I have perhaps chosen the best venue there is for writing about wine – a wine bar. I am in warm and sunny Copenhagen, the sky is blue, thus it is empty inside my favorite wine hangout Ved Stranden 10. This is the kind of place you can stroll in, say you just want something interesting, and you know you will get something truly interesting. You can trust the staff to read your mind. This is the perfect place for killing time, reading and writing about innovative winemaking. Today I am catching up on something I should have done long ago: writing about Broc cellars, an urban winery beyond the Atlantic, in San Francisco. The winery was founded by Chris Brocway on the edge of SF in an industrial area of Berkeley. It is an urban winery, meaning that the grapes are grown somewhere else and transported to a city location for winemaking. Chris sources wines from many locations, mainly less known winegrowing areas, like Monterrey, but still mainly from California. Today the winery itself is a bit bigger than Chris’ startup, however it has not moved far from its original dodgy location. Chris’ neighbors even today are a cement factory and a motor cycle repair shop.
Brocway is what I call a “terroirist”: very focused on the land and natural development of the grapes, and less focused on technique and tricks with the actual winemaking. His aspiration is to intervene as little as possible, and let the grapes develop in a decidedly hands-off fashion. The fruit he uses are organic or biodynamically grown.
Att harvest, grapes are picked in the cool night and transported to Berkeley. The picking (timing of it) is the most important part of the Broc process. Brockway is a minimalist. Fermenting and ageing is done in a blend of steel, wood and concrete. Many winemakers I have met have a preference on the vessel, which it seems Chris has not. Vessels have been acquired for example as gifts from wineries that plan on throwing them away. When it comes to grapes, Broc Cellars goes for the unusual. Perhaps not unusual as such, but unusual for the area in question. He uses a mix of Zinfandel, Grenache, Cabernet franc (not so unusual) as well as Picpoul, Valdique, Counoise (very unusual). However, there is a common denominator, Chris’ wines whatever grape is used, are always fresh. Stony, earthy, even herbal. Very much my to my liking! There is something very French about his style. I am almost going for Loire if I would have to pinpoint where Chris has picked up some inspiration. But who knows. Many of the Broc wines are less than 13% alcohol and between 20-30 dollars a bottle.
The wine featured in the pictures is one of Broc Cellars best sellers: Love red. It is a bit of an unusual blend of Carignan, Valdiguié and Petite Sirah. It is fresh, fruit driven; medium bodied with excellent acidity. An extremely delicious red, made to drink young. We had it as a companion to meat and salad, but I would say its a pasta wine, or perhaps just a drink on its own wine. Serve slightly chilled rather than luke warm. Enjoy!