We love Rhônes. The dense, juicy reds of the south, the spare but muscular reds of the north, and the clean but floral whites from up and down the river all make us happy. As it turns out, we’re not the only ones, and the Rhône has its share of New World imitators. But imitation, you’ll remember, is the sincerest form of flattery. This month’s Last Sunday tasting features three wines from the Rhône Valley and three New World versions of Rhône wines to taste alongside them. It takes place here at Feast on Sunday, April 28, at 3:30 pm, and costs a mere $35 plus tax and tip, and that includes a specially prepared food pairing with each of the wines. Plus everyone’s been so fond of our friend Andy Ramirez that we thought we’d invite him back. Turns out this guy knows a thing or two about wine, but he’ll deliver it with an unpretentious charm that’ll fill your cup as he fills your glass. To join us, you’ll need to make a reservation, and to make a reservation, you’ll need to call us (web and email reservations don’t work for the tastings.) The number is 326-9363.
Rhônes and their New World counterparts
2017 Stolpman Roussanne, Ballard Canyon $26.00
A dark shade of yellow in the glass, this bottling offers aromas of orange cream, salted lemons, concentrated melon and a light brush of oak. There is good grip and a decent sizzle to the sip before it settles into fleshy fruit, offering dried peach, sea salt, mango and savory roast chicken flavors.
2017 Clos du Caillou Côtes du Rhône Blanc $30.00
Hand-harvested in small crates, kept cool by dry ice. Pressed full cluster; fermented on indigenous yeasts and aged in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Aromas of white flowers, white peach, anise, wild fennel. Fresh, mineral and light; flavors of citrus and southern herbs.
2016 Langmeil “Three Gardens” red blend (Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro,) Barossa Valley $21.00
Old Barossa vignerons referred to their vineyards as gardens. The Three Gardens is a contemporary blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro, varieties grown in the Barossa since the 1840s. The best qualities of each grape have been selected to create this unique premium red blend.
The bright and juicy fruits coat the palate and are balanced by peppery and sweet spices. Medium-bodied in structure with great complexity and lovely silky tannins which flow through the fruity peppery and spicy finish.
2015 Domaine Le Couroulu Vacqueyras “Vieille Vignes” $37.00
The Vieilles Vignes bottling is a very special Vacqueyras. Just 8,000 bottles, from about two-thirds 60 year old Grenache and one third Syrah. Intense mass of heated black fruit with meaty, savoury elements. Very powerful – with promise for further development.
2016 Stolpman Estate Syrah, Ballard Canyon $29.00
2016 Paul Autard Châteauneuf-du-Pape $48.00
Jean-Paul Autard carries on the tradition established by Paul Autard when he founded the domaine in the village of Courthézon in the 1970’s. He took over very early, at 17 years old, after his father passed away.
Autard has 26 hectares of vines, of which 12 are in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and 14 in Côtes-du-Rhône (located at the border of the Châteauneuf appellation in Courthézon.) The aging cellar is a massive, vaulted cave cut into sandstone rock, housing the domaine’s barriques. The Autards feel privileged to have inherited a domaine in which the plantations of different varieties are perfectly adapted to the soil types – ranging from galets roulés, pebble and clay, to sandy-clay. They aim to get the most out of each variety by vinifying separately and then blending judiciously.
Wine Spectator: “A solid, very juicy and direct style, with a ripe core of plum and blackberry fruit inlaid liberally with black licorice and sweet tobacco notes. Toasty finish. Will be ready soon, but give this a touch of cellaring to let it unwind. Best from 2019 through 2028. 91 points.”