Rhone Rangers Ride into Santa Monica for Annual Wine Tasting

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Arianna's Wine Tasting Notes | 3 Comments

Rhone Rangers logo

The Rhône wine region is an AOC (Appellation d’origine controlee) in Southern France, probably best known in the US as the homeland of Châteauneuf-du-Pape—a popular wine that can contain as many as 18 different grape varietals (even white).

Not satisfied with letting the French have all the fun, in the 1980’s a group of winemakers from California’s Central Coast – John Alban (Alban Vineyards), Bob Lindquist (Qupe) and Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon Vineyards) – began planting Rhône varietals like Syrah, Grenache and Viognier. The vines took hold—and so did marketing efforts—and the Rhone Rangers was born, keeping Americans safe from the threat of drinking something boring.

Today, the Rhone Rangers include almost 200 member wineries, producing wine from any of the 22 different grapes sanctioned by the AOC for Rhône juice. Some wines are single variety, some are blends—and many can be tasted at Rhone Rangers tasting events, like the one which took place on Sunday, August 8, at Pier 59 Studios West, in Santa Monica.

Those who saddled up and trekked over had the chance to taste Marsanne-Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Carignan, Cinsault, Mourvedre and others, from the likes of Cline Cellars, Tablas Creek Vineyard (which is an offshoot of the actual Rhône winery Chateau Beaucastel), Koehler Winery, Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines, Qupe, Justin Winery and more. Schaffer’s Genuine Catering provided food for the day. When the event ended at 5, many of the wineries headed to Pourtal wine bar, where they poured their wines for kemo sabes old and new before riding off into the sunset.

If you missed the tasting but want to scout out these delicious juices [Ed note: Rhône varietals tend to be Jess and my favorites], many of them are surprisingly affordable and – like Grenache, in particular – are starting to gain in popularity. I’ve even seen some in the grocery store! Then, of course, there is always next year’s Rhone Rangers tasting…

Rhone Rangers Hi-Ho

Rhone Rangers Hi-Ho

2007 Las Rocas Totally Rocks

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Arianna's Wine Tasting Notes | Comments Off on 2007 Las Rocas Totally Rocks
Dark ruby-colored, fruity deliciousness!

Dark ruby-colored, fruity deliciousness!

As we've covered in previous posts, wines from Cost Plus World Market can be very hit or miss. In general, I have had great luck with their wines, and since I had a coupon for their Friends and Family 25% Off sale, I thought I'd do a little shopping and buy some new bottles and test my luck.

2007 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha, from the Calatayud region of Spain, is one of the wines I picked up. It's a 90-point Wine Advocate/Parker, and deliciously drinkable now and over the next three years.

I'm not very familiar with Grenache (in Spanish, Garnacha and Garnatxa in Catalan), but it was first cultivated in Spain and is arguably the most abundantly planted grape on the planet. Although it is used on its own to make 100% varietals, it is frequently used to “fill out” other reds, including the bulk of Rhone and over 80% of Châteauneuf du Pape.

This particular bottle is 100% Grenache/Garnacha. It's an absolutely gorgeous deep garnet red in the glass, with a smokey bouquet mixed with red berries and just the tiniest tinge of alcoholic heat. On the tongue, my first taste was of grapefruit! Other imbibers agreed that this was present, although no one else found this to be the principle taste. We all agreed it tasted of smoke and lush berries. Although slightly lightweight (some might say watery), I found this wine to be absolutely scrumptious. It would make a delicious table wine.

From The Wine Advocate:

There are 18,000 cases of the delightful 2007 Las Rocas Garnacha, a wine sourced from Calatayud vineyards ranging in age from 70 to 100 years. Dark ruby in color, it delivers alluring aromas of spice box, mineral, cherry, and black raspberry. Layered on the palate, it has superb depth, succulent flavors, and a pure, lengthy finish. It will provide pleasure over the next three years. (02/08)

From Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar:
Deep ruby. Rich kirsch and blackberry aromas are complicated by mocha and licorice. Smoky dark berry aromas pack serious punch and are supported by suave tannins. Finishes clean, lively and persistent. As usual, this is a great bargain. (9-10/07)

At $10 – $12 per bottle, the 2007 Las Rocas de San Alejandro is also a great buy. It's not always easy to find a highly rated wine for such a low price. This wine is ready to drink now and seems to be universally declared as delicious! If you don't like it, I'll finish it for you.