Posts Tagged ‘Rhone Wine’

Events for This Weekend and Two Routes for the Wine Road Barrel Tasting

Guest Post by Fred Swan

This weekend’s events look a little sparse on the surface. But one little line item portends barrels of adventure. Hundreds of barrels. Full of wine. canadian viagra

tle=”The 34th Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting in Northern Sonoma” href=”″ target=”_blank”>The 34th Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting in Northern Sonoma.

There have already been excellent articles on this site about the barrel tasting. I don’t want to repeat what has been said. But, the list of more than 120+ wineries makes it hard to know where to start. So, I’ll offer a couple of itineraries for you to consider:

(Editorial note by William, for those of you who listened to me on KRSO tonight and are looking for the Tips & Ticket Contest, see Monday’s Post Here: Wine Road Barrel Tasting – The Premier Wine Buying Event of The Season. Learn, Share and Win Tickets! (4 winners!) )

Route 1: Get it While You Can — Wineries Open This Weekend Only

Saturday, focus on wineries west of Hwy 101. I might start at Moshin. Their Sauvignon Blanc will ease you into tasting. Follow it up with vineyard-designate Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Next, head up Westside Road to De La Montanya. They have five different wines for you to sample, starting with Pinot Noir and closing with a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc. The dessert wine will lead nicely into lunch. You did pack a lunch, right?

Head north on Westside Drive as it turns into West Dry Creek. Pull in at Quivira. Eat your lunch near their biodynamic gardens. Then enjoy their Mourvedre and Petite Sirah.

From Quivra continue on to A. Rafanelli Winery which will be pouring 2010 Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their wines are always very good. And they age well.

On the second day do an eastern route. Rodney Strong will have a tasty assortment. Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Dry Creek Zinfandel.

From there, go to Stryker Sonoma. See how the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from their estate differs from the Dry Creek wines you tried on Saturday. The’ll also pour Merlot.

Stay on the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon path by going to Trentadue. They’ll let you try their reserve, the La Storia Cabernet Sauvignon. The La Storia Zinfandel and La Storia Cuvee 32 blend will also be available.

For a taste of a completely different Cabernet Sauvignon AVA, head back across Hwy 101 to Ridge Vineyards. They’ve got a barrel of 2011 Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains. (Ridge is open the 2nd weekend too, but why wait?)


Route 2: Que Syrah — There’s more to Sonoma than Chard, Zin, Pinot and Cab

Formulate an itinerary from among these excellent Syrah producers:

Joseph Swan (Forestville) will be pouring not one but three vineyard-designate Syrah. Give them a try and see how the terroir of the different vineyards shows through in the wines. The winery will also have Zin, Tannat and more.

Vintoteca in Santa Rosa will be featuring six different wineries. Among the wines will be Olson Ogden’s Dry Creek Syrah. Before you dive into that though, try the Pinot Noirs from Bjornstadt and Baker Lane.

Krutz Family Cellars (Santa Rosa) Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stagecoach Vineyards of Napa Valley was one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines for 2011. They’re opening a barrel of Syrah from that same vineyard, which excels with that variety.

Lauterbach Cellars (Windsor) has acclaimed Syrah fruit, but makes wine in tiny quantities. This is your chance to try some. They’ll have the 2009 Syrah, but will start you off with Pinot Noir and their Syrah Rosé.

Red Car (Sebastopol) is un-bunging their Estate Syrah. But first, enjoy Heaven & Earth and their estate Pinot Noir.

Dutton Estate Winery will be pouring My Father’s Syrah. …I didn’t even know my dad had Syrah! I’m sure it will be good though. They’ve also got Pinot and Chardonnay on tap wine thief.



Lake County

Six Sigma Ranch Pro & Amateur Pruning Competition —Lower Lake: March 3, 10:00am – noon
Learn pruning from the pros and try your hand at it, too!


Napa Valley

Cab Release Weekend at Velo Vino — St. Helena: March 3 – 4, 11:00am – 6:00pm
A special Vertical tasting of our 2006, 2007 and 2008 kit’s killer cab.

Charles Krug Winery Celebrates Charles Krug’s 187th Birthday — St. Helena: March 3, 6:00pm – 9:30pm
Imagine the light the birthday candles will put out! There’ll be appetizers and three-course wine dinner.


Sonoma County

34th Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting – Northern Sonoma: March 2 – 4, 11:00am – 4:00pm
144 wineries open their doors this weekend, many will be offering futures. Advance ticket sales are over, but you can buy tickets at the door.

Inspiration Vineyards Winemaker Dinner — Santa Rosa: March 2, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
There are still a few seats available for this dinner and the menu looks great!

Music at Vino di Amore Tasting Lounge — Cloverdale: March 2, 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Unwind after work, or barrel tasting, to rock and reggae played by Oscar Caleron.

Hanzell Vineyards Winemaker Dinner at Santé — Sonoma: March 8, 6:30pm
Join Hanzell winemaker Michael McNeill for a delicious four-course dinner paired with past and current vintages of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.


A Quick Plug:

The Wine Advocate will soon be releasing Antonio Galloni’s report on Sonoma County Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You can learn levitra viagra online more about him and what he looks for wines by reading my in-depth interview with him. It’s being published in daily doses this week at

Enjoy your weekend!


Wine of The Week: David Girard 2009 Mourvèdre – A Pinot Lovers Mourvèdre

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 26-28th 20th 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’.)

David Girard has a full lineup of red and white single varietal wines and blends. I recommend

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

2009 Mourvedre

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.

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Tasting Notes: Wesley Ashley Wines 2009 Intelligent Design Cuvée – And Why Rhone Blends Rock

Wine of the Week: Baxter Winery 2006 Carignan – And the Rhone Countdown Begins

A Memo to All Domestic Rhone Producers – Friday September 23rd is #GrenacheDay – Rally To The World's 2nd Most Planted Varietal

To: All those domestic producers of Grenache, Grenache Rosé, and Grenache Based Blends

From: William Allen; Editor, Simple Hedonisms, Board Member, Rhone Rangers

September 19th, 2011

RE:  Call to Action for #GrenacheDay

Overview: The Grenache Symposium has declared Sept 23rd as Grenache Day. Details and how to list even can be found here. You can also follow the Grenache Symposium on Facebook. The International Grenache Day Google Map is here  and you may find  a help document on how to post your event here.

Based on postings on the official map, domestic support is light, especially in comparison with recent social media #CabernetDay and #Chardonnay day. Yes I know more wineries produce those varietals, but nonetheless some senior players are absent.

It’s possible many wineries do have plans, but haven’t posted them.  Lets change that, I am happy to help. You can also post it on the Grenache Symposium Facebook page, and ask them for help.  I know it’s a busy time – I myself am amid harvest and launching a tiny Rhone label, Two Shepherds.  Nonetheless, anything you can do helps and shows the love. As vintners, writers, consumers and aficionados its time we gave the world’s second most widely planted varietal its due.

Grenache has become my most beloved of red varietals. Wrest it from the hands of New World and Cabernet vintners who want to oak and over ripen it, and it makes a beautiful, feminine wine – elegant like Pinot Noir (minus the Syrah additions) but with a different complexity, nuance, and spice. This was my epiphany Rhone grape, not Syrah. (Which I love and have many cases of.)

Personally I am holding a walk around tasting for 8 wineries and 80 people. Vintners Quivira, Ridge, Mounts, Sheldon, Wind Gap Wines, El Dorado vintner Baiocchi Wine, and R2 Wine Co. It couldn’t be a worse week for me, but if there is ONE social media wine day I WILL support, its this one, and I challenge every single Rhone Ranger member winery, grower, and Sidekick, and of course anyone else who produces Grenache and Grenache based blends, to celebrate in some way. Yes that includes those who fancy themselves Spanish producers of Garnacha as well!


What is Grenache Day (or #GrenacheDay)

It has become increasingly popular for a Varietal to be picked in advance on a predetermined, and then celebrated over Social Media, as well as live events.

While much of the activity and measurement will be based on Twitter, one need not be on Twitter to celebrate.  As a winery, simply spreading the word, holding a tasting, special sales incentives, special bottles, all are valid participation.

On Twitter we use ‘hashtags’ or words that start with a # symbol – this signifies a sorting mechanism, and allows a user in a Twitter platform like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to see all posts grouped together that use this hashtag.  You can also see basics by clicking:!/search/%23grenacheday

Why have these become popular? The May 26th #Chardonnay day reached over 4 million people, 29 MILLION impressions, and 12,000 related tweets. That’s just ONE medium, add in Facebook, live interactions, and the impact is impressive.    Grenache deserves some love, lets show it.


What Can I Do?

Anything is better than nothing.

If you are a Winery:

  • If nothing else, post a simple 8.5 x11 sign in an acrylic stand up on your counter of tasting room and let everyone know its #grenacheday and make sure you pour one.
  • Encourage them to check in on FourSquare, Facebook & Twitter, and enter #GrenacheDay when they do – your brand then joins the mix.
  • Offer a special price on single bottles, 3 packs, cases.
  • Hold a special Grenache vertical or library wine tasting.
  • Contact your local restaurant and encourage a pairing, special wine by the glass, or go youself and do a pouring.
  • Make sure you post whatever you decide on the Grenache Day Map  here

Encourage participants to mention #grenacheday and your winery bran on Facebook and Twitter.

My blog has  4500 Twitter followers, and 2500 Facebook Fans. The Rhone Rangers, 1500 & 2000. All of these will be used to share your event if I know about it. Also feel free to post it on either or both walls on Facebook and cc both on Twitter.

Facebook:  and

Twitter: @RhoneRangers and @SonomaWilliam

You may email me at SimpleHedonisms @  for help. Please note mid week I am out of pocket during the day judging a wine competition, so response maybe after hours.


Break open a bottle and share your tasting notes with your followers. If you know Grenache producers whom you have a relationship with have sent you samples before, email them tomorrow to get one by Friday.

(Notice I said trusted relationship. This is not an excuse for the sample ho’s to come out of the woodwork, and I will help wineries validate requests if needed. I do PR for several wineries, and some of the correspondence is shameful. Thats terrrific you have a Snooth login -that doesn’t merit you samples because you are too lazy to create a blog, or your last post was 9 months ago about a Cabernet that wasn’t ‘too sweet’. )


Grab a bottle (or three) and some friends and have a great time. Perhaps compare several producers, foreign and domestic. Wine is about exploration, and fun – make it so.


Thanks for your support and Happy #GrenacheDay!




William Allen

  • Simple Hedonisms –  Wine Country Lifestyle & Educational Wine Reviews
  • Board Member – The Rhone Rangers



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Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard 2010 Clos de Gilroy – Central Coast Grenache

I am pleased to be one of the first to review the new Bonny Doon Vineyards 2010 Clos de Gilroy Grenache. The 2009 was one of my first “Wine of the Week’ in 2010 and it is again now. Regular readers know I am a huge fan of both Bonny Doon and Grenache – but that doesn’t make it a shoe in. If anything, since Grenache is one of my top varietals, I am quite hard when judging it. It’s a beautiful variety that often gets mistreated. (It’s not Cabernet, don’t make it like it is.)

About 2010 Clos de Gilroy

Per the iconic Randall Grahm:

‘The Wine Formerly Known as Clos de Gilroy ‘ or (TWFKaCdG) pays homage to the quaint, rustic town of Gilroy, the spiritual locus of all matters alliaceous. The fruit for our Grenache does not, despite its name, derive from Gilroy (clos,but no Cigare), but instead primarily from our former estate vineyard in Soledad and the Alta Loma vineyard in Greenfield, along with a sprinkling of other vineyards along the Central Coast. The wine exhibits all the

hallmarks of exceptional cool climate Grenache.

Photo courtesy of Bonny Doon Vineyard

This is encouraging to someone in the middle of planting the first 500 of 1200 grenache vines in Russian River Valley, also a cooler climate.

At one point, wine maven and head of Direct to Consumer Sales, Meg Houston Maker, had scared me that there might not be a 2010, as Randall is uncompromising in what he puts his name, on. I was ecstatic to learn they did (only 2400 cases) and as I taste it side by side with a 2009 from my cellar, I am happy to report its wonderful.


Coming Up Soon – Day of the Doon IX, Sunday Sept 18th

Quick tangent – I am delighted to attend my first Day of the Doon, their annual wine club celebration will take place hosted at the new estate vineyard in San Juan Bautista. Randall Grahm will host a brief tour of their new plantings followed by a farm-to-table wine dinner celebrating the abundance of harvest. This event always sells out. Hope to meet some of you other Dewnstahs there!


Wine Review: 2010 Clos de Gilroy

To the Eye: Lively medium purple (a darker color than I might expect.)

One the Nose: Intense aromatics. Dark red fruits –   lots of raspberry, and some cherry. Spice.

In The Mouth: Light bodied, supple, balanced. Raspberry, cherry, touch of cranberry.  Presence of soft tannin on finish will allow this wine to pair with a wider variety of foods, as well as I suspect, bottle age nicely.

Recommendation: For $16-18 this wine is a must buy. 90 points. Great QPR (Quality Price Ratio.) Media Sample (although I will be buying more at Wine Club discount, I bought several cases of the 2009.)

This is my go to wine for ‘comfort wine’, crowd pleasers, and a wide food pairing range.  Randall recommends it with grilled meat or veggies, roasted poultry, or anything al fresco with olive oil.

Where to Buy:  Online at Bonny Doon, $18. At a few retail locations. K&L San Francisco currently has ~20 in stock

Wine Geek Info:

  • Varietal Blend: 75% grenache, 13% cinsault, 12% syrah
  • Appellation: Monterey County Alcohol by Volume: 13.1%
  • TA: 4.8 g/L
  • pH: 3.69
  • Production: 2,384 cases

Related Articles:

‘Shipping Included’ – the Future of Direct to Consumer? An interview with Bonny Doon Vineyard

Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris De Cigare, Rosé

Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard 2009 “Clos de Gilroy” Grenache

Jon Bonné As Syrah falters, make way for Grenache

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4 Amazing California Wine Events this Weekend: Paso Robles, Hopland, Healdsburg, Pebble Beach

It’s a stunning weekend of wine events through out California. For some of these events only a handful of tickets remain. Get em while they are hot!

Passport to Dry Creek Valley

The Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley rolls out the red carper with  its 22nd annual Passport to Dry Creek Valley. 45+ Dry Creek Valley wineries will be rolling out the red carpet for an exclusive weekend of new wine releases paired with a bounty of food from top Sonoma County chefs! Meet the winemakers and owners, often the same people, and learn more about winemaking in bucolic Dry Creek Valley. Many wineries offer either live music or entertainment. In past years, this has included circus troupes, belly dancers and safari adventures. Come and see what they have to offer this year!

There are a handful of two day tickets left –  tickets are limited by design to keep this event a very high quality experience. Check/ buy here.

Simple Hedonisms writer Katherine Parker will be attending and Tweeting live. You can follow her on Twitter as well as Dry Creek Valley. Follow the Twitter hashtag #PassportDCV. No need to have a Twitter account, just click here.

Hospice du Rhone

It’s Rhone Christmas in Paso Robles this weekend at Hospice du Rhône.  For the past 19 years, three-days in the late spring have been reserved for an exclusive weekend surrounding all things Rhône. A palate provoking weekend embracing the enchantment, history and tastes of the twenty-two Rhône varieties. Throughout the weekend, tip your glass with worldly Rhône wine producers, journey through the largest international collection of Rhône variety wines and savor Rhône inspired cuisine all while taking in the inspiring and spirited Rhône community.

Online Pass Sales will closed yesterday. Friday Rhône Rendezvous and Saturday Grand Tasting passes will be available at the door for $110. Considering over 30 French Buying cialis Producers are pouring, and the amazing food pairings, $110 is a steal, trust me.

I wish I could attend all four events, but unfortunately I can’t. I love almost all wines, but Rhone’s stir my blood,  and I have a media invite to this event that beckons.  Watch for a follow-up post tomorrow on how to follow for updates. Twitter hashtag is #HdR2011.

Hopland Spring Passport

This weekend at Hopland’s Famous Wine Tasting Event, Hopland area wineries assemble and “roll out the barrel” showing their finest in Rhone, Italian, Burgundian, and Bordeaux varietals ranging from Arneis to Zinfandel. Experience 17 Local Mendocino County Wineries -Each winery will entertain in their own special way, which could include live music, bocce ball, barrel tasting, barbeques, book signings, reserve and future tastings and much more.  Excellent summary by the Ukiah Daily Journal can be found here.

Pebble Beach Food and Wine

I have yet to attend this event, but its big enough that even hard core Rhoners like Bonny Doon divide and conquer coverage between this and Paso Robles Hospice du Rhone.

Pebble Beach Food & Wine is the massive epicurean lifestyle event, bringing 6,000 national and international attendees to Del Monte Forest. Hosted primarily at Spanish Bay, the scope of the event encompasses every property in Pebble Beach and uses local and regional staff to create a hedonistic four-day event that matches 250 acclaimed wineries with 75 celebrity chefs, and includes wine and beverage tasting, cooking demonstrations, and some of the most exclusive, unique dining opportunities available in the world.  Tickets are still available for some events and tastings, check here.

For every budget, focus and palate, there is something to enjoy this weekend – have a great weekend of Simple Hedonisms – wine, food, friends, and fun – cheers!


Related Posts:

A Rhone Event Like No Other – Hospice du Rhone April 29-30 Paso Robles (OR – The French are Coming!)

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Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris De Cigare, Rosé

It’s the time again, wineries are releasing their new 2010 Rosé. It’s been great to see dry (non sweet) rosé wines come back into vogue and many producers I have spoke with have increased production this year. (My apologies to readers for lack of posts and reviews. The double edged sword of gaining in visibility is being pulled in many directions, as well as a very demanding regular job.)

Shattering Rosé Myths

“Real wine drinkers don’t drink Rosé.”  When I hear that (or the same comment on white) I quietly cheap cialis gnash my teeth, weep for the ignorance, and hope that one day someone or something will enlighten them. Don’t choke on that Cabernet.

Rosé is made from red grapes. If you go to a wine tasting, pouring white, pink, and reds, you will notice they are poured in THAT order.

Most Rosé today  is not your sweet, white zin ‘blush’ wine, its juice pressed off of Red wine grapes after some skin contact, and fermented dry, just like your normal red or white wine. Its meant to be drunk only lightly chilled, and enjoyed as an apertif or with a variety of foods, especially summer grilled fare.

Rhone Rosé

Rhone red wines make wonderful Rosé, generally much better than Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet, Merlot etc. (Although you can find them.) Recently I tried the new Syrah Rosé from Mounts Family Winery and the Rhone blend Rosé from Quivira, both Dry Creek Valley producers, both under $20, and both I don’t expect to last long. I will endeavor to review these as well, but consider this a strong recommendation.

Grenache can make an exceptionally wonderful Rosé, so I was pleased to see the new Bonny Doon Vin Gris was 71% grenache. What is more intriguing is the percentage of Rhone whites blended in, in this case 16% Roussanne, and 11% Grenache Blanc. (also 2% Mourvedre.) Something I will have to remember for my own home Rosé science projects.

I could barely keep this gem in the glass as I was reviewing it, it’s so highly drinkable. I thought it a perfect ‘Wine of the Week.’ I have also been asked why I don’t review more wines under $20, so Ta Da – here is a winner!

Review: Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris De CigareBonny Doon Vineyard 2010 Vin Gris

To the Eye: Gorgeous, light salmon color

On The Nose: Red fruit, rose petals,  and strawberry on the nose

In The Mouth:  Apple, red fruit, modest citrus touch of stone fruit. Mouthwatering, balanced acidity is heavenly when combined with the mouth feel from lees (yeast sediment) stirring.   This is a practice often done in white wines to add texture and mouthfeel, and works very well here. I suspect the Roussanne also adds some richness.) Good minerality (think wet stone) contributed from whites. Glad its only 12.8& alcohol, as it goes down easy.

Food Pairing:  Ridiculously quaffable solo. I am sure it pairs with all kinds of foods, but right now I am embracing it with only my taste buds. I’d go for grilled fish, chicken, veggies, if any is left.

Recommendation: Buy. Now. Usually for Rosé the rule of thumb is to consume that year, but some do age, and indeed Randall Grahm recommends “Delicious today but will develop added richness and aroma with an additional 6-12 months of bottle age.”

93 points.

Where to Buy: Online from Bonny Doon. $15. (Not a typo.) (Possibly some retail – was surprised K&L Wines didn’t.)

As I wrote recently in the article ‘‘Shipping Included’ – the Future of Direct to Consumer? An interview with Bonny Doon Vineyard’ Bonny Doon is taking an aggressive approach to shipping costs. Earlier this year, shipping was included for $99. For the month of April its included in a case. Mix and match, they have many great wines under $20. And join the wine club to save another 15%. It feels like robbery. (I just received a mixed case.)

Wine Geek Info:

  • Varietal Blend: 71% grenache, 16% roussanne, 11% grenache blanc, and 2% mourvèdre
  • Appellation: Central Coast, California
  • Alcohol by Volume: 12.8%
  • TA: 0.45 g/100 ml
  • pH: 3.5
  • Production: 3,298 cases

Enjoy – and thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog – if you like what you read, spread the word and share the article – cheers!buy generic cialis

A Rhone Event Like No Other – Hospice du Rhone April 29-30 Paso Robles (OR – The French are Coming!)

My taste buds are still a tingle from 2 days of Rhone immersion with the past weekend’s Rhone Rangers event in San Francisco.

Now in only a month, another Rhone immersion, with an International flare awaits. Hospice du Rhone (HdR) holds a special place in my heart as it was the event responsible for my conversion to a Rhone enthusiast to a borderline obsession. (What else do you call it when a busy man drives 6 hours with a trailer full of Grenache Blanc grapes?)

This year at HdR the French are back in droves. Over 30 will be attending and pouring, plus Rhoners from Australia, and even one from Italy. And of course the many world class producers that have emerged in the U.S. This list of producers attending can be found here.

Something For a Rhone Lover of Every Level

From the learning Rhone aficionado to the savvy Master Sommelier or Winemaker – something exists for everyone. If you have declared Rhone wines as one of your favorites, you will be inspired to a whole new level after this event. Serious fun. Serious wine.

If you have attended HdR before, perhaps skipped a year or two – this years model has some serious new curves to check out and drive.

For Rhone Lovers of All Levels: There are two walk around tastings: The Friday Rhône Rendezvous Tasting from 3-6 p.m. and the Saturday Grand Tasting, also 3-6 pm. 130 Rhone worldy producers will pour Rhone varieties and blends you may not have access to, short of flying around for a month. These tastings have been enhanced with food tastings and cooking demonstrations.

For The Knowledge Hungry & Explorers: For the first time ever a limited number of seminar tickets from the series have been made available outside of the Weekend Pass. These 4 seminars offer an incredible wealth of diverse knowledge, enhanced with tastings. Explore the Rhone adventures of California, hear from the  “Dream Team” of French Roussillon producers, revel in the spirit of the Aussies as they discuss 2011 Harvest, or hear from the mother lode of the Rhone Valley producers themselves.

For Everyone! A Tradition…Enhanced: Rhône ‘n Bowl : HdR always kicks off Thursday night with bowling. Where else in the world can you bowl with world class Rhone producers from all over the world, pouring Rhone wines of every flavor, including from magnums, and usually some very special bottles! Chef Ryan Gromfin

Courtesy of HdR

of Central City Market located in Santa Maria is catering. Some special, creative treats are planned, such as Kobe beef corn dogs!

For those who like Sizzle! Friday Night – New Event – Soirée! Dazzle your senses with music, food, and of course wine in the International Street fair. (Poured from large format bottles selected by 22 sommeliers and 35 global producers.) Mingle your way through the purchase daily cialis international “streets” at Soirée! While walking the “streets” of this international street faire enjoy the  cuisine of Chef Clark Staub from Full of Life Flatbread hailing from Los Alamos, California.

For Foodies: Eat and taste your way through the Friday Rosé Lunch, the Saturday Lunch and Live Auction, and the Saturday night Farewell BBQ.

Courtesy of HdR

  • The Friday Rosé Lunch lunch is catered by Chef José Dahan of Et Voilà Restaurant in San Luis Obispo, California. His French cuisine will showcase these wines.
  • Saturday Lunch and Live Auction will feature the  delicious cuisine of Chef Budi Kazali from the Ballard Inn in  Santa Barbara Wine Country. Wines for this lunch will be provided by Sud de France.
  • The Saturday night Farewell BBQ is a a true California-styled BBQ will be prepared by the famous The Hitching Post from Buellton, California. Music & games will also be featured.

Sunday Morning: Roll out of bed and wonder how you will survive until HdR2012. Or do what I do and venture around Paso Robles and learn why its second only to the Rhone valley for World class Rhone wines.

Use the iPhone iRhône App

I was one of the first to use/review the HdR app last year, and it remains to this day, in my opinion the best winery/event app I have used. The basic review is still valid, but additional functionality has been added, which I will do a updated review on.

Coming Live to the Internet Browser Nearest You

I’d certainly encourage anyone who loves Rhones who can, to attend. Even if its nothing more than one of the tastings – a perfect compliment to a Paso Robles weekend. But for those of you who can’t I will be broadcasting live as I did last weekend for The Rhone Rangers, which seemed well received. (Feedback always welcome.) Twitter hashtag is #HdR2011.

You can also follow Hospice du Rhone on Twitter and Facebook.

Any questions, feedback, comments encouraged. Thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog – cheers!


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Wine of the Week – Cana's Feast 2009 Counoise

Inspired by an increase of Oregon Rhone producers this year at last weekend’s San Francisco Rhone Rangers two day event, and now looking forward to the incredible Hospice du Rhone , tonight I cracked open this  Counoise, a lesser known red Rhone varietal, I received as a sample.

This was amongst some other creative varietals, I received from Cana’s Feast ( including a Syrah I liked so much I drank before I could review and must replenish.) I have to confess I wasn’t aware of Cana’s Feast prior to the samples, am very impressed, and plan a visit next time I am in the Willamette Region.

About Cana’s Feast

Located in a Tuscan-inspired winery, just a few blocks side edffects of prednisone north of downtown Carlton, Cana’s Feast Winery combines Northwest red wines with Mediterranean-style food, hospitality and celebration. In addition to the winery, there is a restaurant: Cucina, offering menus of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine for weekend lunch, brunch and dinner. I almost drooled on the keyboard looking at the April brunch menu.

About Counoise

Counoise is not a widely planted varietal, in the US nor in France.  It is one of the varietals allowed in a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but accounts for less than 1% of plantings.  Tablas Creek, a leading California Rhone producer and viticulturist, brought Counoise cuttings from Château de Beaucastel in 1990 and they spent three years in USDA inspection. Once the vines cleared quarantine, they began the process of multiplying and grafting, and currently have 5 acres planted.

So little is planted in California its not listed in any of the 2009 California Grape acreage reports, even though obscure grapes like Carmenere, Carnelian, and Charbono, are.

The grape is normally blended to add acidity and some spice. The few single varietals I have had (Frick Winery in Dry Creek Valley makes an excellent single varietal as well as blend.) have been quite a pleasure to drink.

Review: Cana’s Feast, 2009 Counoise, Coyote Canyon, Columbia Valley WA

Color: Medium Purple, mostly clear

On the Nose: cherry, red fruit, spice, white pepper

In the Mouth: Soft and balanced, yet not lacking structure. Strawberry, red fruit, hint of spice. Good mouth feel and wonderful lingering acidity.

Where to BuyOnline. $25 (media sample) 116 cases

Food Pairing: Very drinkable solo, or pairing with grilled non spicey fare,  roasted chicken, heartier fish.

Rating: Outstanding. 91 points.

Recommendation: Buy. Drinks very well now. Enough structure and acidity to lay down for a few years as well.

Wine Geek Info:

  • Brix: 25.6
  • pH: 3.64
  • TA: .56
  • Alcohol:  14.9
  • Harvested: 10/6/2009
  • Bottled: Sept. 2010
  • Vinification: Destemmed, 3 day cold soak 1/2 open top fermentors, 2x punchdowns. Pressed into 1 year old and neutral barrels.

discount alli orlistat

Part 10 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Wine! Holiday Gift Pack Specials, Shipping

Tick Tock, time is running out on the Wine Clock, although in my opinion and experience its acceptable to ship wine presents right through the New Year. Technically the 12 days of Christmas goes until January 6th!

Its not too late to order online and ship two day to get wine to your special someone, parent, boss, or (of age) child.

On a quick road tip yesterday to Paso Robles for barrel tasting with Rhone giant Tablas Creek, I was in awe as the UPS guy picked up two pallets of wine gift boxes, and realized was inspired to share two of my personal favorite small producers, who’s wines are sure to please everyone, and are literally flying off the shelves.

“Shipping included” specials abound around now. I am going to highlight offers of two of my personal favorites, because I know they are open, staffed and equipped to handle the influx and distribution. Small wineries may be closed, but best to check (suggest a live call) with your favorite winery or wine store.

Tablas Creek – 2 Pack Esprit de Beaucastel, Order Today, Arrives by Christmas, Shipping included

If you aren’t familiar with Tablas Creek, this Paso Robles producer is a leader in the US evolution of Rhone varietals, and has helped further the cause both through the extensive viticulture program as well as their incredible wines, and played a major role in making Paso Robles the dominant force in Rhone wines.

Their holiday gift web page has a number of great ideas, but the one flying out the door is the 2010 Holiday Wine Gift Pack, of their two flagship blends the 2008 Esprit de Beaucastel and the 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc in a special decorative gift box. They are including shipping at no extra charge on the gift packs to any address in any of the 32 states can ship to.

Only $90 per pack, and just $72 per pack for VINsider Wine Club members, (shipping included). Orders to California will still make it today. For others, best to call live at 805 237 1231 and check.

The gift page also features gift cards, wine club memberships, and great non wine local artisan gifts.

Bonny Doon Shipping Included $99 and Special Gift Packs

Another personal favorite, both for their wines, and the huge respect for a lifetime of contribution to bringing Rhone varietals focus and quality to the US, has a number of incredible holiday offers.

  • Free ground shipping for any order over $99. The $99 shipping included is ground. Orders placed today will make California, and a few surrounding states. If urgent, best to call live, the Bonny Doon team will work with you. 888.819.6789
  • It’s easy to make a case order and not break the bank with Bonny Doon. Some of my personal faves that are my every day drinking wines include the Clos du Gilroy, Grenache base blend only $15, the Contra, Carignane based blend only $14, but there many more.
  • Check out the special Mixed Six for $99, which includes; 2007 Syrah “Le Pousseur”, 2007 Angel Paille, 2008 Le Cigare Blanc, 2007 Le Cigare Volant – normale, 2009 Ca’ del Solo Muscat, certified biodynamic, 2009 Contra Carignane
  • Holiday 6-pack Box ~2007 Le Cigare Volant
    • Le Cigare Volant red Rhone blend is the wine that put Randall Grahm and Bonny Doon on the map, and there are great holiday bundles under the Holiday Specials on their storefront include:
      • 2007 Le Cigare Volant – Holiday 6-pack in limited edition Cigar Box: $210
      • Cigare Family 5-pack ~ 4 table wines, 1 dessert: $129;
      • Cigare Family 3-pack ~ 2 table wines and 1 dessert: $79
      • and others, check them out.
  • Wine Club Membership gift special: Give the gift of wine all year long. Bonny Doon is offering a year long membership for $425, which includes shipping, and a 25% off coupon. There are quite a few other benefits and options, while these can be gifted online, it may be best to call.


The 12 Days of Wine Christmas

Part 1 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Wine Road Winter Wineland, Redwood Foodbank Raffle.

Part 2: “12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Gadget Review of the VinniBag

Part 3 of “The 12 Wine Days of Christmas” – The Wine Check (no, its not money!)

Part 4 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Wine Clubs – A Review of Different Types and Benefits

Part 5 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” The Wine Soirée aerator & Limited Edition L/S

Part 6 of “The 12 Wine Days of Christmas” Lookout Ridge Winery & Wines for Wheelchairs

Part 7 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Book Review/Recommendation: The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries

Part 8 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Membership

Part 9 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Make the Rhone Head in Your Life do a Backflip with Hospice du Rhone tickets

Part 9 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Make the Rhone Head in Your Life do a Backflip with Hospice du Rhone tickets

It shouldn’t be news to any that follow me, that I am a massive fan of Rhone varietals. I mean, I drove 12 hours just to get a half ton of grenache blanc…clearly its beyond a hobby. Rhone varietals seem to engender a level of enthusiasm from wine aficionados I don’t quite see in other varietal categories.

What Are ‘Rhones’

For those asking what are Rhone varietals (grapes) it refers to wine grapes whose origin is the Rhone Valley of France. Bordeaux is known for Cab, Merlot, etc, Burgundy for Pinot and Chardonnay, and the Rhone valley has 22 varietals, some quite obscure. The most well know red Rhones being Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Carignane and white Rhones being Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc. But a true Rhoner’s eyes will light up like a Christmas tree at the pouring of a Cinsault or a Picpoul.

The Ultimate Rhone Weekend

Not to take anything away from the amazing weekend events the Rhone Rangers put on, but for a Rhone enthusiast, Hospice du Rhone is weekend of complete immersion, and being surrounded by others who share your passion. Winemakers and enthusiasts from all over the world, including France, Australia, South Africa make the annual trek to modest Paso Robles.  The event goes through 10,000 Riedel stems a day…this is serious tasting.

What Goes on a Hospice du Rhone (aka HdR)

You can peruse the event schedule and seminar series, but basically its a whirlwind 2+ days of educational seminars, tastings,  food pairings and entertainment, attended by wine makers, writers, and consumers. You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy or appreciate; in fact if you are newer to Rhones but passionate about them, this is an excellent immersion that will greatly propel your knowledge base.

Simple Hedonism will be in attendance providing live Social Media coverage, and series of pre and post event articles. I will also be helping co-ordinate local tastings for live tastings that will be held prior to the event, celebrating Rhone varietals, as I did for #Grenache Day. (No Fire dancers this time, sorry.)

Limited A La Carte Tickets or the Big Kahuna Weekend Package

I recommend the full weekend package which includes all events and seminars save the Thursday night Rhône ‘n Bowl or the Friday night Soirée. If you can’t spend that much, commit much time, or want to intersperse HdR with other things, there are limited A La Carte Tickets.  For the first time this year, there are a very limited individual Seminars for sale as well, for $155 a piece. (You will taste wines at each seminars you may not see otherwise, last year’s  French and South African lineup was incredible.)

Maker a Rhoner Squeal like  Kid

Tickets can be purchased here, buy a Weekend Pass one for your Rhoner, print it out and put it in a massive box with a bow. The event seminars make great stocking stuffers. You’ll likely get a reaction akin to a small child getting is his/her first bicycle.

See you there, cheers!

The 12 Days of Wine Christmas

Part 1 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Wine Road Winter Wineland, Redwood Foodbank Raffle.
Part 2: “12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Gadget Review of the VinniBag
Part 3 of “The 12 Wine Days of Christmas” – The Wine Check (no, its not money!)
Part 4 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Wine Clubs – A Review of Different Types and Benefits
Part 5 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” The Wine Soirée aerator & Limited Edition L/S
Part 6 of “The 12 Wine Days of Christmas” Lookout Ridge Winery & Wines for Wheelchairs
Part 7 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Book Review/Recommendation: The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries
Part 8 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Membership
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