Eve Tastes: Rhone Rangers 2012 at the St. Vibiana Cathedral

Epiphany!  Why do I get so excited after over five years of dedicating myself to writing about wine?  Why does a Rhone Rangers tasting event build up such an anticipatory thirst in me?

The first time I went to a Rhone Rangers event I scoffed at all of the Grenache being poured, as the color was too bright and the taste too biting.  Now, five years later I search out that 100% Grenache or Grenache blend for what my more educated palate can now detect: red cherries, other red or black fruits, stems, white pepper or black peppercorns, mint, vanilla or smooth milk chocolate, toffee, anise, tobacco, tannins, and a general juiciness, jamminess or silkiness.

Of the Rhone grapes – we grow 12 of the 22 grape varietals grown in the Rhone River Valley of France – we have wines made from Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Counoise, Cinsaut (aka Cinsault), Grenache Blanc, Picpoul, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, (these last three are commonly used in a blend called a GSM).  This is just a taste, you can learn MUCH more about Rhones here: http://www.rhonerangers.org/

Now, you have a whetted palate, a little lesson, so, onto the virtual tasting!  Below I have the winery tables I was able to visit in bold with only the specific wines that I really liked listed. (Note: In some of these cases I didn’t list their full line-up because of time constraints and not disinterest in my part.)

My fav pic: Rhone Rangers 2012, l-r: Michael Perlis, Doug Minnick,me, Victor Abascal, Xochitl Maiman, Randy Fuller, Karen Perlis

Some have just a spare amount of notes as I had less than two hours to complete the tasting that was allotted for media.  Below my list is the full list of wineries scheduled to pour.  If you attended the event with the public you had a little longer so you may have hit more wineries than I did:







J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

10 Red Blend, “Gesture”, Paso (This was a GSM blend with a lovely, strong floral nose.)

10 Mourvèdre, “Gesture”, Paso

Neither of these wines is available anywhere but the Paso tasting room, visit it!


10 Roussanne, Estate

10 Red Blend, “Côte à Côte”

10 Red Blend, “Estate Cuvee”

The French winemaker Stephan Asseo came to Paso because, according to production manager Dave DeBusk, he wanted to make wines that were not dictated by French law.  (In France only grapes grown in Rhone can be used in a Rhone wine.)  So these two red Rhone blends were made to his liking (and mine!) with a non-Rhone grape: Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bonny Doon Vineyard

11 Rosé, “Vin Gris de Cigare” had a perfect balance.

10 White Blend, “Le Cigare Blanc” was both soft and sweet, pleasant.

10 Grenache, “Clos de Gilroy” had nice dried fruits, smooth cherry.

Maison Bleue Winery

I was looking for more Grenache and a wine pal sent me over to try these wines.  Made in Prosser, WA and poured by an affable So. African I enjoyed:

10 Viognier, “Notre Vie”, Arthur’s Vineyard was very crisp.

11 Rosé , “La Famille” from Mourvèdre grapes was very good.

10 Red GSM Blend, “Jaja”

09 Syrah, “Liberte, Boushey Vineyard had nice dark fruit an balanced tannins.

10 Grenache was perfect.

Calcareous Vineyard

Rep John Teeling will be at Vino 100 Valencia tonight (661-294-6886) if you would like to meet him and taste some of his wines.

10 Marsanne

10 White Blend

09 Grenache had notes of red fruit and mint, very well done.

Clayhouse Wines

10 White Blend, Cuvee Blanc, Estate

09 Petite Sirah, “Block 87”, Estate

08 Petite Sirah, “Show Pony”, Estate had a great nose

06 Petite Sirah, Late Harvest, Estate was very yummy, wish I had it as my last taste.

Miner Family Winery

10 Viognier my sis-in-law would have loved it for its balance of fruit and acidity.

09 Marsanne I could describe in one word: Velvet.

08 Syrah had nice aromas of chocolate and smoke followed through to the taste with white pepper and a perfect balance.


11 Viognier

11 Marsanne

10 Rosé , Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, made from Grenache

09 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard

09 Syrah, Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard

All of the above wines I found to be outstanding.


10 Viognier

10 Grenache

These from Denner were equally outstanding for me.

Stolpman Vineyards

09 Roussanne, “L’Avion”

10 Red Blend, “La Quadrilla” was perfectly balanced.

10 Syrah, Estate had dark fruit on the palate, dry, nice finish.

10 Syrah, “Originals” from 1992 plantings was arguable a favorite.

10 Syrah, “Angeli”


10 Viognier was very nice.

09 Grenache

Vina Robles

10 Viognier was a nice, light version I liked.

11 Rosé , “Rosé um” had a refreshing nose.

09 Red Blend, “Red4” was a GSM and Petite Sirah blend with interesting dark fruits and minerality.

09 Petite Sirah was really big, very nice.

07 Syrah, “Syree” was a cuvee or mostly Syrah (94%) and Petite Sirah with loads of chocolate.

Grey Wolf Cellars

10 White Blend, “Southpaw”

10 “White Blend, “River”

09 “Roumours”, a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne was very smooth.

Vines on the Marycrest

11 White Blend

11 Rosé has always been a favorite of mine.

09 Syrah

09 Petite Sirah

09 “Round Midnight” was a GSM with the emphasis on the Syrah, loved it.


The Full List and Event Photos:

Acquiesce Winery

Maison Bleue S. African Rep and volunteer Sunny

Hug Cellars

Adelaida Cellars

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

Anglim J

K Wine Co.

Alta Colina

Jada Vineyard & Winery

Andrew Murray Vineyards


l-r: Doug Minnick, me, Xochitl Maiman, Randy Fuller, Karen Perlis

Bonny Doon Vineyard

Maison Bleue Winery

Calcareous Vineyard

Martian Ranch

Cass Winery

Meyer Family Cellars

Clavo Cellars

Michael-David Winery

Clayhouse Wines

Miner Family Winery

Cornerstone Cellars


Cosa Obra

Refugio Ranch Vineyards

Curtis Winery

Ridge Vineyards


Stolpman Vineyards

Derby Wine Estates

Tablas Creek Vineyard

Eberle Winery Ltd.



Thacher Winery

Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines

Treana & Hope Family Wines

Epiphany Cellars

Don't talk and sip Eve

Venteux Vineyards

Fess Parker Winery & Vineyards


Frick Winery

Vina Robles

Grey Wolf Cellars

Vines on the Marycrest

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Wrath Hearthstone Vineyard & Winery

Rhone Rangers 2012 Entrance

Zaca Mesa Winery


2 thoughts on “Eve Tastes: Rhone Rangers 2012 at the St. Vibiana Cathedral

  1. Eve, on behalf of the Rhone Rangers, many thanks for your amazing support and enthusiasm. Rhone aficionados (and winemakers) are a special, passionate breed.
    We got RAVE reviews about the event, and are looking to rebook Vibiana, and see if we can expand the event with a seminar, and/or dinner, more food and many things.
    Rhone Ranger Board Member

    1. Hi William, I love the idea of a Rhone Ranger expansion! I vote for a seminar with the winemakers! And, we loved covering your event – definitely one of our favorites!

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