Monday, April 29, 2013

White Wine Month: Rhone Whites


About a month ago I went to the Rhone Rangers event in San Francisco. This collection of American Rhone producers is a great event to enjoy the wines you already know but more importantly try new wines, some you’ve never heard of. William Allen of Two Shepherds Vineyards first introduced me to Rhone whites and I am thankful that he did. With California Chardonnay still reeling from its oaky, buttery past, I needed to find some new white wines to enjoy when the weather turns warm. Breaking from my usual approach of tasting through geographic areas, this year while covering the event I decided to focus solely on Rhone whites. These are just a few of the standouts from the event this year.

Acquiesce Winery 2012 Picpoul Blanc

This is one of the lesser known of the Rhone grapes but one that I sure hope finds some appreciation and gets a little more recognition. Translating literally to “lip stinger” this was such a wonderfully light wine, made even better by a 12.5% abv. On the nose were aromas of pineapple, lemon, and a hint of jasmine. In the mouth this wine maintained bright acidity common with its French style but I also found it to be a bit savory. I imagine sitting on my patio with a cool glass in hand as the sun begins to set. I have only had 100% Picpoul from a couple producers but whenever it is on a tasting list it is always worth trying.

Acquiesce Winery is located in Acampo, CA which is just outside of the city of Lodi. They benefitted from being the very first table on the right side and their unique bottles drew me in. I asked winemaker Susan Tipton why she only made white wines and quickly responded with “Why not?” I imagine she gets the question a lot. I can appreciate it though. She has found the wines she has a passion for and works to make the best white Rhone wines she can, instead of spreading herself too thin by trying to make dozens of wines.

Truchard Vineyards 2011 Rousanne

This was one of the wines that was making a consistent appearance on the twitter feed during the event. I had heard about the Truchard Rousanne but never had a chance to try it until the event. I love finding 100% because it is used so commonly as a blending grape. This particular one sent my senses all over the place. I picked up some stone fruit, specifically apricot on the nose. The mouth was such a surprise as it was slightly creamier than I anticipated but that texture really highlighted the flavors of melon and more stone fruit. It was balanced with great acidity that allowed for a nice long finish. Safe to say that had they been selling their wines at the event I would have picked up a couple bottles.

Miner Famly Vineyards 2011 Viognier

Of the Rhone whites, you may be the most familiar with Viognier. If you aren’t, I hope the next time you are shopping for a nice white wine to have with dinner you will consider finding a nice Viognier. The one from Miner Family displayed citrus and honeysuckle on the nose and filled my love for stone fruit in the mouth. I think Viognier is a great food wine and often use it instead of an unoaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

There are so many great white wines out there beyond Chardonnay. Many are made by smaller producers who put such incredible passion into their wine and love exposing the everyday wine drinker to new and different wines. Just because you’ve never heard of it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a chance. With summer right around the corner, broaden your horizons and try something new.




  1. Glad I could help Jesse - the Palate Shepherd strikes again :) Thanks for all your support of the Rhone Rangers.

    1. To say you have influenced or helped to shepherd my palate would be an understatement. I appreciate how much I have learned from you and look forward to learning so much more.