The Spectacular Northern Rhone

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Wishing upon a northern star, our wish came true here at the SF Wine Center.  Lead Wine Instructor for the Immersion Program at the Culinary Institute of America, Christie Dufault lead our class through the glorious wine region that many of us cherish so dearly… the Northern Rhone.

A slightly complex system of grape varieties involved, Christie explained to the class all of the ins and outs of how this Syrah-dominated region works.  For example, in the appellation known as Côte-Rôtie the Syrah can be blended with up to 20% Viognier, which adds a floral aspect that softens the wine.  On the other hand, in the appellation of Hermitage Syrah is typically blended with up to 15% white grapes which are a mix of Roussanne and Marsanne.  As Roussanne adds an herbal component, Marsanne instills a sense of nutty richness to the blends.

The intricacy that is the Northern Rhone does not quite end there.  In the appellation of Condrieu, white wines from 100% Viognier are produced while in the other nearby appellations one can find white wines produced from both Roussanne and Marsanne.  One remaining piece to this elaborate puzzle, there is such a thing as sparkling wine produced in the Northern Rhone and in the appellation of Saint-Peray is where you will find it.  Confusing as it may seem, this wine region is nevertheless multifaceted, satisfying, and down right remarkable.

My favorite wine of the night?

Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas 2006

Savory and utterly pleasurable with its notes of dill, black olives, and red meat while adding the zing of tangy dried grapefruit peel and sweet spice.  Keeping it classy with its black plum and essence of violet, this full-bodied wine graciously bestows the palate with its uberly smooth tannin and mouthwatering acidity.

-Julie Albin

Wine List

  1. Domaine du Tunnel Stephane Robert Saint-Peray 2009
  2. Paul Jaboulet Aine Croze Hermitage Domaine Mule Blanche 2009
  3. Domaine Georges Vernay Condrieu Les Terraces de l’Empire 2010
  4. Saint Cosme Saint-Joseph 2009
  5. Paul Jaboulet Aine Croze Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2009
  6. Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas 2006
  7. Domaine Duclaux Cote-Rotie La Germine 2009
  8. M Chapoutier Hermitage La Pavillon 2002

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