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Tasting Report: Rhone Rangers 2009

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I’m on record as saying Rhone Rangers is the best annual wine event going, and once again the event failed to disappoint. Yes, it was smaller than last year — as you’d expect given the economy — with both the number of wineries and attendees obviously down a bit. (Prices, curiously, have not fallen.) Still, there was plenty of wine to go around — far more than one man could experience in the roughly three hours I spent on the floor — and most of it very good.

Most wineries were pouring from the 2006 vintage, but I saw everything from 2003 to 2008 barrel samples being poured. Overall thoughts: It’s a very good year, but quality is going to vary widely based on the producer and, more importantly, the location of the vineyard.

Visited some old friends. Olson Ogden didn’t disappoint: though its 2006 Unti Vineyard wasn’t showing as well today, its just-bottled 2007 Unti was a highlight of the show (and an amazing value). Four Vines didn’t bring its Amador County Syrah this year, but I greatly enjoyed the company’s other single-vineyard syrahs from One Tree Hill and Killer Canyon. And as usual, Peay’s La Bruma was a standout, though I like the Les Titans less this year.

Also made some new wine friends this year, with L’Aventure, Saddleback, and Skylark making strong impressions with ripe, fruit-forward syrahs and Rhone-style blends.

My detailed notes are lacking, but I tried to make up for that with volume, hitting 45 different bottlings this year. Full report follows!

Rhone Rangers 2009 Complete Report

2005 Bink Wines Hawks Butte Vineyard / $32.00 / B+
2006 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Syrah “Kalen’s Big Boy Blend,” Sonoma County / $42.00 / A-
2006 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Syrah Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valley / $40.00 / A-
2006 Four Vines Syrah One Tree Hill Block, Los Alamos Vyd, Santa Barbara / $40.00 / A
2006 Four Vines Syrah Killer Canyon Vineyard, Paso Robles / $40.00 / A
2006 Four Vines Red Blend “Peasant” / $40.00 / A-
2006 Four Vines Red Blend “Anarchy” / $40.00 / B+
2006 Four Vines Petite Sirah “The Heretic” / $40.00 / B
2006 Four Vines Tempranillo “Loco” / $NA / B+
2006 Harrison Clarke Syrah “Cuvee Charlotte” / $55.00 / B+
2006 Justin Syrah / $26.00 / A-
2006 Justin Red Blend Savant / $45.00 / B
2006 L’Aventure Winery “Cote a Cote” Estate Red Blend, Paso Robles / $85.00 / A
2006 L’Aventure Winery Red Blend, Estate Cuvee, Paso Robles / $85.00 / B+
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Sonoma and Napa Syrah / $28.00 / A-
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Unti Vineyard Syrah / $38.00 / B+
2006 Olson Ogden Wines Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah / $52.00 / A
2007 Olson Ogden Wines Sonoma and Napa Syrah / $NA / B+
2007 Olson Ogden Wines Unti Vineyard Syrah / $NA / A
2007 Olson Ogden Wines Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah / $NA / A-
2007 Outpost Wines Grenache / $40.00 / A-
2006 Outpost Wines Petite Sirah “The Other” / $NA / B
2004 Palmeri Syrah Mountain Fruit / $53.00 / A-
2004 Palmeri Syrah Stagecoach Vineyard / $53.00 / A-
2005 Palmeri Syrah Stagecoach Vineyard / $53.00 / B
2004 Palmeri Syrah Van Ness Vineyard / $53.00 / A-
2005 Palmeri Syrah Van Ness Vineyard / $53.00 / B
2006 Peay Syrah La Bruma Estate / $45.00 / A
2006 Peay Syrah Les Titans Estate / $45.00 / B+
2006 Joseph Phelps Le Mistral / $45.00 / A-
2006 Prospect 772 Wine Company Syrah “The Brawler” / $36.00 / A-
2006 Prospect 772 Wine Company Red Blend “The Brat” / $36.00 / B+
2007 Saddleback Cellars Viognier Clarksburg / $23.00 / B
2006 Saddleback Cellars Syrah Carneros / $45.00 / A
2007 Skylark Wine Co. Red Blend “Red Belly” / $20.00 / B
2007 Skylark Wine Co. Red Blend “Les Aves” / $29.00 / B+
2006 Skylark Wine Co. Syrah Unti Vineyard Dry Creek Valley / $26.00 / B-
2006 Skylark Wine Co. Grenache / $NA / B+
2007 Skylark Wine Co. Syrah Rodgers Creek Vineyard / $NA / A-
2007 Skylark Wine Co. Syrah Stagecoach Vineyard / $NA / A-
2008 Villa Creek Cellars White Blend / $24.00 / B
2006 Villa Creek Cellars Red Blend “High Road” James Berry Vineyard / $60.00 / A-
2005 Zaca Mesa Winery Syrah Estate Santa Ynez Valley / $22.00 / B
2006 Zaca Mesa Winery Red Blend “Z Cuvee” Estate / $20.00 / B
2005 Zaca Mesa Winery Red Blend “Z Three” Estate / $40.00 / B+

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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