central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

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central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#1 Post by Craig e »

Newbie question.

I had a Chateauneuf du pape. Loved it.

Through my research, I discovered that a lot of Rhone style wines are made in the Central Coast of CA.

I know there are tons of huge variables, but how do California Rhone style wines compare of French Rhone style wines?

Is it logical to think, "I like French Rhone wines so I will buy the CA version of that style instead of a French version?"

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#2 Post by Alan Rath »

Craig, if you tell us what it was you had, we might be able to offer better answers
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#3 Post by Craig e »

2004 M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf-du-pape Croix de Bois.

It was amazing.

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#4 Post by Andrew K. »

Personally I find the west coast US version of French wines a cheap imitation at worst and a different but enjoyable wine at best. They might have some similar notes and remind you of the old world favorite, but the weather and soil is so different, it's never going to be a dead ringer. If you want to enjoy US wines, enjoy them for what they are, but don't try to reproduce an old world experience.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#5 Post by J. Rock »

I think you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't taste for yourself. However, generally, I find Central Coast GSMs to be riper, bigger/fuller, more alcoholic, and more extracted. Generally, I find Rhone GSMs to be more rustic, earthy, elegant/finessed. You'll still find exceptions to the "rule" depending on producer, site, vintage, etc., so, once again, I think it's worth exploring for yourself.

Personally, I'm probably in the minority on this site as I prefer Central Coast Rhone-styled wines vs actual Southern Rhone wines. As for Syrah (Northern Rhone), I love it from everywhere, both warm and cool climates, and I really just enjoy the variety that's available around the world.

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#6 Post by Ramon C »

Craig e wrote: August 14th, 2020, 5:02 pm 2004 M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf-du-pape Croix de Bois.

It was amazing.
Craig e wrote: August 14th, 2020, 4:53 pm
Is it logical to think, "I like French Rhone wines so I will buy the CA version of that style instead of a French version?"
Ok, based on my past experiences with Chapoutier (not what you drank), the answer is YES there is a high likelihood that California versions will be available.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#7 Post by Greg K »

Ramon C wrote: August 14th, 2020, 6:32 pm
Craig e wrote: August 14th, 2020, 5:02 pm 2004 M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf-du-pape Croix de Bois.

It was amazing.
Craig e wrote: August 14th, 2020, 4:53 pm
Is it logical to think, "I like French Rhone wines so I will buy the CA version of that style instead of a French version?"
Ok, based on my past experiences with Chapoutier (not what you drank), the answer is YES there is a high likelihood that California versions will be available.
This is what I’m thinking as well. While 2004 was a fairly restrained year, Chapoutier is not an especially old school winemaker.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#8 Post by AndyK »

Craig e wrote: August 14th, 2020, 4:53 pm Is it logical to think, "I like French Rhone wines so I will buy the CA version of that style instead of a French version?"
That doesn't make any sense to me. I like Italian sports cars, so I buy a Corvette?

The CA "versions" are not a replacement, but their own thing...
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#9 Post by Greg K »

AndyK wrote: August 14th, 2020, 6:46 pm
Craig e wrote: August 14th, 2020, 4:53 pm Is it logical to think, "I like French Rhone wines so I will buy the CA version of that style instead of a French version?"
That doesn't make any sense to me. I like Italian sports cars, so I buy a Corvette?

The CA "versions" are not a replacement, but their own thing...
I don’t agree with this. They may not be the same, but they can scratch a very similar itch. I like white Burgundy and certain US Chardonnay as well. They don’t have to be identical.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#10 Post by S. Rash »

If you're a newbie, buy and taste wines from everywhere. Test your palate and find out what you like and do not like. Once you find what you like, buy a lot of it, and enjoy.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#11 Post by Craig e »

Thanks for the input. Greg K, when you say a "restrained year", what does that mean?

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#12 Post by Alan Rath »

2004 in CdP is what we would call a somewhat “off” vintage, meaning not heralded as one of the better ones. Though really, the “better” vintages in chateauneuf tend to be warmer, and closer to Paso style. Still, I don’t think you will find any central coast wines much like that chapoutier. There are a large number of southern Rhône wines that you could try, from lots of regions around Chateauneuf du Pape, that aren’t terribly expensive. Explore those, explore some central coast versions, don’t spend a huge amount on anything, don’t buy multiples of anything, try them and learn what you like. If you’re early on in learning about wine, you will likely follow a path many of us have taken, where the bigger wines have lots of impact, taste good, but gradually you discover that elegance and complexity are of equal or greater value, and generally found in different types of wines. If you decide you love the big wines, no harm done, stay on that path. If you eventually shift away from those, you don’t want a cellar full of bottles you rarely drink.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#13 Post by Ramon C »

Greg K wrote: August 14th, 2020, 6:36 pm
Ramon C wrote: August 14th, 2020, 6:32 pm
Craig e wrote: August 14th, 2020, 5:02 pm 2004 M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf-du-pape Croix de Bois.

It was amazing.
Craig e wrote: August 14th, 2020, 4:53 pm
Is it logical to think, "I like French Rhone wines so I will buy the CA version of that style instead of a French version?"
Ok, based on my past experiences with Chapoutier (not what you drank), the answer is YES there is a high likelihood that California versions will be available.
This is what I’m thinking as well. While 2004 was a fairly restrained year, Chapoutier is not an especially old school winemaker.
Yes, that's right. I've had Chapoutier from restrained years in the 90s and the styles clearly stood out to be more unrestrained and outside of those traditional-style Rhone wines. Pretty much akin to the less-than few CA versions I've had then.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#14 Post by Greg K »

Craig e wrote: August 14th, 2020, 9:36 pm Thanks for the input. Greg K, when you say a "restrained year", what does that mean?
2004 was a relatively cool year in the Rhône, so the wines are leaner than in the surrounding years - lower in alcohol and have a bit less fruit. That’s not going to be universal, but generally true. I’m a big fan of the 2004 northern Rhônes for current drinking - Ramon and I (and some others) did a dinner to check in on them just before COVID and they were great.
Chapoutier tends to be a more “modern” winemaker - I.e. more oak, more fruit, etc. That will mean more similarities with California producers. So you might find that certain California wines, while not the same, provide a similar experience to what you got from the Chapoutier.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#15 Post by Matthew Brown »

You also don’t tend to find as many producers in California working with the full spectrum of Rhone varietals in their blends, tending to focus mainly on the ‘Big 3’ of Grenache Syrah and Mourvèdre. Those other varieties usually carry more savory, herbal tones in the blends, reduce a lot of the fruit prominence. Tablas Creek definitely being a noteworthy exception, but certainly others worth looking out for.
You may also look for fruit sources from cooler areas of California, which ‘can’ help the wines carry more acidity and soften some of the fruit and alcohol intensity. Not a 100% certainty, but a good guideline.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#16 Post by John Morris »

One thing to bear in mind is that most Chateauneuf is primarily grenache, while a lot of California GSMs have larger proportions of syrah and mourvedre, giving them a different flavor profile and structure.

I haven't explored Central Coast GSMs much. Unti in Sonoma makes good grenaches with less than 25% syrah and mourvedre combined that are not over the top (the '16 is a relatively low 14.8%): https://www.untivineyards.com/product/2016-Grenache
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#17 Post by emile bond »

hitsfan
John Morris wrote: August 15th, 2020, 1:37 pm One thing to bear in mind is that most Chateauneuf is primarily grenache, while a lot of California GSMs have larger proportions of syrah and mourvedre, giving them a different flavor profile and structure.

I haven't explored Central Coast GSMs much. Unti in Sonoma makes good grenaches with less than 25% syrah and mourvedre combined that are not over the top (the '16 is a relatively low 14.8%): https://www.untivineyards.com/product/2016-Grenache
You are historically correct, of course, regarding Grenache. However, see below for changes which have and are occurring:

https://vinous.com/articles/the-riches- ... e-dec-2019

“Because of the ongoing problems that recent vintages have heaped upon Grenache, there is a strong movement in the region toward planting more of the less-common (until now) varieties allowed in the appellation, like Cinsault, Counoise, Terret Noir and even Vaccarèse, which had dwindled to a mere handful of vines by the late 2000s. A few years ago, I began to notice that an increasing number of producers were including white grapes, or increasing their use of them, likely in an effort to mitigate the power of the increased percentages of Mourvèdre and Syrah in their wines. There’s little doubt that the general style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which in the vast majority of cases is a blended wine, is starting to change here and there, and I’m betting that the pace will only accelerate as growers and winemakers deal with today’s agricultural reality.”

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#18 Post by John Morris »

Interesting.

So it's clear to others, that passage, by Josh Raynolds, refers to the Southern Rhone, not California.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#19 Post by emile bond »

John Morris wrote: August 15th, 2020, 3:39 pm Interesting.

So it's clear to others, that passage, by Josh Raynolds, refers to the Southern Rhone, not California.
I did not mean to confuse anyone. I simply saw your contribution and recalled just having read comments regarding the evolution of cepage in Chateauneuf du Pape. I was simply intending to provide some more recent context.

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#20 Post by Ramon C »

I only read the passage and presumed it was about Chateauneuf du Pape, the region

"...There’s little doubt that the general style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which in the vast majority of cases is a blended wine, is starting to change here and there,..."

In any case, a thought entered my mind on whether this is for the better or for the worse. Admittedly, I've had little CdPs post 2005 vintage and, in general, they failed to impress and which, frankly, is shared by most that I drink with.

Now I wonder whether the change in varietal mix would jump start a renaissance.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#21 Post by Mel Knox »

The Corvette vs Italian sports car idea is interesting, but I suppose if you can afford a Ferrari you could get a Corvette as well! Chump change! While the Ferrari is being tuned--every two months or so--you'll have something to drive.


It seems to me that what Craig should do is experiment. He should not buy three cases of the first wine he likes because, like the rest of us, his taste is bound to change,

For less than the cost of a Corvette he can try lots of wines and have fun.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#22 Post by jnbrown »

As John said, CDP is primarily Grenache (Which I happen to love)
CDP and California are very different and will never taste similar.
CDP has notes of garrigue which is very distinctive and really does not exist in California wines.
California Grenache has more of a purity and focus which some people actually might find boring.
I like both French and California versions, but actually find French Grenache more accessible even living in California.
It seems Grenache in California is getting harder to find. I can only think of one winery right off that I would order it from.
Syrah is much more prevalent in California and even Mourvedre is quite easy to find.
Lately I have been trying more Gigondas which is CDPs little brother and finding them to be a good value.
I am also finding some CDRs that are predominantly Grenache that I would like to try.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#23 Post by Craig e »

This is really instructive.

Another reason that I focused on Central Coast GSM is that I live in Los Angeles and can day trip to Santa Ynez and Paso Robles. The world of wine is so expansive i thought it would be fun and interesting to do a deep dive into one area, an area I can visit, and with a style that I seemed predisposed to liking. I have visited some of the "Rhone Rangers" wineries which makes this hobby so much more fun and interesting for me. On this last trip I started tasting some Rhone style white wines which I really enjoyed and had no idea about.

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#24 Post by larry schaffer »

Craig,

Drop me a line and I can certainly suggest tons of wineries to visit and wines to try from the SBC area. I am president of the SBC Chapter of the Rhone Rangers and am on the national board of directors of the group. There are so many variables at stake and as you can see above, many 'generalizations' about the difference between the two regions that it does make it a bit 'daunting' to compare/contrast. But I can certainly try to point you in the right directions . . .

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#25 Post by R M Kriete »

Agree that Tablas Creek, co-owned by a Chateauneuf du Pape producer, might be a good place to start.

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#26 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

R M Kriete wrote: August 17th, 2020, 11:44 am Agree that Tablas Creek, co-owned by a Chateauneuf du Pape producer, might be a good place to start.
100%

This is the best recommendation that I have seen here, not just because it is a solid winery, but also because they produce so many different bottlings of Rhone varietals. Heck, they even have a 100% Tannat, which could be their best wine, IMHO. Makes for a very fun tasting.

Important to note that Tablas Creek was started by the Perrin Family that owns Beaucastel, I think in partnership with a CA family. Beaucastel is an historic Chateaunuef du Pape, one of my faves.

Now that said, I do not like Chapoutier at all. They tend to make very full-throttled, high alcohol, stylized wines. I do not recall having any 2004, but that was definitely a more balanced year in CDP, so perhaps Chapoutier did not go OTT.

Is Tables creek still owned by Beaucastel?
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#27 Post by robert creth »

larry schaffer wrote: August 17th, 2020, 10:20 am Craig,

Drop me a line and I can certainly suggest tons of wineries to visit and wines to try from the SBC area. I am president of the SBC Chapter of the Rhone Rangers and am on the national board of directors of the group. There are so many variables at stake and as you can see above, many 'generalizations' about the difference between the two regions that it does make it a bit 'daunting' to compare/contrast. But I can certainly try to point you in the right directions . . .

Cheers!
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#28 Post by R M Kriete »

Robert.A.Jr. wrote: August 17th, 2020, 12:29 pm
Is Tables creek still owned by Beaucastel?
Per Website:
"Tablas Creek is the realization of the combined efforts of two of the international wine community’s leading families: the Perrin family, proprietors of Château de Beaucastel, and the Haas family of Vineyard Brands."

"Tablas Creek Vineyard follows the centuries-old Châteauneuf-du-Pape tradition of blending, to produce wines that balance richness and elegance, while ensuring complexity, freshness, and minerality. Winemaking techniques, including dry farming, native yeast fermentation, and the use of large, neutral French oak foudres for aging allow our wines to reflect authentically the grapes, place and vintage from which they come.

Red wines, comprising about 50% of the vineyard’s production, are made principally from Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Counoise. White wines, comprising about 35% of production, are made from Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Picpoul Blanc, and Grenache Blanc. Two rosés, one based on Grenache and the other on Mourvèdre, account for the final 15% of production. Total production averages between 25,000-30,000 cases per year."

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#29 Post by Craig e »

Larry..much appreciated. I will take you up on that next time I am up in SBC, and thanks for all the other opinions/thoughts.

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#30 Post by Jonathan Loesberg »

As a general rule, I don't find California Rhone varietal wines, whether using CdP like blends or not, to be at all similar to CdP. As others have said, Chapoutier is a very ripe, sweet style of the wine and so, perhaps, more like the general ripeness one finds in California than other CdPs might be. I still don't think it would be the same. Even the handful of CA producers who make a more structured and restrained style, such as Edmund St. John (whose wines I very much like) taste to me more like a very good version of their own kind of wine and not CdP. For me, that's a good thing, since being able to taste a sense of place in the wine is part of the pleasure it gives.

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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#31 Post by brigcampbell »

Jonathan Loesberg wrote: August 17th, 2020, 1:55 pm As a general rule, I don't find California Rhone varietal wines, whether using CdP like blends or not, to be at all similar to CdP.
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Re: central coast GSM style vs. actual Rhone

#32 Post by John Morris »

Robert.A.Jr. wrote: August 17th, 2020, 12:29 pm
R M Kriete wrote: August 17th, 2020, 11:44 am Agree that Tablas Creek, co-owned by a Chateauneuf du Pape producer, might be a good place to start.
100%

This is the best recommendation that I have seen here, not just because it is a solid winery, but also because they produce so many different bottlings of Rhone varietals. Heck, they even have a 100% Tannat, which could be their best wine, IMHO. Makes for a very fun tasting.

Important to note that Tablas Creek was started by the Perrin Family that owns Beaucastel, I think in partnership with a CA family. Beaucastel is an historic Chateaunuef du Pape, one of my faves.

Now that said, I do not like Chapoutier at all. They tend to make very full-throttled, high alcohol, stylized wines. I do not recall having any 2004, but that was definitely a more balanced year in CDP, so perhaps Chapoutier did not go OTT.

Is Tables creek still owned by Beaucastel?
I had a Tablas Creek GSM a year or so ago for the first time in a long time. It seemed a bit candied and a bit hot to me. Not my cup of tea. Maybe it was the vintage. I don't know. I think I paid $30 or so, and at that price I can find Southern Rhones I prefer.

The Perrin's never owned 100% of Tablas Creek. As I recall, they did contribute a bunch of cuttings that were used to plant the vineyard, though.
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