After a beautiful drive North from San Luis Obispo, we made it to Paso Robles in time to do one last tasting. My friends at Khoury’s Fine Wine in Vegas had recommended Booker. There website is stunning with gorgeous black and white photos of the property. The winery is located on Anderson road just off of 46 West.
In the 1920’s two orphan brothers, Dick and Claude Booker bought this property. These brothers were farmers and humanitarians and were the area’s biggest philanthropists. When they passed, they left 100% of their estate to charity.
In 2001 Eric and Lisa Jensen purchased 72 acres of the property. They planned to grow grapes for some of the best wineries in the area. In 2005 they did the first release of their own wines under the Booker label. They focus on Rhone varietals.
The property and the tasting room are beautiful and they have a winery dog that looks like Mojo’s cousin from Miramonte in Temecula! After our tasting here it was back to the hotel to rest up for the next day.
So are the Rhone varietals, just another variety? Like Pinot Noir or Merlot? My best friend recently told me about a great Rhone wine, but I thought it was a brand. Now I feel a little dumb.
Rhone Varieties are actually varieties that were originally grown in the Rhone Valley in Southern France.
In France wines are designated by regions, where as here in the United States we designate them by their grape variety. It can be confusing, so don’t feel dumb. I often have to grab my wine bible for the translation between grape varieties and their French counterparts.
Many of the Rhone varieties of wine grapes grow well in California and you will especially see them in Paso Robles and Temecula. The main varieties you will see are Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, but this region is known for 22 varieties of wine grapes including: Cinsault, Carignan, Petite Sirah, Counoise, Muscardin, Picpoul Noir, Vaccarese, Terret Noir, Viognier, Rousanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Picardin, Clairette Blanc, Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains, and Ugni Blanc. In Paso Robles, Tablas Creek is one by one brining in these grapes from France. It is a lengthy process.
Most often when you get a Rhone Blend it will be a “GSM” this is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. When you get this same blend from France it will be labeled as a Cotes du Rhone. Most of these varieties can be lovely on their own, but Rhone Grapes are most often blended, with Viognier (a white wine) often blended into the red blends.
Grenache & Mourvedre are also popular varieties to use for roses.
When your friend spoke of the Rhone Wine, she might have been speaking of a vineyard in France or an area. The Rhone Valley is divided into Northern and Southern Rhone. In Northern Rhone you will most often hear of wines from Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage and Cote Rotie. In Southern Rhone you will hear of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. Again these are not specific wineries, but rather wine regions. Here in the US we would call them an AVA (American Viticulture Area) The French wine industry is closely regulated to assure consumers around the globe a consistent product. Here is the US, these regulations are different giving the winery and winemaker much more freedom in creating a wine.
I hope this clears it up a bit!