One winery that really turned my head is also a new name to me, but a staple in the Rhone Ranger movement; that winery is Donelan. The wines were stunning; they were focused and pure, rooted firmly in the earth, yet with intense fruit and serious depth. Most could use a few years in bottle to truly shine, but all were highly enjoyable and blossomed in the glass. These are not over the top, highly extracted and heavily oaked wines either. The Donelan lineup highlighted the terroir of each sight, in many cases including a percentage of stems during fermentation and giving a nod to more traditional winemaking techniques.
Location: Ridgewood, NY
The Rhone Rangers
For me, it all started with Italy and France. However, as I continue to immerse myself in wine and force myself to explore, I’ve realized that it’s impossible for one person to understand it all. I often feel like I have a gauge on things, only to find myself reeling from a taste of something different. My current work with Snooth has opened my eyes to many new things (a great reason for all of us to explore the unknown). Rhone varieties, outside of the Rhone, have been my focus of late.
If you love Chateauneuf du Pape, Hermitage, Cotie Rotie, or Cotes du Rhone, then you’ll understand my newfound passion. First it was an article about pairing Syrah, where I discovered the 2008 Clos de Gat Syrah Har’El from Israel, a wine that I still think about on a regular basis. Soon I was hunting for Grenache, Viognier, Roussanne and Petite Sirah. This hunt has taken me around Europe, Australia, South Africa, and of course, the United States, where I came upon The Rhone Rangers.
The Rhone Rangers is an organization devoted to the promoting Rhone Varieties in the United States with almost 200 winery members from California, Oregon, Washington and New York. At a recent tasting at New York’s, City Winery, I had the opportunity to taste through nearly 70 wines. The quality was outstanding and creating this list of favorites, was no easy task. What stuck out to me more than anything else was the feeling of comradery, which was expressed by all the wineries that were pouring on that day.
These are very special wines and very special people who all deserve your attention. And did I forget to mention that Syrah pairs perfectly with your Thanks Giving Dinner?