You know it’s a good day when you manage to sample some of California’s cutting edge wines and eat some stomach charring Sonoma Jack Habanero Jack cheese in a single afternoon. Woo hoo!
The Rhone Rangers are a hardy band of intrepid domestic producers dedicated to promoting the Rhone’s 22 grape varieties, I challenge you to find friendlier bunch of vintners. Big names like Ridge, Pride and Tablas Creek showed off their smaller production gems and rising star Pax Mahle of Wind Gap, fresh off the cover of Wine and Spirits Magazine, showed off his cool climate Petaluma Gap Syrahs. I even got a chance to catch up with one of my favorite winemakers Gideon Bienstock, proprietor of the Sierra Foothills’ Clos Saron.
If there was a downside to the event, it was that many of these great wines aren’t widely distributed so I encourage all of you to take a trip out West and track some of these vintners down. I give the reds (Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Carignane) a solid “A” for restraint and complexity. In other words, the best producers traded overt black fruit flavors for more subtle earth, meat and pepper characteristics and maintained a mouthwatering acidity that would make a vegan toss a steak on the barbecue.
The whites were harder to pin down. Marsanne and Roussanne wines battled big alcohol and sometime lost. Qupe’s Roussanne was particularly great, as was Clos Saron’s Carte Blanche. From San Francisco, the Rhone Rangers tasting takes its show on the road and makes its way to Seattle and Washington. Visit http://www.rhonerangers.org/ for more information.
Take a look at some of the Rhone Ranger member wineries we offer. Boony Doon, Ridge, Tablas Creek, JC Cellars and Clos Saron. Although not listed as a member winery, I also highly recommend Donkey and Goat’s Rhone varietal wines.
Salud – Alma Leon-Reveles