Thirsty Thursday-Spotlight on California Rhones

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You ask;  what is a California Rhone?

A little bit of information.Nestled in California is a group of wine makers fondly known as the Rhone Rangers that concentrates on French Rhone- styled wines. The stars of the wine; Syrah, Grenache and Petite Syrah.
Some great California wines
The premium Rhone styled wines from California are known to be rich and complex. The 2007 vintage is especially grand. Enter the Rhone Zone: Sonoma County, Paso Robles, Sonoma County, Napa Valley, Edna Valley and Santa Barbera County, leading the way in production.

If you have some extra wine money to spend you might want to check out some of these top Rhone-style producers: Carlisle, Saxum and Sine Qua Non. Their wines are heavily sought after and hard to find because of the limited quantity produced. Wait lists for the these wines are not uncommon. There is not much marketing involved with these wines because they have such a cult following. I’ve searched hard at all my favorite wine shops and have yet to find one of the afore mentioned cult wines. Must mean they’re good, damn good wines!

The story goes that Syrah continues to attract many winemakers in California. It’s the work horse of the California Rhones, with a little over 18,000 acres planted, followed by Petite Syrah and Grenache. One thing some Rhone Rangers hope for is an increase in demand for those of un-cult status. The recession hasn’t helped and many wineries don’t have much of a track record yet. It’s a hard sell for some wineries. Additionally, competition from other Syrah and Grenache based wines from other countries hasn’t helped much either. I guess with this said, many wineries are waiting for a Syrah boom similar to Pinot Noir. Maybe a movie might help!(Hint)

Some Top Rated Rhone Style Wines from California- Wine Spectator (Mar. 2010 ed.)

Some Top Rated California Rhone producers:
Carlisle Syrah Russian River Valley 2007 98 points $45
Saxum James Berry Paso Robles 2007 98 points $67
Sine Qua Non Syrah Ste Rit Hills Eleventh Confessions Vinyard 2005 98 points $200
Alban Syrah Edna Valley Lorraine 2005 96 points $145
Saxum Broken Stones Paso Robles 2007 96 points $45
Carlisle Syrah Bennett Valley Cardiac Hill 2006 95 points $43
Favia Syrah Amador County Quarzo 2007 95points $65
Sine Qua Non Syrah California Raven 2006 95 points $135

Cheers and Tweets

Enjoy

Adrienne , PIWC

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  1. That’s a great list, I do think that there is some amazing value if you’re willing to take a step down of just a couple of points, where you can find multiple options in the $30-$40 range.

    Check out:

    Stolpman Hilltops Syrah $45 New vintage scored at 94pts I believe, old vintage at 91-92.

    Alta Colina 0900 Block Syrah 92pts. Very small producer also has 2-3 other wines scored at 90+ pts. Only about 100 cases of each.

    Are you planning a similar entry on Grenache? I think it’s an up and coming grape in California, many of the well known Rhone Rangers are planting a higher and higher % of it

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