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12 Aug
2009

 

Rhone Rangers Strike Again  Print

Riedel Glass Waiting For DeploymentIn a recent post, I told you about my dietary efforts and how I had lost 7 of my 17 extra pounds in the first 10 days and how I planned to lose more towards my goal in the next 11 days. Well Day 21 (10+11) came and went and I was hovering between having lost 7 and 8 pounds. I hadn’t cheated very much, so I guess I hit a plateau. I decided to redouble my efforts, but only after the weekend. After all, the Rhone Rangers were coming to town this past Sunday (on diet day 23) for their LA tasting and I couldn’t let a silly diet stand in my way.

The Rhone Rangers are a group of almost 200 winemakers (initially from California, but now also from Oregon, Washington and New York) who create wine in the style of the reds (such as Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Petite Sirah) and whites (such as Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc) of the France’s Rhône Valley. Nearly 50 wineries poured more than 150 wines at the tasting, held at Santa Monica’s Pier 59 Studios West. You can check out the participating winery list on the Rhone Rangers website. Ticket sales were limited, so it was relatively easy to taste most of the wines without having to wait for a turn. There was a long table of very nice antipasto appetizers by Food Fetish and the tasting glasses were from Riedel. This tasting event was excellent, not just because the wines and food were very good, but also because the setting was upbeat and interesting and because so many of the actual winemakers were are on hand to talk about their wines. Most importantly, unlike so many tasting events, we commented to each other that we really liked at least 90% of the wines we tasted, and that is high praise indeed!

A Winemaker Talks About His PassionWhile we can’t list all of the many wines we enjoyed tasting (because there were just too many), a few standouts deserve special mention. Some of the Wine Imbiber’s old favorites were there, including Curtis Winery, Justin Winery, and Zaca Mesa Winery, all of which produce consistently excellent wines. We also enjoyed checking out Eberle Winery, because two people had entered them in our Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Spit resource (including this past week’s prize giveaway winner)!

A winery new to us was Clavo Cellars of Templeton. Winemaker/owner Neil Roberts poured his 2008 “Apparition” Viognier, 2008 “Amore” Rosé, 2008 Granache, 2006 “Wreckless Moment” Syrah and 2006 “Dreamer” Petite Sirah, all of which were very good. We also really enjoyed Meyer Family Cellars’ 2004 & 2005 “Cooler Climate” Syrah. Treana, a relative of Hope Family Wines, poured a fantastic 2007 White Blend of Viognier and Marsanne. Epiphany Cellars gave us a taste of their 2005 Petite Sirah that we really enjoyed. Koehler Winery served up their 2007 Estate Viognier, 2007 Estate Syrah and 2007 Estate Grenache, all of which were spot on. Special mention also goes to Cline Cellars for their 2007 Syrah (suggested at $10 per bottle in the event brochure; listed at $12 on their website today). In our opinion, this wine is underpriced in relation to its taste and quality (though we aren’t asking for a price increase).

Rhone Rangers LA Tasting—Can You Spot the Wine Imbiber?

Opinions will vary, but for us, the best of the tasting was the 2006 Syrah from Edward Sellers. Unfortunately, as Ed explained, he only produced 95 cases of this wine, which was made available only to his wine club members. Nevertheless, we also really enjoyed his other wines, particularly the 2007 Viognier, 2008 Grenache Rosé, 2006 “Le Thief” Red Blend and 2006 “Vertigo” Red Blend. On his website, Ed is quoted as saying, “Winemaking is an expression, an art–form. It is our passion, devotion and mission to express this art through the tending of the vines and the magic of the cellar.” Well done, Ed!

Most of the Rhone Ranger wineries are located in the Paso Robles area, although several come from Santa Barbara County, the Healdsburg area and a few other places. The Rhone Rangers tasting events are a convenient way to visit them all in a first–class setting. Check out the Rhone Rangers event calendar to find the one nearest to you. And now, back to my diet for another 16 days.

Comments (3)



Jim said:

I was there! Some of the best wines I’ve had in a long time. Liked the location, too.


Tracy Dauterman said:

Rich,
It was nice meeting you at the event! I’m glad you enjoyed our wines, thank you for the mention!


Ed said:

Wine Imbiber,
Thank you for the very kind words, I do appreciate it. I’m glad you enjoyed the event and thanks for spreading the word! Ed Sellers