Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rhone Rangers Riding into Town Saturday

The annual Rhone Rangers grand tasting takes place this Saturday at the lovely Craneway hall on the water in Point Richmond.

This year the vintners association honors Bob Lindquist of Qupé with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a Friday night dinner. Come to the Saturday tasting to sample his wine along with those of many other Rhone wine producers.

Rhones are the most climate appropriate grape to be growing over much of California - and they are among the best wines California wineries make.

The grand tasting takes place at 3 pm. For more information, click here.

Here are some of the great wines to look for (from certified vines):

This tiny Mendocino winery sources a few wines from organic or Biodynamic wines. It's Grenache and Viogner are not to be missed. These wines are real standouts.

Chacewater (Certified "Made with Organic Grapes")
An up and coming Lake County producer whose wines I haven't tried in several years, its owners have some vineyards in the Sierra Foothills where they grow a $21 Syrah from organic vines. It's great to have some affordable, go to wines from organic vines. The winery has won a number of very prestigious awards in the past few years.

Ridge Vineyards
One of the grand hommes of Rhones, this esteemed winery sources Rhone wines from a number of locations through the state, from Paso Robles to Sonoma. Most of the grapes come from historic, dry farmed, old vines. Its Geyserville and East Bench Zinfandels (2012) are from certified organic vineyards. The Lytton Ridge Syrah is on older vintage (2010) that is from its "in transition to certification" vines.

Quivira Vineyards & Winery (Certified "Made with Biodynamic Grapes")*
A Rhone star from Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley AVA, this producer makes roughly a third of its wine from its Biodynamic vines. Its relatively new rosé is very lively and aromatic - a wine that makes you stop in your tracks and remember to pay attention to rosé. (It's not just pink for picnics.) Quivira also makes great Petite Sirah and two Zins from its estate vines.

Qupé (Certified "Biodynamic Wine")*
Producing wines both at the highest levels of winemaking, and at the highest and hardest certification type, Qupé makes, in the words of New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov, the best Syrah in America. Look for the Sawyer Lindquist vineyard designates, which proprietor and winemaker Bob Lindquist planted in Edna Valley. There's a regular Syrah and a reserve Syrah along with a Grenache. Compare the cost of these wines to a bad Cab from Napa and you'll find the world class Syrah is probably less. Buy some Syrah.

Tablas Creek Vineyards*
California's "other" great Rhone producer, it's the offspring of two great wine families - Haas and Perrin from the Rhone region in France. All of the wines are from organic vines (except for its Patelin table wines) though none are labeled. A beautiful producer with many traditional blends to sample - you're in for a treat at this tasting. Again, fantastic quality.

* = Best Wine Clubs for Rhone Wine Lovers

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