As I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, there is a boom in urban wine making. This past weekend, I found some new gems in my never ending search for tasty delights within the city limits.
This small collective is located on Treasure Island, the former Naval base in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Luckily for me, it is in the San Francisco limits, which means no bridge toll! To be able to re-purpose the warehouse space on this local, um, treasure, makes the wine even that much sweeter.
The first stop in this adventure was VIE Winery. VIE makes very limited production Rhone varietals, and we tasted through a Rousanne, 2 Syrahs, and a Mouvedre blend. VIE comes from the French word for “invite”, which is exactly what Bryan did for us – he invited us in to taste and explore the wines that he was creating with his partners. Vie comes from the French word meaning “life”, which is appropriate since wine is best enjoyed with friends, in celebration of the good life.
The first wine at VIE was the 2007 Lake County Rousanne. It had grapefruit and lychee on the nose, and had a toasty flavor profile with a nutty note. I tasted marzipan and toasted bread, with some grilled pineapple and must melon. I enjoyed talking the guys from VIE as they explained that they used to make Roussanne from Paso Robles, another well known Rhone region in California, but that the climate just wasn’t quite right for this particular wine. That said, they gave Lake County a shot where the soil and the climate seem to be right and created a really lovely white.
Next, I tried the Les Amours Santa Barbara Syrah. Now, I love Syrah and this baby was no exception. It was made to be a component in their GSM (Grenanche / Syrah / Mouvedre) program, but is lovely on its own. I tasted strawberry jame, cherries, and smoked meats, with a touch of plum.
We also tried the 2006 Alder Springs Syrah, from Mendocino County. This was really interesting, as it was famred in a high density vineyard profile, where vines are placed very closely together, and the focus is on growing smaller yeilds. Because this is quite an expensive undertaking, this is only done by about a dozen folks here in the U.S. This syrah is co-fermented with Viognier, and results in a very aromatic wine with juicy cherry berry characteristics.
The last VIE wine we tried was the 2006 L’Intruse Mouvedre, which has a touch of syrah and grenache blended in. I found tons of blueberry on the nose, with a lot of blue & black fruit on hte palate, and spicy end notes. Yum!
Sol Rouge Winery is something I was introduced to by The Wine Spies, when I ordered their Delicious Tom Feeny Zinfandel. Sol Rouge means “red earth” which is taken from the appellation name, high above the Napa Valley. They also produce Rhone varietals, but also Bordeaux influenced wines.
Here, we tasted the 2007 Gypsy Blanc, a blend or Rousanne, Marsanne and Viognier. This had a floral nose with flavors of Cantaloupe, tropical fruit and apples. Next, we tried the Gypsy Red, which is a classic Rhone blend of Grenache, Mouvdere, Syrah, and Petite Sirah. I tasted Strawberry jam and tons of juicy red fruit. This was a fun and light red that I recommend for spring sipping. Finally, we tasted the Tom Feeny Zin. This wine is made from several blocks of vineyards on and around Tom Feeny Ranch, a well known source in Russian River Valley for zinfandel. I stated dusty blackberries, black raspberries and other bright red fruit.
If you get the opportunity, I encourage you to try VIE and Sol Rouge! You won’t regret it!