It’s always nice to hear from Melissa Gonzalo. When she asked me if I wanted to come to the Discover The Rhône Valley event at San Antonio Winery in Ontario, I jumped at the chance. I love wines from the Rhône and relished the opportunity to go to a tasting. On a rare rainy Saturday evening we braved the elements and headed north.
The event room was already full when we entered with our welcome pour of Louis Roederer Brut Champagne. Shortly afterwards, we were welcomed by the store’s manager, Kevin Franke. He admitted he hadn’t been a big fan of Rhône wines until he met Christophe Convert, who introduced him to some wines that turned his thinking around. Kevin and Christophe gave us an overview of the Rhône, complete with a few maps so we could see the areas they were describing. After tasting from a generous platter of cheeses, veggies and dried fruit, we sipped the first of many wines.
We began with the Homage du Rhône (HR) Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Blanc vintage 2014. Nice and crisp, it sells for around $25. We also tasted the 2015 Marcella’s Santa Barbara County white wine from Fess Parker winery, a blend of Grenache Blanc and Viognier with touches of Roussanne and Marsanne at around $19. A touch more fruit forward, it paired very nicely with Salade Lyonnaise, an absolute favorite of mine. The salad has a perfectly poached egg on top. You let the yolk spill out and give it a toss with the lettuce, bacon and croutons.
The next course was fish quenelles with Nantua sauce. Christophe had selected three wines for this pairing, each a different Viognier. In one glass we had a 2014 Jean-Michel Gerin La Champine Viognier, in the other the 2016 San Simeon Viognier. Again, the French wine was a bit drier and crisper, but both were outstanding and each a great value. The quenelles were delicious, swimming in a lovely sauce with baby shrimps. One of the evening’s highlights was the next wine, 2013 Jean-Michel Gerin Les Eguets Condrieu Viognier. If you can’t imagine spending close to $100 for a white wine, I invite you to taste this gem. Complex with so many layers and aged in both stainless steel and neutral oak, this wine is an absolute masterpiece.
They also selected three wines to pair with the main course; steak with demi-glace, potatoes Lyonnaise and asparagus. The 2013 HR Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Red, a Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend from eight different parcels sells for a bit over $25. In the other glass we had a 2014 Jean-Michel Gerin La Champine Syrah which sells for the same price. Each paired exceptionally well with the steak, but the star of the show was the next wine in our glasses. Kevin told us the 2012 Jean-Michel Gerin Côte-Rôtie La Viallière was “the best Syrah I’ve ever had.” I couldn’t disagree. This is a luscious wine, worth every penny of its $115 price tag. On its own or paired with steak, this is a wine I look forward to tasting again.
To bring the evening to a fitting conclusion, we went with a wine from Bordeaux, the 2011 Château Grand-Jauga Sauternes. It was paired with wine-poached pears with vanilla sauce and hazelnut Madeleine. The two complimented each other perfectly. Each sweet, but not cloying, it really was a wonderful way to end the feast.
The San Antonio Winery’s Ontario location not only has a wide selection of wine, their gift shop is chock full of wonderful items. Time flies when you’re browsing there. Located at 2801 S. Milliken Avenue, store hours are 10 – 6 Sunday through Thursday and 10 to 7 Friday and Saturday. Upcoming events include Learn to Love New Grape Varieties, Comedy night and a Soulful Sunday Champagne Brunch. You can click here to see the full calendar.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous, a food, wine and travel blog in 2009 and is a long-time member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. He is a three-time recipient of the best tour award from the Luxury Travel Guide in Birmingham, England. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701! Ask about special discounts.