In case you missed them, the Rhone Rangers galloped into the Vibiana in Downtown Los Angeles over weekend with over 200 wines to pour. My friend and I were among the crowds of wine lovers eager to taste their American Rhone varietal wines. We hoped to discover some new and exciting wineries and wines worthy for a road trip to the California wine regions. It turned out that we got more than what we had bargained for.
My favorite winery, Halter Ranch Vineyard, was pouring a good handful of their selections including their soon-to-be released 2011 Cote de Paso ($32); a wine made from their new-ish winemaker of two years, Kevin Sass. The 2011 Cote de Paso is a GSM blend that I found is both ready to drink at its fullest lustre or ready to cellar until opening for that special occasion. Expect some blackberry jam, a hint of cocoa, and some suede notes. Full-bodied with a nice, rounded finish.
Big Basin Vineyards also dropped by bringing a handful of their Rhone wine varietals from, “…way in the middle of no where in Santa Cruz,” according to Matt Ryan, Big Basin’s Tasting Room Manager. Well, I Googled the exact logistics and it does look like the city of Boulder Creek is right smack in the middle of Santa Cruz County California. Despite the fact that they are far from all the really cool surfing and in deep in what appears to be a logging town, Big Basin Vineyards does have some pretty darn good, kick-ass wines that are worth talking about like, for instance, their 2009 Coastview Vineyard Syrah ($48). It’s big, it’s bold, it’s beautiful, it’s a loaded fruit bomb! Your palate will love this wine. I picked up notes of blackberry, wild strawberry, ollalberry, cocoa, and black and red licorice.
Out of all the syrah wines that I tasted at the Rhone Rangers, the ones from Kieran Robinson Wines stood out the most. My friend and I tasted both syrahs that were poured; a 2009 Vivio Vineyard Syrah ($53) and the 2010 Le Voyageur Syrah ($36). Clearly, the winemaker’s training in French wine making was evident in both wines; terrior-focused wines. My personal favorite was the 2009 Vivio Vineyard Syrah; it’s a deep, velvety, and luscious syrah with dark fruit and earthy notes. The most elegant syrah and perhaps the most truest to the syrah style was the 2010 Le Voyageur Syrah. It’s more sophisticated than its counterpart and possesses spicy yet richer terrior signature.
Towards the end of the tasting event, my friend and I walked through the aisles one last time to see if there was anything we missed. That’s when we discovered Law Estate Wines from Paso Robles. Supposedly they are new to wine making. They are also scheduled to publicly release their entire line of wines next few months. I just hope their tasting room is up and running before the Paso Robles Harvest Festival in October. It was nice to taste the meticulous care in each wine from Law Estate Wines. I like their 2010 Intrepid ($63), which had notes of soft mellowed oak. plum, and coffee bean. However, I really loved their 2010 Beguiling; a Grenache with a touch of Syrah. This is a lovely wine has a good balance, some smokiness with notes of raspberry and strawberry. It’s simply exquisite.
As you can see, the Rhone Rangers Los Angeles wine tasting event turned out to be a treasure trove of wine waiting to be discovered. My friend and I were able to taste a lot of excellent wines and discover new wineries that neither one of us have ever heard of. It sure was a lot of fun to network and enjoy a glass of wine especially with winemakers who were present at the event. I now have a list of wineries to visit in the near future. Hey, did someone just say road trip?