Rhone varietals were the theme of two great evenings at Richmond Wine Society this week. We explored the diversity of well-known grapes such as Syrah, Grenache and Viognier as well as the unsung heroes of Marsanne, Roussanne and Mourvedre.
The term Rhone Rangers is coined from a movement that started in California in the 80s that sought to promote, develop and celebrate the quality of these grapes in the face of the onslaught of plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot.
Highlights of the tastings included the Condrieu 2012 Domaine Perrin, which is a micro-negociant created in 2009 by a scion of the Jaboulet family and the Perrins of Beaucastel fame. The wine displayed the quintessential elegance that one associates with top class Viognier – spicy, aromatic peach with a luscious depth and volume.
In stark contrast the Baron de Badassiere Viognier 2013 (from the Languedoc) offered a more straightforward insight into this fashionable grape at a quarter of the price.
Among the reds the Yalumba bush vines Grenache 2011 was a delightfully soft, fruity and approachable example of the grape, and Katie Jones’s Fitou 2011 was a innovative style that combined both a modern approach and yet retained the traditional earthy characteristics with which we associate this classic Syrah Grenache Carignan blend.
The evening culminated in a very forward Chateauneuf du Pape Closerie du Vaudieu 2011 and a fascinating but very youthful 2012 Washington State Syrah from the Betz Family Vineyard.
See the shop for many of the wines tasted during the two evenings.