Posts Tagged ‘#RRSF’
It's fitting with today commencing the Weekend Celebration of American Rhones, in San Francisco, to celebrate this amazing, unique release of Cigare Blanc, the flagship Rhone white blend from Bonny Doon Vineyards.
It's creator, Randall Grahm, tonight at a very special ceremony will be awarded the first ever Rhone Rangers lifetime achievement award. As I wrote in For The Love of Rhône: Randall Grahm Lifetime Achievement Award; A Rhône Weekend in SF the American Rhone winemakers and consumers owe Randall this, and much more.
The Re-Emergence of The Original Rhone Ranger, Pioneer's Vision
In his spot-on keynote speech at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, (video or transcript ) Randall gently chided the wine industry, for being a victim of its own success, almost 'selling out' and lamenting the world of unique wines, that had some risk to making them.
'Modern winemakers live in an era of tragic self-consciousness about the economic consequences of their winemaking decisions, utterly aware of the peril of somehow falling outside of the stylistic parameters of accepted wine styles.'
On a macro level this is sadly true. Wines, especially whites, are made risk free, manipulated, and churned out by the container load for mass market. “Flash Detente' – seriously? I'll go return to my beer brewing roots before I ever cross this line. Every article I read on it gives me hives – where does this end?
But there is a burgeoning new movement, a tiny but growing population of bold winemakers who return to the risk taking Randall laments, making wines of unique varieties, vinification, climates and more. (Teaser, also watch for notice for a special tasting of a gang of 13 of these upstarts in Healdsburg in May.)
These vintners of passion often selling their crafts for a modest price, keeping the approachable. Sommeliers are loving this re-birth. Some old school journalists have no clue what to do with it – why not keep just writing about Cabernet & Zinfandel. Other visionaries like Jon Bonné of the Chronicle embrace and support the change, and even has a book coming out. (You can pre-order now, I did.)
Leading By Example and Creativity – Winemaking With Risk (Equals Reward.)
Randall leads the path again (one that I follow, inspired, with my own Rhone project.) His special 2010 Cigare Blanc Reserve and 2008 Cigare Volante are aged 'en bonbonne' – glass carboys, protected from light and air, and stirred….magnetically. As only Randall could do.
Why? Randall was inspired by wines of Dan Wheeler tasted from carboy, and astonished by how fresh the wines were, 20 years later, followed by a similar experience with Emidio Pepe.
At the Wine Bloggers Conference, Randall held a special semi private tasting of some of his wines, including the 2010 Cigare Blanc reserve & 2008 Cigare Volant Reserve 'en bonbonne'. The gift was lost on some, but it was a special experience to taste these the normal and en bonbonne' side by side. There was a clear, textural and flavor difference.
It inspired me to taste them both again later several times, where I could focus without Rex Pickett of Sideways making drinking from dump bucket jokes to impress a nearby female. Not a problem as I am a DOON Club member, and regularly order, and have, including a re-order of this wine.
Review: Bonny Doon Vineyard 2010 Cigare Blanc Reserve en bonbonne
A certified biodynamic blend of 56% Grenache Blanc and 44% Rousanne. (You had me at Grenache Blanc.) As Randall's own tasting notes concur, it continues to improve in bottle, and was changed, even more favorably from last fall.
The 2010 vintage was allowed to go through secondary malo-lactic (a personal preference for me, as I think many white wines, with sufficient acidity, should do to enhance mouth feel and complexity.)
- To The Eye: Slightly cloudy, but clearer than previous tastings. Its turbidity makes me love it even more. It's about time the consumer world understood a tad of turbidity in whites might make it better. I will follow with less trepidation.
- On The Nose: wondrous nose of yellow pear, stone fruits, hints of white grapefruit and phizer viagra hazelnut.
- On The Palate: Amazing. Lush, but in a restrained way. Textural and 'grown up' but with a vibrant acid backbone that lingers beneath in balance. The front palate starts off bright and fresh, the mid palate shows the wondrous texture, mouth feel ripe pear, yellow peach, citrus. The finish is of ripe Meyer lemon, lingering pleasant acidity.
I have yet to figure out how Bonny Doon makes these so wonderful in flavor and low in alcohol, as Roussanne and Grenache Blanc both require proper ripening, ever for my acid addicted palate. Bravo.
A wine that while wonderful solo, would be heavenly with rich seafood, creamy pasta, or roasted chicken.
- Recommendation: This is one to buy a case and drink 1-2 bottles a year. Buy online while you can.
94 points. Yes its pricier than every day wine. Life is short, live a little.
Winemakers Notes & Geeky Stuff
I have written in various places about the inspiration to age wine in demijohns/carboys/bonbonnes. Some of it has come from my fascination with oxidation/reduction chemistry, an aspect of wine art/science not well understood and its importance greatly unappreciated. Years ago, as a young pup I tasted wine from carboy with Dan Wheeler of Nicasio Cellars in his do-it-yourself-handdug cave in Soquel, and was astonished at how youthful were the wines, twenty plus years later, almost as if they had been placed in suspended animation. At about the same time, I also happened to taste the wines from Emidio Pepe in Abruzzo, who also aged his product in demijohns, likewise evincing extraordinary youthfulness and vitality.
We did some small encouraging experiments years ago, then more or less forgot about them until relatively recently, at which point we began the carboy ageing project with red Cigare. It wasn’t until ’09 that it dooned on me that perhaps there were even more interesting things to discover with the white. The ’10 Cigare Blanc Réserve, our second vintage of this wine, is absolutely amazing, an advance over the ’09. To refresh everyone’s memory, this wine is more or less the same blend as our standard issue Cigare Blanc, apart from the fact that we’ve allowed it to undergo malolactic fermentation, and at that point, we gave it a light SO2 addition, racked it to glass demijohn (bonbonne), where it reposed for a year and a half, getting anaerobically stirred more or less fortnightly.
The wine derives entirely from the Beeswax Vineyard, located at the mouth of the Arroyo Seco, and is farmed biodynamically and produced according to biodynamic specifications (very easy on the extraneous additions).
I’ve had the pleasure of tasting this wine over the last year, and what is most remarkable about it is that every time I taste it, it gets younger and younger! The wine was not filtered, and therefore is partly cloudy, though lately, it is curiously, getting brighter and brighter. The wine has a rich, unctuous texture, despite its modest (12ish%) alcohol, as well as possesses the most satisfying savoriness. In the nose, there is a wonderful suggestion of hazelnuts (hmm, white Burgundy, anyone?), as well as a beautiful fragrance of wintergreen and a wine-like pear. A great gastronomy wine, one that will perfectly suit rich, cream-based dishes.
- Blend: 56% roussanne, 44% grenache blanc (Certified Biodynamic®)
- Vineyard: Beeswax (Certified Biodynamic®)
- Appellation: Arroyo Seco
- Serving Temp: 50-55ºF
- Alcohol by Volume: 12.4%
- TA: 6.2 g/L
- pH: 3.62
- Optimal drinkability: Drink now-2020
- Production: 497 cases
March 24-25th in SF: A Weekend Celebration of American Rhônes or 'Palate Enlightenment'. Read, Learn, Share and Win Grand Tasting Tickets
Unless you have been asleep for the last month, or not reading my blog posts (how dare you!) you should be aware I have been counting down to two upcoming amazing Rhone weekends. (Ok last weekend my new day job had me buried, and no weekly review.)
March is the Rhone Rangers weekend in San Francisco and April is the international Hospice du Rhône .
Read on, and enter to win tickets to next Sunday’s March 25th Grand Tasting. (Ends Monday!)
Why Rhones? Palate Enlightenment
I am asked frequently why I am so passionate about the Rhône wine category. For many, I think Rhone wines were the ‘epiphany’ wine – the one that made you go “AHA” – THIS is what wine is about.
I am not alone, if you attend Rhône focused tastings & events I find attendees to be more passionate than any other category.
Many of us got here in a traditional path – we drank big New World Cabernet and Bordeaux varieties to start. Maybe we stumbled or were lead into white wines. With luck many of us found Pinot Noir, before over ripening, doctoring became rampant (and now thankfully is quickly retreating.) At some point we discovered a well made Grenache, Roussanne, Mourvedre, cool climate Syrah, or a great blend, that sung in harmony.
Rhône wines offer something for every palate, and have a wide range of diversity.
- For the newer wine drinker, perhaps seeking to branch out from Cabernet, a warmer climate Syrah can be a pleasant change, shares some characteristics, but offers a different flavor profile.
- A Pinot Noir drinker, eager to find more wines that express themselves and aren’t buried in new oak may find a modest Grenache or Mourvedre, and fall in love.
- For those who love whites, or who seek something interesting in a white, or even just want to learn to like whites: Rhone white wines can offer incredible density, complexity, acidity.
Much to love. Indeed I have converted many a “I don’t drink white wine” naysayers with Rhone white wines.
Many Rhône producers, like legend and trailblazer Tablas Creek, follow the European philosophy that Rhone wines shine most as a blend. Rhone wines have more diversity across the varietals and give winemakers a huge flavor portfolio to work with, and thus consumers a myriad of combinations and flavor profiles. In Rhone wines, often the Sum of the Whole, is greater than the sum of the parts.
No matter how we got here, everyone has a story they love to share, and the journey of palate evolution never ends. Many, including winemakers will find the style of one variety, say Syrah, that they drank 5 years ago, is very different than what they prefer now. We have a wealth of winemaking styles, climates, terroir, and even grape clonal (genetic) differences that makes Rhone tasting a never ending exploration.
I Drank ALL the Kool-Aid!
One of these days I might write an article on my full story, but lets just say I am “all in.”
- Eighteen months ago I joined the Rhone Rangers marketing committee as Media, and Social Media Marketing lead
- Last Summer I was voted onto the Board of Directors, as Media representative
- Last fall my partner & I launched a new Rhône label & micro-winery Two Shepherds. We don’t talk about our brand here, but its done very well thanks to supporters, and great accounts like the the girl & the fig, Spoonbar, K&L, Bottle Barn, Toast Wine bar, who have just about cleaned out our 2010 white releases, and now tapping into our newly released 2010 reds. I make wines in an old world, nuanced style, as I have been writing about, and put my money (literally all of it) where my mouth was. Sometimes I wish we sold less so I could drink it!
- Over Winter I assumed the role of the President & Leader of the newly reformed North Coast Chapter. I am determined, with our members, to brand our area as a great place to Rhône . Look at our 4 page map and see how many producers we have.
- Did I mention I have a full time demanding day job to pay for all this?
My only regret this year is that instead of roaming around as media (which I still do at many events, Simple Hedonisms is at an all time high of readers) I will be pouring our wine at the Saturday seminar #1, and the Sunday tasting. Not that I don’t love to share and pour our wine, but the Rhoneophile in me will be chomping at the bit to taste. Last year I could have used two days, not 4 hours.
Come see us, we will be easy to find, next to our beloved restaurant partner the girl & the fig. Our 2011 Whites are doing well, especially our flagship Grenache Blanc, and will be released soon. Mention this article for a sneak preview of a 2011 sample.
March 24-25th: A Weekend Celebration of American Rhones
The Rhone Rangers is America’s leading non-profit, educational organization dedicated to promoting American Rhone varietal wines. Nothing at all wrong with imported Rhones, I certainly by and drink my share, and a part of my heart will never leave the Rhone Valley – but the 140 members of the Rhone Rangers produce a wide array of great, diverse wines.
To pour a wine at a Rhone Ranger event, it must consist of at least 75% of one or more of the 22 Rhone varieties, designated here. How many can you name? (In fairness, we don’t even yet grow all 22 here in the US. )
This weekend event is a wealth of tastings and Rhone immersion.
Saturday has two great seminars:
- Rare Wines; Taste the Unusual. 12pm, Firehouse. From Picpoul to Counoise and beyond, come and meet the rarest Rhones and find out what makes them so unusual.
- Wine & Swine, A pairing of American Rhones with how to buy viagra in canada Bacon. 2pm, Firehouse. Some say everything tastes better with bacon, we say how about bacon with your wine! This seminar will demonstrate the bacon-friendly aspects of your favorite Rhone varieties.
Sunday has one:
- A Celebration of Syrah from Diverse Regions. 11am, Golden Gate Room. Rhone Rangers producers are pushing the envelope on syrah in a variety of ways. Come and taste the most widely grown Rhone variety from points north and south and east and west.
Rhone Rangers seminars are a value, at $45-$65 compared to many events. The seminars are moderated by Rhone enthusiasts and popular wine writers Jon Bonne’ of the SF Chronicle and Patrick Comiskey of Wine & Spirits. These esteemed gentleman will lead you through the tasting with input and comments from each of the wine makers. An inexpensive, unparallelled tasting & educational opportunity, for only 40 people per session Saturday, and 70 total on Sunday. These will sell out, don’t wait. To see who is in each seminar, and buy tickets, see here: http://www.rhonerangers.org/calendar/sf_grand_tasting.php
2. Saturday Night Winemakers Tasting, Dinner, Auction
Saturday night, at the newly opened Ft Mason General’s Residence, 17 winemakers will pour for you at a walk around tasting, then pour, sip and eat with you at dinner. Your meal is prepared by none other than the renowned girl & the fig.
This event also sells out every year, don’t wait. http://www.rhonerangers.org/calendar/sf_grand_tasting.php
3. Sunday Afternoon Grand Tasting
The most popular event & culmination of the weekend: 110+ wineries from all over the US, many whom are small, hard to find will pour for you. Food purveyors and food trucks will also be on hand. Grab the program, make a plan, and taste your way through your favorite varietals, or learn & taste about some new ones.
NEW – Buy Wine and Take it Home! For the very first time, attendees can buy wine right at the table, pay for it and take it home. Since many of these wineries are small, and may not have local distribution, this is a perfect time to grab that gem you liked and take it home. Over 60 wineries will be selling wine, and will be specially marked in the program, as well as the flag at their table. To make it even easier, you may check your purchases at one of two holding points, so that you can continue to taste unencumbered. For those of you who attended Taste of Mendocino, this was a great experience.
Share & Enter To Win a Pair of Tickets – Ends Monday
win, simply post below in comments one of the following:
(1) Tell us what Red or White Rhone variety (grape) you are most interested in learning about, and why, in a brief sentence or two.
(2) Tell Us Your Favorite Producer or Wine, from the List of those Participating
Correct answers will be pooled and drawn by random number generator Monday night! If you don’t win, grab a ticket, at $45
Follow On Twitter
You can follow the event’s fun live on Twitter, simply follow or search for hashtag #RRSF – cheers!
Part 5 of The 12 Days of Wine Christmas: Wine Seminar Last Minute Stocking Stuffers for Wine Event Lovers and Rhone Hounds
I can’t think of a better gift you can buy tonight or tomorrow to put in a stocking or under the tree: Seminar passes to two of my most beloved wine events of the year: Hospice du Rhone and the generic levitra australia Rhone Rangers March Grand Weekend.
If you have a loved one that lives in the Bay Area or Paso Robles, is already into wine, or keen to learn a lot more, these two weekend events, and their seminars, are an amazing experience.
Hospice du Rhone – 20 Year Anniversary. April 26-28
You will here me gush more as this event gets closer. Held every in Paso Robles, this event is a complete immersion of Rhone education of tastings, pairings, and seminars. This years event looks like it will trump all others. HdR is different from the Rhone Rangers event in a number of ways, one being its focus on International as well as domestic producers. Its a global event, literally.
The Seminars usually are not sold a la carte, and this is only the second year, and in limited quantities. Seminars so far are:
Seminar One: Why Spain (continues to) Rock!
Seminar Two: The Return of the Bionic Frog
- Christophe Baron of Cayuse will take us through his wines of Walla Walla, Washington.
Seminar Three: A Collective Quest
- Pierre Gaillard, Yves Cuilleron and Francois Villard take the stage to share their wines of Les Vins de Vienne
Seminar Four: Research, Revelations and the Art of Being Different
- Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg, Australia will take the guests on an in depth tasting and discussion of his wines and research.
These seminars are $155 a piece. Or show them you REALLY love them and but the whole weekend experience, seminars and tastings, for $795
Tickets and info are here.
The Rhone Rangers: A Weekend Celebration of American Rhones. March 24-25th
year Fans of American Rhone wines gather for the Annual Rhone Rangers San Francisco Tasting.
This event has grown in scope and success and is the largest American Rhone wine event in the country. Over 2,000 consumers and members of the trade attend for the opoortunity to taste over 500 of the best American Rhone wines from more than 100 Rhone Rangers member wineries.
While many thin
k of the event as just the Ft Mason Grand tasting, its actually evolved into two days with three seminars, a winemaker dinner, the Grand Tasting, and a live and silent auction. Tickets can be purchased a la carte, or for the best pricing use the weekend daytime events pass.
SEMINAR #1: RARE WINES, COME TASTE THE UNUSUAL, Saturday, March 24, 2012, $45/ticket
SEMINAR #2: WINE & SWINE, A PAIRING OF RHONE VARIETIES WITH BACON, Saturday, March 24, 2012 $65/ticket
SEMINAR #3: AMERICAN SYRAH FROM A VARIETY OF REGIONS, Sunday, March 25, 2012, 11 AM, Fort Mason $55/ticket
Tickets information and purchase is here.
Happy Holidays and Rhone On!!