We like to say we don’t do “wedding food.” Our food is real, not dumbed down to suit all tastes. And, be it a wedding or other event, we want you to enjoy our food with some really distinctive wines, like several we tried recently at Romancing the Rhônes, a tasting of California wines made from varietals associated with the Rhône region of France.
They were wines that complement the kind of full flavored foods we serve. In general, the Rhônes have intense layered fruit and bright acidity that enhances the food, unlike some of the over concentrated fruit bombs so popular now that mask and muddle the flavors.
The tasting featured dozens of superb wines from all over California and a few from Oregon. It was sponsored by Affairs of the Vine (www.affairsofthevine.com) and held at the Old Mint in San Francisco.
The wines are part of what I call the Second Wave of West Coast Rhônes. The First Wave of Rhônes came in the 1980s and 1990s when California winegrowers like Randall Grahm and a few others discovered that California’s soils and climates were well suited to Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Roussanne and other Rhône varietals. The Second Wave of Rhôneistas have built on that, making small lots of exciting site-specific wines that show well with a wide variety of dishes.
These Second Wave winemakers are also doing some interesting blending, often breaking out of the Rhône box altogether to shape a delicious glass of wine. A good example of that is La Sierra Azul by Clos Tita wines of Santa Cruz, a blend of Syrah, Merlot and Viognier that is exceptional, an elegant wine with bright fruit and balanced flavors.
Tercero Wines from Los Olivos takes a more traditional approach. They were pouring an incredible lineup of Syrah-Grenache-Petite Sirah blends from single vineyards on the Central Coast. And if you want to step back from the reds, Tercero has a lovely rosé made from Mourvèdre.
Other favorites from the tasting include Hug Cellars, especially the red wine blend called El Pape and a delicious Mourvèdre from Fenestra. Cinnebar Winery from Saratoga was also pouring a top rated Mourvèdre. Also on the A list was Red Belly, a terrific old vine Carignane from Skylark Wines. Among the whites, we enjoyed the Viognier and Roussanne from Cass Wines.
Turns out that pioneering Rhône Ranger Randall Grahm is also riding the Second Wave with a lovely little red wine called Contra, a mélange of Rhône and non-Rhône grapes that hits all the right palate pleasure buttons and sells for under $15. More, please!
On that note, many of the best wines we tasted at Romancing the Rhônes retail for under $20. Because the wines often come from small artisan producers they can be hard to find.
But finding good wines, distinctive wines is just one of the many extras we offer at AWC. We don’t believe you should have to eat bland food or drink boring wines. We will source out-of-the ordinary and delicious wines to match your menu and arrange for delivery to your event.