Rain, rain, go away! Well, even if our belated rainy-season doesn’t end soon, there’s the Annual Rhône Rangers Tasting in San Francisco to look forward to! This is definitely one of the spring highlights for wine lovers in the Bay Area. Held at Fort Mason, the event offers the chance to taste a wide selection of Rhône-style varietals and blends.
Win a pair of tickets to the Grand Tasting! All you need to do is click here to send me email telling me which new-to-you grape you want to try this year. You can also enter by sending me a message on Twitter (@terroiriste) with your answer. The contest ends on Monday, March 19 at noon Pacific time. I will randomly select a winner, and notify you by email or tweet.
The French government recognizes 22 varieties in the various appellations that comprise this large and diverse wine-growing region. Rhône Appellations (including Cote Rotie, Hermitage, Condrieu, Chateuneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Bandol, Cotes du Rhône and several others) each choose a different subset from the collection of grapes known (from their place of origin) as Rhône varietals. For a wine to be considered a “Rhône Ranger” wine, and poured at an official Rhône Rangers tasting, the 22 recognized accepted varieties must comprise at least 75% of the blend.
The most common red Rhône varietals are Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre, with Syrah predominant in the Northern Rhône and Grenache in the Southern Rhône. Other relatively common red grapes include Cinsault, Carignan, and Petite Sirah. Finally, the list includes some grapes that are found only in trace amounts even in France, and are just beginning to be explored in the United States, including Counoise, Muscardin, Picpoul Noir, Vaccarese, and Terret Noir. For the sticklers out there, the Rhône Rangers have adopted Petite Sirah, a French cross also known as Durif, due to its extensive interplanting with traditional Rhône varietals in Calfiornia.
The principal white Rhône varietals are Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, each found throughout the Rhône Valley, with Grenache Blanc a widely planted but less well known contributor in the Southern Rhône. The other white grapes include Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanc, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Picardin, Picpoul/Piquepoul Blanc, and Ugni Blanc.
Want to learn more about Rhône grapes? See http://www.Rhônerangers.org/grapes/.
Schedule of Events for the Celebration of American Rhônes
15TH ANNUAL RHÔNE RANGERS GRAND TASTING, GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET, Sunday, March 25, 2012, 2-5 PM, Fort Mason, Festival Pavilion. $45/ticket—> BUY NOW
15TH ANNUAL RHÔNE RANGERS GRAND TASTING, VIP TICKET, Sunday, March 25, 2012, Early Entry at 12 noon, Fort Mason, Festival Pavilion, $75/ticket—> BUY NOW
SEMINAR #1: RARE WINES, COME TASTE THE UNUSUAL, Saturday, March 24, 2012, 12:00 PM, Fort Mason, The Firehouse. Participating Wineries include Clos Saron, Holly’s Hill, Lagier Meredith, Ridge, Tablas Creek, Two Shepherds. $45/ticket—> BUY NOW
SEMINAR #2: WINE & SWINE, A PAIRING OF RHÔNE VARIETIES WITH BACON, Saturday, March 24, 2012, 2:00 PM, Fort Mason, The Firehouse. Participating Wineries include Inspiration Vineyards, Katin, Mount Aukum, Skylark, Treana/Hope Family Wines. Our “Baconologist” is Duskie Estes, Co-Owner, Black Pig Meat Co & Zazu Restaurant. $65/ticket—> BUY NOW
SEMINAR #3: AMERICAN SYRAH FROM A VARIETY OF REGIONS, Sunday, March 25, 2012, 11 AM, Fort Mason, The Golden Gate Room. Participating wineries include: Big Basin, Caliza Winery, Chateau Ste Michelle, Cornerstone Cellars, Domaine Berrien Cellars, Domaine de la Terre Rouge, Donelan Wines, Folin Cellars, Tarara Winery, Zaca Mesa. $55/ticket—> BUY NOW
About the Rhône Rangers
The Rhône Rangers are a group of roughly 150 wineries dedicated to making wines from the 22 grape varieties originally made famous in France’s Rhône Valley. These varieties range from the better known Syrah and Viognier to the up-and-coming Mourvèdre, Grenache and Roussanne, to obscure (but delicious) grapes like Counoise and Picpoul.
The Rhône Rangers started from a small gathering of American vintners who began meeting informally in the 1980s. As their numbers expanded, the group organized under the name “Rhône Rangers.” The Rhône Rangers is a non-profit organization focused on promoting the enjoyment of Rhône varietal wines produced in the United States. These grapes include the 22 traditional varieties approved by the French government for the Côtes du Rhône, as well as Durif (Petite Sirah). In order for a winery to join the Rhône Rangers, they must produce at least one wine that contains 75% of any single approved varietal (or combination of these varietals). Visit us online: www.rhonerangers.org