Posts Tagged ‘Rhone’

Rhône Rosé Panel: Quivira, Mounts, and Skinner Vineyards

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

Photo Credit: Pink Ribbons Project

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.

 

Related Articles

Tuesday Mar 20th – Join The Rhone Rangers and “SonomaWilliam’ for a Live Rhone Twitter Tasting 530-700 pm

Simple Hedonisms – Simple Suggestions For Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

Tasting Notes: 2009 Sainte Leocadie Minervois Rosé

Wine of the Week – Foppiano Vineyards 2010 Estate Rosé

Tasting Notes: Ortman 02 Series Grenache Rosé – Paso Robles

Wine of the Week – Carol Shelton 2010 Rendezvous Rosé (Mendocino Carignane)

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

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

 

 

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.”Profile Picture

  • 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.

1. Seminars

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

To

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.

OR

(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!

 

Related Articles

Tuesday Mar 20th – Join The Rhone Rangers and “SonomaWilliam’ for a Live Rhone Twitter Tasting 530-700 pm

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

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

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

Why Rhone Wines & Wine Review: Wesley Ashley Wines – Intelligent Design Cuvee – #WBW71

 

 

Rhône

Sonoma Holiday Wine Market delights with Wine, Food and Local Color

Dane Cellars Santa in "Floods"

The Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Association “Wine Market – Holiday Edition” proved to be a great opportunity to taste from 27 wineries in one place, including small producers not open to the public. Here you could taste, then purchase unique wines at fantastic savings. Excellent food tastings, and food-wine pairing advice was available from local Sommeliers  – in Santa hats no less.  Last not least, you could speak with the winemakers … and see what characters they can be!

Santa in Floods? Bart Hansen, winemaker at Dane Cellars, says he spends most of the year in Bermuda shorts. When Sonoma temps hit 75’ F on December 2, he rolled out to the event in his special Santa Floods.  The Dane Cellars Clarksburg 2009 Chenin Blanc he poured is richer bodied than a Sauvignon Blanc, making it a was a good wine for a sunny winter day and a perfect match for the Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese served up by the girl and the fig.

Santa Sommeliers. What is a sommelier (so-mel-yay)? A “Somm,” or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional specializing in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food matching.  Three certified Somms in Santa hats roamed the floor at the “Wine Market – Holiday Edition” event, helping guests with wine advice, pairing, and directing them to wine specials.

Eric Ross "Struttin' Red"

Cocky Wine: Eric Ross 2010 Struttin’ Red

Eric Luce, winemaker at label Eric Ross, invites you to taste his red blend of the year. 2010 is a unique blend of Tempranillo, Old Vine Zin and Petite Sirah. It screams out for a really good Cheeseburger. Failing to find any cheeseburgers, this wine was great with the Truffle Gateau chocolates featured at the Market.

Consumers have many benefits to gain from a single-location event like this. To name a few:

  1. Access unique fine wines and local cuisine
  2. Lower prices on quality wines
  3. Remove the driving around from a wine-tasting outing – all the wines and food, all in one place
  4. Access to *Santa Sommeliers* to advise on matching foods with the wines you like
  5. Buy where you taste and take your wine home with you!

I had a conversation with Christopher Sawyer, Somm at Carneros Bistro in Sonoma. I asked Chris how one should go about pairing up wines with a meal. “First of all, the method should be reversed. Decide your menu, then match the wine to it.”  OK, I said, then to break the rules a bit, let’s say I’ve got a Zinfandel from Haywood Winery, which is pouring here today. Chris suggests, “This is a supple, medium body Zinfandel that gives you a lot of flexibility with the food pairing. Game. Duck. Spicy pork with compote on the side. Strip steak. And of course Ribs will go well with Zin.”

Christopher Sawyer "Santa Sommelier"

Wines of note:

Eric Ross 2010 Marsanne-Roussane. Your guests will appreciate when you serve this unique white. Winemaker

Eric Luce blends two grapes from the famed SaraLee’s Vineyard in Russian River Valley to make a wine in the Rhone style that everyone’s talking about.  Full-bodied, food-ready, and a great under-$30 wine to diversify your palate.  It paired with the Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese and I would recommend it with any cheese.

Dane Cellars 2007 Jackknife Cabernet Sauvignon. When you are looking for full-flavored, medium-bodied Cab, the Jackknife is a great choice. From a vineyard high above Sonoma Valley, with volcanic soils and generous late afternoon sun, this wine explodes with fruit and complex flavors. Sommelier Sawyer says:  “With a medium-bodied cab like Dane Cellars’ Jackknife you have more flexibility in your menu – you can pair with red meat or you can go with a bigger fish such as sturgeon or tuna prepared with a soy sauce.”

Pip 2010 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.  Undecided between oaked and unoaked? You can’t go wrong with this under $20 wine from Dunstan, from famed Durrell Vineyards blended with nearby grapes, then aged in 1/3 neutral oak and 2/3 stainless steel.  The resulting Chardonnay will please both the oaked and unoaked taste, as the neutral oak imparts lovely vanilla aromas and softness while the stainless steel defines the varietal character and imparts a crisp finish.  Another great match for the Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese.

Abigail Zimmerman of Annadel Estate Wines

Best new wine find: 

Annadel Estate 2008 Anni’s Blend is an instantly memorable red wine that’s also easy to pair with food.  I got rich fruit medleys and a velvety mouth feel from this blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. For a Cab-Merlot blend like this, you could even serve it with a Mac & Cheese dish with toasted walnuts and mushrooms, according to Sommelier Sawyer.  The adjacent “Coppa & Apple Mostarda on Foccacia” from Estate went well.  Annadel Estate Winery is the effort of a family who are restoring an 1880’s vineyard estate in the region. Expect to hear more about their wines soon.

There were many more varietals and examples of great winemaking available for taste. I can’t cover them all here. See what you missed and check back soon for upcoming events at the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance website.

On my Christmas wishlist: http://www.platsdujour.net/

 

 

 

 

 

Tasting Notes – Gilbert Cellars 2007 Allobroges Red Rhone blend

How I buy cheap viagra online came upon this wine is a mystery, I have no idea how it ended up in my cellar,. (Now over 1200 bottles, heavy on Rhones of course.)

I don’t recall ever receiving it as a media sample, as I keep that pile seperate and marked, and I don’t ever recall buying it. It may have been a gift in the blur of the Grenache Day tasting and BBash after.

Its possible I also had aquired the year I lived & worked part time in the NorthWest and just forgot to put it in Cellartracker. Whatever it’s origins, I was glad I found it.

Note that 2008 appears to be the  current vintage. I generally don’t review wines no longer for sale, but wanted to share this Rhone find from WA.

An interesting tidbit from the Gilbert Cellars website:

The blend “Allobroges” was named after a Celtic tribe that made its home in the Rhone River Valley in the days of the Roman Empire.  Their capital of Vienne is across the river from present-day wine region Cote Rotie.  The Romans named their wine from the Rhone Valley “Allobrogica” and

they were known for being dark, rich, red wines.  Pliny first referenced Allobrogica in his book Naturalis Historia. It had been rumored that “Allobrogica” was an ancestor of modern Syrah, but that has not been proven. 

Review: Gilbert Cellars 2007 Allobroges Red Rhone blend

This wine is 55% Syrah, 31% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, each from a different vineyard.

To The Eye: Deep purple, Syrah clearly dominating

On The Nose: Meaty, bacon fat, elements of the Mourvedre possibly. Black fruits.

In The Mouth:  A ‘comfort’ wine. It’s not overly complex, and that’s part of its charm. Sometimes you want a wine you can dissect with many layers, some times its fun to just enjoy a glass of something that tastes good, by the fire or ever a simple meal. Its lush in the mouth with out being over ripe or juicy. Nice texture. The wine is well balanced with nice integration of the Syrah and Mourvedre components. The Grenache adds a touch of spice, but is mostly dominated by its bigger brothers.  The finish is long and pleasant. 14.9% alc.

Recommendation. An easy drinking, fun crowd pleaser. Pair with any meat, most grilled fare, or your favorite chair and warm fire. . For ~$20 you can’t go wrong. 88 points

Tasting Notes: Ortman 02 Series Grenache Rosé – Paso Robles

Last Friday was International Grenache Day – not as prevalent as Cabernet Day – but people celebrated all over the world, abd hundreds of thousands of people were reached via Twitter during this celebration.

I held a walk around tasting  for 9 wineries and 80 people hosting vintners QuiviraRidgeMountsSheldon, Wind Gap Wines,  Baiocchi Wine, R2 Wine Co, and last minute entry Stage Left Cellars. More on this in an article later this week.

To compliment this tasting, the Ortman Family was nice enough to send rose’ samples to share, which I splashed in peoples glasses as a

palate cleanser and kickoff wine, for save one exception, we had reds all being poured.

The 02 Series

I am a fan of the o2 Series and its concept, and loved the Ortman Cuvee Eddy, 02 Series, San Luis Obispo County Rhone blend when I reviewed it last December.  What is o2?

Wines that are fresh, affordable, delicious, coming from a small family owned winery with 40 harvests under its belt.

Review:  Ortman 02 Series Grenache Rosé – Paso RoblesTo the Eye: Dark Salmon, Watermelon Flesh colored

On the Nose: Peach and Strawberry fill the nose.

In the Mouth: Bright, vibrant, refreshing. Watermelon, citrus. Juicy mid palate, lingering acidity on the finish. This wine is easily downed solo, but would pair with with oysters, salads, grilled chicken or fish, BBQ with tomato sauce, pizza. 14.5% alcohol.

Recommendation: As Lisa Ortman says:

A word from the ladies of Ortman Family Wines: Man up and drink pink!

90 points –  A recommended, high quality, value priced rose’. $16 online, and it appears they currently have great shipping specials – 1-5 bottles shipped to CA is $12, and shipping for 6+ bottles is only a penny. (Welcome to California ABC laws.)

There was only 90 cases made of this great summer sipper – grab a few. And lets get another thing straight –  Rosé is not just for summer – that’s about as true as bubbles are only for holidays. You can enjoy rosé any time of year, and its an especially great food pairing, value priced wine for the holidays – stock up and drink pink!

Info and purchase here. 

Enjoy!

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Calling all Grenache Producers – Sept 23rd is #GrenacheDay.

The  Grenache Symposium has declared Sept 23rd as Grenache Day. The main website still shows the 2010 Sept 24th event, but the press release, and how to map your event, is here. You can also follow them on Facebook here, and their blog here, which also confirms the Sept 23 2011 date. 

Organizations all over the world have already registered their events as you can see on the Google Map. Simple Hedonisms is taking the Sonoma count lead with another greenhouse event, and hope as many of you Rhone Rangers will follow. Personally, its a bad week, as I am locked up for 3 day judging the Sonoma County Harvest Fair competition, and its my birthday week – but hey, what better way to celebrate than recognizing my favorite red varietal.

Calling For Vintners to Participate and Pour, Sept 23 in Santa Rosa  Tasting (And Everywhere)

As a board member of the Rhone Rangers, and  the cat herder leading the new North Coast Rhone Rangers chapter, launching in late September with a new North Coast tasting room map (details soon), I am committed to the cause of domestic Rhone producers, and helping further the cause in the North Coast counties (Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino.)

As I did for #chardonnay day and #PinotSmackdown, I will be holding an ABC licensed, walk around tasting.

Feedback both from wineries and attendees has been extremely enthusiastic – its an evolution of the (yawn) walk around tasting getting long in the tooth.

Why? First, a small, focused number of producers. (In the case of #Pinotsmackdown, gone through an elimination round tasting.)

Second, unique attributes for vintner

selection, broadening the attendees exposure, no matter how experienced. (Chardonnay with skin contact. A great 50 case Pinot from Humboldt county, as two of many examples.)

Third, the attendees have been serious wine enthusiasts who ask questions, take notes, and taste, learn – not a drunk fest of baby birds with their glasses out.

Event Details For Vintners

Update: registered Vintners so far: Quivira, Ridge, Mounts, Sheldon, Wind Gap Wines, and El Dorado vintner Baiocchi Wines. Room for only two more!

The official Eventbrite registration is up and has already issued 25 of the 80 attendee spots, not too shabby considering it just went up at 8pm last night!

Details here: http://grenacheday.eventbrite.com/

This event is ABC licensed, and sponsored by the YWCA, to whom a portion of donations go to. Your ‘table fee’ is a bottle of wine of each poured, donated to me as the host, and a $20 donation, or a bottle to the YWCA, which they use for future events and fundraisers.

Your table is provided – you should bring a table cloth, dump bucket, 6-8 bottles (to be safe, average pour is 4-6 bottles), and your a certificate of insurance. (Standard new protocol now I am told.) Use of marketing colleteral, email sign ups, wine club and order forms is suggested.  Up to 2 persons from the winery may attend to pour. (And is encourage so can also walk around.)

Wine poured can be grenache, grenache rose’, or a blend where grenache is the leading varietal. You may call my cell at 415 613 5731 or email me at simplehedonisms at gmail.com with questions. We will cap at 8-10 producers.

Whether you pour or not, if you are a grenache producer or a grenache lover – to take the time to celebrate this wonderful variety.

 

Cheers!

 

Related Articles

#PinotSmackdown Greenhouse Tasting Winners & Photos! (Grenache up next!)

Seeing California Chardonnay in a New Light: #Chardonnay Day Greenhouse Tasting, Attendees Top Picks. Up Next – Aug 18 Pinot Day

Wine Tasting Events Must Evolve – An Example at the Saturday June 11th Vinify Winery Collective Event in Santa Rosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wine Label & Logo Design Contest for our new Rhone label – Two Shepherds: Ends Sept 7th

I haven’t written much about it, (although some of the 2010 Garagiste saga was documented in (My 2010 Rhone Harvest – Garagiste or Passion Gone Runaway? ) but I have been working quietly on a small wine brand of my own. 2010 production was 175 cases, 2011 will be (cash depending) ~300 cases.

One might wonder if  that means the end of Simple Hedonisms, and the start of a new career? No, not really, nor do I see any conflict of interest or threat.

In many ways its a combination of a hobby run amok, and a science project, as well as yet another way to further my never ending thirst for wine knowledge.  It just happens that I will need to sell a bit of my hobby as I go. Long term, perhaps this is a future path, but that remains to be seen. I hope to have website launched, and wine for sale in 60 days.

Label Design Help

I am far behind schedule on this project, having only just recently bottled my three whites, a Grenache Blanc, a Viognier, and a Roussanne/Marsanne blend (with a touch of Viognier.) The red blend to be finalized and bottled next week. Thankfully I now have the help of my partner Michelle, who has come on  as a minority partner to assist .

 

Label Design Contest

We will likely ultimately hire an experienced label designer for all the final details, but time is very short, and cash tight, so why not take advantage of crowd sourcing.  So here is our idea:

  •  Concept Winner: If we love your design or concept we will offer $200 cash & $200 in wine credit, or $500 in wine credit, plus design recognition.
  •  Concept Runner Up: Over time we may have multiple labels, so if we love but don’t use your design at this time, we will award it with  $75 cash and $75 in wine credit , or $200 in wine credit, with the right to use the design in the future, with design recognition.

Logo Design Contest

Logo Idea : We also need to design a small logo that can be used on stationery, capsule (the foil at top), literature etc.

We are leaning towards something with two shepherds crooks, (staffs) at 45 degree angles and crossing each other, but are open and looking for creativity.

            •   Logo Design Winner: If we love your design or concept we will offer $100 cash & $100 in wine credit, or $250 in wine credit, plus design recognition.

 Please have submissions in by Sept 7th.

Two Shepherds Label Design – Background

Two Shepherds needs to get a new label done, quickly. We have have 175 cases bottled that need labels NOW.  After spending hours pouring through stock illustrations, we are close to what we want, but need some help finishing, as no stock illustration or picture quite fit the bill.

The Story: “Two Shepherds” concept is of two people (myself and Michelle), both shepherds one by personality and the other by name who have created a Rhone wine label, the intent to shepherd or guide consumers back to interesting wines of nuance, subtlety, and approachability.

Label Idea: Monochromatic or grayscale sketch or photograph. Ideally depicting a vineyard scene, rural scene,  herded sheep, vines, grapes or anything illuding to two shepherds or shepherding.  It DOES NOT have to be a literal illustration of two shepherds.  It can also be as basic as a font or the font in an interesting layout.  We played around with a Shepherd’s crook or staff and writing the words two shepherds across the staff. We think this has potential but really needs some polishing.

Color Theme: Gray/Silver, White and Teal/Blue.  This can always be tweaked or modified later but we seem to like the look of this color scheme and are trying to keep color palete to a 2 to 3 color max for printing purposes later.

Logo Idea : We also need to design a small logo that can be used on stationery, capsule (the foil at top), literature etc. Leaning towards something with two shepherds crooks, (staffs) at 45 degree angles and crossing each other.

Please note that for the label and logo, we are planning on Two Shepherds, not 2 Shepherds. We don’t dislike the latter, but are concerned ‘2010 2 Shepherds’ will look confusing.

Examples

#1

Sheep herd Royalty Free Stock PhotoThe Shepherdess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are good examples of the “grayscale” images that interest us.  We feel grayscale tends to lend itself to the “old world” feel of French wines and their traditional engraved labels.

 

 

#2

 

This is a nice illustration and a great sketch of a shepherdess but not necessary the image we want. We don’t feel it is so necessary to be so literal (illustrating two shepherds) since “Two Shepherds” will be the name on the label.  Maybe a scenic sketch with vineyards and sheep illustrating and depicting more the sheep and

vineyards or the vines.  More focus on the wine.

 
#3

 





These are a few more sketches. The feel is there but the subject (vine rows) are a bit too generic.  We are looking for creativity!  If done right I believe a sketch since it is already in pencil is a nice look and coloring.

#4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




These are examples of  non traditional crooks/staffs.  One idea is a staff is a strong symbol of a shepherd without actually placing the shepherd and shepherdess in the label. Some kind of play on the staff could be very interesting. Whether that is with vines running up them, them hanging on a trellis, etc… Ideas are endless.

 Logo Ideas

As stated, We are leaning towards something with two shepherds crooks, (staffs) at 45 degree angles and crossing each other, but are open and looking for creativity.

Below are several examples for your consideration.

for the logo but shepherd staffs instead another crossed crooks crest with crooks

 

When the contest is done, we will post all interesting submissions, with design credit, should you wish it. Best of luck and don’t hesitate to email simplehedonisms @ gmail.com with any questions.

Cheers!

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Don't Miss this Saturday's Open House at Donelan Family Wines in Santa Rosa

Wine Aficionados , especially Rhone lovers,  have an opportunity for a special treat this Saturday. Donelan Family Wines, a  boutique winery which  is normally open by appointment only, is opening its doors, bottles and barrels as a treat, as well as showing off its newly renovated tasting room and winery. There is also a (limited space) seminar, by one of my favorite winemakers, Tyler Thomas.

A Unique and Talented Winemaker

Thanks to an introduction via Vinecrowd, I have had the opportunity to spend some time with Tyler and interview him, as well as welcome him as the newest member of the Rhone Rangers. (One of my roles as a new board member.) Donelan and Tyler captured my attention at my #chardonnay day event. Their inuagural chardonnay release, Nancie, was one of the top 3 wines picked by attendees, and my personal favorite of the day.

Later I went to the winery to spend more time with Tyler to taste through his wines, talk about his winemaking practices, and just talk shop.

I already knew as a “shepherd of the yeast” Tyler was talented and creative. Tasting through the rest of the portfolio simply reinforced that. What

also struck me about Tyler was his strong grasp of the industry, trends, and marketing.

I spend a lot of time with wineries, especially small ones, and generally you find two different skill sets, and individuals, driving success. The artisan, 'left brain' winemaker, focused on making the very best wine he or she can, but  not always in touch with the aspects of marketing and branding.  Often a second person “right brain”  person on the team focuses and executes on sales & marketing, a different but equally critical set of skills. The best vintage of your career means nothing if no one is aware of it to purchase.

Tyler is a talented winemaker, innovate, and technically very deep. He is also passionate about the business aspects and as we sat and discussed marketing techniques, events, industry trends, and eager to learn more and try new things.  I was truly impressed, and excited when Donelan Wines decided to join the Rhone Rangers national organization, and will be a part of our new North Coast Chapter, an effort I am spearheading. Donelan and Tyler's wines and energy, enthusiasm, are a welcome addition.custom essay writing service

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RSVP for Limited Seminar: Cuvees: Building Northern Rhone Blends

From 1-2 pm Tyler is giving a seminar  about the process of making Northern Rhone inspired wines. Donelan’s goal  is to produce the best wines possible using only the best-of-the-best juice from our unique, cool climate Sonoma County terroirs.  The careful process of  blending barrels is key in producing outstanding signature cuvees and single vineyard wines. Tyler will discuss how Donelan makes complete wines of certain styles and illustrate his points with tastings.  Learn & taste the process that results in a ‘complete’ wine: complex aromas, perceived depth and weight on the palate, a long pleasing finish, and tremendous balance. In essence what makes a Donelan wine a Donelan wine. Seating is limited, an RSVP IS required. Call 203 658 1248.

You can also see a video about the seminar  on Donelan’s new blog:  just click here.

2-4 PM – Open House, Barrel Samples and Other Rare Treats

From 2-4 pm the public is invited to taste Donelan’s latest vintage with an assortment of charcuterie and cheeses. In addition to the 2009 vintage they will be pouring barrel samples of three wines: the incredible new 2010 Donelan “Two Brothers” Pinot Noir, the  2010 Donelan “Nancie” Chardonnay  and the 2009 Richard’s Family Vineyard Syrah. These three wines are produced in extremely limited quantities. This will be an extraordinary chance to taste these amazing wines.

Donelan is normally open by appointment only, so don’t miss this chance to spend an afternoon learning, tasting and meeting this talented team.

By the way, they are in a business park in Santa Rosa that houses 3 other open wineries, Inspiration Vineyards, Carol Shelton, and the new Vinoteca tasting room. Visit these 3 members of the Santa Rosa Wine Trail and make a day of it without having to drive! (Remember a to put a cooler in your car for your wine purchases!)

See you there, followed by Russian River Valley  Hog in The Fog after! 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.

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Rhone Rangers San Francisco Grand Tasting – A Complete Rhone Weekend, not just a Tasting. Learn More & Win Tickets

The Rhone movement is underway. (I am still riding high from the recent Paso Robles Rhone Ranger experience, check out the video.)

The Bay’s area’s  own Jon Bonné, esteemed wine writer for the San Francisco Chronicle published not one but two articles over the weekend about Grenache, a rising Rhone star, and such a beautiful wine when made properly. (Winemakers take note, we are not looking for your heavy hand here. Think minimal wine making technique, and Pinot Noir like, not Cabernet.) Some great examples of are in Jon’s article ‘The Chronicle recommends: American Grenache.’ As well as as “.. make way for Grenache” which explains the rise in popularity and nuance.

But Grenache is only one of the many Rhone varietals to be poured at the Rhone Rangers San Francisco Grand Tasting event. Taste through Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise, Carignane on the reds;  Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul Blanc and more on the whites. (Yes my beloved Sonoma-ites Grenache Blanc IS a white varietal – the Rhone Rangers primary goal is – education!) And of course the endless combinations of Rhone blends. At the end of this post is a contest too win tickets to the Grand Tasting – try and bear with me for a few paragraphs of Rhone rambling.

Why Rhones Are Popular, Unique

What makes Rhone wines unique in my opinion, as that while many of the varietals drink very well as a individual wine, Rhones in France are most commonly blended. Each varietal has something unique to offer, and far more variance than the traditional nobel Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet, Merlot,, Malbec etc). The sum of the whole often far exceeds the sum of the parts as they say, and there and almost endless number of combinations and end results when blending, both for red and whites.

Become a Rhone Ranger Sidekick & Save

The Rhone Rangers has launched a new version of its popular Sidekick consumer program. We have eliminated membership fees in favor of a more streamlined process. Sidekicks need only enter their contact information into the list signup form to get priority information about Rhone Rangers events, the opportunity to meet winemakers and growers of Rhone varietals, discounts at member wineries, special notice of member winery events, an information-packed educational newsletter and more.

Membership is free, carries no commitments, and can be cancelled at any time. Click here to become a Rhone Rangers Sidekick! Sidekicks also get a promo code for $5 off.

It Isn’t Just A Sunday Walk Around Tasting – Education Abounds

Many I talk to think of Rhone Rangers SF event as the big tasting at Ft. Mason. Actually thats only one part of it, and this year,  I am more excited about the seminars than anything I think. There are 2 seminars on Saturday and one on Sunday, which include tastings. Bonus: Jon Bonné is the moderator.

March 26, 2011, 1:00 – 2:15 PM. Seminar #1 – GREEN RANGERS: SUSTAINABLE, ORGANIC & BIODYNAMIC AMERICAN RHONES.

Sustainability has become a buzzword, but it has been an essential part of the practices of many Rhone Rangers wineries for decades. Discuss and taste wines of sustainable, organic and biodynamic producers, and taste wines from each as we explore how and why Rhone producers sit at the forefront of sustainability in American wine. Wineries include: AmByth Estate, Bonny Doon Vineyard, J. Lohr, Landmark, Montemaggiore, Qupe and Terre Rouge.

Saturday, March 26, 2011, 2:45 PM – 4:00 PM. Seminar #2 – MOURVEDRE ON THE MOVE

Dark, brooding, meaty, loamy,  Mourvedre is a grape for Rhone fanatics. Long known for its ability to add structure and age-worthiness to blends, American Rhone producers are pushing Mourvedre to new heights both on its own and in its traditional blending role. Taste six different Mourvedre-based wines from up and down the west coast — both varietals and as leading roles in blends — and learn why Mourvedre is on the move! Wineries include: CORE, David Girard, Folin Cellars, Kenneth Volk, Quivira, Tablas Creek and Tercero

Sunday, March 27, 2011, 11 AM – 12:30 PM. Seminar #3 – WILD WINES AND THE STORIES OF HOW THEY CAME TO BE

Whether it’s a 12% alcohol Syrah, a Buying online propecia Viognier made with a month of skin contact, a Rhone blend made from grapes that European winemakers consider suitable only for blending, or a dessert wine made from air-dried Mourvedre, Rhone Rangers producers are pushing the envelope. Come taste these unusual wines from eight winemaking pioneers, as they share with you the inside stories on their wildest wines and how and why they headed off into uncharted territory.  Wineries include: Big Basin Vineyards, Caliza, Clos Saron, Katin, Pax Mahle Wines, Stolpman, Tarara and Terry Hoage. Ticket includes VIP early admission (at 12 noon) to the Grand Tasting.

Saturday Night Wine Makers Dinner – Rub Elbows with the Big Dogs

Saturday, March 26, 2011. 6:00 – 9:30 PM. Join more than 15 top Rhone Ranger wineries participating in a walk around tasting of current and library releases, dinner with the winemakers and live auction at Dogpatch Studios, 991 Tennessee St in San Francisco. Catering will be provided by Girl & the Fig (the well-loved Sonoma food purveyor and restaurant, famous for its Rhone-Alone wine list).

Wineries include: Bonny Doon, Caliza, Clos Saron, Folin Cellars, J. Lohr, Kukkula, Landmark, Quady North, Quivira, Qupe, Ridge, Rock Wren Wines, Stolpman,Tablas Creek, Tarara, Terre Rouge, Terry Hoage, Thacher and Waterbrook. Proceeds benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund. Attendance limited to 200. Advance tickets only; no tickets available at the door.

Last But Not Least -Sunday Tasting – Over 500 Wines, 100 Wineries

Sunday, March 27, 2011 2:00 – 5:00 PM. The weekend culminates with the Grand Tasting, come taste over 500 wines from more than 100 Rhone Rangers wineries. For a list of participating wineries, click here. Sample gourmet foods from 25 or more specialty food purveyors, including cheese, bread, olive oil, charcuterie, fruits and other sweets and chocolates. A silent auction will feature Rhone Rangers wines and wine-related items; proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund. This event takes place at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion. Attended ZAP? You get a promo code for $5 off.

Make it a Rhone Immersion Weekend with the New Rhone Rangers Weekend Pass

New this year! Spend a weekend with the Rhone Rangers!  The weekend pass ticket, new for includes tickets to all three educational seminars with early VIP admission (with the trade) to the Grand Tasting on Sunday. And the $150 price is a $40 savings over the price of the individual tickets.  Winemaker dinner not included.  Limited availability.  TICKETS: $150/each.

OK OK – How do I Enter to Win Tickets Already?

It couldn’t be easier. Simple enter in comments one of three things:

  • Your favorite Rhone Ranger member winery, and why. (List here.)

OR

  • Your favorite Rhone varietal or blend (Syrah, GSM, White Rhone blend etc)

OR (I told you this was easy)

  • What varietal or blend would you be most excited to taste at the event.

Contest ends this Thursday night. Two winners will be drawn and announced then.

I will be streaming ‘live’ both days at the event. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and the Twitter hashtag #RRSF (hint, you can just click that hashtag and follow on the web, use of Twitter not required!)

Rhone on!

Cheers and thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog !

Related Reading:

‘Sonoma William’ Joins Forces With the Rhone Rangers; Some History & New Directions

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