Faces & Forums
Rhone Rangers mix taste, trade
San Francisco, Calif. -- More than 125 wineries gathered at Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion to pour Rhône favorites Syrah, Grenache and Viognier, as an eager public also sampled blends and lesser-known varietals such as Mourvèdre, Roussanne and Marsanne.
PHOTO: Bridget Williams
But the highlights of the March 21-22 event were the seminars leading up to the grand tasting. San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné moderated a discussion about growing cool-climate Syrah in Pinot country. The California winegrower panelists, who came from as far north as Santa Rosa and as far south as Los Olivos, had differing opinions about what constituted a "cool-climate" growing area. And their varied climates were evident during the tasting that accompanied the talk.
Karen MacNeil of the Culinary Institute of America moderated the third and largest session, discussing the state of American Rhône varieties in 2009. Catering to aficionados and trade members, the panel explained the winegrowing techniques responsible for the flavors, such as Bridlewood's Viognier, or "peach cobbler in a glass."