Hi-yo Wine! Rhone Rangers 2011

Over the weekend we stopped by the Rhone Rangers 14th Annual SF Wine Tasting event at Fort Mason. It’s a great event — 100 wineries showcasing 500+ wines bred from Rhone varietals. There was Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Carignan, Mourvedre, Roussanne.  A lot of Rhone blends go by the nickname GSM for Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.  While we didn’t walk away with a great understanding of each individual grape, we got a good feel for French Rhone wine.

Decanting for Distance: Didn't Even Spill a Drop

We were super-psyched to see that one of our favorite wineries — Saarloos & Sons — had made the trip up from Los Olivos. Mad love to Keith and his awesome wine. They were tasting a couple of their new vintages and we quickly found a new favorite in their 2008 Father Syrah. This guy makes some seriously good wine.

There were lots of other delicious wines and, well, some that just didn’t strike our palette. A couple of our new favorites:

  • Bonny Doon: We tasted their flagship red blend Le Cigare Volant as well as the Bien Nacido Syrah.  We actually had the Volant before back in NY at Le Camaje where we first heard the story of this wine.  If you look quickly at their label, you see a traditional scene of French countryside.  Look closer, and you see a flying saucer (or flying cigar).  Back in 1954, there were reports of UFOs in France that scared the good people of Chateauneuf-du-Pape into codifying a ban on all saucer landings in their vineyards.  Luckily aliens adhere to French law and never step foot in the vineyards since then.  One other cool thing about Bonny Doon is that they print all the wine ingredients on the label.  We haven’t done too much digging around this, but modern technology allows wine makers to add in tannins, smells, or structure in the lab rather than the vineyard or barrel.  Props to Bonny Doon for staying original.
  • JC Cellars: 07 Rockpile Syrah was one of the favorites of the afternoon. But at $60, it’s a little steep for even my advanced levels of self-justification.  Fortunately, their tasting room is in Oakland, CA so we won’t have to go far if we change our minds.
  • Kaleidos: Kaleidos was also being poured next to 10 Knots since the winemaker Steve Martell works for both establishments.  Kaleidos is his personal label, buying grapes from other growers to make his delicious wine.  Chris actually liked their white the best, but their reds we’re equally as fruit forward and tasty.
  • Outpost Wines: We differed on which wine was better, the Grenache or the Petite Sirah, but we both agreed that Outpost was a good find.  Luckily for Mr. Grenache, the Petite Sirah was $20 more expensive so I may have to opt for Chris’ choice.
  • Stage Left Cellars: Stage Left was one of our early finds in the afternoon.  Love their design/branding.  They start blending their flagship wine “The Breadwinner” first and then use the remaining grapes to make other reds like “The Day Job,” “The Globetrotter,” and “The Ex-Pat.”  These guys also operate a tasting room in Oakland.

All in all it was a very educational day. I tried a red blend featuring Mourvedre for the first time. Chris learned how to delicately utilize a spit cup. And neither of us were the lady that fell ass backwards into the trash cans. Chalk one up for the win column.

Spit Cup and Sippy Cup

France, Red Wine, Rhone, Syrah, Wine Events

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