Monday, April 7, 2014

IN PHOTOS: Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting - Part 1 (of 2)

It was a beautiful day by the Bay Sunday as dozens of wineries and hundreds of tasters gathered for the annual Rhone Rangers grand tasting held in a new venue this year.

See this post and the following one for photos of the event. 

This post focuses on established brands with Rhone wines including Big Basin, Morgan, Quivira, Qupé, and Tablas Creek. See the second post for smaller, up and coming brands.


1. Quivira's new Biodynamically certified rosé - a lovely first release…I look forward to trying this out all summer long. 

2. Tablas Creek's En Gobelet - a Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre blend with 24% Tannat - my personal fave of the day.

3. Cassoulet from the Girl and the Fig catering - how perfect a pairing with Rhone wines.

[Not pictured: Bonny Doon which has two Biodynamically certified wines - both of its Le Cigare Blanc wines.]

Ferries hired specifically for the event brought attendees
from the city to the East Bay venue at Craneway Pavillion
Morgan's Double L estate vineyard, certified organic, is the source
for Morgan's Double L Syrah (the 2011 garnered 90 pts. from Parker).

Pictured below: Big Basin's Bradley Brown with his Old Corral Syrah
sourced from certified organic estate vineyards;
Antonio Galloni (Wine Advocate, Vinous) rated it 94 pts.

Quivira's Ned Horton, vineyard manager, and Andrew Fegelmen,
Director of Marketing, with Quivira's impressive Rhone lineup. A third
of Quivira's wines (12 different wines) are sourced from certified Biodynamic
vineyards, making it the second largest Biodynamic producer
in Sonoma County. New this year: an all BD-sourced rosé.
Instead of the usual grand tasting fare (cheese nibbles, etc.) attendees were
treated to cassoulet from the Girl and the Fig's catering program
 a perfect pairing with Rhone wines.
Central Coast producer Qupé's booth was the most popular booth at the
trade and media tasting, with its decade long reputation for top drawer
Syrahs and other Rhone wines. (That's winemaker Bob Lindquist in the
blue shirt on the right.) The winery sources 25% of its production from its
Demeter certified (Biodynamic) Sawyer Lindquist vineyard in Edna Valley.
Qupé's finest Syrah was recently voted California's best by a
New York Times tasting panel.
Tablas Creek was the other popular spot with a
continuous crowd sampling wines.
Well known for its "real" Rhone roots, it famously
imported vines from its parent company,
the Perrin Family in France's Rhone valley.
Founder Robert Haas was honored with a
Lifetime Achievement award for his role in
promoting U.S. grown Rhone wines.
Pictured above: winemaker and vineyard manager
 Neil Collins and Jason Haas, general manager.
My favorite wine of the day was their En Gobelet, a GSM
blend with the added excitement of 24%  Tannat.
(It could have been the cassoulet speaking,
as I tasted both together, but regardless, it
was the wine of the day for me.)

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