Search the 'Zilla
'Zilla Wine and Tunes Pairing

The two essential elements of the CORKZILLA experience – Wine and music – in a pairing. Our signature feature will continue in 2013, but we've decided to take a break from the grind of producing thoughtful pairings on a monthly basis. Please look for an archive page highlighting our pairings from the past coming soon. Cheers!

What We're Listening to

Keith Richards, "Crosseyed Heart," Republic Records

Gary Clark Jr., "The Story of Sonny Boy Slim," Warner Brothers Records

Warren Haynes Featuring Railroad Earth, "Ashes and Dust," Concord Records

Jason Isbell, "Something More Than Free," Southeastern Records

Phish, "Live Bait Vol. 11" (free digital download)

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, "Chasing Yesterday," Sour Mash Records

Neil Young, "On the Beach," Reprise Records

Massive Attack, "Protection," Circa Records

D'Angelo and the Vanguard, "Black Messiah," RCA Records

Brokedown in Bakersfield, "Live!," Little Sur Records

Ryan Adams, "Ryan Adams," Pax-Am Records

Rich Robinson, "The Ceaseless Sight," The End Records

Jack White, "Lazaretto," Third Man Records

The Wayne Shorter Quartet, "Without a Net," Blue Note Records

Reach out to CORKZILLA

Entries in Rhone (2)


Results of a Random Rhone Tasting

By Ben Heskett

SAN FRANCISCO -- I recently held a Rhone wine tasting at the CORKZILLA Man Cave here inviting a select group of friends, each arriving with a bottle or two of their choice. This was an evening among friends, and was more social than wine-centric, but it proved to be an interesting exercise in tastes and preferences.

The suggestion was to bring a Northern Rhone varietal (Syrah-based, generally) but there were a couple of Southern Rhone exceptions, rendering the tasting less scientific but equally as exploratory. The tasting was “blind” in that all bottles were brown-bagged and numbered. I encouraged all guests to rank their top three choices in no particular order. As well, I added a wrinkle – I wanted to see if anyone could pick a “wild card” wine I added to the tasting, a California Syrah.

No. 1 – Alain Graillot 2009 Crozes-Hermitage

No. 2 – Pierre Jean Villa Saint Joseph 2009 Preface

No. 3 – Domaine des Vailles 2007 Cotes-du-Rhone (a Southern Rhone entrant)

No. 4 – Delas Freres Saint-Esprit 2010 Cotes-du-Rhone (another Southern Rhone entrant)

No. 5 – Domaine Belle 2009 Cuvee Louis Belle Crozes-Hermitage

No. 6 – Emmanuel Darnaud 2010 Crozes-Hermitage Mise en Bouche

No. 7 – Big Basin Vineyards 2007 Coastview Vineyard Syrah

No. 8 – Domaine Combier Saint Joseph 2009

No. 9 – Pierre Gaillard 2009 Crozes-Hermitage

As mentioned, it was not a “pure” Northern Rhone tasting, with two Southern Rhone entrants sneaking into the grouping. Nevertheless, it was – top to bottom – an interesting set of wines with a corresponding set of revealing reactions to them. Without further ado, here are the results:

Top three:

  1. Pierre Jean Villa Saint Joseph 2009 Preface
  2. Big Basin Vineyards 2007 Coastview Vineyard Monterey Syrah
  3. A tie – the Domaine Belle 2009 Cuvee Louis Belle Crozes-Hermitage and the Domaine Combier Saint Joseph 2009

Also, among the guests, five predicted that the “wild card” California Syrah was No. 2. Only two participants correctly guessed that No. 7 was the Big Basin Vineyards 2007 Coastview Syrah. What was interesting, among many insights given my limited exposure to French Northern Rhones (hence the tasting), was how well the Big Basin offering from California showed against its Northern Rhone brethren. All in all, a worthwhile wine journey for an evening.

Keep it tuned to the ‘Zilla for further tastings along the way. Cheers!


Rhone Rangers SF 2012 - A Brief Synopsis

By Ben Heskett

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The 15th Annual Rhone Rangers San Francisco tasting event held at the Fort Mason complex along the water delivered a lot of quality, as domestic Rhone style producers continue to take great care to offer distinctive, yet memorable takes on the French region.

Large urban tasting events can be daunting. You can easily dither over wines that may not have been on your radar, taking you away from an intended varietal focus, or the crowds can just be too much. Rhone Rangers is different – It’s big, but not too big, benefitting from its focus on Rhone varietals (The picture at right is a great example of an attitude common among the wineries at the event). The ‘Zilla approached the tasting with white Rhone varietals in mind and they did not disappoint, though a few Grenache Blancs lacked the expression we would have expected.

Without further ado, a few mentions found during the aforementioned Rhone white flight: Domaine de la Terre Rouge’s Grenache Blanc and Roussanne, Cypher Winery’s Grenache Blanc (And an impressive lineup of Rhone reds), Hagafen Cellars Roussanne, Robert Hall Winery’s Grenache Blanc and Viognier, and Tercero Wines Grenache Blanc, among many standouts.

As part of the event, the ‘Zilla was also introduced to a small new winery of note, Two Shepherds Vineyards, of Santa Rosa, Calif., a small production operation with a Rhone style focus. Two Shepherds delivered a tight, focused white Rhone blend made from 47 percent Marsanne, 47 percent Roussanne, and 6 percent Viognier. They have a full roster of Rhone style reds and whites, but they’re made in small batches at the moment so get them while you can.

Also, special thanks to the Angeles Wine Agency for the wine tasting on the Monday following the Rhone Rangers event. Great stuff – My flight of Chateauneuf Du Pape was particularly eye – or palate – opening. Check the 'Zilla in the coming weeks for a review of the Big Basin Vineyards winery, a terrific Rhone style maker of reds out of Boulder Creek, Calif.

Since the ‘Zilla can never be everywhere at once, we’ve included some coverage from some other estimable sources of the Rhone Rangers weekend in San Francisco below. Enjoy!

  • The Terroirist blog, always a good read, delivered a tight, focused take on the events in San Francisco.
  • Richard Jennings offered a good primer on the Rhone region and Rhone style basics, as well as a few event picks.
  • The VinoAdvising blog offered a quick rundown.