Vining and Dining in Hollywood: Rhone Night

We attended a wine dinner sponsored by a couple of nice gentlemen who call their business Wine Vine & Dine. The theme was Cotes du Rhone and they poured seven representative wines (three white). They purchased most if not all bottles at Du Vin in West Hollywood, a premium retailer with one of the best French wine selections in the city.
The dining room doubles as a deli. The chef served spuds, quiche and lamb chops (yummy). One diner wondered what he had against vegetables. The food was good but the wines were the main act.
A tasting is always something of a show. Why do people go into the wine business? The business is something like entertainment. It has glamour, lifestyle, enough complication to make it “intellectual”. Ultimately, it comes down to the actors. Robert Mondavi was like Caruso or The Three Tenors. Everyone can’t be Pavarotti, however, there is plenty of room for lesser stars (long as you are not sharing a booth with Luciano). Nyuk nyuk [ed. cue Curly vid].
And in the wine business you always end up with the wine. Here is what Joe and Will of VWD served up.

2006 Abel Clement Cote du Rhone Blanc
$10: Blend of Claret, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul. Pale yellow. Light, fresh, just enough tartness in the flavor. Perfect to begin the tasting. 13%
Condrieu_2002_CP.jpg2005 Condrieu Cave de Chante Perdrix $29: I am not fond of Viognier. Others at our table liked this wine just fine. I usually write the same notes…foxy, flinty, dry. The guys talk about peaches. I only taste the pits. This is not bad wine by any measure. It is nice to drink (if you like Viognier). Chalk it up to a bad marriage between the taster and the grape. 13.5%
vieux clocher 2003.jpg2004 Cairanne Vieux Clocher Cotes du Rhone Villages $10: Strong red color. Tannic, lightweight body, toasty, dry. Opens with 10 minutes. Taste the grenache. Me likey. Good value. Not sure I would buy it over something else. 14.5%
guigal brune blonde 2003.jpg2003 Guigal Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde $80: Every show has to have a big number, the show stopper (we hope). Like Le Marseillaise in Casablanca. This was tonight’s show stopper. Syrah from the most well known producer in the Rhone. And it was excellent. The glasses were tough for getting much aroma. Not with this wine. Roasted nuts. Middle weight body. Dense, blacquisimo cherry fruit (that is very very dark cherry flavors). Beautifully made and wonderful to drink. I prefer these wines to most home grown syrahs which, it seems, have to be over-ripe in order to achieve this density and weight. Of course, I would never pay $80 for this bottle. I would rather spend twice as much for an aged La Landonne! Hey – 13%!
2004 Chateauneuf du Pape Lieu dit Les Combes d’Arnevel $39: Grenache based blend. Joe points out that as many as 14 different varietals can go into the CdP blend. Maybe that is why I rarely cozy up to a CdP wine. This one is light, with dark fruit. It is also spiny which in my vocabulary means it is lean, somewhat rigid, but not austere. 14.5%
montmirail_gig.jpg2005 Gigondas Cuvee de Beauchamp Chateau de Montmirail $34: Imported by Beaune Imports. This should be the star as the 2005 vintage has been highly touted. Darkest wine of the evening. At first, I am put off. Too deep. The master beckons. Violets in the nose and flavor. Can taste the alcohol. After a rough start it comes together. Now I am liking it more. Getting balanced. Another example of a syrah wine that is not overripe but has plenty of stuffing. May be my favorite wine in the group. 14.5%
NV Muscat Beaumes de Venise Vignerons de Beaumes de Venise Vaucluse $21: A dessert wine. Golden color. Tastes like a young Sauternes, sauvignon blanc peach and chalkiness. Almond, wax. Very nice. 15%
Nice show.

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