Broc Cellars: An Urban Wine Experience

Tagged: Graciano  •  Grenache  •  Mourvedre  •  rhone varietals  •  Syrah  •  urban wineries  •  West Berkeley Wineries  •  Zinfandel Blend

Chris Brockway, owner and proprietor of Broc Cellars likes the urban experience. This is ever so clear when you visit his facility in West Berkeley just north of the Fourth Street shopping corridor. His location is about a 10 minute drive from the Cal-Berkeley Campus and literally a 15 minute drive without traffic into Centre City San Francisco.



I was looking forward tasting some of his new releases and pair with some tasty morsels provided by Naked Lunch SF.  There's nothing second rate about the Broc wines, even though you're not in your typical wine country setting. It's crystal clear that Chris is masterful with the Rhone varietals and sneaking in some influences from Spain with his decision to use a kiss of the rare Rioja varietal, Graciano in his ever popular Vine Starr Red. My overall impression right off the back was his wines demonstrated their site specificity with a near perfect balancing act between the fruit and acidity. Chris' intention not to pick at ultra ripe sugar levels is apparent, ultimately equating into a better food pairing wine with less alcohol as the end result. 



Six selections were poured during this Open House tasting (Sun. 12/13/09), starting with his 2008 Rose ($12) and 2008 Tondre Grapefield Pinot Noir ($30). Both were a great way to wake up the palate and set the table for the more full-bodied efforts. 


2008 Eaglepoint Ranch Grenache, Mendocino ($25)- Hey Now! After a few swirls in the glass, my initial thoughts reminded me more of a Spanish tinto from the Montsant D.O. than a Rhone effort. This is all good of course.  The vineyard designate Grenache is blended with 20% Syrah, and 20% of the Grenache was fermented as whole clusters, giving the finished product a nice bright pop on the front palate. A bowl of black raspberries come to the forefront with hints of peppercorn, tar and cola nut. True to it's typical flavor components, the classic Grenache white pepper and smoke descriptors hit the olfactory glands in grand style. The feature pairing with the braised pork belly and burnt apple glaze was a slam dunk. 


2006 Dry Stack Syrah, Bennett Valley, Sonoma ($25)- Sourced from the best Syrah vineyard in the relatively new AVA, Bennett Valley. Elements of "Old World" spice danced on my palate, but the concentrated black fruit core coated my mid-palate. If the Raiders are "Silver n' Black", then the Dry

Stack Syrah is the "Black n' Blue" with complimentary notes of tar and black olives. Almost tinkering on a bruiser, but the natural acid and bone-dry finish makes for an impressive counterpoint.  


2007 Vine Starr, CA Proprietary Blend ($25)- If you like kitchen sink blends dominated by Zinfandel, then the Vine Starr moves to the head-of-the-class. Those who crave "The Prisoner", well save a few dollars with this "Starr". The backbone of the blend is Zinfandel sourced from the low yielding Arrowhead Mountain vineyard outside the town of Sonoma. For a little more earth and structure, Syrah and Petite Syrah join the party with a hint of rare Graciano whose heritage is from Rioja, Spain. You rarely find Graciano in Rioja these days. Just the meager 5% Graciano adds wonderful aromatics and acidity to the final composition. It's apparent that I'm enamored with Graciano! Big fruit with relatively supple tannins equals "crowd pleaser". Can you please pour me more! Not overly jammy with an attractive sweet tobacco on the front end that evolves nicely into a dry finish with notes of cocoa and roasted coffee. 


2007 Luna Matta Mourvedre ($30)- The Luna Matta vineyard is located in Western Paso Robles. I was quite impressed with his 2006 release of this wine, and the 2007 will not disappoint. I will go on a limb and put this down as one the finest American Mourvedre efforts I've tasted in recent memory especially for under the $40 mark and using a high percentage of the varietal (95% Mourvedre & 5% Syrah). While the other reds above can really open nicely right now. This selection needs a bit more time in the bottle. At least another 6 months for starters, but can age another 2-4 years with excellent tannin intergration. If you can't wait, just decant for a good hour! The guys from "Naked Lunch" paired this saturated beauty with braised lamb shoulder. Oh man, spot on, meshing with the wine's black cherry and new leather nuanced spice. Secondary notes of the butcher shop crept up with that organ meat theme and blood sausage running through the core.  


I was left with an excellent impression of Chris' new releases. His hospitality was not too shabby either. The suggestive retail prices for these wines are quite generous based on the quality. Broc Cellars is not open to the public, but give Chris a call or e-mail to setup a private tasting. These feature wines can be found at select Bay Area retailers. (Arlequin Wine Merchants / Ruby Wines)


Taste well, 


Neil Mechanic

Founder of Vinogrape