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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Some Rhone Whites & Reds - June 4, 2008


We tasted last night (6/4/08) some Rhone Whites & Reds:

  1. Dom. des DeuxMondes DeuxC Viognier; 50% French/SantaBarbara; 14.0%)
    MorganClendenan/YvesCuilleron NV (2006?)
    : Med.gold color; somewhat fragrant/floral
    slight Condrieu/minerally rather low key pleasant nose; soft/ripe rather lush/peachy/Viognier/melon very slight minerally flavor; med.long slight minerally pretty/lush/peachy/Viognier soft finish; nose hints of Condrieu minerality but the palate shouts Calif. Pretty pricey at $55.00
  2. Dom. des 2 Mondes Viognier Saints&Sinners Sanford&BenedictVnyd/SBC (14%)
    MorganClendenan/YvesCuilleron 2006
    : Med.gold color; attractive lush/Viognier/peachy/floral/
    spicy nose; soft lush/peachy/floral/Viognier/ripe/pineapply bit simple flavor; med.long softfloral/ peachy/Viognier finish; pleasant but a bit simple Viognier. $30.00
  3. Cave de Chante-Perdrix AC: Condrieu (13.5%) PhilippeVerzier Izeras/Chavanay 2006: Light
    gold color; lovely minerally/Condrieu/ripe peach/Viognier some complex nose; soft rather strong toasty/oak/butterscotch/caramel/nutty slight minerally/Condrieu/peachy flavor; med. rather strong nutty/toasty/caramel/oak slight oxidized finish; very attractive nose of Condrieu Viognier but way too much nutty/oak on the palate. $44.00
  4. LesVins de Vienne AC: St.Peray (14%) Cuilleron/Villard/Gaillard/Villa (14%) 2006:
    Med.light gold color;attractive fragrant/perfumed/honeysuckle rather minerally/earthy light toasty/ oak nose; rather soft/lush floral/perfumed/honeysuckle slight earthy/mineral flavor; med.long soft/lush ripe/floral/honeysuckle light minerally finish; pleasant Rhone white that speaks mostly of Roussanne, but undistinguished. $25.00
  5. AlaineGraillot AC: CrozesHermitageBlanc (13%) 2006: Med.gold color; bit tight/closed
    some earthy/appley bit simple nose; tart/lean/minerally tight some earthy/appley slight metallic flavor; med.short tight earthy/appley minerally low fruit finish; seems a bit tight & closed and may develop some w/ a few yrs age. Pricey at $35.00
  6. ColdHeaven Viognier Sanford&BenedictVnyd/Sta.RitaHills (14%) 2006: Light gold color; quite
    spicy earthy/floral/Viog quite perfumed/elegant/nuanced slight minerally nose; very tart/ acid tight/spicy/cold-climate Viog/light floral some 7-Up attractive flavor; long acid/tart slight minerally/floral/earthy/Viog interesting finish; quite an interesting/atypical Viognier w/ lots of acid; a MerylStreep Viognier; needs 2-5 yrs of age; great price at $22.00
  7. ColdHeaven Viognier VogelsangVnyd/SantaYnezVlly (14%) 2006: Light gold color; very lush/
    floral/perfumed/ripe/peachy/Viog slight reduced/stinky bit alcoholic nose; soft/fat very ripe/floral/ peachy/Viog lush/ripe flavor; med.long soft/lush/fat very ripe/peachy/floral/ Viog finish; a classic DollyParton Viognier at a good price. $22.00
  8. 3ie Degre SBC RW (15.5%; www.ThompkinCellars.com; 50% Syrah/Thompson
    & Vogelsang vnyds; 25% Grenache/VogelsangVnyd, 25% Mourvedre/ThompsonVnyd) JeffDobkin/Julie Thompson-Dobkin/ThompkinCellars/CostaMesa 2005
    : Dark color; strong
    blackberry/Syrah/black cherry/boysenberry light toasty/oak quite spicy very interesting nose; soft/gentle slight toasty/oak lovely blackberry/black cherry/strawberry spicy smooth/balanced bit green olive/Thompson peppery flavor; very long spicy/strawberry/black cherry/blackberry light
    toasty/oak slight green olive finish w/ light tannins; a smooth/polished very well-made lovely Rhone blend; one of the best blends I've had this year. $34.00
  9. ThompkinCellars Grenache SBC (16%; 50 cs; ThompsonVnyd) 2006: Med.color; slight alcoholic
    very strong fragrant/strawberry/alpine strawberry/Grenache slight toasty/oak huge fruit nose; soft slight alcoholic/hot very ripe/Grenache/strawberry smooth light toasty/oak flavor; long very fruity/strawberry/Grenache light oak loads of Grenache fruit finish w/light tannins; heaps of Grenache fruit w/o the tooty-frooty/soda pop character. $35.50
  10. ThompkinCellars Mourvedre SBC (15.6%; 25 cs) 2006: Dark color;strong classiv/Mourv/plummy/
    licorice/ripe slight earthy complex/interesting slight gamey/sauvage nose; soft/smooth/polished classic licorice/plummy/Mourvedre slight toasty/oak slight wild/gamey flavor; long smooth lovely plummy/licorice/Mourv light oak finish w/ light tannins; lots of Mourv fruit; a bit like the Jaffurs w/o the tannins & oak. $32.50
  11. ThompkinCellars Syrah SBC (16%; 125 cs; ThompsonVnyd) 2006: Very dark color; very strong
    blackberry/blueberry/Syrah some boysenberry/Oz-like/huge fruit slight green olive/Rhonish/
    roasted very spicy light Thompson/peppery complex nose; soft big/blackberry/blueberry/Syrah/ripe slight peppery/green olive/Rhonish smooth/lush slight toasty complex flavor;very long smooth lush/blackberry/blueberry/Syrah slight roasted/green olive/peppery finish w/ smooth/polished tannins; quite a lovely rendition of Thompson Syrah, almost Oz-like
    in character; will go for 3-5 yrs. $37.50

More profound & earth-shaking thoughts from the BloodyPulpit:

1. I was expecting a lot from this collection of whites. Alas, they were all rather
underperformers and I didn't find any particularly thrilling. Indeed, the Condrieu was
a big disappointment.
2. ThompkinCllrs: This was my first experience with these wines and I was pretty impressed.
Owned by JeffDobkin and Julie Thompson-Dobkin (apparently no relation to DaveThompson),
they make their wine down in CostaMesa, not exactly a hot-bed of winemaking I suspect.
They source their grapes from pretty primo SantaBarbara vnyds, namely Thompson, AltaMesa,
and GrassiniFamily vnyd. This latter vnyd is primarily Cabernet-based up in the HappyCanyon
end of the SantaYnezVlly. In addition to these Rhone varietals, they make a CabFranc-based
blend that I've not yet tried. I first discovered Thompkin when BobWesley (WineHound/
SantaBarbara) urged me to try the 3ie Degree. I then checked out their WebSite and ordered
the remaining varietals. Definitely a wnry to keep your eye upon. I struggled to find a wnry whose style I thought they resembled. Certainly not Jaffurs or Ojai. Maybe a bit like Qupe w/ a bit milder oak?? They show much the same balance I find makes Bob's wines so delicious. Though the wines have loads of fruit, I was struck by their smooth/polished/elegant tannins on the palate. Very varietally correct. Very well-made.
3. ColdHeaven: I've liked MorganClendenan's CH Viogniers over the yrs, whom I've followed from the very start. She makes some of the best and most interesting Viogniers in Calif. These two were quite a contrast in character, one cold-climate, one more warm-climate. Whatta difference 10 miles makes. I far preferred the StaRitaHills version as being a much more interesting rendition of Viognier, though some found it a tad too acid.


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