Rock-Solid Rosenblum

If you tried a different Shauna Rosenblum wine every day this month, you’d still have five left over to uncork in February.

Prolific ain’t the half of it. She makes 36 wines — red, white, sweet and sparkling — at Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda. The winery is located in a giant hangar on the old naval air station, not far from where her dad, Kent Rosenblum, created world-class zinfandel at Rosenblum Cellars.

Shauna Rosenblum, Rock Wall Winemaker

I dropped by Rock Wall  recently to meet Ms. Rosenblum and try three of her current-release petite sirahs — two from Napa and one from Mendocino and all from the 2009 vintage.

They will be poured along with wines from 55 producers at the petite sirah extravaganza called Dark and Delicious held at Rock Wall on Feb. 17. Click here to purchase tickets for one of the best wine tasting productions in the Bay Area.

Carver Sutro

This $40 bottle has a Napa lineage. The Carver Sutro grown near Calistoga is from a vineyard that dates back to the early 1900s when the land was farmed by Italian immigrants.

This deep, dark wine is silky smooth, no mean feat with this often-tannic grape, and there are flavors of rich blackberries along with a bit of mint.

Gamble Ranch

The Gamble Ranch, to Rosenblum’s taste, is like a “chocolate brownie with cream.”

It’s also from Napa. The vineyard, near Rutherford, dates from the 1960s.

I liked the cocoa highlights and house texture of richness that stops short of “over-the-top.”  Flavors of black cherry and plums work well alongside manageable tannins that provide enough stimulating bite to sustain interest in this $35 wine.

Rucker’s

The Rucker’s was the least expensive ($22) member of this trio and my favorite.

This fruit-forward Mendocino wine was easy to approach and paired well with a bowl of chicken cacciatore. Rosenblum described it as having chocolate overtones and I can definitely agree that it’s on the cocoa side of the flavor wheel.

Variety Matters

Rosenblum is bringing out new wines all the time, including a new “Super Alameda” blend called Romancer that debuts right before Valentine’s Day.

Romancer is a blend of equal parts malbec, mourvedre and petit verdot that debuts on Feb. 10 with a party at the winery.

A big star already is the Rock Wall Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands ($25). This tropical-scented wine rolls Asian pear flavors around the tongue in a style that won Best in Class honors at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Ahoy, Norton

Another debutante waiting to be unveiled is a tiny batch of wine made from Norton, a red grape that was hot back in the 1840s when the Midwest was the nation’s wine-growing sweet spot.

Norton is being re-discovered on a relatively small commercial scale outside California with some vineyards in places like Virginia and Texas yielding interesting table wines.

The Rock Wall Norton is sourced from a three-acre California vineyard that yielded less than one ton of juice. I’ll keep you posted on the release date.

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One Response to “Rock-Solid Rosenblum”

  1. The Norton Wine Travelers Says:

    To date, there are 257 Norton wineries in 24 states,with Missouri having 87 of these wineries. After tasting 118 different Norton wines in seventeen states, I look forward to tasting a possibility from California.

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