I know, I know. It was just a few weeks ago that I was saying that, in spite of my fondness for other varietals, my go-to grape is still, ultimately, Zinfandel.
Well, somehow I am going to have to reconcile that with the results of what was possibly the finest group of wines that I have had the pleasure to taste at a single wine tasting event – and they weren’t Zins!
My previous two articles were reporting on two longstanding festivals in the Los Angeles area – Wine in the Pines and the Ojai Wine Festival. The key word here is “festival”, which to me means the main purpose of the event is to have fun. Sure, you want to enjoy the wines that are available, but it is also important to savor the entire experience – the food, the lifestyle vendors, the entertainment and the venue.
Wine tasting events are a little more serious. Often sponsored by a trade organization, the focus is much more on the wines, with the other aspects given secondary attention. My primary goal at tastings is to get educated, by sampling offerings from unfamiliar wineries as well as the latest releases from familiar ones. [I’d be a liar if I said this wasn’t fun, but it is a different kind of fun than being at a festival.]
Admittedly, I might be considered to be splitting hairs and playing semantics, but to me there are definite differences. An additional difference is that quite often at tasting events, there is a media and trade portion separate from the public tasting, although sometimes the public can buy into the trade part of the event.
That was the case at the recent Rhone Rangers tasting event held at the Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles.
The Rhone Rangers is an organization dedicated to promoting the production of domestic wine from grapes that originated in France’s Rhone Valley. There are 22 Rhone varieties, some of the best known of which are Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc.
At this event, there was a media/trade tasting, followed by a public tasting. For an additional charge, members of the public could not only attend the earlier tasting too, but also participate in a seminar as well as have lunch with the winemakers.
Per the program, the following wineries poured at this event:
Derby Wine Estates
Jaffurs Wine Cellars
Kenneth Volk Vineyards
Kieran Robinson Wines
Larner Vineyard & Winery
Law Estate Wines
Meyer Family Cellars
Mounts Family Winery
Steinbeck Vineyards & Winery
Treana & Hope Family Wines
Vines on the Marycrest
Of course, there was no way to taste everything. But of what I did taste, quality was pretty great across the board. Next week, I’ll tell you my favorites.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. (2013 Update: Eve and Michael announced Eve Wine 101 Consulting. Info is here: http://evewine101.com/press-releases/) Michael can be contacted at email@example.com.