Posts Tagged ‘Rhone Rangers’
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)
What Hurricane? Rhone Rangers Ride to NYC Nov 7th – Details, Relief Efforts, Promo Code & 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.
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) 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.
Tick Tock – the Countdown to Two Amazing Rhone tasting events continues. This next weekend , March 24-25 is the Rhone Rangers “Weekend Celebration of
American Rhones.” Over 100 domestic Producers from California, Washington, Oregon, and even Virginia assemble in Ft Mason, San Francisco for two days of seminars, winemakers dinner, auctions, and tastings.
Just one month later, April 26-28th Rhone lovers head to Paso Robles for Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines.” This event is a stunning immersion of seminars, lunches, dinners, & tastings.
Each week Simple Hedonisms is celebrating with at least one Rhône wine review.
Rosé Wines – Man Up – Drink Pink. This Isn’t Your 1990′s White Zin, It’s a French Classic Wine
My friend Lisa Ortman of Ortman Family Cellars used to say “Man up, Drink Pink.” The myths surrounding Rosé wines are still a bit perplexing to me. Lets smash a few of them, shall we.
1. Most quality Rosé wines are dry aka not sweet.
No, not that corporate mass produced sugary garbage at the bottom of the supermarket shelf, the real stuff from your local artisan winery or imported from France.
2. Rosé is for women.
For the record men – Rosé is made from RED WINE GRAPES. The only reason its pink is because it doesn’t spend much time on the skins during fermentation, which is the ONLY reason that red wine is even red! This concept is as assanine as the thought that “real wine drinkers don’t drink white.” (Which I’d contend its the opposite if anything.)
3. Rosé is a summer wine only.
This myth is perpetrated both by consumers and by wineries, who are deathly afraid of being caught with any Rosé left by October. It’s true, a good Rosé is a great summer sipper and aperitif. But its hardly limited to that. I was amazed at my trip to France and the Rhone this January – most restaurants had more Rosé by the glass than whites, and swarthy French men bundled up in wool had no issue ordering a bottle of Pink. The higher acidity in Rosé pairs it nicely with food, and its one of my top recommendations for the winter Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as well.
4. Rosé can’t age.
Generally the spirit of Rosé is a wine meant to be drunk young, fresh, and consumed in the first year or so of release. But many Rosé wines can actually age quite well, particularly if they are a ‘true’ Rosé – that is to say grapes picked early in the season to be higher in acidity, lower in alcohol. The acidity preserves the wine, and softens with age. Indeed a few Rosé wines I have bought and specifically but aside awhile to let the brightness subdue a bit. The freshness will tamper down a bit, and the wine will change. Generally one wouldn’t hang on to a Rosé more than a few years, but for every rule, there is an exception, especially with wine geeks.
Rhône Rosé Panel: Quivira, Mounts, and Skinner Vineyards
I recently compared three Rhône Rosé wines in an impromptu panel. I am debating putting out a “call for Rosé” as I did in December for sparkling, for a more thorough review – stay tuned. If interested, email me.
Rhône wines in my opinion, especially Syrah and Grenache, make exceptional Rosé wines. These three do not disappoint.
(1) Mounts 2010 “Pink” Syrah Rosé
I frequently wax poetic about the Mounts, and I hope to write an in depth article soon.
Watching their evolution over the last 4 years has been a rewarding experience as this four generation Grower family continues to innovate and has become a Dry Creek Valley Rhone producer to follow.
This 2010 is a wonderful Rosé of Syrah. Kudos to Dave Mounts for picking, making a true rose’, not a Syrah juice bleed off.
Bright salmon pink color. Essence of strawberry, watermelon, tomato vine, on the nose. Crisp, bright in the mouth, cherry, jolly rancher, watermelon, in mouth.
Lingering mouth watering finish. Drinkable all year round, and a few years bottle time thanks to the nice acidity. At 13% alcohol, can drink a few of these.
Sadly the Mounts are down to about a dozen cases, and there is no 2011 Rosé. I only hope they make it again for 2012. Pretty please? At least hold 6 more 2010 bottles for me.
(2) Skinner Vineyards 2010 Grenache Rosé
A winery in the Sierra Foothills I have my eyeballs on. This Rosé is mostly Grenache with a touch of Mourvedre.
Color – clear, salmon-strawberry color. On the nose -cherry, red fruit, hint of watermelon,
tomato vine, red hard candy
Palate – Enjoyable, food friendly, excellent acidity. Cherry, hard candy vibrant front palate , pleasant mid palate, and a lingering finish with notes of spice & hazelnut.
Would pair well with many foods and cheeses.
(3) 2011 Quivira Rosé
Quivira is another of my favorite Dry Creek Rhone producers and new winemaker Hugh Chappelle continues to do great things as Quivira lets him be the creative artisan he wishes to be.
Quivira’s newly released low production rose’ – never lasts long. New in screw top this year.
Like last year, heavily Mourvedre based, unlike Grenache based Rosé of years prior.
Light, bright, pink in color. Nose of watermelon jolly rancher and strawberry. Wonderful in the mouth, watermelon, white peach, red fruits. Mouth watering acidity that lingers on finish.
13% alc. Fresh. Bright. Fun.
Tuesday Mar 20th – Join The Rhone Rangers and "SonomaWilliam' for a Live Rhone Twitter Tasting 530-700 pm
Rhone Rhone Rhone! As I wrote Saturday in
March 24-25th in SF: “A Weekend Celebration of American Rhônes” or “Palate Enlightenment”. Read, Learn, Share and Win Grand Tasting Tickets
March 24-25th in SF: “A Weekend Celebration of American Rhônes” or “Palate Enlightenment”. Read, Learn, Share and Win Grand Tasting Ticketsthis weekend its all about Rhone wines.
To celebrate and get the Twitter Hashtag for the event, #RRSF warmed up, the Rhone Rangers (@RhoneRangers and I (@SonomaWilliam ) will be doing a live Rhone wine tasting and ask all of you to join us.
Just grab a bottle of Rhone wine (Domestic please in this case) preferably from one of the 140 Rhone Ranger members, crack it open, and share your
thoughts with the other bloggers, consumers, winemakers that will join us.
We have already lined up many of the Bay Are bloggers to join us, it should be a lively event! The more the merrier.
- Every time you Tweet during the tasting, use the hashtag #RRSF . This is the hashtag for this Weekend’s event – lets get it warmed up.
- The tasting is from 530-7:00 pm Tuesday March 20th, Pacific time.
- For maximum benefit, set up a search column for #RRSF in a aggregation tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite – that way all the Tweets for the event are together. Worst case you can also do a search via a web browser simply click here.
Grab a bottle or glass, your smartphone or laptop, and
join the Rhone celebration – Rhone on with #RRSF !
March 24-25th in SF: "A Weekend Celebration of American Rhônes" or "Palate Enlightenment". Read, Learn, Share and Win Grand Tasting Tickets
Unless you have been asleep for the last month, or not reading my blog posts (how dare you!) you should be aware I have been counting down to two upcoming amazing Rhone weekends. (Ok last weekend my new day job had me buried, and no weekly review.)
March is the Rhone Rangers weekend in San Francisco and April is the international Hospice du Rhône .
Read on, and enter to win tickets to next Sunday’s March 25th Grand Tasting. (Ends Monday!)
Why Rhones? Palate Enlightenment
I am asked frequently why I am so passionate about the Rhône wine category. For many, I think Rhone wines were the ‘epiphany’ wine – the one that made you go “AHA” – THIS is what wine is about.
I am not alone, if you attend Rhône focused tastings & events I find attendees to be more passionate than any other category.
Many of us got here in a traditional path – we drank big New World Cabernet and Bordeaux varieties to start. Maybe we stumbled or were lead into white wines. With luck many of us found Pinot Noir, before over ripening, doctoring became rampant (and now thankfully is quickly retreating.) At some point we discovered a well made Grenache, Roussanne, Mourvedre, cool climate Syrah, or a great blend, that sung in harmony.
Rhône wines offer something for every palate, and have a wide range of diversity.
- For the newer wine drinker, perhaps seeking to branch out from Cabernet, a warmer climate Syrah can be a pleasant change, shares some characteristics, but offers a different flavor profile.
- A Pinot Noir drinker, eager to find more wines that express themselves and aren’t buried in new oak may find a modest Grenache or Mourvedre, and fall in love.
- For those who love whites, or who seek something interesting in a white, or even just want to learn to like whites: Rhone white wines can offer incredible density, complexity, acidity.
Much to love. Indeed I have converted many a “I don’t drink white wine” naysayers with Rhone white wines.
Many Rhône producers, like legend and trailblazer Tablas Creek, follow the European philosophy that Rhone wines shine most as a blend. 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.
No matter how we got here, everyone has a story they love to share, and the journey of palate evolution never ends. Many, including winemakers will find the style of one variety, say Syrah, that they drank 5 years ago, is very different than what they prefer now. We have a wealth of winemaking styles, climates, terroir, and even grape clonal (genetic) differences that makes Rhone tasting a never ending exploration.
I Drank ALL the Kool-Aid!
One of these days I might write an article on my full story, but lets just say I am “all in.”
- Eighteen months ago I joined the Rhone Rangers marketing committee as Media, and Social Media Marketing lead
- Last Summer I was voted onto the Board of Directors, as Media representative
- Last fall my partner & I launched a new Rhône label & micro-winery Two Shepherds. We don’t talk about our brand here, but its done very well thanks to supporters, and great accounts like the the girl & the fig, Spoonbar, K&L, Bottle Barn, Toast Wine bar, who have just about cleaned out our 2010 white releases, and now tapping into our newly released 2010 reds. I make wines in an old world, nuanced style, as I have been writing about, and put my money (literally all of it) where my mouth was. Sometimes I wish we sold less so I could drink it!
- Over Winter I assumed the role of the President & Leader of the newly reformed North Coast Chapter. I am determined, with our members, to brand our area as a great place to Rhône . Look at our 4 page map and see how many producers we have.
- Did I mention I have a full time demanding day job to pay for all this?
My only regret this year is that instead of roaming around as media (which I still do at many events, Simple Hedonisms is at an all time high of readers) I will be pouring our wine at the Saturday seminar #1, and the Sunday tasting. Not that I don’t love to share and pour our wine, but the Rhoneophile in me will be chomping at the bit to taste. Last year I could have used two days, not 4 hours.
Come see us, we will be easy to find, next to our beloved restaurant partner the girl & the fig. Our 2011 Whites are doing well, especially our flagship Grenache Blanc, and will be released soon. Mention this article for a sneak preview of a 2011 sample.
March 24-25th: A Weekend Celebration of American Rhones
The Rhone Rangers is America’s leading non-profit, educational organization dedicated to promoting American Rhone varietal wines. Nothing at all wrong with imported Rhones, I certainly by and drink my share, and a part of my heart will never leave the Rhone Valley – but the 140 members of the Rhone Rangers produce a wide array of great, diverse wines.
To pour a wine at a Rhone Ranger event, it must consist of at least 75% of one or more of the 22 Rhone varieties, designated here. How many can you name? (In fairness, we don’t even yet grow all 22 here in the US. )
This weekend event is a wealth of tastings and Rhone immersion.
Saturday has two great seminars:
- Rare Wines; Taste the Unusual. 12pm, Firehouse. From Picpoul to Counoise and beyond, come and meet the rarest Rhones and find out what makes them so unusual.
- Wine & Swine, A pairing of American Rhones with Bacon. 2pm, Firehouse. Some say everything tastes better with bacon, we say how about bacon with your wine! This seminar will demonstrate the bacon-friendly aspects of your favorite Rhone varieties.
Sunday has one:
- A Celebration of Syrah from Diverse Regions. 11am, Golden Gate Room. Rhone Rangers producers are pushing the envelope on syrah in a variety of ways. Come and taste the most widely grown Rhone variety from points north and south and east and west.
Rhone Rangers seminars are a value, at $45-$65 compared to many events. The seminars are moderated by Rhone enthusiasts and popular wine writers Jon Bonne’ of the SF Chronicle and Patrick Comiskey of Wine & Spirits. These esteemed gentleman will lead you through the tasting with input and comments from each of the wine makers. An inexpensive, unparallelled tasting & educational opportunity, for only 40 people per session Saturday, and 70 total on Sunday. These will sell out, don’t wait. To see who is in each seminar, and buy tickets, see here: http://www.rhonerangers.org/calendar/sf_grand_tasting.php
2. Saturday Night Winemakers Tasting, Dinner, Auction
Saturday night, at the newly opened Ft Mason General’s Residence, 17 winemakers will pour for you at a walk around tasting, then pour, sip and eat with you at dinner. Your meal is prepared by none other than the renowned girl & the fig.
This event also sells out every year, don’t wait. http://www.rhonerangers.org/calendar/sf_grand_tasting.php
3. Sunday Afternoon Grand Tasting
The most popular event & culmination of the weekend: 110+ wineries from all over the US, many whom are small, hard to find will pour for you. Food purveyors and food trucks will also be on hand. Grab the program, make a plan, and taste your way through your favorite varietals, or learn & taste about some new ones.
NEW – Buy Wine and Take it Home! For the very first time, attendees can buy wine right at the table, pay for it and take it home. Since many of these wineries are small, and may not have local distribution, this is a perfect time to grab that gem you liked and take it home. Over 60 wineries will be selling wine, and will be specially marked in the program, as well as the flag at their table. To make it even easier, you may check your purchases at one of two holding points, so that you can continue to taste unencumbered. For those of you who attended Taste of Mendocino, this was a great experience.
Share & Enter To Win a Pair of Tickets – Ends Monday
win, simply post below in comments one of the following:
(1) Tell us what Red or White Rhone variety (grape) you are most interested in learning about, and why, in a brief sentence or two.
(2) Tell Us Your Favorite Producer or Wine, from the List of those Participating
Correct answers will be pooled and drawn by random number generator Monday night! If you don’t win, grab a ticket, at $45
Follow On Twitter
You can follow the event’s fun live on Twitter, simply follow or search for hashtag #RRSF – cheers!
The weekly review of Rhone wines as we count down to the the March 24-25 Rhone Rangers “Weekend Celebration of American Rhones” and the
April 26-28th20th anniversary of Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines” in Paso Robles, continues.
David Girard Vineyards – El Dorado
This week I am sharing a gem wine, and winery in El Dorado, a region that is an emerging powerhouse of Rhone wines in Northern California: David Girard Vineyards.
I met owner David Girard, and winemaker Mari Wells Coyle just over a year ago when I visited. Mari was nice enough on a day off to come spend some quality time and geek out with me. I was won over by her wines and her warm personality.
Vineyard manager Ron Mansfield, whom I have also had the fortune to meet this year, is a quiet genius in Rhone vineyard management and wine growing. I am delighted to source grapes from him in 2011 for my own project. (See A new Mother Lode: vintners rediscover Sierra foothills by Jon Bonne’.)
you road trip there, or seek them out at the Rhone Rangers March 25th Grand Tasting at Ft Mason. Tell them William sent you.
Wine Review: 2009 Mourvèdre, El Dorado, Estate Vineyard
Mourvèdre is one of my favorite red wines. It can be hard to find as a single varietal, and even harder to find well made. Some Northern California vintners want to treat it like Cabernet and over oak it. This red Rhone grape has much to express if left alone from the clutches of New World Cabernet makers.
Mourvèdre is often known for its meatiness, slightly gamey profile, with notes of smoked meat & bacon. This Mourvedre is a bit of a departure from that, and a bit unlike most Mourvèdre I have had before. It also stood out in the 2011 Rhone Rangers ‘Mourvèdre On The Move’ seminar. It’s lighter, feminine, and more seductive than most you will come across – reminiscent of Pinot Noir in many ways.
To The Eye: A clear medium red, you can actually see through.
On The Nose: A floral nose of violets leap out of the glass, along with hints of spice, red berry, and tea.
In The Mouth: A wonderful combination of red fruits: Strawberry, pomegranate, cherry notes, with a hint of black tea. The wine dances across the palate and delivers completely front, mid and finish. The acidity is mouth watering, the finish lingering and pleasant. It’s silky and seductive in the mouth.
This wine may surprise you slightly if looking for “classic” Mourvèdre (whatever that might mean to you), although some of those undertones exist. All I know is I want more for my cellar.
Recommendation: Highly recommend. Consume now or cellar for 3-4 years. 92 Points.
Buy online $34