Region: California, US
Composition: Not sure, but it smells/tastes like Syrah
Background: I admit, I bought this on a rosé-buying spree (not just for the nifty bottle and very good label, but also because I really liked Red Car's "The Fight" when I had it back in May), but it is interesting that I am drinking it tonight, since I have been thinking a lot about people who take a chance to do what they want to do in life. People who do something that seems crazy or that requires faith in themselves, or even people who just pick up and change something because that is what they think they want. People without fear. (Or, maybe, people with fear but who are optimists or foolish or very very smart.) I am not one of those people, or at least I am one of those people who moves like a tortoise and needs to examine and overthink every decision and plan for all possible failures, including meteors, plagues of locusts, and the possibility that I will sprout a second head from my shoulders à la How to Get Ahead in Advertising, so I envy the people who decide something and then do it within a decade.
A few years ago, Carroll Kemp and Mark Estrin fled Hollywood to take a chance and make wine, first scraping together a couple of thousand dollars to make their first 50 barrels in Kemp's driveway, then procuring investment money to buy vineyards, and finally quitting their day jobs for the wine life. It was definitely one of those leap of faith endeavors, and they made it happen. They aren't enormously famous or anything, but they make small quantities of wine they love and love to make, and they get some money for it (and some recognition in wine circles). That isn't so bad, is it?
Kemp and Estrin named their winery "Red Car" after the old red Pacific Electric streetcars that used to be part of Southern California's transit system before that was all removed (silly transit systems, what's the point?) so the land could become Land of Cars. Hollywood storytelling came with them to their new jobs, becoming evident on their wine labels (not for this rosé, for some reason, but for all the other wines I have seen); each label has a paragraph telling a noir-style story about the wine, its name (usually something like "The Stranger" or "All-Night Radio") and the feeling it evokes. Supposedly, taken all together, the wine stories will tell a bigger story. This is something you don't see on labels every day, and while some people might find it hokey, I think it's creative and interesting enough. It's not like wine labels are usually that informative, and I tend not to trust them when they tell me things about the wine, anyway, so why not do something creative? It's way better than something horrible like "luxurious raspberry caresses your palate while oak-kissed cherries drift in and out on a tide of sumptuousness". Go, Red Car, tell me a story rather than feed me that kind of stuff.
Sadly, part of the Red Car story is that a few months ago, in May, Mark Estrin died of brain cancer at 57. I am glad that he (as the story goes) listened to the fortune cookie that made him brave enough to take the leap and join his friend Carroll Kemp to form Red Car, and in doing it found something that he loved.
Notes: This is a dark rosé, one of those rosés that is really almost a red. It's a cherry red in the glass, clear but intense, and has slightly salmon highlights. The rosepetal and strawberry/raspberry nose will almost bowl you over when you open the bottle. It's aggressive and mouthfilling with enough acid to hold up to the intense red fruit followed by a cola and spice finish. The spice was rigid and slightly bitter when I opened the bottle, but is now softening with a little exposure to air and while the spice is staying, the bitterness is going away. The spice makes me think this is probably Syrah, and this is one of those wines that starts out slow but ramps up to a big finish.
I think I like it better once it sits out for a while and calms down. It's a little over the top for me straight from the bottle, and nice after a half hour or so sitting around. I just let some sit out for about two hours, and now the nose has faded to almost nothing, but it still has the soft, watery start ending in a big burny spicy finish that really sticks around with you for a while. I think it is somewhat challenging and I don't absolutely love it, but it is interesting to drink and I am enjoying it despite its flaws. Maybe I will have the rest tomorrow night with actual food and see how that goes. I kind of had ice cream for dinner (not much, and with a lot of peaches and nectarines, so that isn't as bad as it sounds) and did not drink the wine with it because that would have been very very bad.
Overall: B (maybe a B-)