Tasting Report: Rhone Rangers 2008

One of the most exhausting and exhaustive wine events around, San Francisco’s “Rhone Rangers” celebration of Rhone-style wines (and only Rhone-style wines) was a huge hit last weekend. The only problem: With about 100 wineries in attendance, many pouring 6 or 8 wines at their tables, sampling even one wine from each winery is pretty much impossible. You have to choose your battles… so, apologies to those whose wines I didn’t get to sample at the event. Here are some highlights of those whose wines I did get to try.

four vinesFour Vines (seen at right) had some interesting pours, but nothing was as charming as the Bailey Vineyard Syrah from, of all places, Amador County, rich with blueberry notes and wholly drinkable. Perhaps the best bottle of the whole event.

Also a serious highlight from the show: Longboard’s 2005 Dakine Vineyard Syrah, a rich blend of 91% Syrah that includes all kinds of juice in small proportions, including 3% Zinfandel and 2% Malbec(!). Very complex but easy to drink. Definitely worth seeking out, along with its other bottlings.

Greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet both Tim Olson and John Ogden of Olson Ogden Wines. Really nice guys with three great, fruit-filled wines. My favorite was the 2006 Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah.

Andy Peay of Peay Vineyards was kind enough to correct a long-running Internet misconception about his winery. His name is really pronounced “Pay.” Remember that when ordering his wines. They were excellent, with the lighter La Bruma (“the fog”) Syrahs edging out, in my mind, the meatier, heftier Les Titans (“the giants”). All were great.

Met a very nice group at Prospect 772, whose “The Brat” and “The Brawler” earned their names. The raisiny Brat was my favorite, as the appropriately-nicknamed Brawler came across as a bit too young to be drinking today.

Rosenblum has long been known as a Zinfandel shop, and I was surprised to see they had a half-dozen Rhone style wines on sale now, too. In fact, they showed me a list of their full wine lineup, which stretches to about 70 different wines they are now producing, most very affordable and all pretty good. When I asked how they keep them straight, the woman behind the table just shrugged and said, “We just keep making more.”

Also had a nice chat with the Australian transplants from Summerwood Winery. Their “Diosa” Red Blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre was my favorite from their Paso Robles winery.

Complete ratings for what I tasted follow. Cheers!

2006 Four Vines Paso Robles Syrah, $20 – B+
2006 Four Vines “Peasant” Red Blend, $40 – B+
2006 Four Vines “Anarchy” Unconventional Red Blend, $40 – A-
2004 Four Vines Syrah Amador County Bailey Vineyard, $38 – A+
2005 JC Cellars Caldwell Vineyard Syrah, $45 – A
2005 Justin Winery “Savant” Red Blend, $45 – A
2003 Longboard Vineyards Russian River Valley Syrah, $28 – A
2004 Longboard Vineyards Russian River Valley Syrah, $28 – A-
2005 Longboard Vineyards Dakine Vineyard Syrah, $48 – A+
2006 Miner Family Vineyard Simpson Vineyard Viognier, $20 – C+
2006 Miner Family Vineyard Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah, $48 – B-
2005 Morgan Winery “Tierra Mar” Syrah, $40 – B-
2005 Novy Family Winery Judge Family Vineyard Grenache, Bennett Valley, $26 – B
2005 Novy Family Winery Page-Nord Vineyard Syrah, $32 – B+
2005 Novy Family Winery Christensen Family Vineyard Syrah, $29 – B+
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Sonoma and Napa Syrah, $28 – A-
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Unti Vineyard Syrah, $38 – A
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah, $52 – A
2004 Palmeri Van Ness Alexander Valley Syrah, $53 – B-
2004 Palmeri Stagecoach Syrah, $53 – B+
2003 Palmeri Stagecoach Red Blend, $53 – B
2006 Peay Vineyards La Bruma Estate Syrah, $45 – A
2006 Peay Vineyards Les Titans Estate Syrah, $45 – A
2005 Peay Vineyards La Bruma Estate Syrah, $45 – A
2005 Peay Vineyards Les Titans Estate Syrah, $45 – A-
2005 Prospect 772 “The Brat” Red Blend, $36 – A-
2005 Prospect 772 “The Brawler” Syrah, $36 – A-
2006 Red Car Winery “Speakeasy” Syrah, $55 – B
2005 Red Car Winery “Shake Rattle and Roll” Syrah, $NA – B
2005 Rocinante Wines Palindrome Vineyard Syrah, $35 – A-
2007 Rosenblum Cellars Kathy’s Cuvee Viognier, $18 – A-
2006 Rosenblum Cellars Fess Parker Vineyard Roussanne, $25 – A-
2005 Rosenblum Cellars Abba Vineyard Syrah, $25 – A-
2005 Rosenblum Cellars England-Shaw Vineyard Syrah, $35 – A
2005 Rosenblum Cellars Kick Ranch Reserve Syrah, $45 – A-
2005 Rosenblum Cellars Pickett Road Petite Sirah, $35 – A-
2006 Summerwood Winery Reserve Roussanne, $40 – B+
2006 Summerwood Winery “Diosa Blanc” White Blend, $45 – B+
2005 Summerwood Winery Red Blend GSM, $40 – A-
2005 Summerwood Winery “Diosa” Red Blend, $58 – A
2007 Summerwood Winery Viognier, $30 – A-
2006 Tablas Creek Vineyard “Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc” White Blend, $40 – A-
2006 Tablas Creek Vineyard “Esprit de Beaucastel” Red Blend, $45 – B+

rhone rangers 2008

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