This past weekend I attended the Rhone Ranger’s San Francisco event. Rhone Rangers is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote winemakers and wineries who focus on Rhône varietals and Rhône-style blends. Each year, the Rhone Rangers San Francisco Grand Tasting event gathers together a huge number of those wineries to help educate the public on these important grapes, winemaking methods, and of course the wines themselves. While not every year has a theme, it seemed that this year’s theme is the up-and-coming trend of “weird wine,” or “obscure” varietals.
As I’m sure many of you have noticed, I’ve been exploring a few of the lesser-known wine varietals lately (Tannat, Counoise, Cinsault…to name a few). And it’s not just because I have an insatiable, geeky interest in wine, it’s because more and more producers are bringing to light some of those varietals that have been hidden in the dark — as part of the lower percentages of classic and common blends.
A former photographer for the SF Chronicle, Eric Luse, founder and winemaker of Eric Ross Winery, stumbled into his passion on his way to a Wine Country photoshoot in the 1980s. Since that time, he’s dedicated the same kind of care and attention to detail in his winemaking as he does with his photography. “Photo-journalism insisted a respect for the people that allowed me into their lives,” Luse says. Similarly, he prides himself in “respecting the growers, their fruit and making the wine based on the uniqueness,” and making wines that showcase his “respect for the quality fruit and (his) desire for you, the consumer, to ‘Taste The Vineyard.'” The journalist in Luse makes him crave realism and, as such, we’ll only find “real” fruit qualities in his wines — no filters or photoshop; no heavy-handed oak or excessive, forceful fermentation. Respect. Honesty. Realism. Quality.
“My mom always wore rose colored glasses. Life does look good through rose colored glasses. This is to you.”
– Cindy Cosco, Passaggio Wines.
I actually didn’t see that quote on the bottle the day I decided to drink Passaggio Tempranillo Rosé. What I did know was that I was in for a long hard day and when I got home, I was going to want something cool and refreshing, but something out of the ordinary. Something that could simultaneously comfort and stimulate me. So, before I left for work, I put this out-of-the-ordinary rosé into the cellar to chill. And, yes, it was the perfect “welcome home” gift to myself. This is to you, Cindy. Cheers.