Special Report: Rhone Rangers Tasting -
Long View Gallery Washington, DC June 4th, 2014

Jay Youmans MW


There are some 200 winery members from California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Michigan, and Virginia. To join, a winery must produce at least one wine produced from a minimum of 75% of one or more of the twenty-two grape varieties that are indigenous to the Rhone Valley region in Southern France.


The goal of the Rhone Rangers is to produce wines are that essentially New World interpretations of the wines found in the Rhone.  


The 22 grapes include white grape varieties such as: Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanc, Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains, Picardin, Picpoul Blanc, and Ugni Blanc.  


The reds grapes found in the Rhone are: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre,, Cinsault, Carignan, Counoise, Muscardin, Picpoul Noir, Vaccarese, and Terret Noir.  


Petit Sirah (AKA: Durif) is also included in this list of permitted grapes. While one of its parents is Syrah, Petit Sirah is more commonly found in California. 


There were nearly twenty wineries pouring wines. I tried everything there, but I was particularly impressed with wines below:


The wines:



2012 Wrath Muscat Blanc Soledad, California, $15

Wrath is an odd name for such a mellow wine. Made with Muscat a Petits Grains, this wine is Pale yellow in color. It has notes of white flowers, lemon, and orange blossom on the nose. Fruit forward, but dry in style. With medium minus acidity and flavors of dried apricot and orange. A delicious summer wine. - 88 points


2013 Horton Viognier, Orange County, Virginia $20

This locally produced wine held its own with Viogniers from the West Coast. I found it fresher, less alcoholic, and more appealing than any other Viogniers I tried that day. Medium yellow in color. Floral, honeysuckle, white pepper nose. Dry, medium minus acidity, rich, oily texture. Stone fruit is the dominate flavor. - 87 points


2010 Qupe Roussanne, Bien Nacido Hillside Estate,  

Los Olivos, California $40


Qupe may have been the star of the show. Their wines are not blockbusters, they are balanced and restrained in style.  


Medium Yellow color. Notes of orange zest, wax, honey, and smoke on the nose. Rich, complex flavors of stone fruit, melon, honey, and subtle oak. Medium acidity, long attractive finish. - 90 points


2012 Tablas Creek White Blend "Cotes de Tablas Blanc" $27

A blend of Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne. Medium minus yellow color. The nose is loaded nectarine, peach, and white flowers, but some minerality and complexity as well. A medium plus weight wine with medium acidity, slightly rich with honey and a peach pit finish. - 89 points





2010 Mira Winery 2010 Syrah, Hyde Vineyard - Napa Valley, CA $ 48

A relatively new winery using grapes from a famous vineyard. Opaque purple,ruby color. Blackberries, cured meat on the nose. Lovely ripe, soft tannins. -89 points


2011 Qupe Grenache, Sawyer Vineyard Lindquist Vineyard, Los Olivos, CA $35

One of my favorite wines of the tasting. Medium plus ruby color. Cooked strawberry and wild herbs on the nose. Soft, approachable tannins. Just a hint of oak. - 90 points


2010 Qupe Syrah, "Sonnies" Sawyer Vineyard Lindquist Vineyard - Edna Valley, Los Olivos, CA $35-  

Dark ruby color. Notes of olive and black pepper on the nose. Dry, medium minus acidity, with black fruits and earth on the palate. Soft ripe tannins. Elegant and fairly priced. - 91 points


2011 Tablas Creek Vineyard "Esprit de Tablas Paso Robles, CA $55

Medium plus ruby color, Red fruits, earth, and herbs on the nose. Soft, fruit forward attack, finishes with notes of dark cherry, and chalky tannins. Easily mistaken for young Chateauneuf-du-Pape. - 90 Points


2011 Wrath Syrah, Doctor's Vineyard - Santa Lucia Highlands - Monterrey, CA $39

Dark ruby color. Notes of exotic dark fruits, wild cherry and Framboise on the nose. Flavors of ripe cooked fruits and black pepper. Chewy, but ripe tannins. Really interesting wine. - 92 Points


2011 Wrath Syrah, San Saba - Santa Lucia Highlands -Monterrey, CA $39

I was very impressed with several offerings from this winery.  

Dark ruby color. Notes of dried meat, plum, earth. A sweet burst of fruit on the palate. Soft, ripe tannins. Drinking well now, but has the structure to age. - 93 points



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