Rhone varietals have a sizable foothold in California, thanks in part to the efforts of the Rhone Rangers and wineries such as Twisted Oak, Cline Cellars and Bonny Doon. For some reason I’ve found myself drinking a lot of white Rhone-style California wines lately, so here’s a roundup of the ones that have stood out in my mind:
2007 Beaulieu Vineyard Maestro Collection Marsanne Carneros (Napa Valley): Warm, spicy nose with white pepper, minerals, tea, pear, green apple. Dominant flavors of herbs and spices — pepper, basil, dill, lemon peel, mineral, dust. Very little fruit; exceptionally dry with bracing acidity.
2007 Sol Rouge Gypsy Blanc (North Coast): Nose full of honeyed peaches with a floral tinge. Very dry on the palate; zesty acidity fades to honey and lemon, white pepper, herbaceous character.
2006 Sol Rouge Russian River Viognier: Slightly floral nose with undertone of petroleum. Sharp citrus, steely minerality, hints of stone fruits.
2008 Banyan Viognier, Madera (Sonoma County): Nose has almonds, orange blossom, lemon, herbs. Sweet on the palate with sharp citrus, floral notes.
2008 Cinquain Cellars Haiku (Derby Vineyard, Paso Robles): Very aromatic with floral overtones, a touch of oak, lemon cream. Dry, floral and spicy, with mandarin orange, honey, white pepper, lemon; creamy mouthfeel. I really enjoyed this one.
2007 Anaba “Coriol” White (Sonoma): Floral nose with honey, mandarin orange, cinnamon. Flavors of citrus, orange blossom, vanilla, white pepper, lemon curd. Gorgeous. Biodynamic.
A Donkey & Goat Coupe d’Or 2008 (El Dorado): Lovely spicy floral aromas, orange blossom, lemon curd. Citrus and floral characteristics — mandarin orange, cinnamon, lemon zest, rose petals, honey. Light, spicy and lively.
2008 Cline Cellars Marsanne-Roussanne (Sonoma Coast): Lush tropical aromas, honeysuckle, a hint of grass. Dry with floral overtones, pear, Granny Smith apple, minerals, lemon rind.
In conclusion: Keep bringing it, California.