I’ve been waiting a long time for this.
Hospice du Rhone, an event focusing on producers of Rhone varietals from all over the world, had been a fixture in Paso Robles for 15 years before moving to Tennessee in 2012.
My recollection [vague as it may be] is that the event had its origins in the 1990s with the Viognier Guild, which had been started by Mat Garretson of Garretson Wine Company [remember the great wines with the Gaelic names?] The legacy of the Viognier Guild lives on with the Hospice du Rhone which celebrates all Rhone Varietals.
The Rhone varietals, so called because of their origins in France’s Rhone Valley, come from 22 different grapes. Some of the best known ones are Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache [for the reds] and Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc [for the whites] but there are many others that are not so well known.
[For the record, my understanding is that Petite Sirah is not technically a Rhone varietal but gets to be included because it is a hybrid of Syrah and Peloursin, is used heavily in California by Rhone wine producers and is so darn tasty. And the correct spelling is Petite Sirah, not Petite Syrah, unless you are Turley because, you know…Turley.]
I had never made it to HdR when it was in Paso and I knew I had missed out on something special.
Then, last year, the announcement was made that HdR was coming back to Paso Robles in 2016. My wife Karen and I had the extreme pleasure of attending the event, which went from dinner Thursday April 14th through the Saturday evening barbecue.
Passes could be purchased for the entire event [some meals not included] or al a carte for individual seminars and tastings.
Wait…seminars? Yes. One of the great things about HdR is the appeal to all levels of wine lovers. For those who just wanted to taste wines, the Friday afternoon Opening Tasting and the Saturday afternoon Closing Tasting provided the opportunity to taste at 145 tasting tables! And, for those who wanted to really expand their Rhone knowledge, there were four seminars in which to do just that.
Unfortunately, our schedules did not permit us to attend the two events on Friday, which were:
The Intricacies of Chateauneuf du Pape, led by Jeb Dunnuck of The Wine Advocate.
Washington Rhones – State of Address, presented by Todd Alexander of Force Majeure, Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars, Sean Boyd of Rotie Cellars and Bob Bertheau of Tenet Wines, moderated by Patrick Cominsky of Wine & Spirits.
We did make it in time for the Opening Tasting on Friday afternoon, but more on that later when I write about the tastings. Although I will touch on our post-tasting evening…
One of the benefits to being in town for a wine event, or just being in wine country in general, is you never know who you will run into. Friday evening, while there were some organized dinners going on, we opted to get a little away from downtown Paso Robles and go to the other side of the 101 freeway to Mistura, a great Peruvian restaurant [get the grilled beef heart!]. The people next to us were clearly wine people, but I didn’t want to interrupt them. That problem was solved when they asked about the Carlisle Zinfandel I had brought. They turned out to be Greg Brewer of Brewer Clifton and Chris Hammell of Hammell Wine Alliance along with their spouses. Wonderful people and a real treat to meet them.
Next, the seminars…
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. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.