According to Patrick J Comiskey’s book American Rhône, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Rhône varietal bottling of the modern era in the US – a Santa Clara Valley Grenache by David Bruce in 1969. In just five decades, Californian wines based on classic Rhône varieties, or ‘Rhône Rangers’ as they’re known, have gone through an evolution that’s as rapid as it is dramatic.
Scroll down for Matt Walls’ top 20 Californian Rhône reds
Though they’ve occasionally impressed, I’ve always gravitated back to the Rhône: its wines have a consistency, balance and finesse that Californian Rhône styles have – until recently – often lacked. But a new generation has struck gold. Over the past decade, more and more wines have been emerging that combine drinkability with uniqueness of expression.