Rhone Mini-Tasting Wrap Up With Winners Recipes

The April Mini-Tasting featured Rhone style wines and was held at five host sites throughout the county. Each of the five flights of wine featured a California wine and a French wine. There were four flights of reds, and the tasting started with a white flight. Seven of the ten wines placed in the first, second, or third place at one or more of the host sites.

The overall favorite was Secret Indulgence from Emancipation in St. Helena; second place was Chateau Puech-Haut La Closerie du Pic from Languedoc-Roussillon, France; third was Amapola Creek’s Cuvee Alis from Sonoma County; and fourth was Margerum’s M5 from Santa Barbara. The four favorite wines across the five host sites are:

Place Wine & Winery Year Price Description
1st Secret Indulgence Emancipation

St. Helena, CA

2015 $29.99 Blend: 49% Grenache, 29% Syrah, 11% Petite Sirah, 11% Mourvèdre

RP 92 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate; A blend mainly of Grenache and Syrah with some Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre and Mission coming mostly from Paso Robles and Mendocino.

2nd Chateau Puech-Haut
La Closerie du PicLanguedoc-Roussillon, France
2014 $25.99 #48 wine in VinePair’s Top 50 of 2018

RP 94 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate; Full-bodied, rounded and textured, with sweet tannin and a voluptuous, fruit-forward style.

3rd Amapola Creek
Cuvee Alis
Sonoma, CA
2013 $46.99 RP 92 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
66% Grenache, 22% Mourvèdre and 12% Syrah; It is Provençal, deep, full-bodied, and a total lusty treat.
4th Margerum M5

Santa Barbara, CA

2016 $25.99 RP 90 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

42% Grenache, 36% Syrah, 14% Mourvèdre, 4% Counoise and 4% Cinsault; Reminiscent of a good Côtes du Rhône, the 2016 M5 opens in the glass with aromas of smoky black cherry, blackberry, spice, cassis and dried flowers. On the palate, it’s juicy, medium to full-bodied and supple, with a sweet core of dark fruit, good length and a youthfully primary finish.

In addition, attendees brought a delicious dish to share and then voted on a Chef of the Evening. The results of the Chef of the Evening at each host site are:

  • Hosts Gisella & Gregory Brett: Tom Richey – Beef Stew
  • Hosts Virginia & Karl Kawai: Eric Kalnes – “Amazing” dish
  • Hosts Else & Don Phillips: Kim Meier – Italian Penne with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives & Cheese
  • Hosts Ronna & Craig Rowe: Scott Lewis – Smoked Tri-Tip
  • Hosts Kim & Steven Rizzuto: Paula & Bob Becker – Cantaloupe Port Sorbet

NOTE: Three dishes tied on the initial ballot, including June & Vincent Porto’s Lasagna and Carolyn & Phil Wallace’s Coleslaw.

The detail scores by site will be posted on the OCWS website. Congratulations to all the winners! A big thank you to all of the hosts! Please send your recipes to George Cravens at for possible publication on the OCWS website.

– George Cravens, Director

Winner Recipe –


Paula Becker

From Ice Cream:  The Ultimate Cold Comfort

By Jeri Quinzio

Makes one quart


1 large or 2 small cantaloupes, peeled, seeded and cut up to make 3 cups

Pinch of salt

¾ cup of sugar

¼ cup of port

3 T of orange juice

  1. Cut up the cantaloupe and measure.  To make a quart of sorbet, you’ll need 3 cups.
  2. In a blender or food processor, puree cantaloupe with the salt and sugar until the sugar is thoroughly blended throughout the mixture
  3. Add the port and the orange juice and blend.
  4. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.
  5. Churn in your ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Store in a tightly covered container in your freezer.