Quick notes on a few wines from Hospice Du Rhone DAY 2 and the closing tasting. A bit different from yesterday’s post, as instead of merely raving about a handful of wines which blew my mind, Saturday was a lot calmer, with solid, well-made wines all over the room, but also some mediocrity. I’m not going to waste your time with the wines I absolutely did NOT like, but there was a fair number of stuff I felt faulted–the largest culprit being elevated ABV’s. Scores of wines were hot. So many so, I reflected on my palate, but I don’t have *off days* and all normal attention had gone into the care and feeding of my palate in the past 24 hours. Then–AFTER forming an opinion, of course–I started checking labels. 15. 16. 16-5. 17. Fourteen-five became a pleasant discovery. A rare find! I want to particularly congratulate all those who managed to pour me something with a “3” SOMEWHERE on the label (at this point I’m even OK with 14-3!). And no, I am not talking about California exclusively. Naturally, Washington weighs in heavily on this dilemma and CdP is just completely fucking out of control. If you’re standing behind a table of wines and the LOWEST-PROOF bottle present is a Condrieu, you need to check yourself. I will shut up now.

So whaddya do??? Reach for the rosé!!! Dipped into several stunners–GRENACHE OF COURSE–including Lasseter’s blend with a couple other usual suspects.

Almost like finding South African Pinot at WOPN, Eric Solomon was pouring these two beautiful Spaniards. I’m guessing inexpensive as all-get-out, as well. There were a couple Priorat’s in the room too. Alpha Omega/Tolosa brought out their Perinet to great popularity and Solomon also had a ‘Laurel’ everyone was fawning over. I tried it. It was good. BTW, you will be able to taste Perinet anytime in downtown Paso Robles soon, as the afore-mentioned tri-glomerate is opening a TR to pour all three brands.

Sorry, I didn’t like these wines. Tried really hard. I was looking forward to them because some PR people recently contacted me about sending samples of a side-project of this winemaker. After researching, I agreed, but then backed out when their correspondence became *contractually* petty. The wines are awkward. Weirdly flabby. Off-flavors. In-concise.

An odd name which I have read numerous times, but never had a chance to try. Nicely done. *Paso Big* but beautiful wines.

Had a few of these over the years and was excited to do a full flight across the complete roster. Tasted all of them, and gotta say: the bookends were my favorite. Picpoul and this John Lewis Syrah.

Solid wines across-the-board as usual… Fun to taste all the vineyards in one sitting. Big and young though.

A leftover from Friday’s ‘older vintages’ theme, it’s so nice to have something like this available on Saturday for *contemplation* against the youngsters. These wines are incredibly inexpensive and flat-out BEAUTIFUL. And this little 2012 was just SINGIN. I want to see these available locally. Whose book are they in?

The little Cuilleron-Vaillard-Gaillard trifecta was going strong this year (more on that later), and YES, in response to my opening rant about CdP, I found myself reaching for the Condrieu for REFRESHEMENT!!! This is a beauty.

These are tied with Vaillard’s line-up as my WINES OF THE DAY. Ventoux here, and all three were ridiculously well-done blends. Sharp and on-point, deeply fruited and beautifully balanced. Also the first wine I’ve ever seen LISTING which Diam-level the bottle is sealed with. I know a few other people who might want to steal this idea.

LOOK at the color on that thing! Grenache planted in 1973 at Zaca Mesa, very little skin contact and a wine nearly yellow–BARELY showing hints of onion-skin in deep pours. These guys’ rosé game is ON!

Just like my constant battle between Sonnie’s and Hillside, also the decision between Qupé’s Marsanne and Roussanne. Do I have to choose? Of course you don’t.

OK here we are back on the C-V-G Les Vins de Vienne project, and I believe there is even one more coming up. Between yesterday and today there are, what, 4 or 5 mentions of either of these individuals on these pages, so when they GET TOGETHER, you can assume magic. This wine tells the story of their *home* vineyard–an area of wine-production going back to Roman times.

I have to, OK? Just like trying McDonald’s Beyond Burger, it’s my JOB to visit these wines because people CONSTANTLY ask my opinion. Three 750’s of Pandora hammered at $13,000 in the auction preceding the tasting FWIW. This was my favorite of the three–actually quite nicely done: vibrant and pungently spiced, great vegetal and plenty of that trademark Alban ripeness, but in a rather restrained package. The REVA I felt chubby and hot, the Forsythe GSM a convoluted, alcoholic muss.

Another “research project” bot not one I roll my eyes over *quite* as hard as the Alban. Naturally I’ve been following this wine closely since the transition–as I am (like you) a huge fan of the classical wine and carry a respectable amount in my cellar. Obviously the components changed DRASTICALLY at the go-point, going from Mourv & GR to a Cinsault-heavy blend, reflecting a lighter, fruitier style commensurate with it’s nearly HALVING in price. I feel like they’ve dialed back the Cinsault a tad, and boosted concentration, as the wine feels heavier and more formal today. And this I applaud. And yes, Randall was across the room hawking his LANGUAGE OF YES yawners.

Yup, another stunning Condrieu and–as I suspected–another VIENNE VINS sighting. Sharp and delicious, clear and fragrant, the Paradis is packaged in hock, something I commented on the oddity of but was told it was the classical bottle. Learn something new every day. Only 250 cases and a hundred bucks, so… I tasted maybe 10 St. Joseph’s today–as I believe it the PINNACLE of Syrah-reflection world-wide–and THIS ONE really spoke to me. Another C-V-G bottle! If you want these wines, just call your Gangloff dealer.

The line around Helen Keplinger’s booth on Friday was insane, but rather calm on Saturday. I’ve only had the Sierra Foothill stuff before, so the Sonoma Coast and RRV versions were a mind-expanding surprise. These wines are SOOOOOO beautiful, vividly reflecting the passion put into them. This girl doesn’t muss around.

TIE for WINES OF THE DAY, you CAN’T pick your favorite–it’s impossible. So well done, each making its own very individual and energetic mark on your palate–and brain. St. Joseph stains a label different. Have you noticed that??? And it plucks your Syrah-strings different. Throughout the weekend, I found myself skipping over the Gigondas and CdP for the Condrieu & St Jospeh bookends. This prolific vigneron maintains decent production, and these wines are well-distributed.

OK gotta go back to Sonoma for a minute and the 4 Syrahs Kobler was pouring. Despite their straight-forward labeling, these wines are neither simple or cheap. All beautifully-made, I of course preferred the earlier entries, losing interest as the wines became “Reservier” and “Reservier”. Yes, that’s my word. You can use it next time you have to explain to stunned faces why you like the $30 pinot better than the $65 pinot. Really REALLY good wines though, but Russian River Valley displaying a stark contrast to the Frenchies across the aisle.

HOSPICE DU RHONE happens every-other-year in Paso Robles and alternate years back east somewhere like Kentucky or something. ATTEND IF YOU EVER HAVE THE CHANCE!!!

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