Eric Guido

Location: Ridgewood, NY

Food and Wine Writer for Snooth Media, Chef, Musician, Poet, Wine Lover, and Workaholic. Owner, Chef and Writer for The V.I.P. Table.

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?

4. Donelan Syrah Sonoma County Cuvée Christine (2010)

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Average price: $49.00 from 1 store
The nose showed dark wild berries, exotic spice and hints of undergrowth. On the palate, it had medium weight with a balanced spark of acidity, showing ripe red and black fruits, lavender, hints of pepper and inner floral notes. The long and staying finish revealed hints of this wine’s structure and likely its ability to age. (93 points)

I couldn't help but add a second Donelan wine to this list.  For those of you unfamiliar with Donelan Vineyards, you may recognize them for their previous work under the name Pax Wine Cellars.  Joe Donelan and winemaker Tyler Thomas are continuing that legacy, making a selection of Rhone varieties, as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from cool climate sights in Sonoma.  One fellow taster commented to me that they (Donelan) had dialed it back a bit.  If that’s so, I think they may have just hit their sweet spot.  If you enjoy the wines of the Northern Rhone, you owe it to yourself to check out Donelan.

 
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