Friday, May 30, 2008

Punx Meet Randall Grahm

Not much happens in Glen Park. It's quiet, cozy and still in the City. We like it that way.

All that changed last Wednesday. Randall Grahm, yes the Big RG, came to our little village to pour some of his wines at the Canyon Market. I could compare this to Willie Mays visiting Bozman, Montana. Well, maybe not that special, but still very cool.

I dug into my cellar to find the two bottles of Cigare I am holding for a special meal, grabbed my camera and a Sharpie and headed over with Aaron (the other punk). No one was there! Can you believe that? I wasn't expecting lines around the block, but still, this is the Rhone Ranger.

I wasn't sure what to expect from him. Would he dismiss us as stupid punx? Would he have to call security to have us removed from the store? Or would he become an honorary punk? Well, it turns out RG is super cool and we got to bend his ear about winemaking for about 30 minutes. He shared lots of information, stories and techniques. He told us lots about barrels. This guy knows his stuff! He is a big fan of going native with the yeasts and told us how they do a starter yeast.

He had no problem signing my two bottles, shaking hands and posing for this photo.

The awesome folks at Cayon Market expressed interest in selling our wines down the road. To think that Deux Punx and Bonny Doon wine's could share a shelf...

Randall is now an Honorary Punk! Just don't ask him to stage dive.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer Wine

In the vineyards things are humming along while here in the city a couple small time wine makers are planning for our '08 wines and drinking plenty of summer wines:

So for you, the select few longandwineyroad readers, what are you drinking for your summer wines?

Down here we're all over the german varietal whites and the pinot rosés.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

girl, i wanna take you to a wine bar

wine bars are popping up like starbucks these days. they are in the fanciest and sleaziest neighborhoods. i know you, our 4 readers, want to know what do the punx think of wine bars?

well, we don't think of them. we are married and don't need to show off our big fat bordeauxs. we don't like white zin (or most red zins either). we have no need for down-temp beats. we aren't looking to chill.

if, and only if, the deux punx go to a wine bar, the adolecents will be cranked to 11, the toilet will be broken, the staff surly and the wine better than you could imagine. the bar would have a kick-ass name like "the squat" or "club me." think of CBGBs meets Randall Grahm.

so there. shoot me!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

misc rambling on taste and progress


I've been thinking a lot about wine tastes recently as we've been focusing more on what we're drinking in terms of it's relation to what we like to drink and what we'd like to make. There are a lot of opinions out there (of course - the internet does a great job of acting as an exemplifier of the old adage "opinions are like assholes...") about what wines should taste like, how much alcohol they should have in them, how much fruit, what they should smell like, what they should look like in the glass, etc, etc, etc... And to that point there are plenty examples of writings out there from critics, for critics and against critics on the value of one person's opinion on a wine, wine variety and/or wine region. Of late we've even seen writings that go so far as to suggest that a whole wine region should get busy pouring their wines down their drains. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that when someone says that they liked wine 'A' over wine 'B' that chances are they liked wine 'A' over wine 'B' and it may or may not have anything to do with the pleasure you'd receive from wine 'A' or the relative value to you it would have in comparison to wine 'B'.

Where am I going with this???

Great question! And I'm not sure.

As we've been tasting wines with our own wine goals in mind we've noticed some huge similarities in our tastes as well as some real differences. This has caused me to think a lot about what I actually like in a wine and whether I can actually qualify it in some meaningful or interpretable manner let alone reproduce it. I believe for the most part the answer is "NO", I can not honestly describe what I like in a wine because it has very little to do with my vocabulary and everything to do with my senses or taste and smell at any given time. For me this can be affected by weather, food, time of day, mood, the current state of my own pH and quite possibly history. By history I mean I have a preconceived notion of what I do and don't like and this will most certainly have an impact on how I feel about a wine when I am drinking it. To any of you that think this is not true for yourselves I'd say (in the most considerate and respectful way possible) "bullshit". If this wasn't true we wouldn't have such a thing as a blind tasting.

Where does this leave us; the novice winemakers?

Well... Optimistic!

Optimistic because chances are good that we will make a wine that one person will like just as much as another does not. Our hope, of course, is that we are the former and not the latter "someones". Towards this I'm relatively confident that we'll enjoy the wine that we create even if for nothing else than the fact that our history with this wine, like all cases of propinquity, will have much to do with the enjoyment we receive from it. This does, of course, mean that when we eventually tell you how great our wine is you should assume that we are full of shit, buy it anyways 'cause you like us and, well..., decide for yourselves.


Not a lot has changed in the last week other than the fact that I think we are leaning towards forgoing the whole custom crush idea and doing the whole thing by ourselves. There are number of reasons for this but the biggest one we keep coming back to is the ability to be hands-on during the whole process. This hands-on approach really is one primary reasons that both of us have taken the transition from just drinking to making wine and to give this up to someone else (regardless of their being forced to follow your protocol) takes a good deal of the fun, challenge, risk and learning away from us. We haven't given up completely on the idea of doing this "out-of-house" but chances are good that this will be a truly diy effort from beginning to end.

What this means - you'll see a lot more photos like this:

and a lot less like this:

Friday, May 9, 2008

wine for steak and eggs

being friday, i am wondering what i am doing this weekend. more importantly i am wondering what i am going to drink and eat this weekend. last night's wine has me a bit under the weather and i need some steak and eggs.

so here's a question for you (all 2 of you who read this blog): what is the perfect wine to go with steak and eggs? best answer gets to have breakfast with me somewhere down the road.

good luck!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

bottles and barrels and wine

Wednesday morning I went and picked up 59 cases of burgundy bottles from Saintsbury up in Sonoma. There were supposed to be 100 cases available but two of the flats were bordeaux bottles so... Yes, you are right, if you are saying "it's a little early for bottles" what with grapes still a twinkle in their bud's eyes but at $4 per case we needed to jump on them. The other great thing about this is it saves us from having to decide what kind of bottles we want! Of course we'll need more bottles for the syrahs and depending on what comes out of the Anderson Valley vineyard, at that point I think we'll jump right back onto the wine classifieds and if we end up w/multiple bottle types we'll be all the better for it.

After Saintsbury and dropping off the uhaul Dan and I made our way up to Petaluma to talk shop with the first, and most likely choice, of the two custom crush places that have considered working with us. It was a great meeting, we discussed the space, the tools, the protocol, the wine process, their vineyard and we sampled a couple of their latest workings from the barrel. Two very clean classic California pinots and a big spicy cab that I'm eager to see bottled. After that we headed up to Sebastopol to visit crush facility # two. This was a much larger full-facility custom crush with a number of highly respectable clients. This was also a great visit, getting the rundown on the facility, the process, the way they work, some history and some general bullshitting about winemaking, this year's historic frosts and the industry in general. As great of a visit as it was we walked away realizing that it probably isn't optimal for the small scale of what we are trying to do this year.
All-in-all a productive and enjoyable day. A couple steps closer!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

deux punx

So we bought

Does this mean we are going to name our wines deux punx? Do you have a better idea? No really. Look at these two and tell me if you can think of a more fitting name?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

It's saturday, it's sunny and I'm feeling, well, optimistic

I received wine from the Humboldt vineyard yesterday; 2002,2003,2004(two) and 2005 releases. Not being able to wait for Dan (my bad) I had to bring home one of the two 2004's. Instead of rambling on about a complex pinot with a brambly raspberry, almost green peppery nose and a great balanced mouth-fill that hit you with nice acids, under-ripe berries, a little earth, a little mineral/stone and just a hair of vanilla I'll cut to the chase and say, well, it was good and it all came in at 13.0% Alc. This is, of course, significant to us as it's from the vineyard we are getting our grapes from and it tells us the best way it could (by tasting) that you can produce good pinot from this vineyard. Now, of course, it means that it's up to us to not screw it up!

So where does this leave us?

We've got grapes, they should be good and we're still looking for somewhere to produce our wine.

On the crush front after many supportive but rejecting replies (per Dan's post below) we've found a couple folks that have expressed willingness to work with us, both deciding to make exception to their normal minimum requirements in order to give the little guys a shot. This is a bigger deal than it might sound like as the sheer lack of any real scale means we are going to be more work per dollar for these guys than another, less-macro sized, customer would be. One in Petaluma and one in Sebastopol. On Wednesday we are going to press palms, check out the facilities and discuss a few more of the details such as:

1) what kind of day-to-day involvement can we have
2) what kind of consulting (if any) will be available to us
3) when things are all added up, what kinds of per case costs are we really looking at
4) what kinds of flexibilities are there in scale, style, approach, etc...

Once we gathered all of this it's then time for Dan and I to go back, crunch numbers, discuss logistics, risks, pros and cons and decide whether we are going to work with one of these to facilities or if we do indeed take over a chunk of Dan and Terry and Calvin's basement/garage and go for it ourselves.

So for those of you scoring (uh, I mean keeping score) at home:

Wahluke Slope Syrah
We have grapes
We have a willing basement
We've got the minimal equipment necessary to pull it off
We have one 1 year old barrel

Humboldt Pinot Noir
We have grapes
We have the promise of a crush facility
We are nuts enough to even ponder taking this on in a garage in Glen Park
We have one new barrel reserved and will secure the additional neutral/s later this summer

It's starting to look like our plans aren't out to pasture after all.