Hello Wine lovers. California being a temperate climate for growing wine grapes allows us to mimic many varietals from the French growing regions. Tonight we will taste the Rhone Valley style wines. Syrah and Grenache and Mouvedre are a few red varietals that are common. For a white wine there are three types. Marsanne Roussane and Viognier. These six wines consist of the bulk of what is produced in the Rhone. The valley is divided between the northern region and the southern region along the Rhone River. It might seem strange to taste such velvety white wine in such early Spring, but this wine really delivers a great value and quality all in one. Tonight is Tuesday and at 5pm until 8om At Ralphs we will explore the Region of France known as the Rhone Valley. Not the food capital like Paris or The Loire, but most definitely a spectacular area for stunning wines. The Rhone Valley runs from North to south and is toward the middle of the country South East of Paris by a few hundred miles. The weather is Mediterranean in style and allows for many long days of sun (300 a year in good weather).
The Syrah grape grown in this region is inky black in color and produces a wonderful seductive and powerful juice. The skin gives the color to the wine as it is fermented in barrel. Grenache is the lighter of the three red grapes grown in this region. Grenache also known as Grenache in Spain offers a light fruity balanced sweet wine perfect for summer barbeque and light fare. Often used in sangria and mixed with fresh citrus fruit Grenache remains one of the summer’s delightful party wines. Mouvedre pronounced (MOO ved Ray) is a blending wine used for strength and character in some Rhone wines usually in a trio of Grenache Syrah and Mouvedre. Summerland Winery produces a fantastic wine called “Trio” giving a nod to the three main varietals in the found in the Rhone. Most of these wines will stand-alone as excellent food wines but when blended together by a skilled winemaker is when the magic really happens. Unfortunately I have never traveled to this region of France, my research is from study and lecture by wine masters in this region. As we explore the wines of this region of France the question begs of the type of cuisine from here. Countryside cooking in France is one of the most pleasing to the palate and to the traveling gourmet. On Monday after the lecture on the Rhone we were served a delicate stuffed entrée crepe stuffed with mushroom and ground veal covered by a rich creamy brown sauce spiced with white pepper and white wine. It was excellent to say the least. This is truly comfort food at its best.
When speaking of the Rhone Valley Viognier is as much a part of life as Cabernet is in Bordeaux. One of the most mouth filling silky creamy opulent white wines ever produced. Standing alone it pairs well with seafood and creamy white sauces and just as well with fruit and salty dishes. As I said before the real magic happens when blended by caring hands of a wine maker. Marsanne and Rousanne are two companions to Viognier that are symbiotic in style and character. Racy acidity abounds in both varietals and come together in perfect harmony of fruity and balanced acidity. Cheeses paired with this are Gruyere and aged Gouda and some goat cheeses. See you tonight at Ralphs!
Mike The Wine Guy