FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Paso Robles) - This summer, several of California’s leading producers of Rhône-style wines met in Paso Robles to discuss the challenges of marketing Rhone blends, and to propose a system of classification for retail stores, restaurants, and BATF label approval.
Wine producers in the Rhône Valley in France routinely blend varietals (principally Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre for reds, and Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne for whites) to achieve greater complexity and balance in their wines, but similar efforts have encountered resistance in the United States, where classification by varietal is the system overwhelmingly used in both retail and restaurant accounts. Despite widespread agreement among producers that blending Rhône varietals can produce superior wines, blends have encountered resistance from the market, and a lack of understanding from the buying public.
The goals for the meeting were threefold: first, to clarify the issues surrounding the marketing of Rhône blends; second, to identify a name for Rhône blends (such as Meritage for Bordeaux blends) that would elevate the perception of quality and allow producers to move away from “Red Table Wine” or “White Table Wine”; and third, to determine the requirements a wine should satisfy to qualify as “Rhône Style”.
Key conclusions included the proposal of the name “Rhône Varietal Blend” for submission to the BATF for approval as a brand. This identification would be combined with an appellation to eliminate confusion as to the New World origin of these wines, i.e. “Rhône Varietal Blend: Paso Robles” or “Rhône Varietal Blend: Carneros”. Wines containing at least 75% from the 20 approved varietals of the “Côtes du Rhône” and consisting of 2 or more different varietals would be eligible for the name.
Participants also agreed to jointly encourage retail stores and restaurants to include a “New World Rhone” category, which could incorporate both single-varietal wines (such as Syrah and Viognier) and blends, and to lobby industry publications to move Rhône wine into a category of its own, rather than in “other reds” or “other whites”.
Attendees included representatives from such leading California wineries as Qupe, Sierra Vista, L’Aventure, Tablas Creek, Edmunds St. John, Equus, and Saxum. The meeting was organized by Bob Haas (Tablas Creek), Steve Edmunds (Edmunds St. John), and Bob Lindquist (Qupe).
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Jason Haas, Tablas Creek Vineyard
Join Tablas Creek and the 50 other members of the Paso Robles Chapter of the Rhone Rangers for the 2015 Paso Robles Rhone Rangers Experience, including a "Rhone Essentials" seminar moderated by Matt Kettmann, Contributing Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, a Vintners' Lunch from Chef Maegen Loring, a Grand Tasting and a Silent Auction. Details & More Events »
We were thrilled to receive such good reviews from this notoriously tough grader, including the 2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc (92 points; “impeccably refined”), 2011 Panoplie (94 points; "pure elegance"), 2012 Patelin de Tablas (90 points; “a gorgeous wine and a fabulous value”), and the 2012 Esprit de Tablas (93-95 points; "a fascinating Esprit to follow over the coming years"). Read the complete review » More recent press »
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By Robert Haas
Just after Christmas, Jason and I had the fun and honor to be invited to pour Tablas Creek for guests at the last 49ers game of the season. The sparkling new Levi's Stadium has built-in wine bars incorporated into their club boxes, and the team invites eight wineries each week to show their wines to the fans sitting in that section. Read More »