By saying Day 2 of Hospice du Rhone, we might be throwing some of you off a little bit. Officially it was day 2 because Thursday night was a small reception but this was the first day of seminars and everything Rhone.
But I digress…
The first day of seminars is always a blast, we show up around 8 am at the Paso Robles Event Center and chow down on some wonderfully prepared breakfast foods and coffee while people watching. There’s always a great crowd of folks milling about…Vicki Carroll (runs HdR), John Alban and his wife Lorraine, Eric Solomon, of Eric Solomon Selections (well know wine importer), Joe Barton (winemaker at Grey Wolf), Justin Smith (Saxum), Amy Butler (Ranchero Cellars), Chester Osborn (d’Arenberg), Jeb Dunnuck (The Rhone Report), Augie Hug (Hug Cellars) and sooooooo many more we can’t even begin to name them all.
Although, I will digress yet again and say that it was great meeting for the first time or seeing again, other fellow bloggers like Scott (thevinofile), Thea (Luscious Lushes), and Joe and Amy Powers (Another Wine Blog). Good times with them, and there was a tiny bit of wine, beer, possibly some scotch, and food sucked down! No hangovers for me though….:-)
How Hospice du Rhone Spends the Day…
After breakfast we went into the first seminar titled “Why Spain (still) Rocks!” Eric Solomon of Eric Solomon Selections (Importer) was on the panel with moderator Steve Olson (aka wine geek)…the Producers on the panel were Jose Maria Vicente (Casa Castillo, Jumilla, Spain), Daniel Jimenez-Landi (Bodegas Jimenez-Landi, Mentrida, Spain), Bixente Ocafrain (Bodegas Mas Alta, Priorat, La Vilella Alta, Spain, and Daphne Glorian-Solomon (Clos I Terrasses, Priorat, Gratallops, Spain, she is also wife of Eric Solomon).
We found this panel to be quite interesting for several reasons. The personalities on the panel were engaging and at times quite funny, but the knowledge that they laid down for us regarding their specific areas in Spain, including the steepness of the land they are farming, and the types of soil the vines grow in was absolutely amazing. The wines were very intriguing as well, we aren’t used to wines from these areas and they really showed us many different nuances. I personally referred to many of them as having great fruit, different spices than I am accustomed to, and of being sexy wines. Take that to the bank!
When this seminar ended the crowd meandered over to seminar two in a cattle-like manner. This one was titled “The Return of the Bionic Frog”…and oh my, this guy had us laughing from the get go. For this seminar it was John Alban talking to Christophe Baron of Cayuse Vineyards out of Walla Walla, Washington.
Christophe does a fantastic job in front of people and we couldn’t get over how infectious his laugh was…you just had to be there I suppose. He was educated and trained in Burgundy, France but found his way to Walla Walla and is producing some very nice wines, some with entertaining names and labels. We tasted through two Grenaches and about seven Syrahs. The wines were very solid in my opinion and definitely had many of the typical varietal characteristics.
I think we both enjoyed his wines across the board, but getting to the end where we tasted his Bionic Frog label (Syrah) is when even more of Christophe’s personality came out…memorable to say the least. One aspect that I like quite a bit about the seminars in which there is a moderator and one producer is that you really get into their story…and I love stories from the wine world.
After seminar two wrapped up it was time for the always anticipated Rose Lunch. The food was brought to us from Chef John Toulze of ‘the girl & the fig’ in Sonoma. The pairing of their insanely delectable dishes with the Roses was an experience everyone should have…especially you “I hate Rose” people!!
Lunch was amazing and it’s always a really great opportunity to people watch and seek out those that you want to chat with. With our bellies full and lunch winding down, Annie and I decided to head home for a bit and sneak in a short nap prior to going back for the BIG Rhone Rendezvous, which is an amazing opportunity to sip wines in large format bottles and even some wines that these special Rhone producers have dusted off and brought from their cellars.
The evening event was catered by Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee…if you have not heard of them they were voted #1 resort in the Continental U.S. and Canada by Tavel & Leisure for their 2011 World’s Best Awards. Not much to say about them other than “are you kidding me?” It doesn’t get any better than this!
Everything was absolutely superb, kudos to the folks with Hospice du Rhone for putting together such an amazing day of seminars, producers, wines, and food…we literally become speechless at points during HdR at just how good life is when you stop and realize how amazing these wines are, how absurdly wonderful the food is, and how friendly and fun the people are.
Cheers to day two of HdR, we will recap the final day very soon. Be sure to check out the slideshow below, as well as the websites linked in the blog post above and see what these wine and food wizards are up to.