2008 Total Depravity Riesling

Total Depravity Riesling 2008

2008 Total Depravity Riesling
Produced and Cellared in Solon, OH – fruit sourced from Washington

Rating: too biased to rate, but it ought to be at least a 90

Uncorked: 2009.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Wine Tastings
Monday, Wine No. 1

I thought we should start the tastings with something a bit unique… something that’s boutique, difficult to find. So I opened a bottle of Total Depravity Riesling – a wine I made. It was bottled just this past weekend just for this occasion.

There is truly no way for me to offer an objective review of this wine, but it’s pretty darn good! It’s fairly typical of a Washington Riesling, which isn’t so bad. It is off-dry and best served chilled, though the aromas and flavors become more pronounced as it warms up a bit. Slightly floral with a nose full of ripe pear and citrus. Not much minerality. In the mouth it is more soft than crisp, again consistent with the Washington source of the fruit. Lush apples, pears, and apricot flavors with hints of sweet grapefruit. It finishes with a nice acidic bump to leave the mouth with a soft yet balanced finish. A bit sweet, but it was made for my mother-in-law, so what can I say? It’s easy to drink on a warm summer afternoon!

$priceless available only from the winemaker

2007 Total Depravity Pinot Noir

Total Depravity Pinot Noir 2007

2007 Total Depravity Pinot Noir
Produced and Cellared in Solon, OH – juice sourced from California

Rating: too biased to rate

Uncorked: 2009.07.06
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Wine Tastings
Monday, Wine No. 3

I can’t say a whole lot about this wine since I made it myself. It was part of the 2007 vintage – my first. Not particularly good wine, but it was fun to make and certainly fun to share with friends. But I can honestly say, it’s much better than the wine that can be purchased commercially for around two dollars! But in honor of Jean Calvin’s 500th birthday later this week, we simply had to uncork a few bottles of Total Depravity this week.

$priceless available only from the winemaker

2008 Vintage – Let the Adventure Begin!

The cellar is alive again!  27 gallons of California juice is now starting its magical journey toward becoming the “2008 vintage.”  It joins last year’s wine that is awaiting bottling as it ages with French oak (using these really cool infusion spirals made by a wine barrel maker).

27 gallons will make about 10 cases (120 bottles) of finished wine.  Vintage 2007 started with 22 gallons and, after multiple “rackings” is down to about 19 gallons of finished wine.  I decided to increase the cellar’s output this year because, well, the 2007 tastes pretty good!  Since I learned a lot along the way, I’m hopeful that 2008 will be even better.

While I have no illusions of creating world-class wine to compete with the Pegau Chateneuf du Pape or Saxum Broken Stones and James Berry laying in the cellar racks, I expect that it will be pretty good “table wine.”  I’ll probably be able to convince friends to give it a taste, too!

Currently undergoing primary fermentation are:

  • 8 gallons Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 7 gallons Merlot
  • 6 gallons Cabernet Franc
  • 6 gallons Pinot Noir

The Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc will eventually become both single varietal wines AND be blended into my own custom “Bordeaux style” wine.  That will be a fun experiment!  I’m hoping that by following the blending traditions of Old World winemakers I will create a finished wine that is better than its individual components.  An “artist’s palate” approach.

The Pinot Noir will fly solo in the end.

So here we go again!  The cellar (and whole basement) is starting to smell a bit like a winery.  I prefer “yeasty” to describe the aroma rather than “stinky.”  My spouse my disagree.  But it does take me back to the fermentation tanks and barrel rooms of Zaca Mesa and Firestone Vineyards that I first visited as a teenager.  My love of wine that started so many years ago is tied to these smells.  It’s a fun adventure to recreate some of that in my own home!

Wish me luck and make your plans now to come to the 2008 release party in about two years!

Vintage 2007… I Hope!

Pictured below is what might become the 2007 vintage from the WineMinisty Cellar.  No kidding.  While I have done my fair share of CONSUMING wine over the years, I have never actually MADE any wine.  I’ve left the winemaking to the winemakers.  And even now I am under no illusion that I am a “wine maker.”  But I am a sucker.  Let me explain…

My friend Charley has been making wine for many years.  He buys the fresh juice from a local source (it’s actually juice from California), does some kind of voodoo chemistry in his basement, and several months later ends up with wine.  Lots of it.  And it’s actually drinkable.  That was a surprise to me.  And this part is all well and good.  I even told Charley that I’d love to join him sometime in his winemaking adventures.  Here is where the “sucker” part is about to come in…

It’s harvest time for the grapes, and the juice arrived this past week.  And it has to be purchased and fermented right away, otherwise… well, vinegar comes to mind.  Charley presented me with a printout from the webpage of the juice supplier showing me all of the available varietals.  “What do you want to get?”  I thought for a moment, and thinking the process is innocent enough, particularly since it will all happen in Charley’s basement, I gave it a thumbs-up and looked down the list.  Cabernet Saugivnon.  Pinot Noir.  Syrah.  Merlot.  Zinfandel.  On and on the list went.  I’m hooked now.  “I’m interested in the Cab and the Syrah.  What do you think, Charley?”  Here it comes…

Charley said, “I like the reds, but it doesn’t matter much to me.  Whatever they have in stock when you get there will be fine.”

You know those screeching brake sounds you hear in the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons?  That sound went through my brain.  Turns out Charley is going to be out of town for two weeks.  Right when the grape juice is here.  But if I want to get the juice, he’s got the bottles.  Oh, and here are the directions…  No, I can’t just purchase the juice and wait for Master Winemaker Charley to return.  The fermentation must begin.  The stinky, yeasty, musty, messy (and did I mention stinky?) fermentation.  He’ll be back by the time we have to get to the next step.

So here it is…  The 2007 wines from the WineMinistry Cellar:

 Pinot & Chianti  

This is the 2007 Pinot Noir (left) and the 2007 Barbera-Alicante Blend.  About 7 gallons of each.  GALLONS.



This is the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s in a bigger bottle.  There are 8 gallons of this bad boy.  GALLONS.

They are bubbling away doing their primary fermentation.  Yeast is aiding the process.  And making things smell really, well… stinky.

Did I mention that Charley is out of town?

In total we’ve got about 22 GALLONS of grape juice that is now turning into wine.  We’ll lose some as we go through the whole process, draining the clear wine off the must and sediment (that’s why there are extra jugs fermenting along side the big bottles — to be able to make full bottles after we remove the sediment).  If things go as planned, we’ll end up with more than 100 bottles of wine!  Or 100 bottles of vinegar.  We’ll see!

I’ve never done this before, but it is a total kick in the pants.  And watch out — if this stuff is even remotely drinkable, I am certain I will be hooked on this gig.  I won’t even begin to reflect on the metaphors and theological overtones in winemaking — it’s fertile territory!  Especially “fertile” right now… it stinks!  But it’s actually that pleasant “stink” of the cellar room at Zaca Mesa during their winemaking process.  But they’ve got a cool winery.  All I have is a bathroom next to the wine cellar in my basement.  And until I taste this stuff, I’ll not kid myself about being a “winemaker.”  For now I’ll stick with “sucker.”