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
Since 2007, we have made our En Gobelet exclusively from dry-farmed, head-trained vineyard blocks. The results have been so compelling that we're planning to plant our entire new parcel -- all 55 acres -- in this style over the coming decade. Join us for this vertical tasting of every vintage of En Gobelet, from the 2007 to the newly-blended 2014. We'll also offer, before the tasting, an optional hike led by Viticulturist Levi Glenn through the rugged Scruffy Hill block from which we source most of the wine, and finish with a picnic lunch on our patio. $60 for wine club members and $75 for guests. Reservations are essential; we expect this to sell out. To reserve, email us at email@example.com or call us at 805.237.1231 ext 30. Details & More Events »
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By: Darren Delmore
I had the distinct pleasure of tagging along last week on a trade visit to the Perrin family's holdings in the Rhone Valley. Our odyssey began with our thirsty quintet of wine professionals packed into an undersized rental car like foie gras terrine as we traversed from Dijon to Valence. I sat shotgun with GPS in hand and snails in my belly as we watched the landscape change from the sunflowers and Charolais beef pastures of Burgundy to the lavender fields and olive groves of the Rhone. Read More »