Sunday, May 8, 2011

In the Rhône at Hospice du Rhône 2011

Could you ask for any more perfect wine weather?!  From April 28-30, Rhône fans from distances close and far converged on the Paso Robles Event Center to participate in the "world's largest international celebration of Rhone variety wines" - Hospice du Rhône.  For three days, hundreds of Rhône wine enthusiasts experienced a variety of seminars, tastings and offline events inspired by Rhône varietal wines produced by the world's most renowned wineries and winemakers.

Every year, people from across the world embark on a pilgrimage to various sites of religious importance.  The same can be said about Hospice du Rhône for those people who are inspired by the twenty-two Rhône varieties.  It should be no surprise then that Hospice du Rhône is one of the most iconic wine tasting events in the world.

In 2011, Hospice du Rhône featured an à la carte offering of wine seminars with highly acclaimed winemakers, as well as the Friday Soiree.  The Friday Rhône Rendezvous Tasting and Saturday Grand Tasting provided the backdrop for these world-class wine producers to share new and old vintages of their award-winning wines.  HdR also released a helpful app to add tasting notes and share tweets during the seminars and tastings.

I was fortunate enough this year to participate in the Saturday Grand Tasting.  For three hours, hundreds of Rhônely Hearts tipped their glasses for a pour of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Roussanne and other Rhône varietal wines and blends.  Even three hours wasn't long enough to savor a fraction of the hundreds of wines being poured by the some of the most talented winemakers in the world.

Because interest in Rhône varietal wines remains a niche market, it is going to take more time and education to highlight the remarkable expressions of the Rhône wines being produced by Central Coast wineries, as well those from Northern California.  There were also some superb French Rhône producers whose wines continue to garner acclaim by the world's leading wine critics and regular wine drinkers.

Stay tuned for information about other HdR events later this year such as #Syrah Day and #Grenache Day, as well as next year's theme and the schedule for Hospice du Rhône 2012 (April 26-28).  You won't want to miss this Rhônetastic event!

Justin Smith, Saxum
Ecluse Wines
Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery
Full of Life Flatbread, Los Alamos, CA


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