and_tasting.php” target=”_blank”>Weekend Celebration of American Rhones” and the April 26-28th 20th anniversary of Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines” in Paso Robles.
I am frequently asked “why Rhone wines.” I love, drink, taste, and buy wines of many varieties and categories, but I REALLY love Rhones. Why? I will write a more in depth article soon, but highlights were captured in an article a year ago in: Why Rhone Wines & Wine Review: Wesley Ashley Wines – Intelligent Design Cuvee.
I’d recommend reading the full post, but if I can capture one meaningful paragraph:
Rhone wines have more diversity across the varietals and give winemakers a huge flavor portfolio to work with, and thus consumers a myriad of combinations and flavor profiles. In Rhone wines, often the Sum of the Whole, is greater than the sum of the parts.”
Palate Evolution – Blends Are Good!
This is an important turning of enlightenment for the American wine consumer, who is lead to believe over the last three decades that single varietal wines are best. When one visits and tastes the Old World wines of Spain, France etc you learn quickly how untrue that is, and how uncommon. (There are of course some exceptions, like in Burgundy for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.)
That isn’t to say that 100% varietal wines are bad – I think the French are missing out by not making 100% Grenache Blanc. I can also readily admit often White Rhone blends with Grenache Blanc, are better, and easier to make, than many of the mediocre 100% Grenache Blancs. Blending gives a winemaker aroma and flavor profile tools you otherwise don’t have with a single varietal.
Anyway, I digress. Tonight’s review is about a Red
Rhone blend, from a brand that pays homage to Rhone blends: Wesley Ashley Wines. The above principles are sound, and the same.
Red Rhone blends, because of the great diversity of their components, offer the exploring wine drinker an infinite number of flavor profiles, far more than a Bordeaux blend. The variance between Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec etc, especially (sadly) when made in a New World style provides a far less range of differentiation than the red fruit of Grenache or Cinsault or Counoise, meatiness of Mourvedre, smokey complexity, white pepper of Syrah, and the raspberry of Carignane. Red Rhone blends are a never ending series of new discoveries as they vary by their composition and region.
Even before tasting, I knew I was going to likely love this wine when I saw that it had changed from the previous release, and Grenache was now the primary vintage. I also knew they had a hit on their hands when I was a guest at a wine club event last summer, and a few bottles sneaked out, and crowds went loco, even though owner Jim Sloate thought it wasn’t ready and didn’t want it released yet.
This red Rhone blend is comprised of 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 5% Petite Sirah, a big change from the previous Carignane dominant release.
To The Eye: Translucent, nearing opaque dark red. (As it should be, Grenache is by its nature not a deep purple color producing wine.)
On The Nose: This nose knows its Grenache. That classic undertone of cherry hard candy, strawberry, hint of spice. Fortunately the Grenache was kept in neutral oak, allowing its essence to shine through.
In The Mouth: Red fruit at the front, the syrah’s meatiness comes through mid palatte, with hints of coffee & mocha at the finish.
Recommendation: Buy. A Great Rhone red blend. I like it solo, but would love to pair it with lamb, grilled pork or chicken. $38 online or taste by appointment in Santa Rosa. (As well as the upcoming Rhone Ranger event.) Media Sanple.