Bottleology – Frank “The Tank” Roth of Tagaris Winery
October 2, 2009 by Dave Bender
Where It All Started: Shooting birds in Preston Vineyard when he was ten years old. “Old Man” Bill Preston, as Frank used to call him, paid him 10¢ a bird which he said equated to about 30¢ per day. Then when Frank was twelve, he started working for Rob Griffin [of Barnard Griffin], hired to do small chores around the winery—“I was a big kid for my age” he noted. After high school he worked on a mobile bottling line in British Columbia, Canada. After that, he helped out in their vineyards and the crush. This led Frank into the winery where he learned about cellar work.
Work In The Interim: Washing dishes in a restaurant and working as a grill cook.
His Big Break: Working for Barnard and Griffin. When he started in 1997, they were producing 20,000 cases annually. Upon leaving in 2005, when he started with Tagaris, Barnard Griffin were producing 75,000 cases.
Motive: “I’m a dad. I have two kids, two boys actually. So really, just the responsibility of taking care of my kids is all the motivation that I need. On the other hand, there is the personal pride thing…just wanting to be the best at everything…and the competitive aspect of it all.”
Battle Scars: His first wine at Tagaris was a Pinot Gris that came in from harvest a month early, which gave him a lot of time to work with it. “I over-focused on it,” Frank said. He had a 60-degree fermentation that just krept along. He said it ended up coming out with a dense black licorice flavor—not a characteristic found in Pinot Gris to say the least. The wine he said was “offensively strong.” His goal of this cold fermentation was to retain the fruit flavors, and it just didn’t work out. “Winemaking is controlling the spoilage of grapes,” Frank said, “In short, the process involves infecting the grapes with bacteria that you manage and control. That being said, things are never perfect. There’s going to be some variables.”
Oh Really?: Frank’s a Certified Barrel Cooper! He also LOVES vineyards to the point that he’ll lose track of time while walking through them. He’s now covered himself in vines by way of tattoo.
Go-To Grape: Mourvedre.
If Not Washington, Then Where?: If anywhere else, Frank would make wine in Temecula, CA because they harvest their grapes in July and August. It’s because he’s a football fan, and harvest in Washington usually messes with his football season.
Anyone Other Than Myself: Frank’s childhood dream, if not making wine, was to be a firefighter. If that didn’t work out, his other options were, “Peddling nickel backs down at the Greyhound station. [Laughing] I also drive a forklift really well,” he said.
And I Quote: “I had a gal come into the restaurant [Taverna Tagaris] for her birthday. She was a wine club member, so she had already tasted the Malbec in their wine club shipment. So her husband had planned ahead and had a bottle sitting on the table…they had a really nice day and what not. So they sat down, and she drank some Malbec, and it made her so excited that she actually orgasmed at the table– to a point to which she had to excuse herself from the table. So anyway, this girl shows up to an event and tells me this story and pretty well whispers it into my ear,” Frank said (bursting laughter from us both).
A Mouth Full: BOAR DOE 2006 Columbia Valley, WA Waluke Slope – 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot.
A Double Gold Medal Winner at the San Diego International competition, with 3,000 entries from all over the world, this wine certainly stands a chance! Here’s what you do: Find this wine and buy it. Bring it home and open it immediately upon walking in the door. If a saber helps to expedite this process, then by all means saber that sucker. Don’t pick up a decanter or a wine glass, neither are needed for this enological experience (unless you have company and must keep up appearances). Now, tilt that noggin back and taste the most delicious wine you’ve probably had in the last 365 days. The blackberries are rich and creamy, like French American dessert, baking spices and chocolate. Ah, ah–not sweet. This explosion of flavor has cedar-ed oak and acidity that keeps it all together like a sexy corset. Lick your lips, take a deep breath, smile on the inside and if the bottle lasts until dinner, serve some with swine or venison. $25/1,500 cs.
Address: 844 Tulip Lane, Richland, WA 99352
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