Last Saturday’s tasting showcased some truly wonderful wines from the Southern Rhone. I felt rather lucky to taste such great wines and it lead me to thinking about what I might take home with me. After looking over some of the options in the Rhone I thought, why not shake things up a bit and do a Rhone style blend made right here in the great state of California. After all, California has been making some truly fantastic wines from the primary Rhone varietals for some time now.
The Southern Rhone varietals are primarily Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah for the red wines and Viognier, Rousanne, and Marsanne for the white. In the Northern Rhone Syrah is king. There are a multitude of other grapes used in small percentages in both red and white Southern Rhone wines but alas too many to list here. These grapes produce savory whites and spicy reds that are perfect to warm you up on a cool fall evening. Not to mention the reds are a perfect match for hearty autumn and winter dishes like French onion soup, steak frites, and herb basted chicken to name a few.
California is a leader in Rhone varietal inspired wines, here are a few that wont break the bank and are a definite must try weather you are a Rhone varietal aficionado or just looking for something perfect for that hearty autumn fare.
The 2010 Cote de Tablas Blanc from Tablas Creek Vineyard is a beautiful white Rhone style wine produced by a duo which includes the Perrin family who are responsible for the venerable Chateau de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf-du-pape. This wine made up of 54% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 8% Marsanne, and 8% Rousanne is a rich full bodied wine with aromas of stonefruit and melon followed by a palate which reminds one of lush tropical fruit with a hint of minerality. Price: $22.99
The 2009 Halcon Alturas Syrah is a beautiful dense Northern Rhone inspired red. This wine is produced in the mountains of the Yorkville Highlands in the Mendocino AVA whose high elevation and unique soils similar to those found in parts of Cote-Rotie in the northern Rhone give birth to a structured wine with aromas of dark fruits and palate which delivers both fruit and mineral notes. This wine is produced in very small quantities and we are very lucky to have it in our shop, especially at such a great price. Price: $19.99
The 2009 Skylark Red Belly Wine is another great autumn wine. This offering comes to us from three separate vineyards in the North Coast close to Mendocino and is a traditional Southern Rhone style blend of 40% Carignane, 40% Syrah, and 20% Grenache. This is a dense wine that entices the nose with aromas of dark red fruit and hearty earth tones. The palate is silky and lush with rich fruit flavors and a note of cocoa. This is another excellent wine made in small quantities, only 550 cases produced for the 2009 vintage. Price: $19.99
I ended up taking home the Red Belly wine and was glad I did. It brought my friends and me much needed warmth on a dreary Monday night. So pick up a bottle or two or three of these delicious wines which are sure to bring some warmth and spice into your hearts and homes they way they did mine.
Bill A., Beltramo’s Wine Consultant