Rhone Rangers Tasting Experience

This week, I attended the Rhone Rangers tasting at The Bindery in McMinnville: A collaboration of West Coast Rhone-style producers, with five winemaker panelists.

Attendees were seated at tables with five samples of Syrah from @delmas__sjrvineyard (Rocks District, Oregon), @quadynorth (Applegate Valley, Oregon), @ridgevineyards (Dry Creek Valley, California), @thacherwinery (Paso Robles, California), and @troonwines (Applegate Valley).

The event highlighted the range of Syrah wines produced in New World growing regions. Panelists talked about their background, what inspired them, and how experiences working with the land and growing conditions contributed to their wines.

We learned about Syrah clones; Influence of whole-cluster ferment on pH, tannin, and age-worthiness; Temperature, soil, and terroir influence on crop quality; Use of new versus neutral oak; Ferment temperature, semi-carbonic, and pump-over methods; And winemaker nuances that vary by vintage.

For a varietal often overshadowed by Pinot Noir, it was clear that Syrah is just as complex, with regional winemakers making their own mark on this corner of the wine industry!

Panelists took a few questions. They were asked compare their wines to a specific part of the Rhone. It was replied that none were trying to copy any Rhone regions. After all, how could New World winemakers, in an industry only a few decades old, want to mimic a region dating back 2,000 years?

Everyone was then invited to an industry pour at Troon’s tasting room a block away, in the historic 3rd Street downtown area where I spent much of my teenage years with friends. A dozen or so wine brands poured their Rhone-style white, rosé, and red wines and blends. One that stood out to me was Tablas Creek Vineyard from Paso Robles, California, a biodynamic producer. Angela and I learned about them during our research travels, before we opened Syndicate!

If you’ve not tried a local Syrah (or any Rhone-style wine), I encourage you to reach for any of the producers mentioned in this post, and discover for yourself how New World winemakers are forging a distinct path with a very Old World varietal.

@rhonerangers #rhonestyle #rhonerangers

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