I’m a Rhone girl. That’s a fact. I love Rhone-style wines and I think that winemakers who are truly focused on those varietals and understand where in California these grapes grow best, craft some of the most beautiful wines. California is no Rhone. Indeed, our West Coast, New World, expression is much more different than what you’ll taste from France. And I love that. I love that we have something that is simultaneously etched in wine history, but uniquely our own.
Charles McKahn, winemaker and co-owner of McKahn Family Cellars is one such winemaker whose passion is infectious. Though his family’s winery is based in Livermore, he’s used his years of experience working in wineries all over California to understand the variations of terroir and sources his Rhone grapes from regions that both grow quality fruit and showcase distinct character.
The boys at Crux Winery are loud and proud Rhone Rangers and, unlike the vast majority of their fellow troop members who’ve paved the path in Paso, these guys claim the Russian River Valley for their stomping grounds. As Rhone-style specialists it would be a crime not to include a GSM in the line-up. And, indeed, they do every year. I’ve tasted their 2013, helped them sort out their 2016, and let’s not forget their 2015 rosé of GSM — but let’s travel back in time to 2012, shall we, and see how these blends compare…
You may know the Balletto name well — it’s no stranger to the eye-level shelves at the local supermarket. But did you know that the Balletto family is a bit of a Sonoma success story? It all started when John Balletto left his budding college career behind to help his mother run the family’s 5-acre farm, following the unforeseen death of his uncle. Throughout the 80s and 90s, John focused on expanding the family business, purchasing additional parcels of land until the Balletto farm consisted of 700-plus acres planted to over 70 different vegetables. But when drought and other acts of nature threatened the farm, Balletto decided to focus his sights on grapes — a slightly less thirsty plant. Because of encouragement from friend and neighbor Warren Dutton (of Dutton-Goldfield Winery), the family already had 35 acres planted to vines and subsequently continued to convert all their vegetable-designated land to estate vineyards — primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (more…)
“Tannat Russian River Valley is made to introduce people to the world of Tannat,” says Yannick Rousseau, owner and winemaker at Y.Rousseau Wines. Indeed, with grapes harvested from the temperate, friendly terroir of Sonoma’s valley floor and a little love from blending a bit of California-based varietals, there’s no better way to dip your toe into Tannat. But what the heck — let’s just dive right in…
“All for Wine,
WINE FOR ALL!” — Yannick Rousseau
“Now this is a Wednesday wine.” I’m quoting my partner in wine crime here because I think this statement is spot on. I must be on a Kenwood kick because I had several of their wines in my cellar and, thus, several reviews to publish. Thoroughly impressed by the depth and complexity of their Sonoma County Zinfandel and Chardonnay, I had high hopes when I pulled the cork on Kenwood Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.