One of the first wineries I was exposed to, which was working with Rhone varieties in California, was Ridge Vineyards. Ridge is renown for their Bordeaux blend, Monte Bello, as well as a lineup of amazing single vineyard Zinfandels. However, Ridge has also been experimenting with Rhone Varieties with great success. The wines are rich with concentrated fruits, yet also balanced, with an airy lift to the bouquet that gives them finesse seldom found in such heavily-fruited wines. It’s hard to imagine how Ridge can continue to turn out such a large amount of excellent wine, and yet I don’t remember ever being let down.
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?
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