Since I promised a post a week, I thought sharing what I’m drinking each week would be a good way to show you what I enjoy in between the bigger posts I’m working on. I’ll try to go into a bit more detail on any wines I particularly enjoyed but also just brush over my week in general.
Dark Horse Red Blend
I started off the week by testing out a sample that I had received. I could see this wine being a good choice for anyone who wants a flavorful red wine that also feels like a good everyday drinking wine. While I like to spoil myself with my wine selections sometimes, I also don’t always want to open the most expensive bottles so it’s nice to keep some more affordable choices on hand. The wine had a deep berry flavor without being overpowering. However, I would only recommend it to someone who is a fan of big reds.
Part of the reason I also chose this wine was because I thought the name was fun. I spent a good part of the week having Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog stuck in my head and found the name Dark Horse to be very tempting. One of the minor characters in the musical is named Bad Horse and so drinking a wine with a similar name seemed like a fun choice. In fact, after writing about this wine and finding the above links, I have the songs stuck in my head again and will probably spend the rest of the day listening to the musical on repeat.
Cost: Unknown but other Dark Horse wines have gone for $8-10
2010 Imagery Sangiovese
I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Imagery wine. A good friend works there so I make frequent trips to the winery and am always shown a great time. So when I had a couple of friends over to watch the How I Met Your Mother season finale and they requested a light red – I knew opening the Imagery 2010 Sangiovese would be a good choice. True to form, the wine was light but flavorful. I think it could have used a little more time in the bottle, which, admittedly, I had been told. Next year I will remember to hold onto it a little bit longer.
While we are on Imagery, there is something else that I love about their wine (which all of my friends have heard me gush about too many times). As someone who dabbles in art, I have a huge appreciation for the Imagery labels. Imagery allows artists to submit artwork for consideration for their label. The only rule is that the Parthenon has to appear somewhere in the piece. This allows for the unique combination of each wine having a uniquely beautiful and artistic label, but with the fun touch of trying to find the hidden Parthenon. Every time I open a bottle, I spend a few minutes appreciating the artwork and looking for the Parthenon. It’s a fun touch.
2009 Enkidu Humbaba
By the time Friday rolled around, I was looking forward to a more low key evening. I had heard it was Sauvignon Blanc day so I made sure to stick one in the fridge before going shopping with a friend for a couple of hours. However, when I got home to try it, I didn’t love it. I decided after a long week, I deserved to open something I knew I would like… and the Humbaba had been staring at me from the wine rack for long enough.
The Enkidu Humbaba had been purchased a few months earlier at the 8th Street Winery tasting event. It was the first place we stopped and the first wine I tried. Although my group scolded me for tasting out of order, I had a feeling about this wine and I was right. After trying the other Enkidu wines, I was still smitten with the Humbaba and knew I had to have a bottle. While I would have normally loved to hold onto it for a special occasion, I also realized that sometimes just letting yourself enjoy something you love is occasion enough.
The wine itself is a very light Syrah (Syrah (55%), Petite Sirah (42%), and Marsanne/Roussanne/Grenache Blanc (3%)) blend. I wanted something that would provide a good contrast to the Sauvignon Blanc from earlier without being too bold. The Humbaba ended up being a perfect compromise. The wine is very gentle on the tip of the tongue with the flavors changing throughout the mouth making it a very complex wine to taste. I had half of the bottle leftover on Saturday and it held up very nicely the second day as well. I definitely want to track down a couple more bottles to see how the flavor develops over time.
I’m still getting used to what this new role means for me in terms of everyday drinking and so I’ve still yet to figure out a polite way to store my tasting notes when out to dinner or out with friends. I’m a little sad that I didn’t do that last week when I was out to dinner as I had the privilege to try my very first Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I did stop and think enough about getting a picture for posterity but didn’t capture any more details than that.
I’m looking forward to sharing this week’s wine adventures with you! My mom will be in town and I always love sharing new wines with her. My mom is a classic Chardonnay drinker and a fan of wines of the $2 variety so I really enjoy showing her new things. My favorite line from her last visit: “I love drinking your wine because I don’t get hangovers.” Are there any suggestions for my mother-daughter weekend?
I recently had an interesting epiphany regarding food. I have the interesting fortune to work in the kind of company that always has a fully stocked kitchen. I remember starting my first week and hearing “Everyone gains 15 pounds when they start here.” Great – exactly what any young woman wants to hear…
I’ve been here well over a year and while I haven’t gained 15 big ones I definitely have seen an increase in the numbers on the scale and a few more curves where there were none before. I’m pretty good at working out, choosing to walk places, and in general have a high energy level but there is one thing that I can’t control – I’m an eater. I love food and I have a huge appetite for someone my size (often to the complete astonishment of everyone around me). So what’s a girl to do? Starving isn’t an option.
Well, in an office full of candies, sodas, and chips, I knew the solution had to come from a different angle. I had to stop eating junk food. The temptation of going in the kitchen and grabbing one (or 6) Starbursts or a handful of chips is really high. Since the kitchen is also home to our printer, avoiding it isn’t an option.
The only way to really make a change is just to say 100% no junk food. If you read the label and there is anything you didn’t expect to be in it – it’s not food, it’s chemicals. This experiment has been more interesting that I’d originally thought it would be. It’s always fun to look at a food item and wonder if the ingredients line up with what you’d expect. The bag of almonds we get at work? One ingredient – almonds. Chocolate covered fruit? More chemicals than in a high school labratory. Egg Beaters – only have eggs.
While cutting out the junk food has been a good start to capping the weight gain, it does leave another problem – what can I snack on? Snacking is healthy and natural. It’s good for the metabolism and keeps people from over-eating at regular meals so I needed to find other things to eat. The best solutions have been nuts and a lot of fresh fruit. I’ve ordered some other natural snacks too and I’m excited to try them out.
Today I was sitting at my desk with a carton of blueberries happily munching away and thinking about how healthy can also mean delicious. That’s not what inspired this post though. As a bit of a messy eater, I unsurprisingly dropped one of my berries and watched it roll under my desk. I have no idea how many M&Ms have had the same fate but for the first time ever I stopped to think “I need to find that berry or it’s going to rot.” And then it dawned on me… isn’t there something wrong with the fact that I never thought about that with the other snacks I’ve dropped? Shouldn’t we be a little worried that we are eating things that don’t decompose? I’ve seen the forces of nature do everything from caving my expertly carved pumpkins a week before Halloween to tearing down buildings. If nature can’t handle an M&M – then what’s that candy doing in my stomach?
Food is amazing and delicious but some of the things we are eating – can we really call it food? It’s been interesting to take a step back and try to get food closer to where it comes from, with as little added to it as possible. Tying out this new way of eating started out an an experiment of sorts but it’s quickly becoming a mindset, maybe even a lifestyle change.
I recently took a trip to South Africa, and as wine lovers are apt to do, I filled my suitcase with wine sleeves so that I could bring a taste of Africa back with me. Of course, as wine lovers are also apt to do, there was more wine purchased than wine sleeves brought and I had to wrap a few bottles in towels…
An Interview With Nikki Lincoln
Last week Simple Hedonisms announced a new writer and focus in “Millennial Writer to Join Simple Hedonisms – Introducing Nikki Lincoln”
Today we kick that off sharing a little bit about Nikki, in an essay interview I asked her to fill out.
I think for me, it’s really just about how big and complex wine is. Even though I’ve been tasting wine for several years now, I keep finding something new and surprising. There’s always something to discover and it’s been fun to see how my tastes have grown and changed over the years.
I suppose you could make a similar argument about beer but frankly, I like the taste of wine more. You could also say similar things about spirits – and I do enjoy a good whiskey or tequila tasting but I also know I can’t sit around a have a glass of tequila every night with dinner and expect to be a functioning member of society (props to anyone who can though).
It’s interesting to have a beverage that is common enough that it’s ok to have it every day but so complex that different varietals and vintages will pair so differently with meals and occasions. I love that wine can be something so normal and common but also something that can be prestigious and luxurious. I’m not sure there are a lot of things you can say that about.
Tell Me About Your Wine Epiphany Moment:
I would say my first wine epiphany moment would be the first time I went on a proper wine tasting trip. Up until then, my scope of wine experiences was pretty limited to family dinners and the occasional White Zin. I “knew” I didn’t like reds and that sweet wine was better.
However, the first time I went tasting, I got to explore different varietals, learn that not all reds taste the same, and hear about what notes to look for in the wine. It definitely opened to world of wine for me and really helped me transition into more complex wines. The more I went tasting, the more this grew and developed until I became a wine enthusiast.
When people tell me they don’t really know about wine and ask how they can get into it – my response is always the same: “Taste a lot of wine!” That’s the only way to really learn what you like and how big the spectrum of wine really is.
Why Do You Want To Write About Wine? What Are You Most Excited To Share With Readers?
I was never someone growing up who said “I love writing, I want to be a writer,” but I always found that I was great with creative writing classes where I had the freedom to write whatever I wanted. I never had a problem with crafting my experiences or musings into something interesting that flowed off my fingertips. As an adult who doesn’t have to write for homework assignments anymore, I find that I choose to write about things I’m passionate about and wine is one of those things.
I feel my contributions are two-fold. First, my experience with wine is more exploratory and not as broad as William’s (yet), so I feel my writing will appeal to people who are getting into wine and aren’t looking at it in as technical a manner. Second, William said I could write about more than wine. I saw that the blog description mentioned food and lifestyle as well and I know I have a lot to contribute in those areas. I love wine but I have plenty to say about food and recreating as well.
What Do You Want to Learn the Most About Wine? What Do You Find The Biggest Challenges
I’d say my biggest challenges would also be what I want to learn the most – I have to work still to picking out notes and details. I’d love to be able to do that better as to appreciate more of the subtleties of the wine.
Anything and everything! Ideally, I’d like to get something up 1-2 times a week. I find that I do better when I just stumble upon ideas. Ever since William and I talked about me writing for the blog, I’ve been jotting down thoughts or ideas for posts for I have some things queuing up already. However, I know that I can’t always put fingers to keys and make words come out. When that happens, I know I can at least conjure up reviews or event summaries. I also am the kind of person who gets lost in thought over the most random of occurrences and that’s how a lot of my posts are born.
I think William got the idea about me writing for his blog because he liked my style (which he found at my last blogs www.cinnamongeek.com and http://myonenewthingaweek.blogspot.com/) so that’s really what I’m bringing here. I come up with a lot of crazy theories, I write about things that I’m passionate about, I’ll do reviews, and sometimes I just ponder over something in my life so much that my heart will pour out of me in the form of a thought provoking post.
I am originally from Los Angeles. I moved to the Bay Area when I went to college at UC Berkeley. I majored in Economics with a minor in Cal Football. I have not missed a home game since my freshman year of college (and it turned out to be a riveting defeat of Oregon, the experience of missing it was scarring).
After graduating, I started working in finance and that’s where I am now. In my free time I attend a lot of Cal and Giants games, drink a lot of wine, travel, hike, and generally love to explore new places and events. I’m an avid reader, movie watcher, and purveyor of the arts. It might sound like I do a lot – I prefer to refer to it as being very well rounded.
Some Curious Facts About Me:
- When I was at Cal, I fired the Victory Cannon for a year.
- I have very few dislikes but the ones I do have are usually things that everyone else loves: watermelon, baked beans, chocolate cake, pepperonis… you get the point.
- I’m a huge nerd and love geeking out. My favorite superheroes are Batman and Iron Man but I actually tend to prefer villains. My last blogwas an attempt at a geek blog with my friends (www.cinnamongeek.com).
- I love video games and am quite good at them. People never expect/believe this and I get a lot of satisfaction in proving them wrong.
- My mother’s family is Brazilian and thus I can speak Portuguese.
- I am a big Broadway fan and listen to the Showtunes Pandora station all the time. I know most of the words to my favorite musicals and it’s almost impossible to stop me from singing along even though I’m not gifted vocally.
- I love rock climbing which I started 4 years ago, I climb mostly hard 10′s.
- I am great at remembering facts, movie lines, and useless trivia. I wanted to go on VH1’s World Series of Pop Culture as a way to monetize this skill. However, the series got cancelled after two seasons.
- I have a creative side that doesn’t get exercised as much as I’d like. I have taken classes in painting, sculpture, web design, and computer graphics.
What Are Your Favorite Wine categories, and varieties? Which Do You Want to Learn the Most About ?
I think William will really like my answer to this one… my favorite wine is Grenache. I had it for the first time at the Vinter’s Market a few years ago and bought my first bottle – the rest was history. I tend to gravitate towards Grenache on any menu and I feel like it consistently delivers.
On the flip side… I want to learn more about Grenache Blanc. I never knew it existed until I did a wine paired tasting menu at Jardiniere. When the Sommelier brought it out I was said as much and I could tell she was excited to introduce it to me. The funny thing about this answer is that William is known for his Grenache Blanc so I know that I’m going to have a lot of opportunity to familiarize myself with the varietal in the near future.
Simple Hedonisms Is Excited to Announce a New Contributing Partner
My ability to write about wine, share my thoughts and insights has become diminished over the last year, as my role as a small Vintner and strong advocate for Rhone wines, along with a day job, consumes many long days and nights. My passion for wine and helping others learn explore, however, has not diminished, nor my ability to influence what people consume, as activity on my Delectable and Instagram accounts show regularly, in some cases more than my Cellartracker 1100+ detailed notes.
Simple Hedonisms was one of the widest read bogs in the Bay area during its heyday, hitting 5,000+ readers and 250k hits a month. People still write me regularly they miss the posts and education. In fact, the following is still very large, when articles are published. I don’t intend to give it up, after 5 years. (Wow!) My goal for quite some time was to bring on multiple writers, to leverage the brand and the following, and help others get a start. It’s worked with some success, but nothing lasting or persistent.
A few months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to Nikki. She helped at an event, and I was immediately impressed. Nikki is young, passionate about wine (and life) and not afraid to dive into anything. She is keen to learn, and more importantly, open to it. I meet a lot of people who love wine, and want to be a part, and have become an good judge of potential and value. Many have stars in their eyes about the wine industry, but not the long term drive and passion to take it to new levels. As I looked at Nikki’s personal blog, I was struck by her energy, positive outlook, and a writing style that was clear, easy to read, and engaging.
I was struck by the insight of this newer consumer in her article, a year ago “The Economics of Wine.” Clearly, good instincts and energy to be tapped into. (The fact that she also wrote about the Batman movie was duly impressive.)
The Plot Thickens, The Wheels Turn, I Gain a “Padawan”
I had somewhat of an affinity to Nikki right away as she is a geek-ette. You might never guess this as cute as a button millennial is an avid gamer, comic fan, and more. But, she also is very grounded, outgoing, playful yet mature old soul. She lacks nothing for confidence, but is not arrogant.
The wheels started turning. It was clear she was passionate about wine, and impressionable. Years past I was a bit of a skeptic on Millenials being the ‘great white hope’ for the wine industry. Now I embrace them as part of the force that is enabling the upheaval going on beneath our noses, that in ten years will completely change the landscape of wines made and consumed.
I also regularly talk about the journey of wine exploration, the similar path many of us follow as wine enthusiasts, and as a ‘palate shepherd’ my goal has always been to help others on their path of never ending knowledge and palate expansion. I would have loved to been guided and progress faster than I did, my first decade.
Nikki has a palate consistent with many new enthusiasts, she will try most wines, but right now gravitates towards reds, sometimes bigger ones. She is falling in love with Pinot and Rhone whites (sounds familiar!) She is also open, interested, curious by nature. For most wine enthusiasts, exposure is the key to palate progression.
I humbly suggested to Nikki, if she was willing, I would love to help her with exploration and suggestions. The end goal of what she likes is ultimately hers to discover, but I would try and accelerate her path, open synapses. I was a bit wary of the reaction, as you hear constantly that Millennials don’t want to be told what to drink, or just do what their parents did.
Nikki showed her true form, (and love of Star Wars), by enthusiastically responding “I am your Padawan.“ If my son wasn’t engaged to a beautiful Italian girl, I’d be introducing him to Nikki.
Follow In The Footsteps of an Avid Wine Millennial Exploration
Shortly thereafter, it all came together in my head. I liked Nikki’s writing. She wanted to learn and share with the world. I wanted more content for Simple Hedonisms. She represents the advent of a new generation of wine consumer. I get more offer for samples and events than I can attend……Why not ask Nikki to join the team.
So voila. It starts this week. Nikki has free reign to write about whatever she wants. The focus will be wine, but she is also interested in microbrew, spirits, restaurants & food, events. Nikki lives in the city, where Simple Hedonisms has a strong following, so she is now also able to better represent the publication there with the myriad of events and tastings there.
Please Give Nikki a Warm Wine Country Welcome
I am excited about this new development for Nikki, our readers, and myself. (How best to learn then to also teach.)
Tomorrow I will publish an interview about her. She will be diving headlong into tastings and events, with me when she can, on her own many times as well.
Today, by the way, is also her birthday, so a big cheers to you my friend! (Now, get writing!)
It’s fitting with today commencing the Weekend Celebration of American Rhones, in San Francisco, to celebrate this amazing, unique release of Cigare Blanc, the flagship Rhone white blend from Bonny Doon Vineyards.
It’s creator, Randall Grahm, tonight at a very special ceremony will be awarded the first ever Rhone Rangers lifetime achievement award. As I wrote in For The Love of Rhône: Randall Grahm Lifetime Achievement Award; A Rhône Weekend in SF the American Rhone winemakers and consumers owe Randall this, and much more.
The Re-Emergence of The Original Rhone Ranger, Pioneer’s Vision
In his spot-on keynote speech at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, (video or transcript ) Randall gently chided the wine industry, for being a victim of its own success, almost ‘selling out’ and lamenting the world of unique wines, that had some risk to making them.
‘Modern winemakers live in an era of tragic self-consciousness about the economic consequences of their winemaking decisions, utterly aware of the peril of somehow falling outside of the stylistic parameters of accepted wine styles.’
On a macro level this is sadly true. Wines, especially whites, are made risk free, manipulated, and churned out by the container load for mass market. “Flash Detente’ – seriously? I’ll go return to my beer brewing roots before I ever cross this line. Every article I read on it gives me hives – where does this end?
But there is a burgeoning new movement, a tiny but growing population of bold winemakers who return to the risk taking Randall laments, making wines of unique varieties, vinification, climates and more. (Teaser, also watch for notice for a special tasting of a gang of 13 of these upstarts in Healdsburg in May.)
These vintners of passion often selling their crafts for a modest price, keeping the approachable. Sommeliers are loving this re-birth. Some old school journalists have no clue what to do with it – why not keep just writing about Cabernet & Zinfandel. Other visionaries like Jon Bonné of the Chronicle embrace and support the change, and even has a book coming out. (You can pre-order now, I did.)
Leading By Example and Creativity – Winemaking With Risk (Equals Reward.)
Randall leads the path again (one that I follow, inspired, with my own Rhone project.) His special 2010 Cigare Blanc Reserve and 2008 Cigare Volante are aged ‘en bonbonne’ - glass carboys, protected from light and air, and stirred….magnetically. As only Randall could do.
Why? Randall was inspired by wines of Dan Wheeler tasted from carboy, and astonished by how fresh the wines were, 20 years later, followed by a similar experience with Emidio Pepe.
At the Wine Bloggers Conference, Randall held a special semi private tasting of some of his wines, including the 2010 Cigare Blanc reserve & 2008 Cigare Volant Reserve ‘en bonbonne’. The gift was lost on some, but it was a special experience to taste these the normal and en bonbonne’ side by side. There was a clear, textural and flavor difference.
It inspired me to taste them both again later several times, where I could focus without Rex Pickett of Sideways making drinking from dump bucket jokes to impress a nearby female. Not a problem as I am a DOON Club member, and regularly order, and have, including a re-order of this wine.
Review: Bonny Doon Vineyard 2010 Cigare Blanc Reserve en bonbonne
A certified biodynamic blend of 56% Grenache Blanc and 44% Rousanne. (You had me at Grenache Blanc.) As Randall’s own tasting notes concur, it continues to improve in bottle, and was changed, even more favorably from last fall.
The 2010 vintage was allowed to go through secondary malo-lactic (a personal preference for me, as I think many white wines, with sufficient acidity, should do to enhance mouth feel and complexity.)
- To The Eye: Slightly cloudy, but clearer than previous tastings. Its turbidity makes me love it even more. It’s about time the consumer world understood a tad of turbidity in whites might make it better. I will follow with less trepidation.
- On The Nose: wondrous nose of yellow pear, stone fruits, hints of white grapefruit and hazelnut.
- On The Palate: Amazing. Lush, but in a restrained way. Textural and ‘grown up’ but with a vibrant acid backbone that lingers beneath in balance. The front palate starts off bright and fresh, the mid palate shows the wondrous texture, mouth feel ripe pear, yellow peach, citrus. The finish is of ripe Meyer lemon, lingering pleasant acidity.
I have yet to figure out how Bonny Doon makes these so wonderful in flavor and low in alcohol, as Roussanne and Grenache Blanc both require proper ripening, ever for my acid addicted palate. Bravo.
A wine that while wonderful solo, would be heavenly with rich seafood, creamy pasta, or roasted chicken.
- Recommendation: This is one to buy a case and drink 1-2 bottles a year. Buy online while you can.
94 points. Yes its pricier than every day wine. Life is short, live a little.
Winemakers Notes & Geeky Stuff
I have written in various places about the inspiration to age wine in demijohns/carboys/bonbonnes. Some of it has come from my fascination with oxidation/reduction chemistry, an aspect of wine art/science not well understood and its importance greatly unappreciated. Years ago, as a young pup I tasted wine from carboy with Dan Wheeler of Nicasio Cellars in his do-it-yourself-handdug cave in Soquel, and was astonished at how youthful were the wines, twenty plus years later, almost as if they had been placed in suspended animation. At about the same time, I also happened to taste the wines from Emidio Pepe in Abruzzo, who also aged his product in demijohns, likewise evincing extraordinary youthfulness and vitality.
We did some small encouraging experiments years ago, then more or less forgot about them until relatively recently, at which point we began the carboy ageing project with red Cigare. It wasn’t until ’09 that it dooned on me that perhaps there were even more interesting things to discover with the white. The ’10 Cigare Blanc Réserve, our second vintage of this wine, is absolutely amazing, an advance over the ’09. To refresh everyone’s memory, this wine is more or less the same blend as our standard issue Cigare Blanc, apart from the fact that we’ve allowed it to undergo malolactic fermentation, and at that point, we gave it a light SO2 addition, racked it to glass demijohn (bonbonne), where it reposed for a year and a half, getting anaerobically stirred more or less fortnightly.
The wine derives entirely from the Beeswax Vineyard, located at the mouth of the Arroyo Seco, and is farmed biodynamically and produced according to biodynamic specifications (very easy on the extraneous additions).
I’ve had the pleasure of tasting this wine over the last year, and what is most remarkable about it is that every time I taste it, it gets younger and younger! The wine was not filtered, and therefore is partly cloudy, though lately, it is curiously, getting brighter and brighter. The wine has a rich, unctuous texture, despite its modest (12ish%) alcohol, as well as possesses the most satisfying savoriness. In the nose, there is a wonderful suggestion of hazelnuts (hmm, white Burgundy, anyone?), as well as a beautiful fragrance of wintergreen and a wine-like pear. A great gastronomy wine, one that will perfectly suit rich, cream-based dishes.
- Blend: 56% roussanne, 44% grenache blanc (Certified Biodynamic®)
- Vineyard: Beeswax (Certified Biodynamic®)
- Appellation: Arroyo Seco
- Serving Temp: 50-55ºF
- Alcohol by Volume: 12.4%
- TA: 6.2 g/L
- pH: 3.62
- Optimal drinkability: Drink now-2020
- Production: 497 cases
For The Love of Rhône: Randall Grahm Lifetime Achievement Award; A Rhône Weekend in SF. (And Reader Offers)
It’s no secret that if you tap one of my veins, it’s likely a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah will spring forth. My love for this wine category has caused me to change my entire life, quickly transforming, with no master plan, from avid consumer, to (once) a widely read blogger, and from garagiste to commercial vintner.
Rhône wines can be a challenging category. It’s not mainstream – your classic new world oaky Cabernet consumer perhaps can’t even describe what Rhone wines are, let alone appreciate the breadth of complex whites the category offers. “Serious” wine snobs may turn their noses as they consider they are not ‘geeky’ enough - after all its not some obscure Italian varietal, or skin fermented white wine whose name you can’t spell, fermented in an exotic container and bottled in 500 ml granite bottles. Its just ‘grenache.’
Yet many American Rhone wines ARE rare. Grenache Blanc has existed in California for only ten years, with only 220 acres planted in the entire state. The source I work with for Roussanne & Marsanne are the only known in the entire AVA. The Mourvedre is only one of two plantings. The cool climate Grenache - perhaps 3-4 at most. Even in Rhone ‘heavy’ areas like Paso Robles, the total acreage of most Rhone whites is minuscule.
On the reverse side, not all off the old guard of some media get ‘it. Respected and esteemed Chronicle wine writer, and Rhone advocate, Jon Bonné, was recently criticized publicly by a veteran wine writer for his waxing poetic on Grenache,
Yet, we not only persevere as a domestic category, we prosper and slowly grow. We are after all ‘Rhone Rangers’ both as consumers and winemakers. When everyone said pull the plug on our NY event one week after Hurricane Sandy, we turned it into a fundraiser, showed up despite many challenges, and eager enthusiasts filled the tasting, amidst a Noreaster snow storm. THIS is how we Rhone.
Be assured of one thing, domestic vintners and winemakers dedicated to Rhones, do so for passion, not money.
An Eternal Debt Of Gratitude to The Original Rhone Ranger & Special Recognition Award
With that backdrop, it’s all the more clear to me the incredible debt that all Rhone enthusiasts (and wineries) owe Randall Grahm, lauded as the original Rhone Ranger. (In truth there are a few other early pioneers. Sadly, not all support the namesake organization.)
Randall has been committed to Rhones since he released the first Cigare Volante in 1984. In a world where we take Grenache Blanc for granted, only the earliest and smallest of Rhone plantings, sometimes mis-identified, could be found, and there was little experience to reference. There were certainly easier paths to follow.
Randall has been a personal inspiration for me. He helped my find the Grenache Blanc vineyard I started with in 2010, even offered encouragement, as he does for so many, despite the often one man show that he is, tirelessly & humbly promoting, pouring, his crafts.
This year, at the Rhone Rangers March 22nd Winemaker Dinner in San Francisco, the Rhone Rangers organization will award its first lifetime achievement award. As a board member who was in the meeting when the topic came up, the unanimous decision took only as long as it did for the suggestion to be comprehended.
We can only hope that Randall recognizes the deep respect, and love that so many have for he and his efforts. Simple Hedonisms has written about Bonny Doon wines many times, and I hope to review more wines all week, in tribute.
YOU have a chance to be at the award ceremony, and thank Randall, in person.
This dinner always sells out, but as of this writing, about 10% of tickets remain. The event itself is pretty phenomenal, with a special meal catered by the girl & the fig, 16 featured winemakers, a pre-dinner tasting, and lively auction at the end. Do not wait until Wednesday night to decide to buy one, you’ll likely regret it and be empty handed. (Note: dinner is on a Friday night this year, not Saturday.)
Tickets are here: http://rhonerangerssfwmd.eventbrite.com/
Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund, which provides grants and scholarships to help educate the next generation of American Rhone winemakers.
Wineries: Anaba Wines, Baiocchi Wines & Vineyards, Bonny Doon Vineyard, Davis Family Vineyards, Folin Cellars, JC Cellars, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, kukkula, Margerum Wine Company, Mounts Family Winery, Petrichor Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Terre Rouge, Two Shepherds and Villa Creek Cellars.
A Weekend Celebration of American Rhone Wines
The dinner is the tip of the spear of the now largest Rhone wine event in the U.S.
Saturday morning two seminars will be moderated by Jon Bonné, Wine Editor, San Francisco Chronicle, followed by the Grand Tasting Saturday afternoon, where over 100 wineries will pour white, red, and rose’ Rhone wines. Sorry, no Cabernet.
This years seminars are quite exciting and unique.
- “Old World Inspiration, New World Innovation” with wine importer, Patrick Will, Vice President of VINTUS. This seminar will include benchmark wines from Guigal (Condrieu, Tavel, Chȃteauneuf du Pape and Côte Rôtie), as well as wines from Rhone Ranger winery members who were inspired to create their “Rhone style wines” while using innovative new world craftsmanship.
- “Mourvèdre: A Rising Star in the World of American Rhones” will feature six wines (red and rosé) that are based on the grape known as Mourvèdre, Mataro, Monastrell and at least fifty other names depending on where it is grown.
In the afternoon there is the Grand Tasting: Trade/Media & VIP Tasting 1-3 pm, and the Consumer Tasting is 3-6 pm. Note, by popular request is on Saturday this year. Enjoy Rhone wines followed by dinner in the city.
- A weekend pass that includes the seminar pass and Grand Tasting is available here for $150.
- Tickets to the Grand Tasting, only, are available here for $50. (Seriously, only $50?)
For those of you ‘afraid’ of Ft Mason events as a drunkfest, as someone who has been on both sides of the table, this tasting attracts a more engaged, enthused audience, and is not over crowded – so, come, learn, enjoy.
Reader Offer #1 – use code ‘”22RRgrapes” to save off of either purchase.
Insider Info: Download the 80 page event guide and start planning your tasting in advance! RRSF2013PrintedProgram-FinalProof
Share Your Rhone Love and Win A Pair of Tickets to The Seminars or Grand Tasting
Love Rhones? Or keen to learn more? (We all start somewhere.)
On Tuesday evening I will select a winner who can select to win a pair of tickets to the Grand Tasting or The Seminars.
To enter to win, simply share in comments below. Make sure I have your FULL name and email.
1. What is your favorite Rhone varietal, and if you have a special food pairing you enjoy with it.
2. Which Of the Pouring Wineries Are You most excited to try, and why? (list here. )
Rhone Twitter #WineChat This Wednesday Night
In celebration of the event (Twitter hashtag #RRSF) I will be leading this week’s weekly Twitter #winechat – the topic and wine of choice being domestic Rhone wines. Open a bottle and join me in a glass as I wax semi poetic on Rhones.
It’s likely Randall
will make a brief appearance at the beginning.
Cheers, and lets get ready to Rhone!
SF Chronicle: A bright moment for the Rhone-minded
As Syrah falters, make way for Grenache (SF Chronicle)
Simple Hedonisms receives a fair amount of invites to attend live Twitter tastings – a format where you receive the wines, and then join other bloggers on Twitter, tasting, chatting and discussing.
I turn more of these down then accept these days, often either because of ‘day job’ travel conflicts or
often the wines are more mass market and just less interesting.
However I was super excited to receive an invitation to taste the great wines of Steven Kent (Mirassou) and his other label La Rochelle. La Rochelle specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.I discovered the La Rochelle Pinot Noir, some years ago at Pinot on The River and was a big fan.
Live, virtual tastings on Twitter can be quite fun to follow, and better yet, join in. Hand selected bloggers will be comparing notes, and engaging the winemaker in questions and dialog.
You can follow along on Twitter hashtag #StevenKentWines – simply search for it on your Twitter browser or application. (You can also go to search.twitter.com and enter #StevenKentWines .)
On Twitter, you may join in and ask questions, reply to the winemakers or bloggers etc. (Twitter account required.)
You can also purchase the wines and share your thoughts!
Wine shops like K&L Wines, JJ Buckley, and Beltramos carry them, amongst others.
- Winemaker Steven Kent Mirassou – @StevenMirassou
- Steven Kent Winery – @skwinery
- La Rochelle – @larochellewine
From 4-6 pm, Pacific time, the bloggers will taste through these wines with the winemaker:
- 2011 “Lola” (Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Blend) $24
- 2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay, Dutton-Morelli Lane, Russian River Valley $65
- 2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands $38
- 2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir, Donum Estate, Carneros $75
- 2009 Steven Kent Petite Verdot, Ghielmetti Vineyard, Livermore Valley $50
- 2009 Steven Kent Cabernet, Home Ranch Vineyard, Livermore Valley $65
Find one and join us!
For those that miss it, I will add notes to my Cellartracker tasting notes – now over 1,000 notes recorded!
See you on Twitter, and cheers.
Don't Miss! Saturday Feb 2nd is the 2nd Annual Micro-Winery Collective Open House at Inspiration Custom Crush
This Saturday (tomorrow!) is the 2nd Annual Micro-Winery Collective Open House at Inspiration Custom Crush in Santa Rosa.
Inspiration Custom Crush is located at Inspiration Vineyards & Winery, and is a second business managed by Jon Philips, where very small and/or new wineries can share facilities and knowledge to make their wine.
The Superbowl is the next day, so this is also excellent opportunity to stock up on adult beverages for your Superbowl party.
Try & Buy Wines You Normally Can’t
With the exception of Inspiration Vineyards, these wineries don’t have public tasting rooms. This is a special opportunity for you to TRY & BUY wines from seven uniquely different wineries, each with their own winemaker present to tell you their story and introduce you to their wines. Experience the small lot, artisanal wines from:
- Colagrossi Wines
- Desmond Wines
- Inspiration Vineyards
- Little Red Vineyard
- Orpheus Wines
- Premonition Cellars
- Wesley Ashley Wines
Food Pairings & Offers
Just in time for Valentine’s day, Sonja Schluter, owner and chocolatier of Eye Candy, sampling and selling her artisanal chocolates. In addition, two local cheese makers will be offering samples of their delicious artisanal cheeses.
No wine event is complete at without a food truck! David from FishOn will be here featuring the regular menu that includes his famous fish & chips, plus he’ll also have some fan favorites like his pulled pork sandwiches.
Your Ticket Includes $10 Wine Credit!
Upon check-in at the door, you’ll receive $10 back in wine bucks, redeemable on the day of the event at ALL seven wineries. Tickets are $20 at the door, or buy today and save $5 – either thats a price of $5-10 to taste from SEVEN wineries
– beat that bargain for Saturday entertainment!
- When: Saturday, February 2nd from 11am till 5pm
- Where: 3360 Coffey Lane – Suite E, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
- Cost: $20 at the door – SAVE $5 by registering online, using promo code: promoiv
- Register: please visit http://www.localwineevents.com/events/detail/458091
Visit Other Wineries Without Leaving the Parking Lot!
Still ‘thirsty’ after tasting – the business park has other wineries including Vinoteca, a collective tasting room for multiple wineries; famed Zin maker Carol Shelton; the geeky NPA & Salinia, and high end, appointment only Donelan Wines.
Or visit other nearby wineries on the Santa Rosa Wine Trail!
Have a great wine weekend – cheers!
I am back! Finally catching up after Eighteen days in Europe – Denmark, Portugal, and the balance in France – with glorious tastings in Chablis and the Northern Rhone, where Syrah is the red grape of choice (and AOC law.)
For those of you still snickering over Syrah, cracking pneumonia jokes etc – move on. Syrah’s Darwinist down phase is over - Moscato or some other ‘varietal great white hope’ is next.
In truth, this ‘market correction’ was needed. Way too much bad syrah was being made, as well as planted in wrong places everywhere.
People and places that had no business being in Syrah are gone. Good riddance. The strong have survived. Incredible syrahs, especially from cool climate are in
high demand, and increasing in price, from small, talented, cult producers.
Pining For The Northern Rhone
I spent a week in the Northern Rhone, with 12 deep, technical tastings, my glass graced with some of the Rockstars of the Northern Rhone: Gangloff, Faury, Allemand, to name a few.
My first week back, as a sanity check, I popped open a bottle from Randall Grahm, the US veteran Rhone Ranger. How would his modest priced Rhone – Syrah offering fare?
(PS – Randall – they love you over there.)
At 13.5% alcohol, Mostly/all Neutral oak (thats my guess), solid acid/pH numbers, and most importantly, great flavor profile, Bonny Doon delivers the CA syrah goods at an every day price point.
- To The Eye: inky deep purple, reminiscent of Cornas, no light shall pass!
- On The Nose: Smoked meat, black olive tapenade, modest black fruits.
- In The Mouth: Well balanced. Dark black fruit, bacon notes, savory notes, good texture and soft tannins.
This is a rock solid syrah. BDV “Doon’ Members get this at a meager $21. Thats Syrah you can enjoy on a weeknight and feel great about.
This wine is officially sold out and the tasting room is selling the new 2010, but there is some online to buy
and its in some retail channels still. Grab some now! (I just re-ordered.)
Notes from Randall:
I don’t usually wholesale plagiarize a wine makers notes – but no one says it like Randall. How can you not love this man’s words?!
“La syrah,” the French say—syrah is deeply and elementally feminine—is perfumed elegance. Enchanting and capitvating rather than overpowering, it disarms by its strangeness. Like Borge’s Zahir, syrah makes an indelible impression. One will wander the world till the end of one’s days, its sublime, haunting fragrance gradually displacing all thoughts and memories, including the knowledge of one’s own name.
Oh those Europeans and European-styled wines! Initially very closed when you first meet them. Air (and time) lures them out of their protective cocoon.
Our ’09 Syrah “Le Pousseur” is named for an alchemist and trickster, but is withal an incredibly accessible wine, great by the glass but also a felicitous partner to all manner of roasted meats, poultry, game, wild mushrooms, and well aged cheeses.
Wine Geek Info:
- Varietal Blend: 100% syrah
- Appellation: Central Coast
- Vineyards: 56% Alamo Creek, 32% Bien Nacido, 12% Chequera
- Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
- TA: 0.58 g/L
- pH: 3.73
- Serving Temp: 55-60ºF
- Cellaring: 5+ years from release (May 2012)
- Production: 1200 cases