Posts Tagged ‘Rhone Rangers’
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% viagra for less in the usa 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 &quot;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 canada pharmacy viagra (@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 how to buy viagra in canada 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 viagra on line canada 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
and_tasting.php” target=”_blank”>Weekend Celebration of American Rhones” and the April 26-28th 20th anniversary of Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines” in Paso Robles.
I am frequently asked “why Rhone wines.” I love, drink, taste, and buy wines of many varieties and categories, but I REALLY love Rhones. Why? I will write a more in depth article soon, but highlights were captured in an article a year ago in: Why Rhone Wines & Wine Review: Wesley Ashley Wines – Intelligent Design Cuvee.
I’d recommend reading the full post, but if I can capture one meaningful paragraph:
Rhone wines have more diversity across the varietals and give winemakers a huge flavor portfolio to work with, and thus consumers a myriad of combinations and flavor profiles. In Rhone wines, often the Sum of the Whole, is greater than the sum of the parts.”
Palate Evolution – Blends Are Good!
This is an important turning of enlightenment for the American wine consumer, who is lead to believe over the last three decades that single varietal wines are best. When one visits and tastes the Old World wines of Spain, France etc you learn quickly how untrue that is, and how uncommon. (There are of course some exceptions, like in Burgundy for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.)
That isn’t to say that 100% varietal wines are bad – I think the French are missing out by not making 100% Grenache Blanc. I can also readily admit often White Rhone blends with Grenache Blanc, are better, and easier to make, than many of the mediocre 100% Grenache Blancs. Blending gives a winemaker aroma and flavor profile tools you otherwise don’t have with a single varietal.
Anyway, I digress. Tonight’s review is about a Red
Rhone blend, from a brand that pays homage to Rhone blends: Wesley Ashley Wines. The above principles are sound, and the same.
Red Rhone blends, because of the great diversity of their components, offer the exploring wine drinker an infinite number of flavor profiles, far more than a Bordeaux blend. The variance between Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec etc, especially (sadly) when made in a New World style provides a far less range of differentiation than the red fruit of Grenache or Cinsault or Counoise, meatiness of Mourvedre, smokey complexity, white pepper of Syrah, and the raspberry of Carignane. Red Rhone blends are a never ending series of new discoveries as they vary by their composition and region.
Even before tasting, I knew I was going to likely love this wine when I saw that it had changed from the previous release, and Grenache was now the primary vintage. I also knew they had a hit on their hands when I was a guest at a wine club event last summer, and a few bottles sneaked out, and crowds went loco, even though owner Jim Sloate thought it wasn’t ready and didn’t want it released yet.
This red Rhone blend is comprised of 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 5% Petite Sirah, a big change from the online pharmacy viagra uk previous Carignane dominant release.
To The Eye: Translucent, nearing opaque dark red. (As it should be, Grenache is by its nature not a deep purple color producing wine.)
On The Nose: This nose knows its Grenache. That classic undertone of cherry hard candy, strawberry, hint of spice. Fortunately the Grenache was kept in neutral oak, allowing its essence to shine through.
In The Mouth: Red fruit at the front, the syrah’s meatiness comes through mid palatte, with hints of coffee & mocha at the finish.
Recommendation: Buy. A Great Rhone red blend. I like it solo, but would love to pair it with lamb, grilled pork or chicken. $38 online or taste by appointment in Santa Rosa. (As well as the upcoming Rhone Ranger event.) Media Sanple.
Carignan – the grape growers in Mendocino can’t pronounce (they say it ‘kerrigan – like Nancy”, the French have forgot, and that got a bad rap during the jug wine days.
As I have order cheap cialis online
k”>written previously, it can be a difficult grape to work with, but small winemakers are discovering how wonderful this varietal can be if treated with care, and some old vine head trained, dry farmed vineyards can still be found.
Countdown to Rhone
If you are a Rhone style wine aficionado, March and April are your months.
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.
April 26-28th Rhone lovers head to Paso Robles for Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines.”
This years event is even more special in that its the 20th anniversary. This event is a stunning immersion of seminars, lunches, dinners, & tastings.
In honor of these two do not miss events, I will be featuring a Rhone wine review each week.
Baxter Winery – Known For Pinot, Skilled At Everything
The Baxters, a small winery family in Anderson Valley, are renowned for their Pinot Noir. They clearly demonstrated this when they won my greenhouse Pinot Smackdown, by a large margin.
Winemaker Phil Baxter renewed my faith in the minimalistic, ‘natural’ style wine making approach, showing what skill, attention, and patience can do.
and yes, even Merlot (that will change your opinion of the poor grape.)
I will review a Pinot Noir soon, and they are about to release a new Rose’ that is one of the best I have tasted in awhile, and look forward to reviewing (and buying more) when released.
Wine Review: Baxter Winery 2006 Carignan – Mendocino
I have had the pleasure to barrel taste and geek out with Phil Baxter several times, and its always an honor and a pleasure. Phil is humble, passionate, and entertains all questions with grace, never condescending or arrogant. I have to admire his patience – I’d be tempted to release many of his wines in barrel much earlier, and consumers would buy them, but Phil waits until he believes the wine is the best it can be, rather than going for the cash. That means dollars are tied up longer. Baxter wines can cost a few dollars more, but this is why, and they are worth it.
On the Nose: Complex Nose of spice, cocoa, black fruit, slight hint of leather.
In The Mouth: Layered flavors of bright red and black fruits, with soft tannins and nice acidity. A great wine that goes down well solo, but the acidity makes it perfect for food.
Recommendation: Highly Recommend. 92 Points. Only 150 cases made.
Where to Buy: Online at the Baxter website. $32
Take the time to make an appointment to visit Phil & Claire Baxter the next time you are near Anderson Valley. It’s a beat off the beaten path, but worth it. And then sign up for their wine club to keep the bottles in supply.