BY RICK RIOZZA
Congrats Coachella residents for sustaining through another season of the sun. However, in our desert surrounds, we’ll always enjoy the company of our special sunlight. So, with open arms, let’s now embrace our Autumn chase of new wines for the season.
Not that the red vino lovers gave up their dinner wine entirely during the summertime, but we did drink our share of wonderful whites; all the more anticipation to find some delicious reds on the horizon.
For you enthusiasts of red Rhône wine, like the Syrahs, Côtes du Rhônes, and the stately Châteauneuf-Du-Pape wines, E. Guigal needs no introduction as you’re quite familiar already that when this producer releases a particular wine, it consistently sets the standard and raises the bar when it comes to brilliance.
I’ve just tasted through three wines in their recent 2015 vintage, and the stuff is delicious. We’ll of course be covering the waterfront as to California red wines during the year, but I need to get this news out. The 2015 vintage in the Rhône Valley and the south of France was nearly as perfect as you can get and will rate with the best of them. Hot and dry conditions, the winemakers in the area called this “The Power Vintage”. All three of the predominant varietals in the Rhône Valley, Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre showed magnificently.
The following three wines are crowd pleasers for both the connoisseurs—who love celebrating and validating their wine passions—and the new wine kids on the block who find an education and joy experiencing all that wine can provide.
- Guigal 2015 Côtes du Rhône Rouge. ($15; and in magnum for $35) The Guigals decide on and blend cuvees from over 40 top growers, and, they ultimately select only 1% of all the wines they taste for their Côtes du Rhône; in other words, one lot out of every hundred. This is why Guigal sets the bar and why we can always rely on their quality.
With 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 10% Mourvèdre, you Côtes du Rhône fans will find all of your flavor points connected with a fully ripe wine with notes of red cherry and strawberry, dried herbs, baked earth, and stone minerality. Because of its ripeness, it’s easy drinking by itself for an apero or enjoy it with a classic roasted chicken meal.
You can find a wide selection of Côtes du Rhône at the markets and wine stores at even half the price of this 2015 Guigal. But if you wish to really treat your palate to a world class wine, even if it’s just on one occasion, it’s worth the experience at only $15.
E.Guigal 2015 Crozes-Hermitage ($25)– This wine is known as the gateway to luxury Rhône wine with an approachable price tag. It’s the “baby brother” to the more famous, big, brawny and expensive Hermitage: The north Rhône Syrah that is big on black pepper, dark & plummy fruits, along with bloody, iodine-tinged savors—all in the best imaginable way! This is the wine profile that would pass muster for California diehards—getting their big fruit fix with additional complexities only found in the Syrah of the Rhône.
This 2015 Crozes-Hermitage has wonderful warm flavors of red and black fruit, and typical Syrah pepper, spice and savory notes, boasting scents black cherries and black currants and blueberries, peppery herbs, black olive and crushed stone, beautifully concentrated, and full-bodied.
2015 Saint-Joseph Rouge ($35) For those not particularly familiar with the smaller appelations in the Northern Rhone Valley, you’ll wish to keep Saint Joseph in mind as you Syrah enthusiasts have remembered Côte Rôtie and Cornas. Each of these have their own take on the Syrah profile.
This 2015 Saint-Joseph Rouge, opens with a great aroma of peppery notes that accents the dark-berry fruit and herbs. In the flavor profile, look for tart blackberry, cassis, and fig, along with graphite, smoke, and black licorice on the long finish. You’ll taste a little oak and ample acidity complete a picture of lean elegance.
Further, this Saint-Joseph can be drunk a bit younger than some of its northern Rhône cousins. And due to this full and ripe vintage the 2015 Guigal is impressive now, and it will evolve for several years.
Where the Côtes du Rhône pairs wonderfully with roasted chicken, this Saint Joseph is the wine for a nice grilled steak. For those who enjoy a California Syrah with your grilling, you’ll appreciate this French version with a pepper steak. Delish!
Remembering Kent Rosemblum
Sadly, we just heard the news that Kent Rosenblum, a pioneer winemaker in the modern California Zinfandel movement, died unexpectedly Wednesday from complications after knee replacement surgery. He was 74.
So many of us wine enthusiasts followed the life and times of this great California wine maker. I’ve written before on Ravenswood’s winemaker Joel Peterson, whom I’ve called, “The Godfather of Zin”. But when it comes to talking about his dear friend and compatriot, we would all agree that Kent Rosenblum could well claim the title of “The King of Zin”.
In the 1980s, Rosenblum Cellars helped launch a new era for California Zinfandel. Although Rosenblum Cellars sourced grapes from all over Northern California, its wines were always made in Alameda County, close to where Rosenblum lived and worked as a veterinarian. Kent’s Zinfandel was booming, and Rosenblum Cellars’ rich, ripe, unapologetically fruity style was what the people wanted.
We keep in touch with his fun and lively winemaking daughter and business partner, Shauna Rosenblum, from Rock Wall Wine Co. “He was still so full of life,” she says. “He was so excited to get back out there — to start skiing again and to get back in the vineyard.” Certainly our thoughts go out to Shauna and the family. And thanks Kent for the great memories. Cheers to you!