The weather report for Santa Monica last Sunday was a high of 70. That is downright chilly to me, but perfect for tasting, so I donned a sweater for the first time this summer. Fast forward to THE WENCH THAT HIT MY CAR WHILE I WAS SITTING IN IT AND NOT ACKNOWLEDGING ME, and I got HOT. I was revived by the wonderful Rhone varietals…
Eve’s Theory on Trying New Wines
Before being invited as press to the Los Angeles Rhone Rangers event in Los Angeles, I found myself talking about the success of their efforts to make Rhone varietals more understandable to the U.S. market – to the marketing people that are trying to do the same thing with the Drink Ribera Drink Spain campaign. One thing I’ve learned in my wine-travels is that the more a marketing campaign does – providing media tastings being just one – helps the general public learn, and crave, more about different wines.
You think that isn’t so? Then you are some of my readers that are content with White Zinfandel, or whatever wine it was that made you a wine lover. I’m fascinated by people that stick to that one varietal, year in and out, claiming they don’t “like” white, or red, or whatever, wines. I mean really, unless you’ve tried every white (Roussanne is a white we had at a recent Grape of the Night, and a Rhone varietal none of us were that familiar with) or every red (Grenache being one that is often Blended but alone, Oh My Goodness, what a treat of bright color, ripe cherry and a hint of green stems.) how can you really KNOW?
Take it from me pals, get your shopping list ready and have a virtual tastings of Rhone varietals, to see just what you might, just might, like to try:
What I Loved at Rhone Rangers Los Angeles
Clavo Cellars WWW.ClavoCellars.com
Well, truth be told, I loved Clavo because my Contributing Editor Michael Perlis and his wife, Staff Writer Karen Perlis, swooped in to help pour for winemaker Neil Roberts when he had car trouble and couldn’t get to the event on time: 09 Viognier, Apparition; 09 Grenache Blanc, Ole; and 08 Petite Sirah, Dreamer.
Conway Family Wines WWW.ConwayFamiluWines.com
09 Rosé, Deep Sea, Deep Flower. An estate wine, a beautiful blend of Grenache and Syrah.
Curtis Winery www.CurtisWinery.com
07 Syrah, Ambassador Vineyard; 07 Red Blend, Heritage Cuvee; 07 Mourvedre Santa Barbara County.
Donelan Wines www.DonelanWines.com
09 Roussanne, Venus, Sonoma County; 09 Grenache, Cuvee Moriah, Sonoma County; 09 Syrah, Cuvee Christine, Sonoma County; 09 Syrah, Walker Vine Hill Vineyard, Sonoma County.
Edward Sellers www.EdwardSellers.com (Look for a full article on Ed’s 07 100% Roussanne coming soon!)
07 Grenache, Estate; 07 Mourvedre; 07 Syrah, Barrel Select; 07 Red Blend, Cuvee des Cinq (outstanding!); 07 Vertigo (Another outstanding wine – GSM Blend. Note: I use the accepted acronym GSM for Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre Blends.)
Epiphany Cellars www.EpiphanyCellars.com
07 Red Blend, Gypsy, Santa Barbara County (A wonderful Grenache based blend); 08 Red Blend, Revelations, Santa Barbara County (Another wonderful showing of a Syrah based blend)
Fess Parker Winery Vineyards www.FessParkerWines.com
(Truth be told, I’d avoided Fess Parker since the film Sideways. That film may have sent hordes of peeps to Santa Ynez but the crowds drove me away.) 09 Viognier, Estate, Santa Barbara County; 08 Syrah, Santa Barbara County; 07 Syrah, Rodney’s Vineyard.
Frick Winery www.FrickWinery.com
Thank you, wine pal Mary Bradway, for bringing me to Frick for some really different showings: 08 Red Blend, C2, North Coast; 08 Red Blend C3, North Coast; 08 Red Blend, Cotes du Dry Creek; 07 Cinsault, Dry Creek Valley, 06 Carignan (The second one of this varital in the day for me) Mendocino County, 08 Counoise (the only one that day that I found) Owl Hill Vineyard.
Halter Ranch Vineyard www.HalterRanch.com
Holly’s Hill Vineyards www.HollyShill.com
09 Grenache Noir; 09 Mourvedre, Classique.
JK Wine Co – Katin and Arada Wines www.jkwinecompany.com
08 Katin Syrah, Rogue, Oregon; 08 (100%) Syrah, Cherone, Monterey. (Note: These were added to the program and I may have made an error in my notes as I can’t find them online…)
Maison Bleue Winery www.MBWinery.com
Another recommendation from Mary Bradway that day and the only winery from Washington, extremely good. 09 Red Blend, Jaja, Yakima Valley; 09 Grenache, La Montagnette, Upland; 09 Grenache; Le Midi, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley.
Ridge Vineyards www.RidgeWine.com
Another new favorite for me today: 09 Carignan, Buchignani Ranch; 09 Petite Sirah (with 8% Viognier) Lytton Estate.
Ortman Family Vineyards, LLC www.OrtmanWines.com
2010 Grenache Rose; 08 Red Blend Cuvee Eddy (GSM Blend); 08 Petite Sirah.
Venteux Vineyards www.VenteuxVineyards.com
Vina Robles www.VinaRobles.com
08 Petite Sirah, Jardine; 08 Red Blend, RED4.
And just a shout out to the ladies from Gourmet Toffee (www.ggsgourmettoffee.com) your “varietals” of milk and dark and nuts and toffee and…are wonderful pairings for any wine varietals.
Wines on the List (And no, I couldn’t taste everything!)
Over 35 winery members included Adelaida, Alta Colina, Andrew Murray Vineyards, Anglim, Bonny Doon, Calcareous, Caliza, Clavo Cellars, Conway Family Wines, Cornerstone, Curtis Winery, Derby Wine Estates, Donelan Wines, Eberle Winery, Ecluse Wines, Edward Sellars Epiphany, Fess Parker, Frick, Halter Ranch, Holly’s Hill, J. Lohr, Jada, JK Wine Co – Katin & Arada, Kaleidos, Martian Ranch, Michael-David, Niner Wine Estates, Ortman Family, Pas Mahle, Pomar Junction, Qupe, Stolpman, Tablas Creek, Tercero, Treana, Venteux Vineyards, Vina Robles, Waterbrook and Zaca Mesa.
From The Website
The Rhone Rangers is America’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to promoting American Rhone varietal wines. American Rhone-style wines are made from the same grapes that have flourished for centuries in France’s Rhone River Valley, and their growing popularity in the United States speaks to their versatility with food, wide range of rich flavors, and to the skills of American winemakers.
Our mission is to educate the public on Rhone varietal wine grapes grown in America and to promote the production and enjoyment of these wines, with emphasis on integration into our daily lives. For a wine to qualify as a “Rhone Rangers” wine, the winery must be a member of the organization and 75% of the wine’s content must include one or more of the twenty-two traditional Rhone grape varieties as approved by the French government for the wines of the Cotes du Rhone (including Petite Sirah/Durif).
The resources on our site including our database of winery members and the grapes they grow, our educational materials, and our listing of member winery events. And whatever your affiliation to Rhone varietal wines – winery, grower, supplier or consumer – consider becoming a Rhone Rangers member to gain access to other wineries, wines, and resources dedicated to these terrific grape varieties.