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2014 Rhone Rangers Tasting: April 6, Richmond, CA

rhonerangers.jpgSpring is in the air here in San Francisco. The plum and some cherry blossoms have already burst forth, those with allergies are suffering a bit, and we've got sunshine into the dinner hour thanks to the magic of daylight savings time.

Spring means a lot of different things to different people, but for any wine lover in San Francisco, it certainly means wine tasting season. This is the time of year that winemakers get a little break -- malolactic fermentation is well underway if not finished -- so there's time to pack the suitcase and go show off some wines to the public.

One of the best tastings that comes our way each Spring in San Francisco is the Rhone Rangers tasting. Like many of the other big tastings, Rhone Rangers offers the chance for wine lovers to taste through a vast field of Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, and many other varietals and blends that fall under the general banner of Rhone-style wines.

I adore these wines, and this is always a great event. I highly recommend it to anyone, especially those that might be stuck in a Cabernet rut (or a Merlot, Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc rut for that matter). There's a lot more out there in the world of California wine, and this tasting will provide one heck of an education to anyone looking to explore alternatives to the typical grape varieties.

And of course, for those who are crazy for Rhone-style wines, this tasting is pretty much the only game around these days. Now that the beloved Hospice du Rhone tasting is no more, this event has become the most significant event for these kinds of wines in the country.

This year, for the first time, the majority of the event is being held in the East Bay, at the Craneway Conference Center in Richmond. But wait. Before you moan about having to drive across the bridge, you should know that the event is offering a private ferry service from San Francisco directly to the event! That's right, you can relax, and ride in style across the bay, guzzle your Grenache, and then sail right on home when you're done! See the event web site for more information.

This year's event features a winemaker dinner on Saturday April 5th that will be held in the Presidio, and then on Sunday, a set of seminars will be held in the morning, followed by the Grand Tasting event in the afternoon. Complete details on the events, including a list of the participating wineries can be found on the event web site.

Go get 'yer Rhone on!

2014 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting
Sunday, April 6th
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
The Craneway Pavilion
1414 Harbour Way South
Richmond, CA 94804 (map)

Tickets to the grand tasting are $65 in advance, and should be purchased online.

And remember my tips for optimum enjoyment at public tastings: wear dark, comfortable clothes; get a good night's sleep; come with food in your belly; drink lots of water; and SPIT if you want to learn anything!

Ladies (and gents) please skip the perfume for the day. We want to smell the wines, not you.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.