On Valentine’s Day, while several of my friends were off doing couples things, I was feeling Rhonely so I attended the Rhone Rangers event at Broken Earth Winery. I certainly wasn’t alone — there were 300 tasters and over 40 wineries.
The Rhone Rangers Experience is an annual event, and this may have been the biggest and best ever. I wish I could say I tried all of the wines; however, I wasn’t in the mood for spitting, so I just tried a few. There were some pretty incredible wines. In addition to the wines, being able to chat with the wineries in this casual environment makes the event worth attending…and it isn’t an event where you need to break the bank to attend…tickets for the grand tasting were just $35/person. I think they kept the price low since the group’s mission is to educate people about Rhone wines. There was also a silent auction to raise funds for a scholarship program — so those who wanted to spend some cash knew it was going to a good cause.
The Rhone Rangers recognize the same 22 Rhone grape varietals as the French government (spanning all of the Rhone Appellations). Having said that, since Paso Robles isn’t known for following the rules, you will find a few odd ball wines mixed in some blends, including Zinfandel. To pour at the Rhone Rangers’ event, the wine must be comprised of at least 75% of any of the 22 recognized varietals.
Several of my favorite wineries where there pouring and I also had the opportunity to discover some new ones. Each winery was limited to pouring just 4 wines (if you have any winemaker friends, you know that they want to pour them all and asking them to pick is like asking which child is their favorite). It was interesting to see the selection.
Here are just a few of the wines poured that I enjoy, in alphabetical order (and don’t worry, I didn’t taste them all during the event, some of these I enjoy on a regular basis):
- Adelaida Cellars 2013 Syrah Anna’s Reserve
- Alta Colina 2012 Old 900 Syrah
- Brecon Estate 2014 Syrah
- Broken Earth Winery 2012 Quadrant CdR
- Calcareous Vineyard 2013 Tres Violet
- Caliza Winery 2012 Azimuth, GSM
- CASS Winery 2013 Rockin’ One Red
- Clavo Cellars 2011 Syrah “Reckless”
- Eberle 2014 Cotes-du-Robles
- Four Lanterns Winery 2014 “lamplight” Viognier
- Halter Ranch Vineyard 2013 Cotes de Paso
- Kukkula 2013 noir
- Niner Wine Estates 2013 Grenache
- ONX Wines 2012 Reckoning
- Ranchero Cellars 2014 Chrome
- Ranchero Cellars 2013 Carignan (I can never pick just one of Amy Butler’s wines)
- Tablas Creek Vineyard 2013 Cotes de Tables
- Vines on the Mary Crest 2013 Heart of Glass, GSM
- Zenaida 2013 Grenache
Eat this with….
In general, I find most Rhone varietals and blends to be very food friendly. Although I did not attend the seminar and lunch, I did take a peek at the buffet menu to see what Chef Jeffery Scott offered and here is what he came up with to pair with the wines:
Slow Braised Niman Ranch Lamb
Chermoula Seared Free Range Chicken
Winter Vegetable Gratinee
Thyme Roasted Heirloom Beet Salad
Porcini Mushroom Bisque
Artisan & Farmstead Cheeses
Overall, I would have to say this is a very well organized and fun event. I would highly recommend attending the 2017 Experience. Until then, be sure to visit the many wineries of Paso Robles offering exquisite Rhone-style wines.