Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spotlight: Rhone Rangers Los Angeles Tasting & Seminar

Who are the Rhone Rangers?

Members are dedicated to promoting American Rhone wines. The Rhone Rangers was started in the mid-80s by a group of winemakers who wanted to make wines other than Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay (two very popular wines of the day). In 1997 the organization was officially formed and now includes over 100 wineries and vineyards in California, Washington, Virginia, and Arizona.

As an event producer, I walk into events with a very watchful eye. Is the signage clear, does the flow of the room make sense, are the bathrooms easy to find?

The Rhone Rangers LA Tasting was very well laid out. Kudos to all involved in the planning, especially Big Red Marketing, the LA event coordinator. Upon arrival I was swiftly checked in as a member of the media and then whisked to the “Rhone-n-Pink” seminar. As described in the program: Moderated by wine expert Dan Fredman, the seminar will cover the art of crafting the popular pink wine, and feature six Rhone Ranger winemakers who will guide guests through their rosés. The wineries: Andrew Murray Vineyards, Bonny Doon Vineyard, Lone Madrone, Ranchero Cellars, Tercero Wines, and Vines on the Marycrest.

Talk about a broad range of styles. Oh, and Randall Graham is a bit of a wine celeb, in my opinion.

Wine #1
Andrew Murray Vineyards 2016 Esperance Rosé, Estate Grown $22
This was my favorite rosé of the day. It is made from 100% Cinsault and my tasting note simply states “stunning”.

Wine #2 
Ranchero Cellars 2016 Galaxie Rosé, Self Family Vineyard, $28
A very easy drinking rosé made from Carignan

Wine #3
Lone Madrone 2015 Mourvèdre Rose, $25
Dry farmed vineyards and made from direct press. A soft, feminine nose.

Wine #4
Tercero Wines 2016 Mourvèdre Rose, $30
Really enjoyed this guy. This wine is not served chilled. The grapes are foot stomped on their skins for 1 hour and then direct to press. The winemaker is not going after a specific color nor vintage consistency. A very unique savory/umami nose, but still a lot of fresh fruit.

Wine #5
Bonny Doon Vineyard 2013 Vin Gris Tuilé, $26
Hands down, the most interesting wine I tasted all day. The nose is super duper nutty with an oxidized feel to it. Randall suggested notes of curry, peanut, sherry, and citrus. According to him, this wine is the ultimate handsell. The color is brick pink with an orange hue. The wine is aged 9 months al fresco in demijohn.

Wine #6
Vines on the Marycrest 2015 Rose (Genache, Syrah, Mourvedre), $28
This is a rosé for food. A skirt steak salad, perhaps? A super spicy palate. Fun.

After the rosé seminar I enjoyed early access (for trade and media) to the Grand Tasting. Now, I'll have it be known that I am not much of a grand tasting kind of gal. I find large tasting events to be overwhelming, crowded, and not conducive to efficient and thoughtful tasting. If I do attend grand tastings I be sure to walk in with a plan. I research participating wineries before I arrive and get an idea of who I am interested in visiting. There is no way to visit every table and try every's not a contest. Here are a few of my highlights from the Grand Tasting:

Martian Ranch & Vineyard 2015 "Etheric" Clairette, $22
Wow, interesting, can't compare it to anything. Med + finish. Macadamia nuts but not oxidized.

Tercero Wines 2015 Cinsault, $40
Only 3 barrels made; dirt and meat notes, yet light in color.

Two Shepherds was my favorite winery of the day. I tried their 2014 Grenache Blanc, Saarloos Vineyard (native yeast fermentation with neutral barrels; a slight funk that I like) and their 2012 Pastoral Rouge, Sonoma, Red Blend (cool climate; my favorite red of the day; savory notes plus funk, umami, soy sauce).

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