Category Archives: Rhone

What grape is that….?

A few more grapes that you may not of heard of ….yet!

GRENACHE BLANC is a white grape found in Rhone region of France, also southern France and a northeast Spain. A little bit can be found in growing in the central coast of California. Related to the red grape, Grenache, Grenache Blanc when made into wine is high in alcohol and low in acidity. It’s often blended with another Rhone grape ROUSANNE and other white Rhone blends.

PINOT MEUNIER is a black wine grape and is most often used in the making of Champagne. Experts think it’s a mutation of Pinot Noir. It is also found grown in Germany where it is used in red wines and also found in the Carneros region of California, Oregeon and down under in Australia and most recently New Zealand.

ST> LAURENT is red grape found in Austria and Germany and is part of the Pinot Noir family. It is known for having a big aroma. It’s also widely planted in the Czech Republic. When crossed with the grape BLAUFRANKISCH you get the grape ZWEIGELT that can be found growing in Austria.

Stay tuned for more in upcoming posts.

Andrew Murray and his wines

Andrew Murray fell in love with wine while in the Rhone Valley of France, learned to make wine in Australia and studied viticulture and enology at UC Davis before starting his own winery in Santa Ynez. Making only Rhone varieties, Andrew sources grapes from vineyards up and down California’s Central Coast, a region known for Syrah, Grenache and other Rhone varieties because of it’s Mediterranean type climate. Many of the grapes are sourced from steep, hillside vineyards. Andrew has garnered accolades from Robert Parker, Food and Wine Magazine and many others for not only his wine making but for his passion and dedication. In addition to the accolades, Andrew also garnered attention on the big screen when his wines were featured in the hit film “Sideways”. Andrews wines are big in flavor and alcohol, often going above 15%, and he’s not afraid to say it. He feels that to be commercially viable wines they need to be higher in alcohol because lower alcohol wines seem to get lost after higher alcohol wines. When not making his own wines, Andrew makes wines for Oak Savanna Vineyards where he can make some other wines that are not Rhone inspired. http://www.andrewmurrayvineyards.com/

I recently sat down with a group of wine enthusiasts to taste 5 of Andrews recent releases. In this post I will give our thoughts on the 2 Syrahs and in another post I will share what we thought on the 3 of the blends tasted.

2008 Tous les Jours Syrah- The name translates to “everyday” and could be drank that way. Aged for 11 months in new and used French oak barriques after the grapes were fermented in both open and closed top tanks. Sourcing grapes from vineyards in Paso Robles and Santa Ynez, this Central Coast bottling had aromas of red bell peppers and tobacco on the nose and was soft on the palate and had a long finish. Drinkable now it should get better with a couple years of aging. This wines was considered very good by the panel. 2,500 cases were produced of this wine and should retail for about $20.

2008 Terra Bella Vineyard Syrah- Making a mere 240 cases,this Paso Robles bottling comes from a hillside vineyard near Halter Ranch and Tablas Creek. A nice nose, this wine is big on fruit, thick and is a deep colored wine. With raspberries and blueberry nuances, this wine was aged at least 18 months in mostly new French oak barrels. Nice and balanced the group felt this was the best of the 5 wines tasted and a great deal at $36.

2009 Coturri Testa Vineyards Carignane


3rd generation winemaker Tony Coturri gets the grapes for his Carignane from 3rd generation grape growers, Testa Family and their 70 year old vines in Mendocino County. Carignane is a grape usually found in the Rhone region & southern France and is usually used as a blending grape. Less than 1,000 cases of this rare bottling are made. Coturri does not use chemical or additives on his wines & uses natural yeast and his wines are not filtered or fined. This gives the truest expression of the vineyard & terroir.

The 09 vintage has a rich, red color that is dry, yet still has nice fruit at the start, along with medium tannins and a spicy finish that lingers on the palate. A well balanced wine that goes well with grilled meats and roasts. A great opportunity to experience Carignane if you’ve never had one before. 13.9% ABV Suggested retail should be less than $25.00 www.coturriwinery.com