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March 2018

Our Monthly Newsletter
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The March issue of CGCW is devoted entirely to red and white wines inspired by those from the Rhône Valley of France. Syrah, Grenache, Viognier and their many Rhônish cousins have rightfully captured the fancy of an increasing number adventurous drinkers looking to expand their vinous horizons as well as an especially devoted coterie of California's forward-looking winemakers, and many of the best names in the business are represented in this month's line-up of exciting new offerings.

Syrah has been the brunt of too many jokes owing to the days when the market was overflowing with substandard efforts, but, in the right hands and grown in the right place, the noble grape of Hermitage and Côte Rôtie performs famously in California.

Sometimes made in a friendly, fruit-forward style that emphasizes its strawberryish charms, Grenache can show a more serious side that is increasingly manifest in any number of attentively crafted versions.

Widely grown in southern France as well as in Spain, where it goes by the name Monastrell, Mourvédre is not a newcomer to California but is still seeking a modern identity of its own.

Carignane is, with reason, not accorded esteem as a noble variety, yet, when hailing from very old North Coast plantings, it is a grape that can surprise.

It is in Petite Sirah's nature to be big and brawny, but, as a number of new, nicely controlled, contemporary versions attest, it need not be unbearably tannic and tough.

tensely aromatic, wonderfully expressive Viognier has come a long way in California since its arrival in the 1980s, and it stands today as the most successful of all of the white Rhone émigrés.

The track record for 100% Grenache Blanc bottlings in California has been a bit spotty with memorable examples and lesser versions alike, but it looks to be quite secure in its principal role as an important component in white blends.

When ripe and well-made, Roussanne can evoke peaches and honey, but it is presently grown in such limited quantities as to be little more than a brief blip on the state's vinous radar.

If Roussanne is scarce, Marsanne is out-and-out rare, and most of the one-hundred or so acres that is grown makes its way into blends needing firmness and an acidy lift.

High-value bottlings of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris head up this month's shopping list of smart buys and five recent favorites in seriously good Cabernet Sauvignon earn enthusiastic second mention before they disappear entirely from the market.

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