Tuesday, April 1, 2014

California's Best Rhones - Grand Tasting This Sunday in Richmond

Credit: Anagram Press
The annual love fest of Rhone producers and Rhone wine lovers takes place this weekend in the Bay Area's premiere waterfront location in the historic Craneway Pavilion in Richmond. (It's a breaktakingly beautiful spot.)

Credit: Anagram Press

In addition to the Grand Tasting on Sunday afternoon (3 pm for general public; 1 pm for weekend pass holders and trade), there are seminars Sunday morning (one on microproducers; another on grenache - $75).

Saturday evening there's a $150 winemaker dinner (benefits scholarships; currently sold out) at which Robert Haas, partner and co-founder of Tablas Creek, will be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to American grown Rhone wines. (He should also get an award for having 120 acres of certified organic vines - 100% of the Tablas Creek estate is organic.)

All inclusive weekend passes are sold out but there's still plenty of room for the Grand Tasting ($65).

There are lots of organic and Biodynamic producers attending this annual Rhone Rah Rah. Here's a list. (Producers who are 100% org/BD in brand are in bold.)

1. Morgan - Estate grown Syrah (Double L)
2. Big Basin (Estate Syrah)
3. Bonny Doon (its Le Cigare Blanc wines are certified Biodynamic)
4. Campovida (some wines sourced from organic or Biodynamic vines)
5. Martian Vineyards (Santa Barbara producer with certified Biodynamic vineyards; up and comer with affordable prices; 100% of wines in brand are from its BD estate vines)
6. Morgan (a few estate wines are organically sourced)
7. Quivira (7,000 cases - 1/3 of production - comes from three BD certified vineyards; 10 wines are certified BD wines)
8. Qupé (100% of estate wines are all Biodynamically grown and certified BD)
9. Tablas Creek (star producer when it comes to Rhones - all estate wines organically grown; the only exception is its Patelin wines which are sourced from estate grapes as well as grapes from neighboring vineyards)

Getting to the event itself can be easy and/or fun. Ferries are running from Pier 43 in the city directly to the venue, which is in the historic complex of World War II ship building monuments, including the NPS's Rosie the Riveter museum (next door to the Craneway). You might also want to check out the restaurant in the complex - Assemble. (Reservations would be a must this weekend; get one on Open Table). In addition to the ferries, the event producers will be running a shuttle bus to and from the nearest BART station.

Click here for all event details.

If you go, here are a few of my favorites (though I haven't tasted all of the wines from the producers listed above):

• Enjoyed (Tasted)

Qupé/Verdad's Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, Edna Valley 
***Qupé's Sawyer Lindquist Syrahs - and everything from this vineyard (indeed this is my favorite California Syrah to date - coincidentally it is New York Times' wine critic Eric Asimov's as well)...some of the other Qupé wines from Bien Nacido are in the certification pipeline...don't miss the rosé (of Grenache) from Qupé's sister label Verdad

***Tablas Creek - I'm not sure what they will be pouring (maybe not their version of a Chateauneuf de Pape), but pretty much everything is top flight..

• New to Me

Martian Vineyards - I haven't tried these (yet) but am looking forward to - you can buy these in the Mission at BiRite Market (one of the few California BD sourced wines available there)

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