Olympic Rhone Style Tasting w/o Rhone Wines!!

NBC has turned the Olympics into Facebook and Twitter. We get the medal news all day long then we watch and listen in the dinner hour to the announcers describe what we already know took place. Like there is some suspense to it. Give me a brown bag wine tasting! Infinitely more guessing and even when you “lose” you win. And talk about team spirit as the tBoW team tasters work together to mis-ID the wines and the secrets they hold…such as where they are from and what is the varietal base. Bonus: Botox Costas is nowhere to be seen. Jeez. I hope that didn’t come off too bitchy! Here are the wines…

Thank goodness the Field Mouse was in town and he was itching to taste some Rhone style wines…especially white blends. So we obliged, bagging four bottles, writing a numeral on each bag and pouring each one at a time into the appropriate pseudo-scientific lab vessel. The results were amazing. Moreso than the all around gymnastics or the swimming bore-a-thons. Gosh. There I go again. Apologies Domina. Here are the competitors and where they finished.

#1: Fruity nose. Tannin in the mouth through to the finish. Young wine. Field Mouse says this is Rousanne with the lemony finish giving it away. Pshaw. It is acidic but not harshly. Like it.

#2: Subdued nose. Spicy flavors. Wild Willy says candied walnuts. Hostess and tBoW team taster Splasher Girl brings a bowl of candied walnuts just to prove a point. Somebody says tangerine. Wild Willy stretches the range from raisins to canteloupe to Pacific sage. Splasher Girl says definitely New World. veteran tBoW tasters Mouse and tBoW his-self disagree; Old World.

#3: More of that lemon nose and taste. Oily and unctuous sparking a distinctive explanation of terms we have not enjoyed since high school English. Mouse says this is Greanche Blanc predominate. We say spiny which means it is a bit lean.

#4: Spicy all over, more Grenache Blanc declarations. Someone says apple strudel. Does not have much fruit or what it had at first is fast fading. Oldest in the bunch?

#1 wine was a 2010 Chignin Bergeron Les Damoiselles which is 100% Rousanne from Savoie. Picked up at LA Wine House for $20 with 12% alcohol. Score one for the Mouse man.

#2 wine was the 2010 Ranchero Cellars Chrome from Paso Robles made by Amy Jean Butler. She blends Viognier with Grenache Blanc and calls it Chrome. This is a very nice wine that confirms the Splasher Girl peg as New World. Of the four wines, probably our favorite. We liked it before and we like it now.

#3 wine was 2010 Les Alpes Cepage Grignet also from Savoie in a very remote corner. The region borders Switzerland and is at least as much Swiss as French and definitely not Rhone. a U20 at 12.5%. Distinctive flavor and style. This is mountain wine. There are 15 hectares of this grape growing in France. It is R-A-R-E. The definitive Garagiste pick. Worth tasting just because it is so unusual. And we liked it. Label has a girl twisting a hula hoop.

#4 wine was 2011 Altes Herencia Garnatxa Blanca from “Terra Alta is a lesser-known D.O. of Catalonia, located in the southeastern corner bordering Valencia and Aragon.” Calcareous and sandy soil. At $12 and 12.5% this bottle has lots of stuff we like in wine. If we were the Olympics this would be in the female weightlifting competition. tBoW figured it for the Spanish wine but not sure why. High acid and strong fruit?

The reds were opened in full view without prejudice.

2003 Domaine des Mont Luisants en Pierre Virant $23: Red Burgundy picked up on Wine Commune for a song. However, this bottle is losing its voice. Fruit that quickly faded. Acid-free, lean flavors. Never mistaken for New World wine. But it is past its prime. Not finished but leaving us soon.

2005 Chateau Saint Cosme “Valbelle” Gigondas $25: Big wine. Big nose. Blend is 90% Grenache and the rest Syrah. Parker favorite has put this label in the forefront of collectible Rhone wines. Such is the power of the man known as Big Red Bob. Big Bob. Big Red Bob. Gave it 94 points and declared it one of the three best……blahblahblah. Worked great with Splasher Girl’s bone-in steak. 14.5%

2010 Alma Rosa La Encantada Pinot Noir $40: Richard Sanford makes New World Pinot Noir wines that come off like Volnays. Should not be a surprise because that was the wine he drank that persuaded him to be a winemaker. It is always refreshing to the tBoW team when a winemaker has a reference point in the world of wine for what they are trying to do with their own wines. Dave Corey wants to make Old World style Mourvedre blends. Charles Schetter wants to make a Chambolle style Pinot Noir in Malibu. Even when the winemaker says she wants to make a Rombauer style Chardonnay we can appreciate that she has a strong idea for what she is shooting at. Somebody tells us Cabernet is king so that is what he grows and makes his wine from…we hear him saying he has no sense of place. And neither will his wines. So we appreciate what Richard Sanford is doing with his wines. He is making simply delicious round-fruited Pinot Noir from Santa Rita that harkens to Volnay. Bravo. 14.1%

Now for the tBoW medal ceremony.

Gold medal for best wine of the tasting: 2010 Ranchero Cellars Chrome, balanced, exciting, slight spritz, has all the moves

Silver medal for next best wine of the tasting: 2010 Chignin Bergeron Les Damoiselles, consistent tasty wine true to character, solid performer

Bronze medal for most interesting wine of the tasting: 2010 Les Alpes Cepage Grignet, practically one-of-a-kind, sympathy points for being next to extinction like that competitor from the Sudan without a nation.

Congrats to Gabby Douglas all around Five Rings gymnast. Here comes track and field…mute on!


  1. Wavatar
    Kris-B says:

    And to you think you were so dismayed after you bought Les Alpes once you learned it was grignet!

    • Wavatar
      Bacchus says:

      I never knew of Grignet before this tasting. Neither had Mouse. Of course, the wine I just bought for $9 at local wine store is the Altes Garnaxta. I may never again see or taste a Grignet.

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