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?

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Donelan Syrah Walker Vine Hill (2009)
Comments: The nose of the Walker Vine Hill Syrah truly draws you in with ripe red and blue fruits, spiced cookie and rosemary. On the palate, it was vibrant, truly exciting the senses, yet rich and dark with flavors of black cherry. The finish was long and showed great balance, as the dark red fruits slowly faded to reveal this wine’s refined structure. (94 points)
Average price: $69.99 from 1 store
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2 Stark Viognier Damiano Vineyards (2009)
Comments: The nose was floral and spicy with notes of olive and reminiscent of a warm spring day. On the palate, it was silky smooth with medium weight as flavors of rich pear, spiced apple, and inner floral notes filled the senses. The finish was long and palate-coating with soft white fruits and spice. (92 points)
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3 Ridge Syrah Dry Creek Valley Lytton Estate (2007)
Comments: The nose showed plumy fruits with black cherry, herbs and a spicy, airy lift. On the palate, it was rich and racy with red and black fruits which stayed through the saturating, long finish. This wine truly showed great concentration in the face of perfect balance. (92 points)
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4 Donelan Syrah Sonoma County Cuvée Christine (2010)
Comments: 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)
Average price: $49.00 from 1 store
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5 Austin Hope Syrah Hope Family Vineyard (2010)
Comments: The nose showed ripe berries, exotic spice, and earth, with hints of burnt sugar. On the palate, it was medium to full-bodied with ripe fruits, cinnamon spice and cherry, which lasted through the long, saturating finish. It was a big wine but remained balanced throughout. (92 points)
Average price: $36.99 from 31 stores
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6 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Roussanne Paso Robles (2007)
Comments: The nose showed peaches with citrus notes and a hint of vanilla. On the palate, it was weighty with apple and pear, showing excellent balance and a dollop of mouth-watering acidity. (90 points)
Previously available for $24.00
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7 Qupe Syrah Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard (2009)
Comments: The nose showed red berries, tart blackberry, citrus and herbs. On the palate, it was silky with rich, spicy fruits that turned tart as the wine’s acidity penetrated the senses. The textural contrasts on the palate made this even more enjoyable and resulted in a long, palate-coating finish. (90 points)
Average price: $41.01 from 4 stores
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