Monday, June 11, 2012

The Wrap Up: Rhône Rangers Los Angeles Tasting 2012

On June 3, 2012, the Rhône Rangers welcomed hundreds of Rhône wine enthusiasts to the historic Vibiana for the annual Los Angeles Tasting Event.  The nearly sold-out event featured more than 45 wineries pouring over 200 wines from Santa Barbara County, Paso Robles, Monterey County and Washington State.

The Rhône Rangers Los Angeles Tasting opened to the trade at noon, followed by a VIP lunch with the winemakers and local food truck favorites, Slammin' Sliders, Border Grill and Coolhaus.  At 3:30 p.m., volunteers opened the doors to hundreds of Angelenos for the Consumer Tasting.

With some many wineries present and not enough time to cover half of them, it was wise to set out with a list in hand of wineries to visit and wines to taste.  As of late, I have been enjoying more white Rhône blends and single-varietal wines, so there were ample options at each stop. It's summertime!

Earlier this spring, Alta Colina released new wines that are destined for stardom including the Marsanne-based 2010 "Claudia Cuvee" and 2009 Mourvedre.  Anglim Winery was pouring refreshing wines such as the 2010 Viognier (sourced from Bien Nacido Vineyard) and the 2011 Rosé, which was perfect for the warm weather outside.  Speaking of refreshing and succulent, Victor and Jennifer Abascal of Vines on the Marycrest introduced their new white Rhône blend, the 2011 "At Last."  This blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc will quench your summer thirst during a hot afternoon in Paso Robles, with perhaps a serving of shellfish or Asian cuisine.  Better yet, grab a glass and enjoy a view of the vineyard from the deck of the new tasting room as soon as it opens to the public (fingers-crossed that it's soon!).  Ecluse Wines was also pouring quite a few new releases including single-varietal Rhône wines sourced from vineyards in Paso Robles.  The 2009 Petite Sirah was showing well and will continue to benefit from additional bottle aging and decanting.

Refugio Ranch made their debut at the Rhône Rangers Los Angeles Tasting with two stellar wines: the 2010 "Ineseño" (Roussanne/Viognier) and 2009 "Barbareño" (Syrah/Petite Sirah).  Located on 415 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley, the property is perched on slopping hillsides covered by old oak trees and approximately 25 acre plantings of Rhône and Italian varietals.  If you are interested in trying all three estate wines, visit the new tasting room located in Downtown Los Olivos at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Highway 154.

Now, the highlight of this year's tasting was Wrath Wines of Monterey County.  Although I moved on from my love affair with Syrah wines to other varietals, Wrath brought back that loving feeling with their lineup of vineyard-designated, Santa Lucia Highlands-sourced Syrah wines.  In sum, the 2009 Syrah wines are opulent, layered, well-balanced and ready to enjoy now.

Finally, no Rhône Rangers tasting is complete without the antics of winemaker Larry Schaffer (Tercero Wines).  We have lost count as to how many wines Larry now produces, but one thing is certain: he's got a wine for very occasion and every type of cuisine.  Tercero Wines is producing a great GSM blend called "Cuvee Christie," along with single-varietal, vineyard-designated wines from renowned vineyards in Santa Barbara County.  One of my personal favorites is the 2009 Mourvedre (Camp 4 Vineyard).  If you have the patience, decant it over the course of an hour or longer. 

Regretfully, I missed out on Maison Bleue Winery, Bonny Doon Vineyard, Ridge Vineyards, and JK Wine Co.  I hope you got to try these wines and many more at the Rhône Rangers Los Angeles Tasting Event in Downtown Los Angeles.  See you next year or on the road in the Central Coast.  Cheers!


Alta Colina 2010 Claudia Cuvee, Estate, $28
Alta Colina 2009 Mourvedre, Estate, $42

Anglim Winery 2010 Viognier, $26
Anglim Winery 2011 Rosé, Central Coast, $15

Ecluse Wines 2010 Viognier, $28
Ecluse Wines 2009 Petite Sirah, $36

Refugio Ranch 2010 White Blend, "Ineseño," $28
Refugio Ranch 2009 Red Blend, "Barbareño," $42

Tablas Creek 2010 Grenache Blanc, $27
Tablas Creek 2010 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, $40

Tercero Wines 2008 Red Blend, "Cuvee Christie," $30

Vines on the Marycrest 2011 White Blend, "At Last," $24

Wrath 2010 Syrah, "Ex Anima," $25
Wrath 2009 Syrah, Doctor's Vineyard, $39
Wrath 2009 Syrah, Fairview, $39

Victor & Jennifer Abascal, Vines on the Marycrest
Randall Grahm, Bonny Doon Vineyard
Wrath Wines, Monterey County


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