Rhone Rangers DC

Longview Gallery - Washington, DC

Tasted June 4, 2014 by isaacjamesbaker with 461 views

Introduction

I couldn't attend the trade tasting, so I went to the evening tasting, which was packed with people. I only had two hours, so I made the rounds as best I could, but I wasn't able to visit half the tables. Oh well, I tasted some really solid wines. Great event. The Rhone Rangers need to come to DC more often!

Flight 1 - Donelan (4 notes)

I've appreciated Donelan's Syrahs and blends before, and I'm always glad to try their wines again. Good juice all around, as expected.

White
2012 Donelan Vénus USA, California, Sonoma County
90 points
Nose: floral, melon, lime. Palate: Mineral, lively, lime and quince, white flowers, fresh acid, lingering with notes of honey. Includes 3% Viognier.
Red
2012 Donelan Cuvée Moriah USA, California, Sonoma County
90 points
Aromas of raspberries and strawberries, earth. Fresh but bold, fine tannins, showing restraint. Some cedar, green olive, red licorice. Complex, versatile, a Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend.
Red
2011 Donelan Syrah Cuvée Christine USA, California, Sonoma County
90 points
Nose: cool berries (blackberries, raspberries), sweet rose and violets. Palate: rich, bold, nice grip, chewy texture, fresh acid. Love the purity of the berry fruit. Some tobacco earth, long finish. 2-3 years would do this good.
Red
2011 Donelan Syrah Cuvée Keltie USA, California, Sonoma County
91 points
Nose: dark berries, violets on the nose, warm and inviting. Juicy berry fruit on the palate, ripe but tangy. Also some meat, olive, tobacco and violet notes. Zingy, with a long finish. I’d cellar this for two years and see what it’s up to.

Flight 2 - Cornerstone (2 notes)

I generally think of their awesome Napa Cabs and Sauvignon Blancs, but Cornerstone makes a pair of Syrah-based wines as well.

Rosé
2013 Cornerstone Cellars Syrah Stepping Stone Corallina Rosé USA, California, Napa Valley
85 points
Nose: floral, white cherry, sweet strawberry cake. Fresh acidity, creamy, but lots of minerals. Melon, strawberry, juicy but crisp.
Red
2011 Cornerstone Cellars Syrah Stepping Stone USA, California, Napa Valley
91 points
Deep aromas, love the currants, plums, earthy, pepper, smoke, lots of depth. Juicy palate, fresh plum & currants, solid structure. Earth, loam, charcoal, chewy yet elegant. Will be even prettier with another two years. Wowed again by this wine.

Flight 3 - Wrath (4 notes)

I've never had a Wrath wine before, although I've wanted to try some. These four wines were quite impressive. Love the fresh, earthy, tangy approach of their 2011 reds.

White
2012 Wrath Muscat Ex Anima USA, California, Central Coast, Arroyo Seco
87 points
Aromatically, this is a dead ringer for Fruity Pebbles cereal. And I love it. Also some floral and peach notes. Dry but so fruity, with flavors of orange peel, green melon, lychee and peaches & cream. I'm rarely a big fan of California Muscat but this is seriously fun stuff.
Red
2011 Wrath Grenache Destruction Level USA, California, Central Coast, Arroyo Seco
88 points
Nose: mixed berries, floral, some red berry jam. Palate: pepper and earth accents, sweet flowers, berry compote, just a bit of candied fruit. Still, it takes a nuanced stance.
Red
2011 Wrath Syrah Doctor's USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
90 points
Nose: smoke, crushed granite, meat on top of red currants and plums. Palate: firm, medium+ acid, currants and plums, but not too rich. Tangy throughout, with smoke, earth, meaty, jetty rock elements. Yup, this is doing it for me.
Red
2011 Wrath Syrah San Saba Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey
91 points
Aromas: Smoke, earth, mushroom on top of raspberries and strawberries. Silky, smooth but still structured. Bold cherry, dark plums, mixing with eucalyptus, charcoal and chestnut notes. Long, pure, velvety. Very impressive stuff, showing boldness but the sleekness of the 2011 vintage.

Flight 4 - Thacher (4 notes)

White
2012 Thacher Winery White USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
87 points
Nose: floral, waxy, apricot. Palate: Juicy, rich, full, apricot, honey, orange blossoms. Flowers, waxy, bold but medium acid. A blend of 74% Viognier and 26% Grenache Blanc.
Red
2011 Thacher Winery Controlled Chaos USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
88 points
Nose: bright red fruit, roses, meat tones. Palate: cherry pie, juicy red currant, lovely chewy texture, almost a ruby red grapefruit note to the fruit. Juicy, tangy, with smoke, earth, charcoal undertones. Unique style. A blend of 47% Mourvedre, 33% Zinfandel and 20% Grenache.
Red
2012 Thacher Winery GSM USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
86 points
Nose: bright red fruit, roses, meat tones. Palate: cherry pie, juicy red currant, lovely chewy texture, almost a ruby red grapefruit note to the fruit. Juicy, tangy, with smoke, earth, charcoal undertones. Unique style. A blend of 47% Mourvedre, 33% Zinfandel and 20% Grenache.
Red
2011 Thacher Winery Vin Rouge USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
89 points
Cool berries on the nose, olive, jerky, dried roses. Big but juicy with medium acid, chewy tannins, mixed berry fruit. Earth, teriyaki sauce, sweet root beer and roasted chestnut accents. 2011 is something of an anomaly, but I'm loving this restrained style. 74% Syrah and 26% Grenache.

Flight 5 - Kenneth Volk (4 notes)

I know Kenneth Volk mostly for their Chardonnays and Pinots, but perhaps I need to pay more attention to their Syrah and Mourvedre offerings.

Red
N.V. Kenneth Volk Grenache Rio San Benito USA, California, Central Coast, San Benito County
85 points
Nose: juicy red berries. Palate: strawberry, light cherry, easy-drinking, light tannins, soft approach.
Red
2010 Kenneth Volk Syrah Nielson Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
88 points
Nose: black currant, roasted fig. Full, creamy but tangy on the palate, with blueberry and black currants. Big but tastes cool and crisp. Some sweet cola and purple bubble gum characteristics. A well-done, fruit forward wine.
Red
2010 Kenneth Volk Mourvèdre Enz Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Lime Kiln Valley
88 points
Fresh, floral, cherry cola on the nose. Ripe black cherries, sweet cinnamon candies, some anise and other spices. Maintains freshness.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Kenneth Volk Mourvèdre Enz Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Lime Kiln Valley
89 points
Earthier on the nose than the 2010, with mushroom notes. Raspberries and strawberries on the palate, with cola, sweet spices and flowers, along with balsamic, mushroom and meat notes. Liking these non-fruit characteristics and the acid.

Flight 6 - Two Shepherds (6 notes)

White
2012 Two Shepherds Grenache Blanc Saarloos Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
90 points
Smells of seashells, salt, mix of citrus and tropical. Creamy but so tangy with crisp green fruit, some floral notes, minerals and sea shells. Lean but not weak.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2012 Two Shepherds Pastoral Blanc Saralee's Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
90 points
Peachy nose with saline, floral. Crisp and creamy, with interesting floral, tea, wax and honey notes. Love this for $28. A blend of 50% Roussanne, 35% Marsanne, 10% Viognier and 5% Grenache Blanc, fermented and aged in neutral oak. I'd like to try this again in two years.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2013 Two Shepherds Viognier Saralee's Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
91 points
Love the peach, apricot and white tea aromas. On the palate, creamy yet lean, with orange peel and apricot, so pure and lively with lingering acid and mineral tones. Not your average sweet flower honeypot California Viognier, this is so clean and crisp. Yeah, digging this like crazy.
Rosé
2013 Two Shepherds Grenache Gris Rosé Gibson Ranch USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino
91 points
A unique and special wine from a 100-year-old vineyard in Mendocino, I love it. Smells of olive oil, strawberry greens, tangerine and melon peel. Juicy, tangy, mineral-driven, with white cherry and tart strawberries, lots of tea and herbal-spice tones. Beautiful. Fermented on the skins with native yeasts and aged seven months in old oak.
Red
2012 Two Shepherds Grenache Saralee's Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
91 points
Love the nose, so floral, cool fruit, elegance. Fine tannins, crisp acid, a lighter, more elegant style at 13.3% alcohol. Cool red fruit, mixed with spice, earth and roses. Complex, versatile, I don't remember the last California Grenache I thought of as thirst-quenching.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Two Shepherds Syrah | Mourvedre USA, California
91 points
A beautiful blend of 55% Syrah from the Russian River Valley and 45% Mourvedre from El Dorado County. The aromas are so complex: tea, beef, charcoal, crushed rocks on top of black cherries. So airy and elegant on the palate, with earth, pickle and rose accents to the fresh cherry and currant fruit. Lingering roses and minerals. William Allen is making some great stuff, as this tasting proved.

Flight 7 - Qupé (5 notes)

White
2010 Qupé Roussanne Hillside Estate Bien Nacido Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
89 points
Aromas of peaches, honey and lemon curd. On the palate, apricot, honey, rich (some time in French oak, on the lees) but this shows some minerals and white tea, and it’s also clean and fresh, exciting acid, with saline notes on the finish. Much more sleek and restrained than your typical Central Coast Roussanne.
Red
2012 Qupé Syrah USA, California, Central Coast
86 points
Nose: cherries, sweet raspberries, cola. Easy-drinking, juicy, with cherries and raspberries, sweet cola, subtle spice. Very pleasant and a good entry-level wine.
Red
2011 Qupé Grenache Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
88 points
Nose: Ripe berries, earth, some smoke and rose notes. Rich but still quite silky, with some nice sweet herbal components. Includes 13% Syrah.
Red
2010 Qupé Syrah Sonnie's Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
91 points
So spicy on the nose, with olive, earth and pepper. Rich and chewy on the palate, with dark cherries and blackberries. This is seriously peppery, and I get some cola, sage and earth tones. Long and packed, needs two to four years, but this is really good.
Red
2009 Qupé Syrah Bien Nacido Hillside Estate USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
92 points
Dark berries, charcoal, some smoke on the nose. Quite elegant on the palate, with a velvety mouthfeel and some crisp acid. Pure berry and currant fruit, with complex notes of pickle, spice and soy. Rich, lasting, pure, plenty of time ahead.
1 person found this helpful Comment
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