Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rock Wall's Sparkling Blanc de Blanc -- A Hit

By Mac McCarthy

I went over to Rock Wall Wines on the island of Alameda in San Francisco Bay to the release party of the newest sparkling wine -- Rock Wall 2010 Blanc de Blanc California Sparkling Wine ($18), and I loved it.

Founder and Winemaker Shauna Rosenblum has created a bubbly targeting popular tastes, including mine: Wonderful fruit gives it a sense of sweetness though it is in fact dry. The wine has nice somewhat Fuji-apples flavor throughout -- round, without the astringency that gives sharp edges to Champagne and its clones.

The wine is 75% Russian River Chardonnay, from the Lono Vineyard -- the only vineyard the Rosenblums actually own outright (all their other grapes are on contract--unless, as rumored, Kent buys one of the Renwood wineries), and 25% Muscat Canelli from Clarksburg, fermented dry. I assume it's the Muscat that gives this beverage its extra fruit kick. I like fruit in my wines.

They had the wine finished at Weibel, in Lodi, which makes sparkling wine and so has the hardware needed to add the dosage and bottle the wine under pressure. The wine was made using the Charmat method, which involves a secondary fermentation in tanks and then is bottled under pressure; rather than the m├ęthode champenoise (or traditionnelle) used in French Champagne and Spanish Cava, in which secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle. The Charmat method produces smaller, long-lasting bubbles and a light, delicate, refreshing sparkling wine (it's the method used in making Prosecco, for example).

This is a very enjoyable, even pleasurable sparkling wine -- delicious! There are only 333 cases. 

Rock Wall produces two other sparkling wines: a Sparkling Grenache Rose, done methode Champenoise but only left on the yeast a short time to retain the fruit ($25), and a Sparkling Mixto of half Chardonnay and half Grenache, with a more tropical fruit sense ($25).

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