Rhone (Rhône)

Lessons from the Annual Rhone Rangers Tasting, 2007

The Rhone Report: About Rhone and Rhone-Style Wines and Winemakers is part of an ongoing series.

We have just returned from the 2007 Rhone Rangers tasting at Fort Mason in San Francisco (March 18). This was the 10th annual public tasting organized by the Rhone Rangers (www.rhonerangers.org), an organization of nearly 200 American wineries dedicated to wines made from 22 grape varieties traditional to France’s Rhone Valley. At the San Francisco tasting, about 134 American (mostly California) producers offered tastes of more than 500 wines made with Rhone grape varieties.

The Rhône: My Own Pilgrimage

Last year, I had the unique opportunity to attend a trade tour of the Rhone (even better, it was on someone else’s dime!) The itinerary covered vineyards from north to south, with the majority spent in the Cotes du Rhone Villages within mini-bus distance of southerly Avignon. But the brief days I spent in the Northern Rhone were a heavenly slice for this Syrah-lover.

The Northern Rhone region of France is my Mecca for Syrah. Considered wines that “stand shoulder to shoulder with the Crus Classes of Bordeaux in terms of pure quality” by influential authority Tom Stevenson, the deep purple colored reds of Cote-Rotie and Hermitage are sought out by many as standard-bearers of the true expression of traditional Syrah.

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