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by Ken Zinns

Ken is a Bay Area architect with a passion for wine. After taking a few wine courses through UC Extension, he started becoming more "serious" about wine in the early '90s. Ken has been taking wine-tasting trips to the Central Coast since early '92, and has come to love the area - not only for the wines, which just get better year by year, but also for the people. Ken's interest in wine is more than passive, and he's been volunteering his help at several urban East Bay wineries since 2001 - and in fact was recently named assistant winemaker for both Eno Wines in Berkeley and Harrington Wine in San Francisco.

17th Annual HOSPICE DU RHONE - May 1, 2009


Hospice du Rhône - 2009
17th Annual Tasting

Report on the 17th annual wine tasting presented by Hospice du Rhône (HdR), on Friday May 1st and Saturday May 2nd, at the Paso Robles Event Center in Paso Robles, California. The event is the largest celebration and tasting of Rhône-varietal wines in the world.

As always, the event kicked off with the spirited “Rhône-n-Bowl” bowling tournament on Thursday April 30th. Participants had to rise early the next morning as HdR continued for the next two days with seminars, lunches, auction, and tastings, and concluded with a farewell barbeque on Saturday evening. In addition, there were peripheral events such as the Thursday “Syrah Shoot-out” and Friday night winemaker dinners, not to mention the traditional late-night drinking and partying at the Villa Creek bar in downtown Paso Robles.

Hospice du Rhône is a non-profit organization whose purpose is “improving the business conditions of the grape growers and wine producers of Rhône varietal wines and grapes throughout the world.” The group helps to promote Rhône-varietal wines, with a motto of “22 Varieties, 1 Vision.” Founded in 1993 by Mat Garretson as The Viognier Guild, the first gathering of the group was in Georgia (where Mat lived at that time). Vintner John Alban, who attended that inaugural event, became Mat’s partner in the organization, and it soon moved to California and changed its name to reflect a broader vision than strictly Viognier. Mat and John worked hard to attract Rhône varietal producers from around the world, and the seminars and tastings are now recognized as among the best at any wine event. Combined with the sense of fun that pervades the weekend, it has become many winelovers’ favorite annual gathering. Mat stepped down from leading HdR early this year, but it continues to be a wine experience not to be missed.


Château de Beaucastel ‘05 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc
Domaine de la Mordorée ‘08 Tavel
Domaine de Tourtouil ’08 Tavel
Katin ’07 Viognier
Lagier Meredith ‘08 Rosé of Syrah
Mullineux ‘08 White Blend
Qupé ‘06 Roussanne
Sanguis ‘07 “Acromion”
Broc ’07 Mourvèdre
Cabot ‘06 Kimberly’s “Single Barrel” Syrah
Château de Beaucastel ’05 Châteauneuf du Pape
Domaine de la Charbonniere ‘06 Vacqueyras
Grey Stack ‘07 Marie’s Block Syrah
Jemrose ’07 Syrah
Paul Lato ’07 “Cinematique” Syrah
Qupé ‘05 Syrah
Wind Gap ’06 Syrah

The tasting notes below are from both the Friday “Rhône Rendezvous” Tasting and the Saturday Grand Tasting (most notes are from the Friday tasting). I focused on wines I had not tried at the recent Rhone Rangers tasting in San Francisco, although there ended up being a few repeats. While there were some wonderful library wines poured at HdR, the “Highlights” listed here are selected from current and soon-to-be-bottled wines.
Overall impressions:
Hospice du Rhône offers perhaps the best opportunity to taste top US Rhône-style producers along with representative wineries from France, Australia, and elsewhere. Most wines poured during the two big tastings on Friday and Saturday were current releases, though a number of wineries graciously opened library wines and others offered barrel samples of wines to be released over the coming year or so.

Considering the current economic slump, it was no great surprise to that attendance looked to be down noticeably from previous years, although the Saturday Grand Tasting still seemed fairly crowded, with a few tables packed with people holding out their wineglasses for a pour. But the big throngs of tasters constantly swarming over the most popular tables that have been common in the past were not so much in evidence this year. A number of gourmet food exhibitors were interspersed among the winery tables, though I must confess I was more focused on the wines this year and didn’t take much advantage of the tasty-looking food that was on display. It should also be noted that HdR produces the most thorough tasting guidebook of any event I’ve attended, a big help during the weekend and a nice souvenir to take home.

Besides a large number of California wineries pouring at the tastings, there were producers from Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington and from five other countries – Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, and South Africa – over 160 wineries in all. A disappointment this year was the absence of any Spanish wineries, and the number of French seemed to be down a bit too, perhaps a sign of the tough economic times again. A few notable domestic producers were also missing this year, including Cedarville and Edmunds St. John. Still, there were lots of new producers to discover along with many familiar faces who pour at HdR year after year. Newer wineries that impressed me included Cabot, Jemrose, Katin, Mullineux, and Wind Gap.

As usual with such a large event, it’s impossible to get to all the wineries I would have liked to, and as I was helping a friend who’s started his own label (Coterie Cellars) pour on Saturday, my time was especially limited that afternoon. I’d wanted to get to the Guigal table in particular, but it was one that seemed continually crowded and I never did taste there. Others I’d hoped to visit but missed included Bassetti, Big Basin, Booker, JC Cellars, Jacob Toft, and François Villard among others. A few other tables I did stop at ran out of wine or were almost out when I got there – Alban (missed the reds), Saxum (just barely too late), Terry Hoage (only one wine left) among them. Overall, the quality of the wines I tasted at HdR was very good, and I was encouraged to see more California producers sourcing fruit from cooler-climate vineyards, resulting in many lively and refreshing whites and Rosés as well as some peppery, savory Syrahs.

Hospice du Rhône is more than the sum of its parts, and often the meals, wines, and good times shared with old and new friends outside of the event itself are as memorable as the tastings, if not more so. HdR bills itself as a “celebration of Rhône varietal wines,“ and I can’t think of a more appropriate description than celebration. If you’ve never attended, you owe it to yourself to try and make it next year.

Selected Tasting Notes

A Donkey and Goat
2007 “Four Thirteen,” El Dorado County. 45% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 18% Mourvèdre, 2% Counoise. Medium-dark color, bright black cherry and plum aromas, lively acidity and moderate tannins on the finish.
2006 Fenaughty Vineyard Syrah, El Dorado County. 25% whole cluster, co-fermented with 4% Viognier from Fenaughty Vineyard. Very floral, with dark berry fruit and roasted meat notes and hints of black pepper, pleasant texture on the palate and very good structure for aging.

Alban Vineyards
2005 Roussanne, Alban Estate Vineyard, Edna Valley. Medium gold color, bright stone fruit and tropical fruit aromas with distinct vanilla and spice notes, smooth and rich with a long finish.

Alta Maria Vineyards
2006 Grenache, Uriel J. Nielson Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley. 10% Mourvèdre, 10% whole cluster, aged 16 months on the lees in 80% new oak. Medium ruby color, bright raspberry and boysenberry aromas with spice and oak undertones, smooth mouthfeel with refreshing acidity.
“Untitled Paul Wilkins Project” 2007 Syrah, Central Coast (barrel sample). 100% Syrah and 100% new oak, to be bottled in August and released early next year. Very dark color, blackberry and savory notes with vanilla/oak and mineral components, mouthcoating richness with youthful tannins on the finish.
Comments: The barrel sample is from a new and as-yet unnamed label from Alta Maria winemaker Paul Wilkins, which will highlight Central Coast Grenache and Syrah.

Ampelos Cellars
2008 Rosé of Syrah, Santa Barbara County. Mostly from Alisos Vineyard, made entirely in stainless steel with small amounts of Riesling and Gewürztraminer for aromatics. Medium pink color, bright strawberry with hints of spice, nice acidity and refreshing finish.
2006 “Syrache,” Santa Barbara County. 73% Syrah, 27% Grenache. Medium color, plum and darker fruits with mild vanilla/oak notes, medium-bodied and smooth.
2006 Syrah, Estate, Santa Rita Hills. Mostly Estrella clone with some 99 and a little 383. Dark color, blackberry, spice, and pepper with a sweet oak overlay, rich mouthfeel and long finish.

2008 Albariño/Garnacha Blanca, Central Coast (barrel sample). A 50/50 sample blend – final blend still to be decided, tropical fruit / stone fruit with some spice and lees notes, nice complexity and lively acidity.
Comments: Arada is the sister label of Justin Kahler’s Katin wines, with Arada focusing on Spanish and Bordeaux grape varieties – the Grenache Blanc in this blend was Rhône enough for this tasting!

Arnoux et Fils
2007 “Remus Tradition” Tavel. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre. Distinctive deep orange-gold color, very subdued aromatics but some strawberry on the palate, crisp acidity. Poured at the Syndicat AOC Tavel table.

Beckmen Vineyards
2004 Grenache, Purisima Mountain Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. Medium-dark color, ripe plum with earth and black pepper notes, rich mouthfeel with still-chewy tannins, very nice.
2003 Syrah, Block 6, Purisima Mountain Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. Dark color, boysenberry and earth aromas along with pepper and herb components, medium-bodied with fine tannins and a smooth finish.
Comments: Winemaker Mikael Sigouin poured two library wines, and the Grenache in particular was excellent.

Broc Cellars
2007 Grenache, “Cassia,” Monterey. Medium color, strawberry, earth, and spice, lively mouthfeel and moderately tannic finish.
2007 Grenache, Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valley. Medium-dark color, spicy red fruits and black pepper, zingy acidity on the palate with some youthful tannins on the finish.
2007 Syrah, Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valley. Dark color, dark berry fruit and pepper, very nice structure with firm tannins.
2007 Mourvèdre, Luna Matta Vineyard, Paso Robles. 5% Syrah, 80% whole cluster. Dark color, savory and spicy plum and darker berry aromas, medium-bodied with a long, tangy finish, very distinctive.

Cabot Vineyards
2006 Syrah, Kimberly’s, Humboldt County. 8% Viognier, 33% new Hungarian oak. Medium-dark color, plum and dark berry aromas with savory and spicy notes along with hints of black pepper, lively texture in the mouth and moderate tannins.
2006 Syrah, Aria’s, Humboldt County. 8% Viognier, 20% new Hungarian oak, 50% whole cluster. Dark color, spicier and more floral than the Kimberly’s with great structure and grippy tannins on the finish.
2006 Syrah, Humboldt County. 20% whole cluster, aged in neutral oak. Dark color, more peppery than the single-vineyard bottlings, blackberry fruit with overtones of smoky grilled meat and spice, medium-bodied with firm tannins.
2006 Syrah, Kimberly’s, “Single Barrel,” Humboldt County. All destemmed fruit from a rocky section of the vineyard. Bright berry and plum, a little black pepper, and loads of intense bacon fat in the aromas, good acidity along with a more dense mouthfeel than the other wines, and chewy tannins on the long flavorful finish.
Comments: All the Cabot wines are from Syrah Noir clone, mostly dry-farmed (and the Aria’s is own-rooted), and aged in Hungarian and older French oak. My first experience with this producer and I was impressed with these distinctive wines.

Cass Winery and Vineyard
2008 Viognier, Paso Robles. 5% Marsanne, made entirely in stainless steel, light straw color, intense floral and ripe tropical fruit aromas, lively acidity and clean finish.
2008 Roussanne, Paso Robles. 100% Roussanne, made entirely in stainless steel, slightly deeper color, stone fruit with a leesy note, richer mouthfeel.

Château d’Aqueria
2008 Tavel. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Clairette, Bourboulenc. Light peach color, watermelon and some spice notes, fairly rich mouthfeel with some mild tannins on the finish, nice. Poured at the Syndicat AOC Tavel table.

Château de Beaucastel
2005 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc, Côtes du Rhône. 30% Viognier, 30% Marsanne, 30% Bourboulenc, 10% Clairette. Stone fruits, honey, wax, with a slightly oxidized nutty note, very bright acidity and delicious finish, very distinctive. Poured at the Vineyard Brands table.
2005 Châteauneuf du Pape. Medium-dark color, roasted meat, smoke, and plum aromas along with some mild earth/leather/brett overtones, fairly big rich mouthfeel with good structure for aging, very nice. Poured at the Vineyard Brands table.

Yann Chave
2006 Crozes-Hermitage. Medium-dark color, bright aroma of boysenberry along with black pepper and earth components and an intriguing slightly green note, this has a nice texture on the palate with moderate tannins. Poured at the Rhône Valley Wines table.
Comments: This winery is not connected with the legendary J.L. Chave of Hermitage, but this was nonetheless a very fine Northern Rhône.

CORE Wine Company
2006 “b.core,” Santa Barbara County. 73% Roussanne, 27% Marsanne. Medium-light gold color, subtle aromas of stone fruits with hints of honey, tropical fruit, and minerals, fairly rich on the palate with nice balancing acidity.
2007 Grenache, Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, Santa Barbara County. Medium color, nice mix of red fruits and spice on the nose, along with a hint of sweet oak, medium-bodied, lively mouthfeel with a smooth finish, and ready to drink now.
Comments: Beginning with the ’07 release, this Grenache replaces the old “numbered” red blends – this one is very good QPR.

Derby Wine Estates
2007 Counoise, Derby Vineyard, Paso Robles (barrel sample). Super-intense aromas of ripe boysenberry / wild berry with baking spice notes, smooth mouthfeel and mild tannins, very tasty.
Comments: This Counoise will not be bottled separately but will be used for blending. This turned out to be the most aromatic wine of the day, red or white.

Domaine de la Bouissiere
2006 Gigondas. Medium-dark color, smoky, meaty, plum / boysenberry, medium-bodied with moderate tannins. Poured at the Rhône Valley Wines table.

Domaine de la Charbonniere
2006 Vacqueyras. Medium-dark color, dark fruits and black pepper with touches of earth and spice, lively acidity and a long, tasty finish, very nice. Poured at the Rhône Valley Wines table.

Domaine Durand
2006 “Les Côteaux,” Saint-Joseph. Dark color, dark fruits, grilled meat, with distinct earthy/bretty overtones – a bit more brett than I prefer. Poured at the Rhône Valley Wines table.

Domaine de la Mordorée
2008 Tavel. Grenache, Clairette, Syrah, Bourboulenc. Light salmon color, bright strawberry with a big spice component, very flavorful and refreshing, very nice. Poured at the Syndicat AOC Tavel table.

Domaine Saint Ferréol
2008 Tavel. Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Bourboulenc, Mourvèdre, Clairette. Very light peach color, subdued nose of watermelon and stone fruits, some bitter notes on the finish. Poured at the Syndicat AOC Tavel table.

Domaine de Tourtouil
2007 Tavel. Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Syrah, Clairette, Picpoul. Light orange-peach color, citrus aromas, lively acidity and crisp clean finish, very nice. Poured at the Syndicat AOC Tavel table.

Doña Paula
2006 Shiraz/Viognier, Estate Olives Road, Argentina. Dark color, blackberry with herb/tobacco notes and a hint of mint, big and weighty on the palate, tannic finish. Poured at the Vineyard Brands table.

Fairview Wines
2006 “Cyril Back” Shiraz, Paarl, South Africa. This features lots of pepper along with plum, earth, and tobacco, fairly rich mouthfeel with moderate tannins. Poured at the Vineyard Brands table.

Graves Winegrowers
2007 “Monkey Wrench” Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles. Light straw color, ripe apple and tropical fruit aromas, medium-bodied with a smooth finish.
2008 Mourvèdre Rosé, Ohana Vineyard, Paso Robles. Whole cluster press, strawberry and herb aromas with savory notes and mild tannins on the finish.
2006 “The Trim Stinger,” Ohana Vineyard, Paso Robles. 97% Grenache, 3% Syrah. Medium color, strawberry, spice, and meaty character, medium-bodied with firm tannins.
2006 “Rock Candy,” Ohana Vineyard, Paso Robles. 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre. Dark color, dark fruits with savory notes, spice, and earth, rich mouthfeel and moderate tannins.
2006 “Superfino Goloso” Syrah, Ohana Vineyard, Paso Robles. Very dark color, blackberry, coffee, and spice, big and mouthfilling, long smooth finish.
2006 “Cosmic Scout,” Ohana Vineyard, Paso Robles. 60% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre. Dark color, plums, spice, and earth, very big on the palate with grippy tannins.

Grey Stack Cellars
2007 Syrah-Grenache, “The Folly,” Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valley. Dark color, spicy blackberry and pepper with floral notes, very lively acidity, medium-bodied with moderate tannins on the long finish, nice.
2006 Syrah, “The Narcissist,” Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valley. Barrel selection with 100% new oak. Plums and darker berry fruit, very rich mouthfeel with good structure.
2006 Syrah, Marie’s Block, Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valley. Dark color, blackberry, coffee, and spice, medium-bodied with firm tannins.
2007 Syrah, Marie’s Block, Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valley. Dark color, plum and darker fruits along with floral and stemmy/spicy notes, bigger and bolder than the ’06.
Comments: Formerly Dry Stack Cellars, only the winery name has changed, while the vineyard name remains the same.

Hug Cellars
2005 Syrah, Rena Block, Bassetti Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County. Dark color, loads of spice along with dark berry fruit and a touch of vanilla/oak, nice texture on the palate with medium tannins, this is developing beautifully in the bottle.
2007 “el Papé,” Central Coast. 55% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah. Medium color, plums and red fruits, pepper, smooth mouthfeel and a long spicy finish.
2007 Mourvèdre, Santa Barbara Highlands, Santa Barbara County. Medium-dark color, plums, herbs, some savory notes along with lots of spice character, medium-bodied with a smooth finish.
2007 Syrah, “el Grandé,” Terry Hoage Vineyard, Paso Robles. 100% Syrah, dark color, ripe blackberry with black pepper and undertones of sweet oak, rich mouthfeel and good structure.

2007 Viognier, Egret Pond Vineyard, Bennett Valley. Made in stainless steel, very aromatic stone fruit aroma with floral overtones, crisp acidity and long clean finish, very nice.
2006 Syrah, Cardiac Hill Vineyard, Bennett Valley. Four clones, 30% whole cluster, 30% new oak. Black pepper and dark berry fruit along with grilled meat notes, medium-bodied with good structure, very nice.
2007 Syrah, Cardiac Hill Vineyard, Bennett Valley (barrel sample). Five clones, 30% whole cluster, 30% new oak. Similar to ’06 with black fruit and meat character, but noticeably more peppery, with bigger mouthfeel and more chewy tannins.
2007 Grenache, Foggy Knoll Vineyard, Bennett Valley. From Tablas 8 clone, with a little Syrah blended in, no whole cluster. Medium color, strawberry / raspberry and spice aromas, with lively acidity and a moderately tannic finish.
Comments: Made by Michael Browne and Shane Finley, Michael was pouring the wines. Jemrose presents a solid lineup of wines from the cool climate of Bennett Valley.

2008 Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles (tank sample). 100% Grenache Blanc from Russell Family Vineyard, to be bottled soon. Spiced apple aroma, lively mouthfeel, tasty finish.
2007 Viognier, Paso Robles. 50% stainless steel, 50% once-used barrels, with no ML. Tropical fruit aromas with some mild oak notes, smooth and refreshing finish, very nice.
2007 Syrah, Glenrose Vineyard, Paso Robles (barrel sample). 33% new oak, to be bottled soon. Medium-dark color, very floral nose, along with ripe boysenberry, bright acidity and good structure.
2007 Syrah, Del Rio Vineyard, Rouge Valley. Medium-dark color, earthy and savory, with plum and boysenberry aromas coming out with some air. Medium-bodied with some youthful tannins.
Comments: Promising wines from a new producer. The Viognier was one of the best I tasted at the event, and the Oregon Syrah was quite distinctive.

Lagier Meredith Vineyard
2008 Rosé of Syrah, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley. Bottled in March, medium-pink color, watermelon, strawberry, and spice aromas, very zippy acidity on the palate and long tasty finish.
Comments: Steve Lagier mentioned that the ’08 Rosé did not go through ML, accounting for the more noticeable acidity compared with the ’07. I had tasted several Lagier Meredith Syrahs at the recent Rhone Rangers tasting so I did not taste them again here.

Paul Lato Wines
2006 Syrah, “Cinematique,” Larner Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. 5% Viognier co-fermented, 100% new oak. Dark color, ripe blackberry nose with meaty and vanilla/oak overtones, very big and rich on the palate, long smooth finish.
2006 Syrah, Bien Nacido Vineyard, “Bona Fide,” Santa Maria Valley. Dark color, not as ripe as the Larner, blackberry and pepper aromas, rich mouthfeel and slightly shorter finish than the Larner.
2007 Syrah, “Cinematique,” Larner Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. Dark color, aromas of dark berries, black olive, spice and roasted meat along with some vanilla/oak notes, livelier acidity in the mouth than the ’06 version and fine, smooth tannins.
2007 Syrah, Bien Nacido Vineyard, “Il Padrino,” Santa Maria Valley. Very dark color, lots of black pepper along with dark fruits, some savory notes, and a significant oak component, big mouthfeel and chewy tannins.
Comments: Paul Lato’s Syrahs are unabashedly big and rich, but they’re not by any means simple fruit bombs. His ’07 Larner represented the style as well as any wine I tasted at the event.

McCrea Cellars
2001 Grenache, Elerding Vineyard, Yakima Valley. Medium color with slight bricking at the edges, earthy and spicy raspberry and strawberry, medium-bodied with chalky tannins on the finish.
2007 Grenache, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain. Medium-light color, brighter strawberry with vanilla/oak overtones, nice mouthfeel and structure.

Mullineux Family Wines
2008 “White Blend,” Swartland, South Africa. Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanc, Chenin Blanc. Light straw color, apricot / peach nose with vanilla and spice undertones, smooth mouthfeel and clean finish, very pleasant.
Comments: A tasty white blend from this fairly new South African producer.

Peay Vineyards
2002 Syrah, Estate, Sonoma Coast. Dark color, lots of black pepper on the nose along with dark fruits, minerals, and iodine, still lively acidity in the mouth and long tasty finish.
2005 “La Bruma” Syrah, Estate, Sonoma Coast. A contrast with the ’02, this features more savory aromas along with brighter fruit, strong grilled meat notes and greater richness on the palate, with moderate tannins.
Comments: Peay poured two library wines, demonstrating how beautifully their Syrahs develop with bottle age. I had tasted their current releases at the recent Rhone Rangers tasting and did not revisit them here.

2006 Roussanne, Bien Nacido Hillside Estate, Santa Maria Valley. Medium-light color, subtle apricot and wax aromas, great texture in the mouth with good acidity and long flavorful finish.
2005 Syrah, Bien Nacido Vineyard X Block, Santa Maria Valley. Medium-dark color, intense black pepper, dark berries, and roasted meat aromas, great texture in the mouth, and chewy young tannins on the finish.
Comments: I only tasted two of the wines that Qupé poured but they were both outstanding.

2007 “Ortas Tradition,” Côtes du Rhône Villages. Medium-dark color, subtle aromas of dark berries and pepper, smooth mouthfeel with medium tannins, very nice. Poured at the Rhône Valley Wines table.

2007 “Acromion,” California. 92% Roussanne from Demetria Vineyard and 8% Viognier from Vogelsang Vineyard, barrel-fermented in about 40% new oak. Medium-deep yellow color, strong aromas of flowers, citrus, and beeswax with vanilla undertones, very rich and mouthcoating, long smooth finish.
Comments: I’m not often a fan of very big, rich Rhône whites, but this was as good as any wine in that style that I’ve tried recently.

Shadow Canyon Cellars
2001 Syrah, Shadow Canyon Vineyard, York Mountain. Medium-dark color, meaty, spicy dark fruit aromas, medium-bodied with mineral notes and fine tannins on the finish.
2003 Syrah, Shadow Canyon Vineyard, York Mountain. Dark color, blackberry and pepper, very big on the palate with a grippy tannic finish.
2007 Syrah, Shadow Canyon Vineyard, York Mountain (barrel sample). Very dark color, blackberries, smoke, and coffee on the nose, big, dense, and chewy.
2007 Grenache, Larner Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. Alban 2 clone, dark color, ripe raspberry and boysenberry aromas with spice notes, lively acidity and firm tannins, nice.

Skylark Wine Company
2007 “Pink Belly” Rosé. From Syrah and Malbec, all made in stainless “barrels,” very light peach/salmon color, watermelon and spice aromas, bright acidity, snappy finish.

Spice Route
2004 “Malabar,” Malmesbury, South Africa. Produced by Fairview Wines, this GSM blend has a sizable sweet vanilla/oak component on top of tart plum and black pepper notes, big and rich with medium tannins. Poured at the Vineyard Brands table.

Terre Rouge
2005 Roussanne, Sierra Foothills. Light gold color, ripe, honeyed stone fruit with vanilla notes, rich mouthfeel and smooth finish.

Terry Hoage Vineyards
2006 “Cuvée 5 Blocks,” Paso Robles. 57% Syrah, 29% Grenache, 7% Mourvèdre, 7% Cinsault. Dark color, ripe plummy aromas with spice and oak overtones, rich mouthfeel, and moderate tannins.

VIE Winery
2005 Syrah, Las Madres Vineyard, Carneros. 3% Viognier, 30% whole cluster. Dark color, smoky, meaty aromas along with a slightly stemmy note that leads to spicy flavors, medium-bodied with good acidity and tasty finish.
2006 “L’Intruse” Mourvèdre, Santa Barbara County. Plums and herbs in the nose, with bright acidity and some mineral character in the mouth, and some youthful, chalky tannins.

Wind Gap Wines
2006 Syrah, Sonoma Coast. From Clary Ranch Vineyard in the western part of the Petaluma Gap, 100% Syrah, 100% whole cluster. Medium-dark color, dark fruits, black pepper, and stemmy/green olive notes lead to spice and minerals on the palate. Very lively acidity and grippy young tannins on the finish, nice structure for aging.
2006 Grenache, Booker Vineyard, Paso Robles. 100% Grenache, 100% whole cluster, made in neutral oak and stainless. Brighter ripe red and black fruits, less overtly stemmy and more spicy than the Syrah, nice texture on the palate with a very tannic finish – definitely needs some time.
Comments: Wind Gap is the new label from winemaker Pax Mahle, and the wines are much in the style of his earlier efforts.



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