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Wine Bloggers Conference

Two Shepherds, Two Philosophies, One Great Wine

William Allen in action

It’s kind of a long story why this particular post got kicked repeatedly to the back burner when we actually tasted William Allen’s awesome syrahs last June at a Rhone Rangers tasting event. The Rhone Rangers is an advocacy group touting wines made in the style of France’s Rhone Valley. Rhone-style wines usually mean syrahs, mourvedres and grenaches or a blend of those three also known as GSM.

Allen’s wines, under his label Two Shepherds, really stood out because while the syrahs were nice and meaty, they were also well-balanced and smooth, unlike several

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Tablas Creek 2009 Rosé

 

 

Courtesy Tablas Creek Vineyards

 

Type: Dry rosé Made with: Mourvedre, Grenache, Counoise Plays well with: duck, figs, cheese, nuts and picnic fare.

Let’s be clear.  This is not a sweet wine.  Alas, US rosés, in particular, have that bad rep from the cheap box wines that were so popular in the 1960s and ’70s.  But this ain’t your daddy’s Lancers.  The Tablas Creek 2009 Rosé was pink, as in the color a fresh rosé should have. The nose was fruity with watermelon and strawberry, and the fruitiness continued into the taste, even though it is

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Tablas Creek 2006 Cotes de Tablas

 

Courtesy Tablas Creek Vineyards

Type: Dry RedMade: In Paso Robles, California with grenache, syrah, mourvedre, counoise grapesPlays well with: Slightly spicy beef dishes, anything laced with garlic.

With Tablas Creek Vineyard GM Jason Haas one of the honchos behind the Rhone Rangers and Hospice du Rhone, you think maybe he and his family are into Rhone-style wines?  Like the winery’s portfolio is based on these food friendly wines of the Rhone valley of southern France.  The Cotes de Tablas is a typical Rhone-style blend of syrah, mourvedre and counoise built on a foundation grenache. The nose is

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Jason Haas - Tablas Creek Rosé Heaven

Jason Haas, of Tablas Creek and nice pink stuff

We’re having an insanely good lunch at the Hospice du Rhone on the last day of April – duck confit, goat cheese, roasted veggies (food was catered by The Girl and The Fig, of Sonoma, California), and it’s the rosé lunch, partly sponsored by the Synidcat de Tavel, where they make some of the world’s greatest dry rosés.  Every table had five Tavels to share.

So what does Jason Haas, general manager of Tablas Creek Winery, go around and do?  Plops down random bottles of the Tablas Creek 2009

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Consensio 2008 Rosé

Type: Dry roséMade with: Syrah and GrenachePlays well with: Seafood, salmon, chicken, pork, it’s rose – anything goes!

This rosé is so spectacular that you can’t help feeling a little smug when folks who supposedly “know” sneer that they don’t drink rosé. Good. More for us.

Bone dry, it’s made up of sixty percent syrah and forty percent grenache with a scant .02 percent residual sugar. You won’t taste even the slightest hint of sweetness.

The salmon color is typical of a rosé from the French region of Provence. The nose is full of guava and watermelon – promising

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Twisted Oak 2006 Grenache

So why are we posting tasting notes on a single wine? Because we really liked it!

 

It’s Wednesday night – our dedicated mid-week break. It’s a tradition we started when we had a junior member in the house (who has since graduated from college, gotten a job and her own place and calls us voluntarily, not that we’re bragging). We made up a simple beef semi-stroganoff – semi because Anne couldn’t quite remember the recipe for a full-on traditional stroganoff and was too tired to look it up. Add some brown rice noodles, steamed broccoli, a basic green

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Rounding Up the Paso Rhone Rangers

Well, we’re back home and mostly recovered from checking out the 30-odd wineries present at the 2010 Paso Robles Rhone Rangers Experience, which happened this past Sunday.

It was a particularly good day for us. We caught up with some old friends, discovered a new-to-us boutique winery and that’s before we got to the event tasting!

The Rhone Rangers is a national education and advocacy group of about 200 wineries and other folks dedicated to educating the wine-buying public about wines made from the 22 varieties of grapes that come from France’s Rhone Valley. The principal grapes are syrah,

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Wines from Sardinia

Some months back, Anne spotted a post on one of her LinkedIn groups – someone was looking for a distributor here in the U.S. for some wines from Sardinia – the island off the west coast of Italy and south of Corsica. It seemed like kind of a perfect OddBallGrape situation – there just isn’t that much Sardinian wine available outside of Sardinia. So we checked in and bought a couple bottles from Nuovi Poderi Cantina – at least, that’s the name on both bottles.

The first, Taja, was a vermentino, a white grape that has a small following

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Chateau d’Aqueria 2007 Rose Tavel

The good folks at Blackwell’s wines and spririts were featuring Chateau d’Aqueria 2007 Tavel when we wandered in there a couple months ago. The winery is one of the oldest in the Tavel region of France’s southern Rhone region (French wines being labeled after where they’re grown and made rather than by the grapes in them, with each region using basically the same grapes to make the wine, anyway, so a Bordeaux is always going to have cabernet sauvignon and merlot in it, no matter who in Bordeaux made it). Tavel is best known here in the States –

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Halter Ranch 2006 GSM

GSM is shorthand – 1980s Australian shorthand –  for a classic Rhone blend of three grapes – Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. The basic formula will vary from year to year as one grape stands out over the others. The 2006 contains 45 percent grenache, 33 percent syrah and 22 percent mourvedre. The nose is full of cedar, cherries and berry fruit. The fruits are dry in the mouth with no residual sweetness but lots of flavor and acids that show off the brightness of the grenache and yet allows the spiciness of the syrah to display itself on the

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