On Saturday March 20th, I attended the Rhone Rangers tasting event at Fort Mason in San Francisco. I tasted around 115 wines, both red and white.
Overall, I have to say that I was a little disappointed by the event -- both in terms of the quality of the wines across the board, as well as with the energy. It was certainly better organized than the recent ZAP Tasting, and there were some more interesting artisanal food producers at this event, but other than that, it was a bit of a let down.
It's clear to me that most of the folks here in California haven't cracked the Viognier nut quite yet -- many of the wines I tasted were over-oaked or had imbalanced, lopsided flavor profiles that weren't up to snuff. That said, there were a few gems in this category which I note below. One thing I was surprisingly, and definitely turned off by were the single varietal whites on display -- with the exception of a Truchard Roussanne, all the other white, single varietal wines I tried were crap.
While it might not be surprising that Viognier and the other whites need some work, I was very suprised to not find any blockbuster Syrahs. You'll see a few below that I liked, but honestly most of my favorite wines from the tasting were the blends. I'm disheartened that with the exception of people like Michael Martella and a few select winemakers, the California market is still not producing really top notch Syrahs.
On a better note, many of the good wines from this event are excellent values.
OK. Enough of the editorializing -- without further ado, I present my thoughts on the best Reds, Whites, and Overall Values from this year's event.
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