2017-05-01 / Wine Notes

The Rhone Rangers

Robert D. Richards, CSW

For more than a thousand years, the Rhône Valley in Southern France has been producing wine, including some of the country’s more notable wines, such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côte-Rôtie. Two decades ago in California, a group of winemakers and grape growers decided that the varietals making the Rhône Valley famous grow just as well in that state, and it was time the world knew it.

Those winemakers organized into a cleverly titled group called “The Rhone Rangers” with the express purpose of publicizing their vinous creations throughout the United States and beyond.

The Rhone varietal vineyards stretch throughout California’s winery-rich Central and North Coasts, with a sprinkling in other areas of the Golden State (and a few others). Each year the Rangers host a massive wine-tasting event in San Francisco to showcase their members’ production. The Rhone Rangers even travel to other states, spreading the word to wine-tasting groups. Consumers can join the organization as “sidekicks” and learn more about the flavorful varietals.

Some of the grapes are now familiar in this country — whites like Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and reds like Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Mourvèdre, among other lesser-known varietals. The wines coming from these grapes are fruit-forward and well balanced. The Rhone Rangers also are known for some creative blending, giving rise to complex wines sure to please even the most finicky palates. •SCM

Truchard Roussanne Napa Valley 2014
(#49828, $21.99)
This Napa Valley “Rhône” shows notes of tropical fruit, a bit of vanilla and balanced acidity.

Bonny Doon Clos de Gilroy Grenache Monterey 2013
(#38923, $16.99)
Hints of spice, pepper and clove highlight this Grenache from a notable producer in Monterey County.

Qupe Syrah Santa Barbara County 2012
(#32793, $24.99)
Inky in color, dark fruits with hints of pepper are showcased in this Syrah from Santa Barbara County.

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