal of a price.
Synthetic cork closure