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"California's Best Unsung Wines"...and Some of Ours

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Southern Rhone-style wines, very popular in California, are becoming popular up here in WA. These blends, mostly of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre in reds, and Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier in whites, have found a home in the Paso Robles area of California and are now being produced up here in Washington. In Paso Robles the Hospices du Rhône, a massive Rhône-fest, is held each spring. Tablas Creek Winery is perhaps the most prominent of the area's wineries and the website offers much information on the history of the winery and the grapes they grow.

Ray Isle, wine writer for Food and Wine, wrote of California's Best Unsung Wines when he wrote of the then upcoming Rhône-fest in Paso Robles, CA last spring. We are fans of the area's Tablas Creek Winery, whose red wines come from their clones of Southern Rhone grapes from the Beaucastel winery, and have enjoyed their wines for many years.

Here in Washington, David Lake was responsible for the planting of the first Syrah while McCrea Cellars was the state's first winery entirely dedicated to Syrah and to Rhône varietal wines. Other wineries learned what good wines could be made, either by blending the varietals or by bottling them individually, and now these wines are found in many wineries around the state.

The better known Southern Rhone grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Grenache/Garnacha and Mourvedre/Monastrell. Three other lesser known varieties are Carignan(e)/ Cariñena, Counoise and Cinsault. Any or all may be used, alone or in various blends

My main interest lies in wines in and near our Chelan Valley Wine Country: Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan counties. Some I can think of right now are Karma: Zen; Gingko Forest: Grenache, Coalesce, 2006-2007 Syrahs; Baroness Cellars: Grenache; Ryan Patrick Vineyards: Grenache; CR Sandidge Wines: Stone Tree; Chat. Faire le Pont: Provence; Tsillan Cellars: Syrah/Grenache; Dry Falls Cellars: Cinsault.

Many other local wineries have Syrah; I am thinking of those wines consisting of blends, although Grenache and Mourvedre are becoming popular as stand-alone bottlings and Dry Falls Cellars has a Cinsault. These wines are fruity, spicy and food friendly, with wonderful aromas. I'm sure others are being made around here, and I hope to learn of them.

At the August 25, 2012 NCW Wine Awards event, several wineries will have some of these wine varieties and blends. There is still time to get tickets and enjoy tasting over 26 wines plus complementary foods from Ivy Wild, Ravenous Catering and Visconti's. Afterwards, each time you use your souvenir glass at home, you will be able to remember what a grand evening it was.

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