Saturday, August 2, 2008

Rosenblum Cellars - On the Dock of the Bay in Alameda

When you think about going wine tasting, what sort of image comes to your mind? If you are like me you picture in your head a beautiful wine country getaway with rolling hills covered with vineyards and gorgeous chateaus or small back roads country farm houses with quaint little tasting rooms.

Alameda is a city known for its Victorian home lined streets with old oak trees on a small island across from San Francisco, adjacent to the Oakland International Airport. It was once home to the Alameda Naval Air Station and is still the port for ships and privately owned boats. The area does not have suitable land or climate for growing grapes as the island that Alameda occupies was originally a low-lying and marshy peninsula. Today it is next to the murder capital of the west coast; as such it is probably the last place you would expect to find a great winery.

But there is it…. Rosenblum Cellars.

I first visited a Rosenblum Cellars a few years ago at a large Open House wine tasting party they had with live music and huge crowd of a few hundred people. It was a rare opportunity to get to taste any of their 40+ wines, a lineup unmatched by any other winery that I have ever visited. Rosenblum rotates their wine tasting list from week to week as they only open about 7 of their wines at a time. The daily line up includes Zinfandels, Syrahs, Petite Sirahs, white Rhones and dessert wines. Tours of the winery are available by appointment.

This past Saturday was a beautiful clear-blue-sky day, the first on a weekend we have had in over a month due to the raging fires that have been plaguing California this summer. After an enjoyable mountain bike ride around Lake Chabot I decided to go back to Rosenblum to taste their wines in a less crowded and more relaxed atmosphere.

I first tasted their complimentary flight of wines which included that day the 2007 Kathy’s Cuvee Viognier ($18), the 2005 Russian River Merlot ($18) and the 2006 Richard Sauret Zinfandel ($25). Then for an additional $8 I tasted their reserve flight which included the 2006 Annette’s Reserve Zinfandel ($35), the 2006 Rockpile Road Zinfandel ($35), the 2005 Hillside Vineyards Syrah ($25), and the Rockpile Petite Syrah ($45).

After tasting their wines, it is clear why it has become known as the “mecca for zin-fanatics.” Rosenblum has also established a reputation for its Rhône varietals in number of categories such as Reserves, Vineyard Designates, Appellation Series and Cuvée Series. Rosenblum Cellars produces over 50 wines annually organized into six unique tiers. These various tiers offer remarkable wines, each with their own unique character.

Overall I would describe their wines as “fruit forward.” Most of what you will taste is upfront and in-your-face. If you like big jammy wines, this is the place for you. Any of their zinfandels, syrahs or petite syrahs would greatly accompany your barbecued meats.

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