Connections with the Grateful Dead, Priorat, Macedonia and the southern Rhône drawn on the West Coast by the king of Grenache.
He’s best known for his work in the Southern Rhône, most especially Châteauneuf-du-Pape. His admirers call him the king of Grenache. Philippe Cambie was raised in southern France, born to a family with vineyards in the Languedoc. Even so, he didn’t expect to end up in wine himself. After playing rugby for France, then studying food science and microbiology, Cambie turned finally to wine and became a consulting oenologist, or winemaker, in 1998. He has since become one of the most influential consultants of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where he has worked with more than 25 wineries, including Clos St-Jean, and his own Les Halos de Jupiter.
But Cambie’s influence has extended beyond southern France. This spring a series of new wines are being released in very small quantities from collaboration projects Cambie has with several producers in the United States. I was able to meet with him this month to discuss his collaboration and consultation projects here on the West Coast.
Cambie’s influence has been steadily building in the United States for more than a decade. In 2006 he first attended the Hospice du Rhône get-together in California. In 1993, producer John Alban founded the Hospice du Rhône (HdR). At the time, Alban was the only producer in the United States committed exclusively to making wine from Rhône varieties, having just founded Alban Vineyards in 1989. The event was designed as a way to bring together Rhône producers from around the world with other passionate lovers of the category. Since then, HdR has occurred almost every year, usually in California’s Central Coast, and has become one of the most instrumental Rhône events in the New World. Top producers of the category regularly attend and share their wines.
In 2008, Cambie presented his Bodegas Mas Alta wines from ….
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