Tasting Report: Rhone Rangers 2009

I’m on record as saying Rhone Rangers is the best annual wine event going, and once again the event failed to disappoint. Yes, it was smaller than last year — as you’d expect given the economy — with both the number of wineries and attendees obviously down a bit. (Prices, curiously, have not fallen.) Still, there was plenty of wine to go around — far more than one man could experience in the roughly three hours I spent on the floor — and most of it very good.

Most wineries were pouring from the 2006 vintage, but I saw everything from 2003 to 2008 barrel samples being poured. Overall thoughts: It’s a very good year, but quality is going to vary widely based on the producer and, more importantly, the location of the vineyard.

Visited some old friends. Olson Ogden didn’t disappoint: though its 2006 Unti Vineyard wasn’t showing as well today, its just-bottled 2007 Unti was a highlight of the show (and an amazing value). Four Vines didn’t bring its Amador County Syrah this year, but I greatly enjoyed the company’s other single-vineyard syrahs from One Tree Hill and Killer Canyon. And as usual, Peay’s La Bruma was a standout, though I like the Les Titans less this year.

Also made some new wine friends this year, with L’Aventure, Saddleback, and Skylark making strong impressions with ripe, fruit-forward syrahs and Rhone-style blends.

My detailed notes are lacking, but I tried to make up for that with volume, hitting 45 different bottlings this year. Full report follows!

Rhone Rangers 2009 Complete Report

2005 Bink Wines Hawks Butte Vineyard / $32.00 / B+
2006 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Syrah “Kalen’s Big Boy Blend,” Sonoma County / $42.00 / A-
2006 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Syrah Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valley / $40.00 / A-
2006 Four Vines Syrah One Tree Hill Block, Los Alamos Vyd, Santa Barbara / $40.00 / A
2006 Four Vines Syrah Killer Canyon Vineyard, Paso Robles / $40.00 / A
2006 Four Vines Red Blend “Peasant” / $40.00 / A-
2006 Four Vines Red Blend “Anarchy” / $40.00 / B+
2006 Four Vines Petite Sirah “The Heretic” / $40.00 / B
2006 Four Vines Tempranillo “Loco” / $NA / B+
2006 Harrison Clarke Syrah “Cuvee Charlotte” / $55.00 / B+
2006 Justin Syrah / $26.00 / A-
2006 Justin Red Blend Savant / $45.00 / B
2006 L’Aventure Winery “Cote a Cote” Estate Red Blend, Paso Robles / $85.00 / A
2006 L’Aventure Winery Red Blend, Estate Cuvee, Paso Robles / $85.00 / B+
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Sonoma and Napa Syrah / $28.00 / A-
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Unti Vineyard Syrah / $38.00 / B+
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah / $52.00 / A
2007 Olson Ogden Wines Sonoma and Napa Syrah / $NA / B+
2007 Olson Ogden Wines Unti Vineyard Syrah / $NA / A
2007 Olson Ogden Wines Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah / $NA / A-
2007 Outpost Wines Grenache / $40.00 / A-
2006 Outpost Wines Petite Sirah “The Other” / $NA / B
2004 Palmeri Syrah Mountain Fruit / $53.00 / A-
2004 Palmeri Syrah Stagecoach Vineyard / $53.00 / A-
2005 Palmeri Syrah Stagecoach Vineyard / $53.00 / B
2004 Palmeri Syrah Van Ness Vineyard / $53.00 / A-
2005 Palmeri Syrah Van Ness Vineyard / $53.00 / B
2006 Peay Syrah La Bruma Estate / $45.00 / A
2006 Peay Syrah Les Titans Estate / $45.00 / B+
2006 Joseph Phelps Le Mistral / $45.00 / A-
2006 Prospect 772 Wine Company Syrah “The Brawler” / $36.00 / A-
2006 Prospect 772 Wine Company Red Blend “The Brat” / $36.00 / B+
2007 Saddleback Cellars Viognier Clarksburg / $23.00 / B
2006 Saddleback Cellars Syrah Carneros / $45.00 / A
2007 Skylark Wine Co. Red Blend “Red Belly” / $20.00 / B
2007 Skylark Wine Co. Red Blend “Les Aves” / $29.00 / B+
2006 Skylark Wine Co. Syrah Unti Vineyard Dry Creek Valley / $26.00 / B-
2006 Skylark Wine Co. Grenache / $NA / B+
2007 Skylark Wine Co. Syrah Rodgers Creek Vineyard / $NA / A-
2007 Skylark Wine Co. Syrah Stagecoach Vineyard / $NA / A-
2008 Villa Creek Cellars White Blend / $24.00 / B
2006 Villa Creek Cellars Red Blend “High Road” James Berry Vineyard / $60.00 / A-
2005 Zaca Mesa Winery Syrah Estate Santa Ynez Valley / $22.00 / B
2006 Zaca Mesa Winery Red Blend “Z Cuvee” Estate / $20.00 / B
2005 Zaca Mesa Winery Red Blend “Z Three” Estate / $40.00 / B+

rhone rangers 2009 Tasting Report: Rhone Rangers 2009

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