What makes our wine-of-the-week winner a tasty pick?

Impeccable timing.

Our winner, the Cline Cellars, 2010 California Cashmere Rhone Red Blend, has been tended with precision.

"We pay close attention to when we should press the fermenting wine off the grape skins," said Charles Tsegeletos, director of winemaking for Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vintners. "It's a lot like knowing when to take the teabag out of the cup. You need to wait long enough for the tannins to emerge and balance out the fruit, but not so long that they overpower it."

The Press Democrat Rhone reds tasting was intended to highlight the Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting in San Francisco this weekend. (For more information, visit www.rhonerangers.org.)

For the uninitiated, the Rhone Rangers is an organization that focuses on grapes whose ancestral home is in France's Rhone valley. There are 22 varieties recognized by the French government; the best known are syrah, viognier, mourvedre, grenache and roussanne. Organizers say these varietals are thriving in American vineyards and the Cline's Cashmere Rhone blend is a testament to that.

What's the secret to making great Rhone wines on American turf?

"Listen to what the grapes are telling you in terms of wine style and refine it year after year," Tsegeletos said. "Like Porsche does with their 911!"

The winemaker said he's been "squishing grapes" for 30 years and 10 of them have been with Cline Cellars in Sonoma. Before that he was the winemaker for several other wineries, including Glen Ellen Winery and D'Agostini Winery in the Sierra Foothills.

Tsegeletos said he's a good match for making Rhone wines.

"I think I have a decent sense of balance with wine, and I like nuanced, flavorful varieties," he said. "That's what Rhone wines are all about."

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or peg.melnik@gmail.com.