Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rock Wall - A whole day's worth of tasting in one place (Part 2)

Since there are so many wines I had to split this post in two. The first half was the wineries that rent space from Rock Wall. The first half of the selected tasting notes from my delightful experience are located here.  About half way down you will find the tasting notes and recommendations for Rock Wall Wine Company. 

Rock Wall on Alameda Island next to Oakland, CA is located on the defunct naval air base. Rock Wall is a winery and a winery collective. The hangar houses Rock Wall and six other wineries. The tasting room houses wines from all seven wineries with 18+ wines to try. All the whites were $18-25 and the reds were $24-36. There were many wines with excellent quality to price ratios. The wines are broken down into three flights ranging in price from $5 to $15 dollars which is waived with a purchase of $20 or more. In addition to the flights, you can also purchase wines by the glass. In addition to the wine, there is also a wonderful restaurant with appetizers and entrees; I had a bacon grilled cheese sandwich and a salad which were both delicious and the salad must have come out of the garden because it was so fresh. The food was served outside on the patio with a view of the San Francisco skyline in the distance.

The walk from the parking lot to the tasting room is lined with about a dozen macro bins each with thriving gardens of beats, kale, chard, and other veggies. The spacious tasting room is in a wooden building that looks out of place among the giant hangars. The wineries are located about a hundred feet away in a giant hangar.

The staff was very friendly and they even opened a bottle of sparkling wine that wasn't on the list. Which was quite lucky because the food that I had was killing my palate, but the sparkling wine cleared the slate and my taste buds were back in action. Our hostess, Kelley, was very knowledgeable about the various wineries and wine in general.

Rock Wall Wine Company tasting notes and recommendations:

The Blanc de Blanc ($18) is made of 25% Muscat Canelli from Clarksburg and 75% Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley. The Chardonnay provides acidity, while the Muscat provides melon and floral notes. The wine is light, crisp, and would be perfect summer picnic sparkling wine with its tiny bubbles. As with most sparkling wines, the alcohol percentage is low (11%). Buyer beware this is delicious and you won't even notice the alcohol which can lead to trouble.

The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from Lake County ($18) is a pale translucent lemon yellow. The nose has mineral and pear notes while the palate is enveloped with honey, grapefruit, citrus, and orange blossom as well as hints of stone fruit. The texture is a bit viscous and it seems as though there is a bit of residual sugar so I'll leave this for the people who like off-dry wines.

The Palindrome ($30) is a 2009 Tannat wine from California. Tannat is usually a wine used for blending to add tannin (structure) to lighter red wines. This is the first time I've ever seen a 100% Tannat wine. A quick wikipedia search reveals that Tannat is the national grape of Uruguay where it makes less tannic wines than Californian Tannat wines. It was brought to Uruguay by Basque settlers in the 19th Century. The wine was an inky burgundy red in the glass. The wine seemed a bit hot on the nose. The nose and palate were about the same with notes of cherry, cloves, black pepper, minerals, and hints of dark fruit. I also got vanilla on the finish. There were loads of astringent tannins. This isn't really my style of wine, but I do love trying "new-to-me" varietals. So, if you also like trying new things then check it out.

The 2010 Romancer ($30) is a blend of 34% Malbec, 33% Mourvèdre, and 33% Petit Verdot. My nose smelled eucalyptus, black fruit, and licorice. My mouth tasted sour cherry, black fruit, cloves, vanilla, and chocolate. The wine was slightly bitter and slightly astringent, but felt structurally sound. This wine is quite young and will be much better in 3-7 years, but is lovely now.

Bottom Line: The Blanc de Blanc and the Romancer were my favorites of the Rock Wall Wine Company selection that I tried.  They both have great QPRs as well. According to their website, they have 30 different wines so they probably don't have the same ones open every week.

This was a highly enjoyable tasting experience and I will definitely be back again.

Rock Wall is located at  2301 Monarch Street in Alameda and is open  Wednesday through Sunday from 12pm - 6pm . For more information, call  510-522-5700  or visit  http://www.rockwallwines.com.

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