Rhone Rangers Ride into Seattle again



By Kori ~ July 20th, 2009.

Rhone Rangers trade/media tasting in SeattleFor the second year in a row, Dad (John) and I attended the Rhone Rangers trade/media tasting in Seattle. The Rhone Rangers are a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting American Rhone varietal wines. To be members, wineries must produce wines from one or more of the 22 varietals that are native to the Rhone Valley in France. Rhone Ranger member wineries from Washington, California, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado participated in this tasting.

The Rhone Rangers—Advancing the knowledge & enjoyment of Rhone grapes grown in America and of the wines produced from those grapes.

Last year, we focused on Syrah so this year we decided to focus on Viognier and red blends. We tasted a total of 54 wines: 16 Viogniers, 30 red blends, and eight Syrahs. We gave a 4 star rating or higher to ten wines.

Wines from Rotie Cellars in Walla Walla, WashingtonOur most exciting discovery was the 2007 Rôtie Cellars “Northern” Red Blend, a Syrah (97%) co-fermented with Viognier (3%) in the Côte-Rôtie style. It is a bold wine, yet exhibits remarkable finesse at the same time. I was blown away by its purity of fruit. Rôtie Cellars, located in Walla Walla, Washington, is a new winery founded by winemaker Sean Boyd. As his winery’s name indicates, Boyd is dedicated to producing Rhone-style wines from Washington State fruit. If you, like us, are a big fan of Syrah and other Rhone varietals, Rôtie Cellars is definitely a winery to watch.

The best Viognier that we tasted was the 2007 Bridlewood Viognier Central Coast Reserve. I was a bit disappointed that we did not find more 4-star Viogniers. One thing I noticed was the number of different styles of Viognier, from crisp, acidic, Sauvignon Blanc-like to flabby, oaky, and Chardonnay-like. The Bridlewood Viognier falls somewhere in between those two extremes. It is very aromatic, as a Viognier should be, exhibiting floral, gardenia notes. Melon and peach flavors come through on the palate and round out this light, crisp wine.

Here’s a breakdown of the wines that we tasted at the Rhone Rangers event. Under each Quality heading, the wine name and region will be listed along with price and QPR rating. Wines in bold type received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Rôtie Cellars “Northern” Red Blend, Washington State, $35, QPR: 5

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle “Austral” Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $26, QPR: 4
2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle “Ethos” Syrah, Columbia Valley, $28, QPR: 4
2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle “Boreal” Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $30, QPR: 4
2006 Doyenne Aix Red Blend, Red Mountain, $34, QPR: 4
2007 Bridlewood Viognier Central Coast Reserve, Central Coast, $22, QPR: 3
2007 Four Vines “Loco” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $40, QPR: 3
2006 Villa Creek “Vulture’s Post” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $40, QPR: 3
2007 Justin “Savant” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $45, QPR: 3
2006 Tablas Creek “Esprit de Beaucastel” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $45, QPR: 3

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Cline “Cashmere” Red Blend, California, $14, QPR: 5
2006 Eberle “Côtes-du-Robles” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $20, QPR: 4
2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle Syrah, Wahluke Slope, $28, QPR: 4
2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle Viognier, Yakima Valley, $16, QPR: 3
2007 Tablas Creek “Côtes de Tablas” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $25, QPR: 3
2004 Zefina “Serience” Red Blend, Alder Ridge Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills, $30, QPR: 3
2006 Adelaida “Version” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $30, QPR: 3
2004 Columbia Winery Red Willow Syrah, Yakima Valley, $30, QPR: 3
2008 Maison Bleue “Notre Vie” Viognier, Art DenHoed Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $20, QPR: 2
2008 Vina Robles “Huerhuero” Viognier, Paso Robles, $22, QPR: 2
2007 Rôtie Cellars “Southern” Red Blend, Washington State, $35, QPR: 2
2007 Villa Creek “Willow Creek Cuvee” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $35, QPR: 2
2006 Four Vines Syrah One Tree Hill Block, Los Alamos Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, $40, QPR: 2
2007 Adelaida Viognier, Paso Robles, $30, QPR: 1
2007 Goedhart Family Syrah, Bel’ Villa Vineyard, Red Mountain, $50, QPR: 1
2006 Villa Creek “High Road” Red Blend, James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles, $60, QPR: 1

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2008 Cline Viognier, California, $10, QPR: 4
2006 Sawtooth Viognier, Snake River Valley, $13, QPR: 3
2007 Morgan “Côtes du Crow’s” Red Blend, Monterey, $22, QPR: 3
2005 McCrea “Sirocco” Red Blend, Yakima Valley, $28, QPR: 2
2006 Calcareous “Tres Violet” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $32, QPR: 2
2006 Doyenne Métier Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $32, QPR: 2
2007 JC Cellars “Imposter” Red Blend, California, $32, QPR: 2
2007 Cougar Crest Viognier, Walla Walla Valley, $20, QPR: 1
2007 Zefina Viognier, Alder Ridge Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills, $20, QPR: 1
2007 Fess Parker Viognier, Santa Barbara County, $24, QPR: 1
2007 Katin Viognier, Paso Robles, $32, QPR: 1
2005 McCrea Syrah, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain, $36, QPR: 1
2005 McCrea Syrah, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $36, QPR: 1
2005 Zaca Mesa “Z Three” Red Blend, Santa Ynez Valley, $42, QPR: 1
2006 Villa Creek “Badger” Red Blend, Booker Vineyard, Paso Robles, $50, QPR: 1
2006 Goedhart Family Syrah, Bel’ Villa Vineyard, Red Mountain, $70, QPR: 1

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Barrel 27 “High on the Hog” Viognier, Paso Robles, $15, QPR: NR
2007 Vina Robles “Red4” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $16, QPR: NR
2008 Eberle Viognier Mill Road Vineyard, Paso Robles, $20, QPR: NR
2008 Walter Dacon Viognier, Yakima Valley, $22, QPR: NR
2006 Villa Creek “Avenger” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $35, QPR: NR
2007 Four Vines “The Peasant” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $40, QPR: NR

Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
2008 Zaca Mesa Estate Viognier, Santa Ynez Valley, $20, QPR: NR
2006 Zaca Mesa “Z Cuvee” Red Blend, Santa Ynez Valley, $20, QPR: NR
2008 Three Coins Viognier, Betsy’s Vineyard, Sonoma County, $24, QPR: NR
2007 Qupé “Los Olivos Cuvee” Red Blend, Santa Ynez Valley, $25, QPR: NR
2006 Barrel 27 “Bull by the Horns” Red Blend, Central Coast, $32, QPR: NR
2007 Four Vines “Anarchy” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $40, QPR: NR


Filed under: American Wine, California Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Idaho Wine, Oregon Wine, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Viognier, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Activities/Events, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Feo | July 21st, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I have great respect for the Rhone Rangers organization and I think they are doing an awesome job promoting wines from lesser known varietals grown in South East France. If anything, perhaps they are being too successful and as a consequence are spreading the false impression that all the grapes sanctioned are “native” to the Rhone region of France. From this forum I just want to clarify that some of the most popular varietals are not indigenous to the Rhone and indeed come from the largest vineyard in the world just a few hundred miles south. This applies primarily to Garnacha, Monastrel and Cariñena.

    Cheers

  2. VINEgeek » Vina Robles RED4 2007 Paso Robles | September 29th, 2009 at 9:23 pm

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