California Dreams of Rhone

Tried to find something American to go alongside the Colombo and this Rococo jumped off the shelf. It’s not exactly apples-to-apples, but reasonably close. I also opened the Colombo last night, but it was gassed and pumped and doesn’t show any signs of wear. First off: the Frenchie is a lot purpler, with the California also quite dark, but clearly more in a ruby-garnet direction–thinning gradually towards the edge, whereas the Colombo dumps abruptly into a clear rim. I also don’t think the Rococo is filtered as tightly.

The nose on the Cotes du Rhone is a juicy, dark-concentrated berry with tinges of old-world cellar and a hint of barnyard, but otherwise a rather simple, clean, almost California-like smell with some toasty cherry and sharp briar. The Paso Robles is shockingly perfumed: rich, dessert-like, sweet chubby fruit with a generous ration of oak. I say “shockingly” because of the psychological thriller of WHOLE CLUSTER plastered on the label, something which obviously plants a seed of profile in the mind. I expected briar and greenry, maybe even something geeky or “naturaler” and it is NOT. AT. ALL. (As an aside, please STOP putting *methods* or *processes* or *source characteristics* on the front labels. Just stop. /rantover) This wine is all big, rich, chocolate and jammy delirium in the nose. The Colombo smells like watery, moldy grape juice alongside this cake.

Fortunately, the Californian thins out a bit in the mouth. It’s still a pretty flabby thing–with gobs of dark blackberry macerated elixir–but balances it somewhat with copious acid and fiery tannin. It is an extremely *yummy* wine, with touches of edginess placing it a *little* outside the “tourist wine” arena so common in Paso. Gritty and grainy–chewy even–the giant fruit is hard-nosed and stubborn; the finish: forever. Blind, I would probably say it is Syrah, though it contains nary a drop. The Rhone is a saline, dusky beast of calm and precision on the palate. It’s a little flat and one-dimensional, a *safe* wine, and Colombo is a negociant–don’t forget–and *safe* is what they generally do. The fruit thins out over the middle allowing acid and chalky briar center-stage, and it has a rather forgettable finish.

BOTH of these would be BTG super-stars. I’d definitely order another glass.

2016 JEAN-LUC COLOMBO ‘Les Abeilles’ GR/SY/MV 60/30/10 Cotes du Rhone France 13.5
2017 ROCOCO. ‘Whole Cluster’ GR/MV 58/42 Adelaida District Paso Robles California 15.2

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