Now that the pace of life in SoCal has calmed down and constant rounds of socializing at world class parties, events and football games has faded away, it’s time to gather up 2013, put it in to the Guinness Book of World Records and look forward to even more in 2014.
First thing I want to set my sights on are the developments in the growing wine country in Southern California’s Temecula. Here’s a wine country that should be getting more respect in the greater wine world of the consumer that buys at big wine shops, groceries, restaurants, hotels and resorts.
I realize many of the 35 or so wineries are still small by comparison, but a closer look shows a good percentage are gaining in competition with their more established brethren elsewhere in California, in international tasting events and total visitors at the wineries.
Most of the season, Temecula has warm, dry days and cool nights, with breezes blanketing the area under vine. It took a number of years and a severe disease for Temecula wineries to find their “sense of place,” a Mediterranean style of wine, with varietals that are derived from the south of France, Spain, Italy, Croatia and Portugal. Many still make wonderful Cabernets and Chardonnays, but an increasing number are discovering varietals that match up nicely with their special climate, elevation and terroir, providing them with a warmer climate wine that the central and northern coast of California cannot match.
Here is a roundup of recent developments and new releases of interest:
John Thornton along with his son Steve, from Thornton Winery, has released 5 new wines made by winemaker David Vergari. They are a 2012 Barbera, Merlot, Sangiovese, “Toot Sweet Red,” and a 2011 Tempranillo. Thornton is one of the best examples of an expanded list of wines to include many Mediterranean styles.
Further into Temecula wine country, Monte De Oro continues to expand its list and outreach with recent appearances and tastings by GM and part owner Ken Zignorski (pictured left with Peggy Evans, Executive Director of the Temecula Wine Growers Association). Monte De Oro was a feature at the popular Capri Blu Restaurant in Rancho Bernardo and the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival.
Two to try here are the just released 2010 Syrah and the 2009 Synergy 65 which made the Top Ten Tastes at Taste of Wine.
The De Portola Trail district of Temecula wine country is on watch with Robert Renzoni Winery constructing a beautiful new tasting villa that should open the beginning of March. Their wines are showing up in San Diego restaurants like Tony Roma’s and Petrini’s. My scouts tell me that the new “Old Vine Zin” is a new one to try. Oak Mountain Winery is starting construction on their new 10,000 square foot caves. It’s the first mined cave in Southern California. You should try their Rousanne, an unusual white wine from the south of France. Keyways Winery is under new ownership and I’m keeping my eye open for big changes. I am high in praise of their 2011 Tempranillo with lots of black fruit and minerality.
Courtesy of Frank Mango – renowned San Diego wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.
Reach him at [email protected]