Posts Tagged ‘rhone’

Rhône – The Next Generation

May 26, 2010

Where no WineBrat has gone before…I am the first one to admit that I am uneducated about most wines outside my sphere of influence; yes I drink them, yes I occasionally enjoy them, but I don’t know much about them.  When I was invited to attend Hospice du Rhône this year as a media guest, I jumped at the chance to attend the world’s penultimate tasting event of Rhone varietals.  I was jumping up and down for months, and then I got the cold from hell.  Suffice to say, Bratty was not amused. As I drove through the endless row of wines between Salinas and King City, and then past the oil derricks and in to Paso Robles, I was more excited about taking a nap and some Nyquil than the bowling event that would ensue later that evening.  fortunately, I was domiciled in the hotel that was across the street from the event center, and I arrived early enough in the day, that I crashed out instead of taking in a few tasting rooms.

As I rallied with a combination of Rhone medicine and bowling silliness, I was looking forward to the next day’s educational seminars. I am sorry to say that I missed the South African seminar early on Friday morning, but I rallied enough to attend the Côte-Rôtie seminar later in the morning.  Côte-Rôtie is located in the northern Rhône, where the vineyards are distinguished by their vertical slop and stone calls.  The wine is primarily red Rhône, focusing on Syrah, many co-fermented withViognier.  This area has a very different style than the southern Rhone, and winters are wet with a cold wind, as well as fog that can make ripening the grapes a challenge. Wines from Côte-Rôtie share a lot of similarities tot hose of South Africa, and are earthly, gamey and rich.

The presenting producer, Domaine Michel et Ogier, is founded on land where seven generations farmed grapes.  In 1997, the latest generation arrived after studying in Burgundy to grow Rhône grapes; prior to his arrival, the grapes were sold to a negociant, but that soon began to change.  1982 wasn’t a particularly good year in the Rhone, and the negociant didnt’ want the grapes so the family made their own wine.  Soon, the negoicant came back wanting the finished wine, and the winery was born.

2008 viognier de Rosine Vin de Pays showed lemons, necterines, peaches, apricots and honey with crisp lemon rind and peach nectar.  The vineyard was planted in 2000, with the first vintage being 2004, and marked a change or the producer.  Prior to 1997, when the next generation arrived, only red wines were produced, so the viognier (as opposed to syrah co fermented with viognier) was a departure.  It was a cold summer and a difficult year, but this has made the viognier fresh and crisp, with a nice minerality and grapefruit zing.  Ogier doesn’t believe is performing battonage, or the stirring of the lees, as this adds a certain fatness to the wine.  Viognier possesses its own fatness and structure, and he refrains from battonage to allow the wine to show it’s natural light.

2008 Viognier Condrieu shows the appellation distinctions that occur in Cote Rotie.  This example was a much darker golden yellow color, but I  had trouble finding the nose (granted I had trouble findnig MY nose but I was hopiung for more obvious aromas in the wine0.  The Condrieu is farmed in an area of 6-7 villages, where farms are on steep slopes of old granite based soil; this vineyard i 15 years old, and shows creamier slightly sweeter stone fruit, Meyer lemon, orange blossom, a hint of jasmine, green apple and pink grapefruit.  Again, in this example, new oak was avoided to show fresh clean flavors from the wine.  Aging in neutral oak with no battonage allows fresh clean wines that are very Alsatian in nature.

The rest of the wines, which were red) were lost on my cold, but it was interesting to taste the wines of the area, to compare with my baesline of New World syrah.

I attended Hospieces du Rhone as a Media guest; however, I paid my own travel expenses and lodging, as well as for most of the local supply of kleenex.

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Rhône if you want to!

April 19, 2010

Rhône around the world.  in 11 short days, the penultimate Rhône wine event will commence in Paso Robles.  This year, I am jumping up and down on my sofa like Tom Cruise, because I get to attend, along with some of my best blogger friends as well as several hundred Rhone wine lovers from around the world.

At this annual Rhone-a-thon, Hospice du Rhône shows off its wares with a 3 day extravaganza attendees play wine Jeopardy with the 22 Rhône varieties, while taking time to talk to the winemakers, attend seminars, and enjoy special wine paring meals.

In the jam packed three days, we’ll have a history lesson on South African Syrah, a Rose Lunch, two grand tastings, and an exploration of the Washington State Terroir.  This will be of particular interest to us bloggers who are attending this years Wine Bloggers Conference, which will be held in Walla walla, Washington.  For those of us who are incapable of saying no to an event invitation, there is even a bowling session, where my friends at Mutineer Magazine is challenging us to bowl our best game while drinking some delicious Rhoen.  For those of you who have known me for a while, you realize that the only way I bowl (or play pool, or sing karaoke) is when I’ve had multiple shot  I don’t drink shots anymore, but with free flowing Rhône , this could get ugly.  I promise to hold a magnate to my video card if things get too out of hand.

Given my love of the Syrah and my summertime affair with Rosé, I am very much looking forward to spending the weekend with my other best friends, Grenache and Mourvedre, as well as learning more about the other 19 Rhône varietals.  To gear up for HdR, they are presenting 22 Days of Rhône, to help educate the wine community about the 22 Rhône varietals.  Hey kids at home!  That means you can play alnog.  Together with TasteLive, you can taste along online.  This week, the featured grape is Grenache, so grab a bottle, taste it, and tweet along with the hashtag #HdR2010.

Speaking of hashtags, have you seen the new HdR iphone app? It’s a slick new interface which greets you with a play on Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, ” with Hospice du Rhone Rhonely Hearts Club. with this handy iphone app, I can see all of the producers that will be pouring at the event, what varietals they are pouring, and when they are pouring it.  Further more, you can narrow the producers down by geographic region, which is helpful if you are trying to explore a new area like South Africa or Washington state.  My favorite part of the app has to be the twitter integration however.   You can click on the feed, but you can also send a twitter report out from the winery’s producer page directly.  That means if you are walking around tasting, there is no need to pull out your notebook – simply click the name of the winery, click tweet it out – and a tweet with the name of the winery and the hashtag is pre-filled for you.  Maybe next year, we can click through on the variety details page? I’m not the most geeky iphone user but i LOVE this tool.

So thanks Hospice du Rhone, for taking on the mission of educating us about these 22 grapes.  I’m excited at the opportunity to mix, mingle and learn with the best of them.

If you’d like to try to win tickets to HdR, my friend William over at Simple Hedonisms has a contest going – the Question of the week Contest.  The generous HdR2010 team is sponsoring ‘Question of the Week, with  tickets to the Friday and Saturday  tastings ($100 value!).  We will combine this with our usual “Question of the Week” with a Rhone theme. (updated) Please post the question on the Simple Hedonisms Facebook Fan site , and a question will be selected for a free ticket, and answered in a blog article.  There is ONE MORE CHANCE to win, on April 22nd at the April Sonoma Facebook Wine Meetup April 22nd at Artiste Winery in Healdsburg.

Good luck and look for twitter reports from the field!

Up & Coming producers you should know about

March 9, 2009

I have long been an advocate of shopping locally, while thinking globally, and I think the same can be applied to wine.  I have always thought that I would rather spend $30 on a bottle that was produced by a small time operator that was locally owned, then $15 on a corporate wine that will get lost in the economies of scale.

Particularly in this time of economic distress, I think it’s more important than ever to support the little guy.  I am in a unique position to be able to afford the luxury of wine, and I do what i can to support the small retailers and producers.

This past weekend, my social media and wine friend Shana (@sharayray) and I took off for parts well known, but wineries not as well known, for Weekend 1 of Russian River Barrel Tasting.  Along the way, while I admit we ducked in to old favorites, we also discovered new favorites among the list of somebarrel-tasting 100+ wineries pouring their wares for this annual event.  Here are some of our favorites from the first weekend, with more to come next weekend!

  • Truett Hurst (@truetthurst) yes ok old fave but have to plug it!) Who is making amazing Petite Sirah as well as Pinot and several zins on their bio-dynamic property on Dry Creek Road.
  • Mounts Family Winery (@mountsfamwinery) – While I have been going to Mounts for several years, their hidden location off of West Dry Creek Rd. makes them a gem that is just starting to be discovered.  The family atmosphere and the delicious Rhone focused wine is worth a visit even on your most hurried trip.  I really love their Syrah and Zin, and we got to taste their 2nd ever Malbec, which will be released in another year or two.
  • Michel-Schlumberger (@m_schlumberger), an historic winery but well off the beaten path, next to Mounts.  Boy what a visit we had!  After meandering through the cellar to taste some barrels, we tasted current releases which were being offered for a great deal.  Furthermore, they were having their annual Stash Sale, and Shana and I scored a case of 2001 Pinot for a song.  YES, I know we were in Dry Creek, but the 2005 & 2001 pinots were exquisite!  The property is up against the ridgeline, and the cool fog and Russian River influence provide a morsel of pinot passion here.  Oh did I mention their Cabs were phenomenal too?  Judd, the President and Chief Blogger Ambassador, kept us entertained with the libations and we were hard pressed to leave.  We’ll be back next weekend!
  • Copain Wine Cellars (@copain) – This was my first visit to Copain, but I have been hearing about it from my friends in the wine community for several months.  With expansive views of the Russian River valley from it’s perch above Eastside Road, the wine and the views will keep me coming back for more.  Their Rhone varietals were representative of the region and I fell in love with their GSM.  I will certainly be back for more.
  • Hawkes Wine -(@hawkeswine) Located next to the Jimtown store in Alexander Valley, this small tasting room ha some yummy cab to go with the chocolate pudding we had for lunch.  YUM!
  • Stuhlmuller Vineyards – another new discovery, this family property is up a long isolated road, off of Healdsburg Avenue north of town, where Alexander Valley meets the suburbs.  We were really in the country here and they had Coq au Vin that hit the spot.
  • Hudson Street Wineries, a new collective next to the Front Street Five collective on the south end of Healdsburg, gives you a one stop shop for tasting some of the smallest wineries in town.  If you make a day out of the Front Street Five, Davis Family and the nearby Longboard Cellars, you don’t need to leave!  Hudson Street Wineries, which literally opened the day before we got there, will feature:
    • Bluenose
    • Willowbrook / Owl Ridge
    • TEIRA Wines – which holds a fond place in my heart, since it used to be THEA Wines 😉
    • Grove Street Winery
    • Sadler-Wells Winery
    • Shippey Vineyards

    I didn’t get to taste that much here since it was the end of the day, but it’s a great location and I will certainly be back.

  • Route 128 Winery – is in an storefront in Geyserville.  The teensy winery offers several different wines as well as speciality meats & olives to go with your tastes.  Stop in and stay a while, you never know what you might taste!

These are just a few of the new discoveries we made this weekend which are, in my opinion, worth going to.  You of course should explore and make your own decisions, but with the number of small wineries and the multiplication of coop tasting rooms enabling small wineries to show their wares easily, you have no excuse for not being creative!

Further adventures in urban winery exploration will include a visit t the new coop tasting room off of Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco, Winery Collective.  Winery Collective will feature several urban wineries, as well as some that are far afield, in order to offer a tasting experience closer to home.

Wine Blogging Wednesday #46, Rhone Whites

June 16, 2008

Be sure to stop by Vinquire and take a look at our Wine Blogging Wednesday efforst.

For those of you who don’t know, once a month we get togheter a group, and taste in a particular theme.

This month, that theme was Rhone varital white wines. We were a little madcap, and tasting 6, from both France and abroad.

You can see the results here:

http://www.vinquire.com/blog/2008/jun/10/wbw-46-rhone-whites/