05 April 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Rhone Ranger Rare Wines – Come Taste the Unusual

RR2012-SFLook, folks. If this title doesn’t scream “where is the Wine Deviant when we need her?!”, I don’t know what does. As a matter of fact, I would feel that I’ve let you down if I didn’t attend and report back on the amazingly unusual and beautiful wines highlighted in this seminar. So, rather than going with our regularly scheduled individual wine reviews, I’m going to lay out all that we enjoyed during this first of two seminars put on by the Rhone Rangers of San Francisco. Also, needless to say, the annual Rhone Ranger event in the Bay Area is not one to be missed, so PLEASE be sure to put it on your list, and visit their website come November or December to see if the date for the 2013 Rhone Ranger event is posted. And then…quickly purchase tickets!

And now, for the nerdy notes:

Tablas Creek 2010 Picpoul Blanc, $27
score: 3+/4 out of 5
n: sl. chalk, lemon sour candy
t: round, nice mouthfeel, light, slight lemon and can sense that light ocean spray, nice and hint of sweet at the end
uber-nerdy notes from Jason Haas, representing his winery: Picpoul is a late ripening fruit (Sept/Oct), provides ripe, citrus, lemon + richness found in U.S. vs. Languedoc. Used stainless steel, native yeast, ML fermentation needed 23-24*B 3.2 pH which would be lower & searing w/out ML. Used ~2-5% in Rousanne (common practice for Languedoc wines), helps to bring out saline & brightness of Rousanne otherwise left hidden. Used to use Viognier & Grenache Blanc in Esprit Blanc, but found Picpoul gave better character

Two Shepherds 20’10 Grenache Blanc, Sarloos Vineyard, $24
score: 3+ out of 5
n: fresh, slight linen, slight white peach, and slightly dusty
t: acidity is high but pleasant, nice long finish, good mouthfeel, orange peel & meyer lemon, slight floral element
uber-nerdy notes from William Allen, representing his winery: hard to find grapes in Sonoma, used 20 acres ~10 years ago, now ??. neutral barrels, concrete eggs, aged on lees, 23-25*B, harvested in October

Holly’s Hill 20’10 Counoise, $22
score: 4+ out of 5
n: bright, fresh raspberry, strawberry, reminds me a a bit of nouveau bottles, slight marijuana upon 1+ hour open (don’t ask how I know – just call it dried italian herbs if you’re still chuckling)
t: long finish, lavender, light & begging for pork loin
uber-nerdy notes from Carrie Bendick, representing her winery: Placerville in ElDorado area near canyon, off the beaten path. zippy acidity helped them finish off their blends, customers that come too them are looking for something different

Clos Saron 2010 Cinsault Blend (10% Syrah), $30
score: 4+ out of 5, need to schedule a visit here!!
n: fruity, berry explosion but not jammy, concentrated density like grape juice, slight dried cherry
t: tart, moderate depth, long finish,, moderate tannin but very pleasant, needs pairing with food
uber-nerdy notes from Gideon Beinstock, representing his winery: fruit sourced in Lodi (planted in 1995), first time working with this grape, did 2 blends + rose in 2010, whole cluster, double skins & stems added back, no control on hang time, foot stomped, open top ferm in puncheons . R.Graham and many other winemakers have used same vineyard, organically farmed, own-rootted, common grape in Southern Rhone. flowery, spicy nose, poor acidity & structure
before prohibition, this was known as Black Malvasia in Silicon Valley, blended with other popular wines

Ridge Vineyards 2009 Carignane, $26
score: 5 out of 5 – whoa, baby!! score!!
n: bright, cranberry obvious, dark & deep tones make me want a big juicy steak! WOW!
t: nice deep body, long finish, blueberry skins
uber-nerdy notes from David Gates: Alexander Valley D&B Vineyard has 60% Zin & 40% Carignane planted from 1920s-40s, was used by Gallo for blending, started using in 1999 & make 2 wines (Carignane & Zin). hard to find a vineyard planted pre-prohibition that was all 100% 1 grape variety (field blends were common). ~200 acres in Sonoma County
most valleys in CA that have old vines, quite often you’ll find Carignan in “non-carignane” vineyards & the further you get away from the coast, the more likely, as well as the higher in elevation & temperature. cranberry notes, moderate tannin on it’s own, can feel gritty, native fermentation & ML, open top stainless steel fermentation

Lagier Meredith 2009 Mondeuse Noire, $42
score: 4+ out of 5
n: powder, floral note, slight chalk, slight blueberry pie
t: slight chalk/dusty, deep berry, nice moderate tannin structure, dark tones & super opque wine on sight
uber-nerdy notes from Carole Meredith: Mondeuse Noir is a close relative of Syrah (brother, uncle, grandfather?), in France, foothills off alps & cold areas are best. a lot of pepper, spicy, floral like cool-climate Syrah. fermented in T-ins, crushee berries, 2-3xs/day punchdowns, neutral francois barrels, 1/3 acre, difficult to ggrow, high vigor & big berry clusters, labor intensive crop, came into CA in 1930s

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