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March 2019

Our Monthly Newsletter
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As is the case every March, local renditions of the red and white varieties of France's Rhône Valley take center stage. Even though some are still far from household names, the lengthy roster of enthusiastically recommended offerings, especially those made from Syrah and Grenache, reinforces our belief that they have found a significant and permanent home on the West Coast and is cause for celebration.

California's efforts with the Rhône's greatest red grape are justifiably earning a little more respect with each vintage, and, if Syrah might still be looking for a broader audience, wines such as those represented in this month's issue are guaranteed to win it new fans.

Long a resident in California, Grenache is being approached with heretofore unseen seriousness in appellations up and down the state, and, those who think of it as a simple and unmemorable red wine should most definitely think again.

If arguably still something of a bench player, Mouvèdre, like all of its Rhone cousins, is drawing more interest these days, and the good ones assuredly deserve attention.

A long-time resident in California and a workhorse variety that provides plenty of tannic grip to red blends, Carignane can make for rich, rustic wines on its own.

Comparatively rare in California's vineyards, Cinsault makes lighter, distinctively different wines that stand apart from the heartier norms of Rhône reds.

Most often joined with Marsanne and Roussanne as a blending component, Grenache Blanc is starting to appear as a stand-alone variety with a few intrepid producers staking their claims to its future here in California.

Roussanne-based offerings, whether blended or wholly varietal, are fairly scarce, but being well out of the mainstream does not mean that there are not interesting versions to be had.

There is very little Marsanne grown here in California, but two marvelous, not-to-missed bottlings reviewed this month have us wishing there was more.

A sizeable collection of affordable, well-made Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Barberas are in the Best Buy spotlight this March and are as satisfying as they are easy on the budget.

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