Updated 2008-11-14 08:38:23 ID=188:0

© 2008 The Romantic Table
©2008 The Romantic Table, Fall paints a vineyard and orchard in bold yellow and rust strokes in the Adelaida district of the Santa Lucia Mountains. 2008-11-13 23:10:02:77
©2008 The Romantic Table

Fall paints a vineyard and orchard in bold yellow and rust strokes in the Adelaida district of the Santa Lucia Mountains.

The Rhône flows into the Salinas


Rhône varietals are coming on strong in the Paso Robles and the Central Coast. There are a number of reasons for this.

There have been a number of articles in the news lately about Rhône varietals beginning to dominate the local wine scene. There are a number of reasons for this. One certainly is due to a need for Paso Robles to develop its own style. For example, when speaking of California wine, no one doubts that Napa and Cabernet Sauvignon are practically synonymous. Paso Robles of course has a reputation for Zinfandel, but then so has practically every other wine growing region in California. Paso Robles, and the Central Coast are past the start-up phase, they need to develop their own identity.

But, I think that the Rhône connection with Paso Robles is more than just a marketing ploy, there are a number of factors driving the local move to Rhône varietals. I believe the trend will accelerate even more in the future as The Central Coast develops it own wine traditions.

First of course is the fact that local notable wineries like Eberle Winery and Tablas Creek Winery have made a deep commitment to the Rhône wines. They have produced excellent Rhône wines that people have taken notice of. In particular the partners in Tablas Creek, Perrin family, who own Château de Beaucastel and Robert Haas, their U. S. importer have brought in Rhône varietal clones of excellent quality. Of course Château de Beaucastel has generations of experience in producing Rhône wines because that is where they are from!

Second is the fact that Paso Robles has a very good terroir to produce Rhône varietals. My brother who lives in Mendocino and is heavily involved in the wine industry up there once mentioned that there was a difference in the quality of Sunlight on the Central Coast versus Mendocino and the North Coast -we have the "Silver Sunlight of Provence." There must be something to that. If you look at a listing for the Rhône Rangers, a Rhône varietal "booster club", it is dominated by Paso Robles and Central Coast wineries.

Third, the Mediterranean climate not only drives the wine, but it drives our farms and what we grow and eat, and therein lies a powerful connection. Wine traditions do not develop independent of food. In fact you could make the argument that it is the cuisine that drives the wine, not the other way around. The old shamans believed that there is symmetry in nature. If there was a plant growing that was dangerous, it's complementary antidote was growing near by. Not that wine and food are dangerous of course, but to stretch the analogy a bit (admittedly almost to the breaking point!), for every food type there "must" be complementary wine counter part. It only makes sense, why would anyone except a sadist make fine wines which do not go well with the local cuisine?

Fourth, the Central Coast is where the younger wine lovers are coming to both visit and live. Stop in at any wine tasting room and you will see predominately 30 and 40 something-aged patrons. And there is no doubt that among the younger generations of wine drinkers tend towards a lighter Mediterranean fare than classic French Cuisine. On the Central Coast this had lead to an explosion of Mediterranean, Fusion, Cucina Nouvo style restaurants featuring young chefs who prefer to use local fresh produce. The cuisine that is prepared and served here is much closer to Arles than Paris. This is what we eat, and the Rhône style wine are the perfect complement to the style of food being prepared.

Finally, if you have Syrah, what young upstart wants to drink (or grow) his Father's stodgy old Cabernet?




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A tip from Sue!

Cut down on the splatters as you fry or saute

When you're frying meat or fish you can cut down on the splatters by either using a splatter guard or even easier, by simply using a cover for the frying pan. But adjust your heat down to compensate for the increased heat buildup.