Northern Rhone Shootout

Pinch Me, a Flight of Classic Northern Rhone Reds
Do you have a shop in your town that runs serious tastings? We’re lucky to have several venues in Minneapolis, one of which is Sunfish Cellars. In addition to basic classes, Sunfish regularly offers deep explorations into serious wines.  Tonight we sampled wines from a number of classic Northern Rhone winegrowers, including J. L. Chave, Allemand, Voge, and Gonon.  Even though these wines were young, we had the opportunity to compare them and form our own opinions.  Surprise! One of our participants brought a ’99 Allemand to try with the flight.  What a treat! Click on any photo to start the slideshow.

For me, this tasting really brought home a common characteristic of cool/cold climate Syrah.  There was a certain aroma that the Northern Rhone Syrah’s had that the South African and Italian ones lacked. I also get it in Syrah’s from the far Sonoma Coast in California.  Our noses are weird and I’m sure you would read it differently.  It seems similar to the wet cardboard smell of a corked wine, but not quite.  Unfortunately, I once poured two perfectly good bottles of a cool climate Syrah down the drain, having mistaken them for being corked when they were just cold climate wines.  Oops!

At the conclusion of the class, I wanted to try one more wine.  I picked up an extra bottle of the JL Chave Selections Offerus St. Joseph ($30 !).  This is their negociant wine, made with purchased grapes or grapes from young vines in their estate vineyards. This is the wine to drink while you let the Domaine wines age.  It was very nice, and showed the Northern Rhone character, although it didn’t display the complexity of the wines sampled earlier in the evening.  Still, it was a wine I am happy to drink anytime.


It’s not an estate wine, but it’s awfully nice and affordable!

Do you have a favorite venue for tasting new and interesting wines where you live?  Let’s hear about it!

After Erin Cannon Chave visited last year, we had the opportunity to vist their estate in France last year.  We’re forever J.L.Chave fans.

Erin Cannon Chave visit to Minnesota

Our visit to J.L.Chave at Hermitage, the cellars at J.L Chave, and our quick visit to Tain L’Hermitage.


4 Responses to “Northern Rhone Shootout”
  1. Sally says:

    If you could see me now you’d know I’d turned a light shade of ….green.

  2. I am so jealous you live near Sunfish Cellars! I interact with them on Twitter and I know they are quite awesome and unique for their awesome wine tastings and flights. We have some really nice wine retailers but none like Sunfish Cellars. Great tasting. Spectacular! Wish I were there!

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