Tomorrow, April 6, 2014, is one of the Brix Chicks’ favorite tastings of the year: The 17thAnnual Rhone Rangers San Francisco Bay Area Grand Tasting at the Craneway Pavilion near Pt. Richmond on the beautiful waterfront site of the old Richmond Ford plant at the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park.
The Grand Tasting is the largest tasting of Rhone wines in the United States, with 90 producers pouring over 400 wines. We love the event not only for the wine but for the opportunity to meet and talk with talented winemakers passionate about making beautiful wine and expanding wine consumers’ palates.
Tickets for seminars and VIP tasting (morning seminars and 1:00-6:00 PM tasting) and general admission to the Grand Tasting (3:00-6:00 PM) are still available. If you’re attending just the Grand Tasting, use discount code GT-20 for $15 off general admission. The Craneway Pavilion site features ample parking, gorgeous views, and easy access from San Francisco with ferry service and shuttles to and from the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station.
A big tasting event like this one requires a strategy. This year I’m focusing on returning to my favorites, perhaps in reverse alphabetical order, starting in the “T’s”:
Two Shepherds: Winemaker William Allen, a leader in the Rhone Rangers movement, is crafting gorgeous, bright, complex, food-friendly Rhone varietal wines with fruit sourced from cooler climate vineyards in Russian River, Santa Barbara, and El Dorado. Right now my favorites are the ’11 and ’12 Grenache, ’11 Syrah-Mourvedre, and the ’12 Pastoral Blanc blend. His Grenache Blanc is also always a standout. See our post on Two Shepherds.
Truchard Vineyards: Truchard Roussanne from the family estate in Carneros is a consistent winner—the kind of wine that, when you see it on a restaurant menu or on the store shelf, you know you will enjoy and that will go with almost anything you’re eating. Tony and Jo Ann Truchard are always a delight to visit with at this event.
Skylark Wine Co.: I always love tasting John Lancaster and Robert Perkins’ red Rhone blends, and their Pinot Blanc is one of my favorite white wines right now. At last year’s Rhone Rangers, their Syrahs from Knights Valley and Rodgers Creek/Sonoma Coast were highlights at last year’s event.
Qupe: A Santa Barbara winery whose lineup I wish I tried more often: Qupe has a standout lineup of Syrahs, and they make a beautiful Marsanne.
Quivira Vineyards and Winery: As a longtime fan of and member at Quivira in the Dry Creek Valley, I am completely and appropriately biased about this winery. Recent vintages of their Grenache, Elusive red Rhone blend, and Rose have been superb. I’m hoping that they’ll be pouring their newest addition, the ’12 Roussanne-Viognier.
Morgan Winery: This Santa Lucia Highlands producer might be better known for its Pinot Noirs, but Morgan makes terrific Syrahs as well. At a recent Syrah blind tasting and dinner, the ’10 Tierra Mar was a winning domestic Syrah—bright and tart with beautiful herbal and cola notes.
Kieran Robinson Wines: Kieran Robinson is assistant winemaker at Jericho Canyon in Calistoga and also makes Syrah sourced from Bennett Valley under his and his wife Kristie’s own label. Simply put, the ’10 “Le Voyaguer” Syrah is stunning, and very Cote Rotie-like—dark, elegant, earthy, and peppery. Don’t skip this table.
Domaine Terre Rouge: Amador County producer Bill Easton makes wonderful Syrahs and red Rhone blends including the popular Tete-a Tete. The Ascent Syrah is prized, but I prefer the DTR Ranch Estate Syrah from the cooler climate Fiddletown appellation.
David Girard Vineyards: This Placerville producer always pours delicious Grenache and Mourvedre at this event and sends some of the nicest staff you’ll meet all afternoon.
Clos Saron: Sierra Foothills winemaker Gideon Beinstock’s Heart of Stone Syrahs and Tickled Pink Rose were standouts for me at last year’s event. I recently drank the ’07 Heart of Stone Syrah, and though it was wonderful, I wish I had held on to it longer. Beinstock’s red Rhone wines are made to age a long time.
Campovida: The Brix Chicks are fans of this Hopland producer. The Campovida Grenache Rose is on one of my favorite Roses in the last couple of years and shouldn’t be missed if the Campovida team is pouring it at this event.
Again, there are still tickets available for the Grand Tasting tomorrow. Use discount code GT-20 for $15 off the Grand Tasting ticket.