September 2011

Temecula: Tasted

By: E. C. Gladstone
When E. C. Gladstone visited Temecula wine country for the feature story in our September, 2011 print edition, he tasted a wide range of Temecula wines. Here are his notes.

Baily Vineyard & Winery

2010 Montage: This just-released blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion is an archetypal Temecula white, with a bright nose of pear syrup and apricot leading a palate of creamy apples, pear, nectarine and a slightly oaky peppercorn finish. Delightful.

2005 Meritage: An estate blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabnernet Franc and Merlot with a forestall herb nose leading to soft, bright cherry on the tongue with a little mint mid-palate, finishing dry.

2006 Meritage: Not yet released, this vintage has a slightly higher percentage of Cab Franc, lending a beefy tomato nose and a palate of black cherries touched by chocolate and pepper.

Leonesse Cellars


2010 Melange de Blanc: Blending Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne, this is a creamy mouth of apple and pear with a little pepper on the midpalate and a sweet finish. For cheese and salads.

2008 Signature Selection Grand Melange: A Rhône-style blend (GSM + Cinsault) with a big berry nose, and a big mouth of black cherry, prune, and earthy oak notes.

2005 Cinsault Dessert Wine: Port-style, prunes, ripe cherry, cinnamon and chocolate. Is it Christmas already?

Miramonte Winery


2010 Mourvèdre Rosé: Intended for red wine, growing conditions led winemaker Reinhard Schlassa to use the juice for rosé instead. The result is a combination of grapefruit and berries on the palate with tart acids followed by woody sugar. Excellent with soft cheeses or vegetable dishes.

2005 Estate Syrah: A grand nose of fruit, wood and earth gives way to a creamy mouth of black cherry and plum with a dry but not over-oaked finish.

2000 Tawny Port: Typical raisiny notes but with a moderate body and a surprisingly spicy finish. For Pinot drinkers who normally eschew ports.

Mount Palomar Winery


2008 Viognier: Custard apple, caramel and orange oil notes give way to a savory oak finish.

2007 "Cloudbreak": A Bordeaux blend with a juicy green pepper nose leading to a similar palate, dosed with tart cherry, peppercorns and an off-dry finish. Possible aging potential. Or bust it out for the tri-tip.

NV Solera Cream Sherry: Continuing the winery tradition of aging in old casks outdoors, this 18% abv Sherry has a deep amber color, vanilla-almond nose, and golden raisin, nutty, caramel palate. Smooth, long finish but not cloying.

Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery


2009 "Buon Vicino" Viognier: bright, light, and direct with a nose of honey and apricot, and soft nectarine/apricot palate, with a little minerality. For shellfish or hard cheese.

2009 "Rosato Secco" : In contrast to the Valley's mostly demi-sec rosés, this Sangiovese has an almost smoky nose and crisp berry-melon notes over big dry tannins. Serve this to skeptical Euros with game birds.

2007 "Catfish Vineyard" Cabernet Franc: A nod to Palumbo's previous owner, this is a goodly big cherry-berry red with a very dry finish.

South Coast Winery


NV Ruby Cuvee: A sparkling Syrah with floral-berry character, small-bubble creaminess and a restrained sweetness on the finish. Turns a cheese plate into a party.

2010 Carter Estate Viognier: Don't let the explosively apple-pear nose deceive, underneath is a palate of tart granny smith, peach and citrus with a creamy mouthfeel and a lengthy glove leather finish. Endearing.

2007 Wild Horse Peak "Il Temporarale": An uncommon blend of Sangiovese with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Merlot, this has a grassy/barnyard nose but a pleasing soft cherry and rose petal palate with just a hint of oak. Would reward pairing.

Stuart Cellars


2009 Viognier: Vegetal/floral nose yielding to Granny Smith apple and stonefruit flavors with a soft oak finish.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner's Special Estate Reserve: A nose of roasted vegetables leads to flavors of cherry, coffee and oak. Tart and chewy. Might stand aging.

2004 Zinfandel "Port": Another unusual fortified wine, lush with plum and raisin notes, dulce de leche and a white pepper finish.

Thornton Winery


NV Brut: Tight, crisp bubbles frame the yeasty custard apple flavor of this Methode Champenoise sparkling wine (mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc), with a lingering off-dry slightly oaked finish.

2010 Thorny's Coat Red: Côtes du Rhône-inspired (get it?), this juicy, savory blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and Barbera offers savory  and black cherry notes with black pepper and soft tannins. Might be the Valley's best value.

2010 Nebbiolo: With a slightly green, fruity nose, this chewy, juicy red suggests tomatillo, pepper and oak, with soft tannins. Excellent for pairing, naturally.

Wiens Family Cellars


2009 "Solace": This blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Roussanne offers a bright, tart floral nose and an elegant semi-sweet palate of vanilla and pear with a silky finish. Just a touch of oak.

2008 Reserve Tempranillo/Petite Sirah: Of Wiens's "famous" big reds, this 50/50 blend is one huge juicy cherry bomb, with a peppery nose and muscle-bound finish.

NV White Port: Remember white port with lemon juice? This pleasing blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier and Muscat has a big nose of orange oil and honey and a bigger palate of honey and dried stone fruits. Sweet but complex.

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