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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 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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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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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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Irish Family Vineyard “Pog Mo Thoin”

Type: Dry Red Made: In Calaveras County, California, With cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and malvasia grapes Plays well with: Beef, lamb, winter stews, on its own

The Irish Family red blend called Pog Mo Thoin – Gaelic for “kiss my ass” – was a sample we tasted from the tank in April 2009 at the winery in Vallecito, CA. It’s pronounced Pog (with the long o sound), Mo (another long o) Hoyn (no t or th).  A blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and a bit of malvasia – a OBG grape if there is one – it’s now available for

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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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Halter Ranch – Growing the Good Stuff

Courtesy Halter Ranch

Every so often, it doesn’t hurt to remember that wine is, ultimately, an agricultural product and that you get grapes by farming them.  Fortunately, when Mitch Wyss came in to grow grapes for Halter Ranch Winery owner Hansjorg Wyss, he came in as a farmer.  However, one with not much experience growing wine grapes.

“It was a real trial by fire,” said Leslie Wyss, Mitch’s wife.  But Mitch is still there and it’s not because of a family connection.  He and Hansjorg are not related.  Leslie explained that Mitch is of Swiss

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Yosemite View 2005 Syrah

Like them or not, screw tops are showing up on wine bottles. No long tradition or ceremony in their extraction and no twenty-year studies on storage issues – yet. But do not let the top of the bottle distract you from the Yosemite View’s 2005 Syrah inside,  It’s ready to drink when you are. The nose has raspberry and the sweet hint of oak with cherry underneath. The deep red color delivers on the promise of red fruits like cherries and the aforementioned oak adds some tannins that dry the palate instead of coating it. The acids are there

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Carmichael Sur Le Pont 2005 Monterey County

While the Carmichael Sur le Pont is not technically an oddball bottle of wine.  The fact that it is made up of 80 percent syrah means it can be legally called a syrah, and that’s hardly oddball these days.  But that other 20 percent of lesser known grapes adds something really special to the final product. We promise tastings of grenaches, mouvedres and carignans in the future. But for now they are all present in the 2005 Carmichael Sur Le Pont, with 14 percent mouvedre, 5 percent carignan and 1 percent grenache. These are all Rhone varietals, meaning they

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Ceja’s Vino de Casa, Not Your Ordinary Blend

The thing with Ceja’s 2005 Vino de Casa is that it’s a basic, food-friendly, delicious little red.  Nothing pretentious.  Even the name just means “house wine.”  Who’dathunk that it would come from 62% pinot noir and 38% Syrah?  It’s hard to imagine two more different grapes. Pinot noir is, of course, the heartbreak grape.  Notoriously finicky, unless conditions are perfect in the vineyard and it’s treated with the right respect in the winery, you’re going to get crap.  And usually expensive crap at that.  Ask us how we know.  Syrah, on the other hand, is hardy and usually as

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