Posts Tagged ‘Rhone Rangers’
Yes, I said rosé for Thanksgiving. Color me pink.
One of the most joyous, fairly rapid transitions I have observed in wine consumer habits the last ten years, is the adoption of rosé by as a serious wine – and for this I am truly thankful.
While the accident that a big winery had many years ago helped save many acres of old Zinfandel vines, it set palates and impressions back by a decade, equating rosé as a ‘blush’ a pink sugary wine. (You can observe me visibly twitch when I hear someone use the word blush.)
The American wine consumer has finally awoken to what Europeans have known for decades, a well made rosé is as valid a wine as a well made white or red, and as enjoyable.
Rosé – Not Just For Summer Picnics
While it’s true, nothing is more refreshing and delightful than a glass of rosé in the spring and summer, on a picnic blanket or your front porch, rosé is still cornered as a summer wine, a phenomenon I disagree with quite strongly. On a wine trip to France two winters ago, I was surprised and pleased to see many cafes had as many if not more rosé by the glass than whites – in January. I also observed, with great interest when a group of winemakers having lunch, again in January, shared a bottle of rosé amongst themselves. Real men drink Pink.
This belief is also reinforced by a fear many wineries hold of having any rosé left in inventory by July. I watch with some chagrin each year as some of the very best rosé made in California are released en masse early in the year, much sent through distribution, and are sold out sometimes in weeks. Selling wine through distribution means its been generally sold at 50% discount, when instead some of that inventory could have been maintained to sell direct to consumer at a much better margin, and lasted longer. Of course there is always the balancing act for a small winery and cash flow.
Also to note, some rosé actually improves with a bit of bottle age. While the general philosophy of Rosé is best drunk bright and fresh, some of the best rosé and my personal favorites, I often cellar for 3-6 months, in some cases longer. In fact its my observation that many wonderful rosé are released too early, too soon after bottling and are sometimes spritzy, show notes of sulfur and are a bit disjointed. I am an acid hound when it comes to wine, but many of these well made rosé also show better after a few months (or more) to let the acid soften a touch, and the flavor profile integrate. Rosé is no different than other wines, it is alive and develops in the bottle.
That said, after the last few years of buying, drinking and cellaring literally hundreds of bottles, most rosé should be drunk by the time new releases are rolling out – Easter is an excellent time to clean out that previous vintage. There are of course, exceptions to every rule – the wonderful Rosé from Bandol are generally considered best if left to sit at least one year, if not longer.
Without Further Adieu – Four Top Picks For Your Holiday Meal
I have written about rosé as a great wine for holiday meals before, and stand by it. Whether it’s as an aperitif, with salads, or if you do as I often and have 3 wines open at once to experiment with all the foods, a snappy rosé holds its own for smiles and cheer as much as a bottle of sparkling.
I have tasted through many dozens of rosé this summer, domestic and imported. Below are four that were all in my top ten, and more importantly, you can go grab a bottle this week. (I find it annoying to see articles coming out right now recommending buying wines that haven’t been available for months.) I have many other favorites from this vintage as well (Broc, Arnot Roberts, Sheldon, Mathiasson, to name a few) but most of these are long sold out.
Three of these selections are mostly sold direct and each has a small quantity left to purchase, if you don’t wait too long. The fourth can usually be found in better wine shops.
No scores this time sorry, but all of these are 90+, for those of you who like ratings. I voted for them with my credit card.
1. Mounts Family Winery – Rosé of Grenache
I am a long time fan of Mounts, and have watched with great pleasure as their Rhone program and wine making philosophies continue to evolve. I was a big fan of their 2010 rosé, was sad when they didn’t release one in 2011, and fell in love with the 2012, and have a few bottles I am hoarding.
Consumers apparently agree, as this was the #2 Consumer Vote at the Rhone Rosé tasting I organized this June, where 100 consumers tasted and ranked their top choices.
Grenache is widely used for rosé in France, but can sometimes be a challenge in California. There is a fear of picking too early and having a vegetal element, but bleeding off juice as a saignée, when Grenache is commonly picked for reds at high ripeness levels, can sometimes push alcohol up, where rosé is generally intended as a modest alcohol wine.
The Mounts Rosé of Grenache was picked just for rosé from their estate vineyard, at 22 Brix, left on the skins for 4 hours, fermented in neutral barrel, and bottled in April. The color is a very light, vibrant pink, with bright red cherry and strawberry notes, and mouth watering lingering acidity. It’s a ridiculous steal at $16 – less than ten cases left, available at the winery only. (Or of course to ship.) 82 cases made. Open this Saturday from 12-4, I will be there!
Mounts is also including shipping on 6+ bottles until Dec 31st.
707-292-8148 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Campovida Rosé of Grenache
The arrival of winemaker Sebastian Donoso has transformed Campovida into a winery to watch and a new favorite of mine. Sebastian, and owners Gary and Anna, are passionate, focused, energetic people who are a delight to visit, and with wonderful small lot wines.
Their 2012 Rosé of Grenache was the #1 Consumer choice at the Rhone Rosé tasting and was simply stunning. Vibrant, taut, fresh, lip smacking. The grapes were destemmed and crushed into macrobins, then cold soaked for 24 hourrs followed by pressing off the skins. Fermented in neutral oak barrels with no malolactic fermentation. Aged in barrel for four months with lees contact and stirred three times, released in April 2013. It’s a little more pricey for a rosé at $34, but it’s a serious wine and worth every penny. 134 cases made.
There are only a few cases left, held mostly in reserve for a December winemakers dinner, but if you go into their Hopland or new Oakland tasting room and tell them you read about it here and they’ll part with a bottle. I highly encourage you to taste the whole lineup.
- Hopland: 13601 Old River Road, Hopland CA Phone: 707.400.6300 Email: email@example.com
- Oakland: 95 Linden St. (at W Embarcadero) Oakland, CA 94607 (707) 744-8797
(p.s. stay tuned in Jan/Feb I will organize a North Coast Rhone Rangers tasting in the Oakland tasting room.)
3. Cartograph Rosé of Pinot Noir
I have come to appreciate how difficult a good rosé can be to make after a few attempts myself, but my summer of 2012 ‘call for Rosé’ tasting where I tasted 60+ rosé over a few weeks, made me especially appreciative of how challenging Rosé of Pinot Noir appears to be, based on tasting results. It’s also gutsy to take grapes that cost $4k+ a ton, and make them into an under $30 bottle of wine.
Alan Baker’s 2011 rosé was wonderful, but is trumped by the 2012. Fortunately for consumers, there is some of the 2012 left, only because they had no tasting room all summer, while they were constructing their gorgeous new one, just recently open to the public.
The 2012 is from the Leonardo Julio Vineyard, in the north end of the Russian River Valley. Picked on Sept 9th, with ~3 hours of skin contact, with a slow ferment over 42 days in stainless steel, and 4 months aging in stainless barrels. Bottled in February, this gorgeous Rosé of Pinot Noir is a steal at $21, only 80 cases made.
The rosé is a very pale pink, an incredibly refreshing array of bright red fruit, fresh strawberry, citrus, mouthwatering acidity and a hint of minerality, that likely has continued to develop since I last tasted it.
If you live near Healdsburg, venture into their newly opened tasting room at 340 Center St, right next to Zin Restaurant in downtown Healdsburg. Don’t forget to try the amazing Russian River Gewurztraminer, and array of Pinot Noirs as well. I’ll be there on Friday stocking up. (p.s. watch for the return (one time only) of the now retired widely popular “Sonoma Wine Meetup” here in January.)
http://www.cartographwines.com (707) 433-8270
4. Bonny Doon Vineyard 2012 Vin Gris
I have raved every year about Bonny Doon’s Vin Gris (rosé.) This year I am kicking myself for not ordering my usual case from their website, however luckily a quick search on Wine Searcher shows it in stock at a wide array of CA shops, ranging from K&L, Beltramo’s and more. (It’s been in stock at Bottle Barn before, but not sure right now, will check tonight and report back.)
This is not a tiny production rosé at 7000 cases, but it holds it’s own with any I have had each year, and rivals those from Provence. The 2012 was a blend of 62% grenache, 17% mourvèdre, 9% roussanne, 6% grenache blanc, 6% cinsault.
Retail prices range from $12-16 dollars. This is a dangerously delicious Rosé, it seems to simply evaporate in the glass. It’s also one that progresses beautifully in the bottle, and I usually open one bottle a month just to enjoy its progression. Easy to drink, yet layered and complex with citrus, white peach, strawberry, ocean breeze, and minerality.
Nikki Lincoln also recently wrote about this wine. What I Drank The Last Few Weeks (Sept 23-Oct 27).
Other recommendations for your Thanksgiving table: Pinot Noir, well made sparkling, and Rhone whites pair with a wide array of foods. Give everyone 3 glasses and open one of each, and try pairing each with what’s on your plate.
And with that, Happy Thanksgiving and cheers!
The members of the North Coast Chapter of the Rhone Rangers are joining together to offer wine aficionados a chance to taste Rhone wines from 15 wineries.
The event is from 3-7 p.m. at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville.
Taste Through Rhone wines, Red, White, & Rosé
Wineries include: Anaba, Maclaren, Cornerstone, Two Shepherds, Meyer Family Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Kale, Kieran Robinson, Wesley Ashely, Carica, Euclid, Truchard Vineyards, Petrichor, Donelan Family Wines and Campovida.
Taste multiple wines from 15 producers for less than the price of most Napa tasting rooms, $20 in advance. ($25 at the door.) Less than the cost of a single tasting in most Napa tasting rooms!
Tickets here: https://napa-rhone.eventbrite.com/
Please note: If you are a qualified member of the Trade (wine buyer for restaurant, retail) or Media (actively publishing writer or blog.) there is a separate tasting available, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy Art, Cheese, Wine & More
Have a Date With The Devil
The tasting will be held in the Museum’s main gallery where visitors will be surrounded by Date with the Devil, a juried exhibition of new work by 19 regional artists based on the legend of Faust, the man who sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for riches, power, youth and wisdom.
Date with the Devil reminds us that who we are is ultimately defined by the choices we make. Also on display are 26 devil-inspired prints by late Calistoga artist Earl Thollander. The History Gallery on the first floor will also be open free of charge. All galleries are free of charge.
Have Fun, Compare, & Vote For Your Favorite
Similar to their smash hit Grenache Day and Rosé tastings – attendees get a clipboard of information with detailed notes on each wine, and walk around to interact with each winery.
Attendees will have a chance to vote for their favorite wines. Help pick the top wine of the day!
Participating Wineries Include:
- Two Shepherds
- Meyer Family Vineyards
- Ridge Vineyards
- Kale Wines
- Kieran Robinson
- Wesley Ashely
- Carica Wines
- Truchard Vineyards
- Donelan Family Wines
Several weeks ago, on behalf of the North Coast chapter of the Rhone Rangers, Quivira Winery and I hosted a rosé tasting featuring 12 rosés from North Coast producers. The event was a smash success with attendees with dozens of positive comments and feedback.
As part of the audience participation, attendees received a handout with details on each wine, and when they were done with their tasting submitted a ballot for their top two wines of the day. All wines were well represented and received multiple votes, by the winner, by a fair margin, was the Campovida Grenache rosé. To celebrate their success, and a classic summer sipper, its featured as wine of the week.
Campovida is a family owned and operated certified organic farm and working vineyard. This unique place offers deep connections with nature, wine tasting, a professional culinary kitchen, a 10-room retreat center. It's a place where you can relax,enjoy and create your custom gatherings.
Several years ago Campovida embraced Rhone varieties, and under the watch of new winemaker Sebastian Donoso, formerly at Saracina, some amazing wine are being released. A winery and winemaker to watch.
Campovida also recently opened a new tasting room in Oakland, which I am eager to go visit. (Campovida Announces New Winemaker and Tasting Room)
- Oakland Tasting Room: Address: 95 Linden St, Oakland, CA 94607 Phone:(707) 400-6300
- Campovida Tasting Room: 13601 Old River Road, Hopland CA Phone: 707.400.6300
Wine of The Week: Campovida Grenache Rosé
To The Eye: The Campovida rosé is an immediate eye catcher. A brilliant, beautiful light orange hue of pink grapefruit skin
On the Palate: Wonderful bright but round fruit and citrus on the front palate. Mid palate, mouth watering flavors of citrus. The finish is long, lingering with notes of spice and mouthwatering acidity and minerality.
I tasted both at room temperature, and proper chilled cellar temp, this wine exhibits no flaws or astringency, only great balance, the sign of a well made rosé. Rosé is actually one of the most difficult wines there is to vinify, with narrow margin for error, bravo to Sebastian for job well done.
A wine that will pair well with a wide array of summer dishes, from oysters to summer salads, and cialis order online grilled white meats and fishes.
- Appellation: Mendocino County
- Year planted: 2006
- Elevation: 960 feet
- Soil: Clay loam
- Yield: 4 tons/acre
Wine Making Notes
- Harvest date: October 20, 2012
- Brix: 22.0
- Fermentation: Crushed and cold soaked for 24 hours. Pressed and barrel
- fermented in neutral French oak. No malolactic fermentation.
- Aging: Aged in neutral French oak for four months with lees contact and stirred three times.
- pH: 3.15
- TA: 6.0 g/L
- Alcohol: 13.5%
- Cases produced: 134
- Release date: April 2013
A few weeks ago, William and the North Coast Rhone Rangers organized a beautiful Rosé tasting in the garden at Quivira Winery. Between the wonderful weather and the gorgeous bottles of Rosé, I ended up with a lot of really great pictures. I decided to just put them all up here and let the wine do most of the talking (with my own notes interspersed of course).
The pictures below represent just a few highlights from the tasting. The whole event was lovely and I look forward to adding some of these wonderful wines to my personal collection.
We started the day with the Broc Cellars Rosé. The blend is 50% Counoise and 50% Cinsault. It was a great refreshing way for us to start off the tasting. With clean, fresh, watermelon flavors it felt like a perfect start of summer wine. I personally am really excited about Broc Cellars – with a tasting room located in Berkeley, I know I will be stopping by before at least one Cal Football game this year.
The next Rosé was from Campovida. I had met the winemakers a few weeks earlier at the 7% Solution Tasting and was excited to get a chance to try their wine. Grenache Rosé is definitely something I've been enjoying a lot lately and this was no exception. To go from loving Grenache to discovering Grenache Blanc, it is only fitting that I've now progressed to Rosé and am growing quite passionate for it as well. The Campovida was also selected by attendees as their favorite wine of the day, in a poll completed by attendees, by quite a margin, congrats!
My personal favorite of the day was the Front Porch Rosé being poured at the Idlewild table. As a blend of 70% Grenach and 30% Syrah, it has a lovely juicy flavor that was reminiscent of guava.
Of course, there were also some amazing Idlewild wines (which for some reason I didn't manage to get a picture of). The 2012 Vin Gris ($22, 70 case production) was an exceptionally light Syrah Rosé. With only 1.5 hours on the skins, it had delicate strawberry and crisp citrus tones.
The third wine at the table was another favorite – the Idlewild Grenache Gris ($28, 122 case production). With 3 days on skins and stems, it was darker in color than the Vin Gris. The wine had a beautiful nose and lovely cranberry flavors. I had tasted it a few weeks earlier and was happy to try it a second time and see that it was still as wonderful as I remembered.
The Mounts 100% Grenache Rosé caught my eye initially just with how light and peachy the color was (I told you the pictures did a lot of the talking here). With only 4 hours of skin contact and low sugar content, it had such a light and crisp grapefruit flavor. It was absolutely perfect on the sweltering Sonoma day.
It wouldn't be a complete review without mentioning the host winery's Rosé as well. This Rosé is a blend of 51% Grenache, 32% Syrah, and 17% Mourvedre. There was a lovely strawberry flavor that I very much enjoyed along with the bright pink color. The wine is also organic which I always support. In addition to the Rosé, I also picked up the Quivira 2011 Grenache. I had to contain myself from buying anymore and I'm sure next time I visit I will also be grabbing a few of their blends.
It wouldn't be a day of wine tasting without me hamming it up for a few photos as well. I was very enthusiastic that my dress matched many of the wines. I would love to say this was a happy accident but I noticed that most of my dresses had some wine spots on them and I figured in this case, no one would see if I spilled wine on myself. Ironically, since I took the precaution, I managed to refrain from my usual clumsy nature and keep all of my wine in the glass.
The commentary on the event would not be complete without mentioning the beautiful sustainable garden at Quivira. It was fun to explore and see just how many different types of produce were flourishing. I can hardly keep my key lime plant alive so I was definitely impressed. My friend, Natalie, really enjoyed exploring the gardens as well. I hear the raspberries are delicious…
After tasting a lot of lovely Rosé, we all went back to William's house for a wine filled homemade dinner that went way past sunset. It was a wonderful day and I'm looking forward to more of these smaller Rhone Ranger tasting events. At $15/ person, the Rosé tasting was a fun and inexpensive way to explore a very specific wine topic. Quivira was a perfect location for it and intimacy of the event really let me talk to the winemakers a little bit more. Thanks William for putting together such a beautiful tasting!
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 phizer viagra 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 viagra soft tabs 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)
What Hurricane? Rhone Rangers Ride to NYC Nov 7th – Details, Relief Efforts, Promo Code &amp;amp; Ticket Contest #RRNY
The good citizens of New York are enduring much these days, and my heart goes out to them. Does that make it inappropriate to hold a wine event, or talk about wine?
Watching my Facebook, Twitter streams of friends, I don't think so. Every snow or hurricane party I can think, of beverages have played a key part, and for those without power, it seems the local watering hole is more important than ever.
Indeed, James Molesworth of Wine Spectator tweeted this afternoon:
“Pulling many corks tonite. Doorbell ringing w/ trick or treaters – normalcy. Friends/refugees coming for electricity/dinner – responsibility”
Come Rain, Shine, or Challenging Transport, Let There Be Rhone!
In thus spirit, 30 Rhone Ranger wineries, many quite small, and indeed still wrapping up harvest (self included) are headed across the country in hopes of sharing our passion with a city whose citizens surely could use a cup of cheer. We hope to lighten your worries a bit next Wednesday November 7th.
If there is one thing a vintner, just finishing harvest appreciates, its hardship, and easing those pains, over a glass and a 'cheers.' Let's share Hurricane Sandy stories with harvest stories, and as humans have done for centuries, bond over stories & beverages.
City Winery is back online, and while public transit will remain a challenge for some time, things are expected to be improved greatly by next Wednesday.
Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund Raising – Drink Wine & cialis price Help!
The Rhone Rangers are working in real time to also turn this event into a relief effort fundraiser. Final details are being hammered out as you read this but donations based on attendance are being finalized and the possibility of other means, such as silent auctions, winery donations are being hammered out as we speak.
Thus your support, also helps us give more to this relief fund raising effort. Drinking wine supports our fund raising – not too shabby a way to be charitable!
Save 40% Off The Walk Around Tasting Tickets – An Insane Deal
To help stimulate sales, City Winery is allowing us to share promotion code 'RHONE7 ' to purchase tickets for $38, instead of $65.
That's over 100 wines to sample, from 30 wineries, for $38.
PLUS City Winery’s executive chef Andres Barrera will prepare light appetizers to accompany the wines.
PLUS: Grand Prize Drawing: All ticket holders may enter a drawing for a two-night stay in Paso Robles, CA at world-class Hotel Cheval, combined with visits to local wineries for tours and tastings.
Lets see, New York City, SOHO, 100 wines, food samples, and a 2 night hotel drawing, for $38 a person. I spent twice that for brunch my last visit to SOHO.
Purchase tickets here: http://www.citywinery.com/newyork/the-rhone-rangers-are-coming-grand-tasting-11-7.html
Ticket Contest – Enter To Win A Pair of Tickets
This may be a test of my east coast reach, as Simple Hedonisms readership has been more West coast and California, but lets give this a try.
For 48 hours, I will hold a ticket contest – the lucky winner to receive a pair of tickets. AND I will arrange for a special pour by Two Shepherds for a 'behind the table' bottle of a special 13 case lot wine, and an TSA airplane friendly corkscrew.
To Enter, simply in comments below tell us:
Which of the 30 participating wineries are you most eager to try. (and if you wish, share why they are your pick.)
Contest ends Sunday evening at 9 pm Pacific, Midnight Eastern.
Wine Maker Dinner
Another steal, even without a promo code, is the winemaker dinner, which is held the following night, Thursday November 8th. A mere $75 buys you a 3 course meal, paired with 9 wines, and a seat at the table of 8 with a winemaker or winery owner.
Tablas Creek Dry Rosé 2011, Qupe Roussanne 2011, Tarara Viognier 2011, Villa Creek Grenache 2010, Ridge Vineyards Carignane 2010, Qupe Syrah Sonnie’s Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard 2009, Petrichor Vineyards Syrah 2009, Folin Cellars Misceo Red Blend 2009, and Ridge Vineyards Grenache-Syrah Blend 2008.
- 1st course: Beet Salad, herbed goat cheese, candied walnuts & mache
- 2nd course: Fennel Dusted Pork Loin, chive smashed fingerling potatoes,charred zucchini
- 3rd course: Selection of Murray’s cave-aged cheese, fig mustard, spiced marcona almonds
Members of The Trade & Media – Something Special for You
New York is a critical market for many member wineries, or one many would like to break into. The Rhone Rangers are hosting a trade & media tasting from 1230-400 pm. Many wineries have sent the winemakers themselves, for you to taste & interact with. Register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/4382117030
There is also a limited seating seminar: Technical Seminar: Rare Wines, Come Taste the Unusual.
Join us for a tasting of wine made from grape varieties that are hard to find. This event is by invitation only. If you are a qualified member of the wine trade or wine media and are interested in attending this seminar and haven't received an invitation, please send an email to info @ rhonerangers.org . Please use the subject line: TRADE SEMINAR INVITATION REQUEST.
This seminar is moderated by Joshua Greene, editor & publisher of Wine & Spirits Magazine.
Rhone Lovers – Show Us Your Mettle – CAN YOU RHONE?!
I have always believed & maintained that lovers of Rhone wines, are amongst the most passionate & enthusiastic of any wine category I
follow. I am counting on you Rhone heads to keep the torch blazing brightly – because Wednesday November 7th, WE AREN'T DRINKING MERLOT! (Or Pinot Noir for that matter.)
This Sunday in LA, 40 Rhone Ranger wineries assemble in
LA to help the enlightment and evolution of local palates.
As they did for the San Francisco #RRSF, the Rhone Rangers (@RhoneRangers) will host a live Rhone tasting on Twitter from 530-630 pm.
Simply follow hashtag #RRLA, the same hashtag that will be used at the event.
If you have to Google who Randall Grahm is your Rhone education is just beginning. Read about Randall Grahm , the original Rhone Ranger. Yours truly (@SonomaWilliam) will take part of course, never one to miss a Rhone event.
Open your Rhone bottle, share what you like, and interact with Rhone Rangers wineries, ask questions about all things Rhone!
See you on the Twitter airwaves, Thursday night as well as Sunday, where I’ll ‘broadcast live’ from the event. Cheers and Rhone on!
5 Responses to “Sunday June 3 – Ride to SoCal With The Rhone Rangers at LA Pouring. (Also, Discount Code,Ticket contest & Live Twitter Tasting Thursday.)”
Sunday June 3 – Ride to SoCal With The Rhone Rangers at LA Pouring. (Also, Discount Code,Ticket contest & Live Twitter Tasting Thursday.)
Live in Southern California and missed the big San Francisco 2 day Rhone weekend this March? Visiting LA next weekend? Or a LA local looking to evolve your palate?
This Sunday June 3, The Rhone Rangers ride into Los Ange
les on Sunday, June 3, 2012, with over 45 wineries pouring over 200 American-grown Rhone wines.
Read on for Discount code, a contest giveaway AND a live Twitter tasting with Guest Celebrity and Rhone legend!
New Venue – The 130 Year Old Vibiana
All events take place this year at a new location: the recently renovated Vibiana, a 130 year old
(yes, in LA) historic site located in the vibrant downtown area of Los Angeles at 214 South Main Street, near the LA Times Building.
This is event is small, intimate and limited ticket capacity that sells out every year.
Summary of Events:
(1) Trade & Media Tasting, 12 noon – 2 PM.
Indoor walk-around tasting, complimentary to qualified trade & media. Registration takes place online now through May 30 at http://www.rhonerangers.org/traderegistration/la_trade.php. Cheeses from Ancon Fine Cheese will be served.
(2) Courtyard Lunch for the Winemakers & Backstage Pass Ticketholders, 2-3:30 PM.
Wineries will break wine out into the courtyard for a lunch break. Backstage Pass Ticketholders (Tickets are $85) will join us for lunch served from gourmet food trucks. Everyone will be given 3 coupons, one for each truck, for food for lunch.Participating food trucks are Slammin’ Sliders (lobster sliders, kobe beef sliders), Flying Pig Truck (pork belly buns and other Asian-inspired foods) discount cialis and viagra and Coolhaus (ice cream). This will be informal, picnic style, no reserved seating, get up and move around to taste wine from your favorite winemaker.
(3) General Admission Consumer Tasting, 3:30 – 6 PM.
Walk-around tasting, tickets are $45 ($40 with Promo Code, SDKLA612) Taste from over 200 wines poured by more than 40 wineries. Food trucks in the courtyard will provide tasty treats for purchase to complement our wines. Bid on wine and wine-related items at the silent auction; proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund. This event ends at 6 PM.
Great, Informative, High Energy Video About Last Years Event.
Enter To Win A Free Ticket, Two Winners: only 48 hours!
I told you to be patient and keep reading! Two lucky readers will have be able to attend this event.
To Enter to win, in comments below, simply tell us
Why You Love Rhone wines
Which one of the 40+ Participating Wineries (list here) are you Most eager to taste, and Why.
We pick this Wednesday night at 7 pm Pacific, so don’t delay!
Thursday Night – Live on Twitter: A Rhone Ranger #RRLA Chat with Icon Randall Grahm, and Other Wineries.
As they did for #RRSF, the Rhone Rangers (@RhoneRangers) will host a live Rhone tasting on Twitter from 530-630 pm. Simply follow hashtag #RRLA, the same hashtag that will be used at the event.
If you have to Google who Randall Grahm is, (and thats ok) your Rhone education is still blossoming. Read about Randall Grahm , the original Rhone Ranger. Yours truly (@SonomaWilliam) will take part of course, never one to miss a Rhone event.
Bring a glass of a domestic Rhone, red, white or Rosé , your favorite Twitter client loaded with hashtag #RRLA, or click your browser here. Open your Rhone bottle, share what you like, and interact with Rhone Rangers wineries, ask questions about all things Rhone!
See you on the Twitter airwaves, Thursday night as well as Sunday, where I’ll ‘broadcast live’ from the event. Cheers and Rhone on!
Syrah is an interesting varietal that I believe is emerging from
its dark period. Darwinistically most of the “weak” or the trend chasers who followed the inane idea that Syrah was the next craze have gone on to do other things, and serious growers a
nd producers are now left.
So much Syrah has been replanted or budded over, I expect over the next few years we will see a shortage, and Syrah prices regain lost price footing. This is not an industry to chase trends, especially for red wines, I wonder how many learned their lesson?
At the end of April is the unparalleled Rhone immersion, in Paso Robles: Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines.” Syrah of this caliber and profile will be one of the wine styles I will be seeking out and reporting back on.
Cool Climate vs Warm Syrah
As I have written before, one of Syrah’s “problems” with consumer identity is that it produces two very different wines, when grown in warm climates like Dry Creek Valley, versus cool climates like Russian River or Sonoma Coast.
Warm climate Syrah has more lush fruit, berry flavors, is usually higher in alcohol and tends to be popular with the average wine consumer. Cool climate Syrah is leaner, lower in alcohol, with notes of white pepper, olive, minerality – and is generally more appreciated by the more serious aficionados. Many wine consumers and even wine makers will observe their palate change and evolve over years, often to the leaner cool climate style. There is nothing wrong with either of course, but consumers buying Syrah should pay close attention to where its from.
Certainly in France, the focus for the most lauded Syrah comes from Northern Rhone, cooler Côte-Rôtie region, where most Syrah is under 14% alcohol and balanced. I was quite amazed and pleased to hear from several vintners in Châteauneuf-du-Pape during my recent trip there, that they don’t like a lot of Syrah in their blends as they don’t like what it does
in the Southern Rhone, and were slowly supplanting Mourvedre, which does very well in the heat there and ripens more slowly.
Thank heavens for the big Rhone Rangers tasting last Sunday (and Social Media). It’s ironic that Petrichor is quite nearby, and that Margaret Foley and I are Facebook friends, but had never met. She was kind enough to give me a bottle.
When I went to the website and learned their winemaker was Duncan Meyers of cult producer Arnot Roberts, I knew I was in trouble.
Arnot Roberts produces wines of amazing balance and restraint, that I wish I could afford to consume daily.
Wine Review: 2009 Petrichor Les Trois Syrah, Sonoma County
I will cut to the chase and say this is simply a stunning Syrah, one of my new favorites. There wasn’t a lot of vinifcation information on the website, but I could glean that only a 140 cases of this gem produced, a blend of 86% syrah, 14% Grenache.
I feel confident much if not all of the fruit is cool climate, but since it says “Sonoma County” that means its been sourced from a variety of places that don’t have enough percentage to name an AVA, like Russian River Valley, or Sonoma Coast. Or perhaps they just preferred not too. They do have their own vineyard of 8,000 Syrah and Grenache vines, but its unclear when it was planted or what percent is in the wine. Any use of oak in this beyond neutral, seems minimal, and certainly complimentary.
To The Eye: The color is a deep purple, impenetrable to light, without tech sheets, I feel comfortable guessing unfined and unfiltered knowing the heritage of the winemaker .
One The Nose: A wonderful blend of earth, smokey meat, olive brine, red fruit and raspberry, hint of ocean salinity.
In the Mouth: Incredible. The aroma profile carries with saline and mineral notes that dance intermingled with white pepper, red & black fruit. Great supple structure that is elegant and soft, not over bearing, jammy, or puckering. Acidity that lingers and lifts up the wine. I’ll trade acid for tannins any day.
This wine proves again the benefits of cool climate, acidity, minimal-no new oak, in making wines that express themselves naturally.
Recommendation: I don’t lightly recommend a wine that approaches $50 but this is the real McCoy. Break open the piggy bank.
If you want to impress a true wine aficionado (and I don’t mean some Parker/Spectator score chaser who thinks Oak is the bomb) – buy this for a gift or bring to a dinner.
94 points. $48 – online.