Tag Archives: Donelan Wines

What is a Rhone Ranger?

Rhone

If you are like me you probably like to go out have a decent dinner and some wine. Look at local wine tasting events to see if any appeal to you and go for it! Trying new varietals is like discovering something new and exciting, so if you see a chance, take it. This past September, Vin and Culture attended the Rhone Rangers in Los Angeles. It was a chance we weren’t going to pass up. We got a more in depth look and taste at Rhone varietals produced in the United States.

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The Rhone Rangers is a non-profit educational organization that promotes Rhone varietal wines produced in the United States. This wine tasting event is held annually and is open to members, media and the public.

The Rhone Rangers was formed in 1997 by thirteen founding members and over the years the membership grew to consist of over 200 wineries from California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho Michigan and Virginia.

The requirements for a wine to qualify as a “Rhone Rangers” wine are:

  • The winery must be a member of the organization
  • 75% of the wine’s content must include one or more of the twenty-two traditional Rhone grape varieties as approved by the French government for the wines of the Cotes du Rhone (including Petite Sirah/Durif).

If a winery wants to become a member of the Rhone Rangers it must produce at least one Rhone Ranger grape varietal style. The Rhone Valley is located in France where only twenty-two grape varietals are permitted. Two of the most popular grape varietals are Syrah and Viognier. Also becoming more popular Rhone varietals are Grenache, Mouvedre and Roussanne.

Most popular Red Rhone Varietals are:

Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Cinsault,

Most popular White Rhone Varietals are:

Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc

This year the Rhone Rangers Los Angeles was held on September 9 at the Vibiana event center in Downtown LA. Close to 50 wineries participated and over 200 wines were poured for tastings. Most of the wineries featured came from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Santa Barbara County Paso Robles, Russian River Valley, Los Olivos and Santa Rosa.

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We kicked the morning off with the State of the American Rhone Rangers seminar moderated by Matt Kettmann of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Eight wines were featured; three white, one Rose and four reds. These eight wines were presented by the winery wine makers. At the end of the seminar attendees were encouraged to ask questions to the panel . Price is $50.

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Then came the Trade and Media Tasting at the Vibiana. We walked around and tasted about fifty wines out of the over two hundred!  We had a chance to get to know the wine makers and their philosophy and back story. By this time, we had to take a little break and enjoy some cheese and crackers.

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The third event was open to the public and lasted three hours. You can easily go out to dinner before the event and then head over and do a little wine tasting! The Hors d’oevres served at the event included a different array of cheeses, crackers and fruits. At check in you receive a wine glass, we recommend you pace yourself and encourage spitting some of the wine in a plastic cup so you can try other wines and not become intoxicated. A silent auction is also available for you to make bids on select wines. VIP tickets are available and include an extra hour before general admission. VIP admission is $75 and General admission is $50 for advance purchase and $60 at the door.

One of the wines that stood out was the Donelan Family Cellars 2012 Syrah, “Cuvee Christine”. The Syrah is a blend of four different vineyards with notes of black cherry and black olive. It is simply subtle and elegant.

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Carica wines was another popular winery at the tasting. The Carica 2010 Rhone-style Siren G-S-M, is a combination of Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre. Wine Spectator gave it 90 points. Siren is a single-vineyard from Sonoma County’s Kick Ranch. The wine is bottled unfiltered in March of 2012. Siren can be enjoyed with a skirt steak, grilled lamb, protobello burgers and roast duck. Price for bottle of 2010 Siren is $32.00.

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So if you have never had a Viognier, Mouvedre, Roussanne, Grenach or Syrah, your next chance to attend a Rhone Rangers tasting event is early next year. If you live in California you can make a small road trip of it and drive up or down the coast to Paso Robles or San Francisco. If you do attend the San Francisco event you might as well visit Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, check out our previous blog post for recommendations on where to stay and where to eat!

Upcoming events:

Rhone Rangers Paso Robles February 15, 2015

Rhone Rangers San Francisco Bay Area March 27-28, 2015

Rhone Rangers Washington DC June 2015

For more information on:

Rhone Rangers: http://www.RhoneRangers.org

Donelan Wine: http://www.donelanwines.com

Carica Wine: http://caricawines.com

 Happy Tasting!

Mayra