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Winemaker’s Roundtable: Five Facts About… Zinfandel

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Shrouded in mystery and rich in history, the bold Zinfandel grape is a notorious and versatile red wine.  Red berry fruit flavors (think raspberry) predominate in wines from cooler areas; whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas.

Zinfandel pairs exceptionally well with outdoor-grilled steaks or chops, barbequed meats, rich bolognese sauce, or dark chocolate desserts.  Often more than other wines, a great Zinfandel experience motivates folks to become wine-lovers.

Here are five zinteresting facts about America’s heritage grape!

1.  Zinfandel’s origins used to be unknown, but its DNA can now be traced back to the specific combination of a Croation grape (Crljenak) and an Italian grape (Primativo.)

2.  Zinfandel made its way to California via The Gold Rush in the 1850’s.  Throughout the 20th century, California has been recognized as having the most exceptional regions for growing this hardy grape.

3.  Starting around 1980, Zin achieved widespread popularity in America as a slightly sweet blush wine. In fact, this popularity so outstripped all other forms, that many fans think that there is actually a grape called “White Zinfandel” (there isn’t!)

4.  Zinfandel is considered a chameleon.  It can be made light and fruity, much like French Beaujolais, or lively, complex and age worthy, like Cabernet or claret. It can also be made into big, ripe, high alcohol style wines that resemble Port.

5.  When Zinfandel wine ages, it sometimes tastes “hot” (predominantly alcoholic) and is often at its best within 3-5 years of its vintage.

 

On your next visit to Temecula wine country, be sure to order a bottle of Zinfandel at the following wineries —

 

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Winemaker’s Roundtable: 5 Facts About… Syrah

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Que Syrah Syrah… one of the wine world’s most beloved and least understood grapes! Known in Australia as Shiraz and in France by the names of the various Rhone villages in which it features prominently in the local wines, Syrah is a versatile winegrape capable of standing alone or enhancing blends.

1. Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape! Known as Syrah in France (its country of origin) as well as in the rest of Europe and most of the United States, it is referred to as Shiraz in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada. The name “Shiraz” may have originated from ancient Persia.

2. Syrah should not be confused with Petite Sirah, which is an entirely different grape (and not just a smaller version of Syrah grapes, as the name suggests); Petite Sirah is actually a hybrid grape variety created in 1880, which crossed Syrah with another grape variety called Peloursin.

3. Syrah wines typically yield flavors of blackberry, black or white pepper, espresso and, occasionally, olives or bacon.

4. Due to their concentrated flavors and high tannin content, many premium Syrah wines are at their best after some considerable bottle aging.

5. Popular in both single varietal or blended reds, Syrah appears in four major incarnations:

  • Single varietal Syrah or Shiraz.
  • Syrah blended with a small amount of Viognier (an aromatic white wine); this is the traditional style of Côte-Rôtie in France’s northern Rhône valley.
  • Syrah as a roughly equal blending component for Cabernet Sauvignon. This blend originated in Australia, so it is often known as Shiraz-Cabernet.
  • Syrah as a minor blending component for Grenache and Mourvèdre. This is the traditional style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape of southern Rhône, and in Australia this blend is often referred to as GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre).

 

Explore this versatile grape yourself by trying one of the following Temecula Valley Syrahs!  Wine pairing suggestions include: grilled flank steak or lamb chops, antipasto or tapenade.

 

 

 

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Winemaker’s Rountable: Five Facts About… Pinot Grigio

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Sometimes spritzy, always easy, Pinot Grigio is certainly a favorite white wine for spring. With its warm days and cool nights, Temecula is an ideal spot to grow Pinot Grigio, which requires plenty of sunshine to develop the vibrant apple and melon flavors for which it is known. And everyone enjoys drinking it, especially when paired with a chunk of aged Gouda cheese, Marcona almonds and dried apricots, a grilled salmon salad with a healthy squeeze of lemon, or a nice bowl of penne tossed with spring vegetables and butter.

Below are five fun facts on this Old World varietal, plus some suggestions on where to pick up an affordable bottle at one of your local Temecucla Valley wineries.

  1. Pinot Gris (French) and Pinot Grigio (Italian) refer same grape – just different countries and different styles.
  2. Very closely related to the Pinot Noir grape, the grape normally has a grayish-blue skin, accounting for its name – gris meaning “grey” in French; pinot comes from the French word “pine cone,” which could have been given to it because the grapes grow in pine cone-shaped clusters.
  3. The first American Pinot Gris vines were planted in Oregon in 1966 by David Lett from Eyrie Vineyards.
  4. Pinot Gris grows well in the Central and South coastal areas of California. The Pinot Gris from California is often called Pinot Grigio because of its similarity in style to the wine of Italy.
  5. Pinot gris is considered an “early to market wine” – which means it can be bottled and out on the market within 4–12 weeks after fermentation.  This white can be opened and consumed young.


Temecula Valley wine country Pinot Grigios to try:

 

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Winemaker’s Roundtable: Five Facts About… Rosé

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Springtime is here and Mother’s Day is around the corner – is there a better time to start drinking rosé ?  Not a big fan, you say?  Well, rest assured it has come along way from the “blush” craze of the 1970′s and ’80′s.  Why don’t you give it another try with some of Southern California’s local grapes?  And in the meantime, you can impress your wine-loving friends with the following five fun facts about rosé  –

1.   Rosé has long been the signature wine of Provence, a region in the south of France that makes this “white” wine from red grapes — primarily Grenache.
2.   There are three methods to produce rosé:

    • the “skin contact” method, in which red grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period to impart color and flavor (the longer that the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the color of the final wine.)
    • the “saignee” method, in which some of the juice used to produce red wine is “bled” from the tank shortly after crushing; this gives the final red wine more intensity
    • the “blending” method, which is rarely used and typically frowned upon, but involves simply blending a little red wine with white wine

3.   Rosé wines can be made still, semi-sparkling or sparkling.
4.   Rosé wine is made in a range of colors, from a pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grapes, additives and wine making techniques.
5.   American “blush” wines of the 70′s and 80′s were on the sweet side but the pendulum is now swinging back towards a drier, more traditional Provencal style made with grapes like Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan.

Temecula Valley wine country rosés to try:

 

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5 Facts About…Wine Bottles

Friday, March 16th, 2012

This month’s “5 Facts About…” post isn’t about a varietal, but about what our favorite wines come in–the glass bottle! Although many of us may not think much about these vessels, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association’s Enology Committee, led by Nicholas Palumbo and Jim Hart, make sure all the winegrowers in our region continue learning about every aspect of the wine making process to ensure we’re producing the best wine possible. Keeping up with changes, trends and improvements in the global glass industry is just one of the many topics discussed during their monthly Enological Roundtable, so we thought we’d share a few interesting facts about what an important role the bottle plays in the world of wine.

  1. The cavity at the base of a wine bottle helps out with aging sediment.
  2. Many wine producers are moving to make lighter bottles to help save glass.
  3. The color of wine bottles isn’t the only thing that’s green: California has one of the highest percentages of glass bottle recycling, reaching nearly 80%.
  4. All glass, including wine bottles, can be recycled endlessly without any loss in purity or quality.
  5. “Boxed wine” has gotten a bad rap, thanks to decades of the “cheap stuff” being sold in bland cardboard containers. But these days, sommeliers and wine geeks are touting the advantages of The Box as an alternative storage vessel. Eco-types love it because it’s lighter and easier to recycle, wine pros like it because the bag inside the box collapses as you drink, keeping oxygen from spoiling the rest of the wine–and we like it because you can fit several bottles worth of wine in one box! Alas, nothing beats glass for romance and aesthetic appeal, so Temecula wineries won’t be making the switch any time soon.

 

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Winemaker’s Roundtable: 5 Facts About Sparkling Wine

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Nothing says the holidays like a glass of bubbly, so this is the perfect month to explore what many of you will be toasting with while counting down to the New Year!

  1. Many wine historians believe the world’s first sparkling wine was produced in the Limoux region of southwestern France in 1531 by monks.
  2. The British were the first to see effervescence in wine as a desirable quality and investigated as to why the bubbles were formed.
  3. Grapes used for sparkling wine are harvested early, when their acid levels are still high.
  4. There are two different methods for the secondary fermentation of sparkling wine. The Méthode Champenoise (The Champagne Method) is where the base cuvee is combined with sugar and yeast in the bottle in which it is eventually sold, while The Charmat Method takes place in steel tanks in which the yeast and sugar are added to start the fermentation process.
  5. There are many kinds of sparkling wines- from France’s Crémant to Spain’s Cava; Italian Prosecco to Portuguese Espumante….the list goes on and on.

 

Some sparkling wines to enjoy for your holiday from Temecula Valley Wine Country:

Briar Rose Brut Champagne

Danza del Sol Espumosa

Maurice Car’rie VR Raspberry California Sparkling Wine

Lorimar Vineyards Grenache Sparkling

Oak Mountain Brut California Champagne

South Coast Winery’s Spumante Diamante

Thornton Winery’s 2004 Brut Reserve Natural

Wilson Creek Winery’s Grand Cuvee Champagne

 

 

 

 

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Winermaker’s Roundtable: Five Facts About…Beaujolais Nouveau, + Baily Winery To Release 2011 Cabernet Nouveau

Friday, November 11th, 2011

November 17th marks the third Thursday in November, which is Beaujolais Nouveau Day all around the world. Here’s five facts you may or may have not known about this young wine:

  1. Beaujolais is a red wine made from Gamay grapes- the only grape permitted for this wine- in the Beaujolais region, south of Burgundy, in France.
  2. Beaujolais Nouveau is the new vintage, usually fermented for just six weeks before shipping.
  3. It is generally recommended that Beaujolais Nouveau be drunk no later than the following May after its release, although certain vintages that are considered to be excellent (2009, for example) can be saved much longer.
  4. It is mandated that all of the grapes in the Beaujolais region be picked by hand.
  5. This wine is always released on the third Thursday in November no matter how short the harvest.

Speaking of “nouveau,” Baily Vineyard & Winery celebrates 25 years of producing wine with the release of its 2011 Cabernet Nouveau on the weekend of November 18,19 and 20. The wine will be raced from the bottling line to the Baily Tasting Room at La Serena Way and Rancho California and then on to Front Street Bar & Grill in Old Town Temecula where it will first be introduced to the public.

The wine was made using the carbonic maceration process in which whole bunches of grapes gently placed in the fermenters without crushing. The result is a highly aromatic lighter style red that is meant to be consumed in the first few months after bottling. This method is commonly used in the Beaujolais area of France where the first wines of each year are traditionally raced to Paris each November and released to much fanfare and revelry.

Like Beaujolais Nouveau, Baily’s Cabernet Nouveau is well suited for your Thanksgiving meal, so don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate this brand new wine and stock up for the holidays.

 

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Winemaker’s Roundtable: Five Facts About Tempranillo

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

As we head toward cooler temperatures and heartier fare, we’re partial to bold reds to warm us up and stand up to big flavors. Tempranillo is a great choice if you’re in the mood for a more intense red wine with hints of berries and plums.

 

 

  1. Tempranillo is a thick-skinned, black grape also known as the “noble grape” in its native Spain. The grape was brought to America, possibly as seeds, with the Spanish Conquistadors in the 17th century.
  2. Tempranillo came to California bearing the name Valdepenas.
  3. The Tempranillo grape is the main ingredient in Spanish Rioja and is often used in other blends due to its low acidity.
  4. Beef, lamb and sheep’s milk cheese such as manchego are all ideal to pair with Tempranillo. Of course, traditonal Spanish tapas are always a great choice to serve this wine.
  5. Many of our wineries produce this beautiful, powerful red which is the perfect wine for rich, holiday dishes. If you’re a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon but have never tried Tempranillo, here are a few to get you started: Masia de Yabar, Danza del Sol, Europa Village, and Frangipani Winery.
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Winemaker’s Roundtable: Five Facts About Bordeaux Blends

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

For this edition of Winemaker’s Roundtable, we’re talking about Bordeaux Blends- specifically, red Bordeaux blends. These lush, deeply rich wines are called Meritage here in California, and Temecula Valley wineries offer a fine variety of what would be a great pairing to a holiday meal.

  1. Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in Southwest France, and is the world’s premier wine industry capital. Bordeaux’s defining characteristics are its limestone soils and the neighboring rivers, which are used to irrigate the land.
  2. A red Bordeaux wine is a blend of two or more of these five grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
  3. In 1988, a small group of Napa Valley vintners formed The Meritage Association, using the term “meritage” (a combination of merit and heritage, and pronounced like the latter) to denote red and white Bordeaux-style wines made outside of Bordeaux. The term “Meritage” was created to avoid using the name “Bordeaux” for wines that are not actually produced in the Bordeaux region.
  4. Because the percentage of each grape used in Bordeaux blends varies, each year’s vintage brings different flavors and nuances, making tasting Bordeaux blends a fun and interesting experience. Red Bordeaux blends typically are rich, full-bodied wines with notes of black currant, blackberries, cocoa and cherries.
  5. Bordeaux-style wines go well with grilled steak, rack of lamb, or even game meats like venison or duck. Several Temecula Valley wineries offer wonderful Meritage wines perfect for the holidays or simply your next meal:
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Winemaker’s Roundtable: Five Facts About… Sauvignon Blanc!

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

For this month’s roundtable, Temecula Valley is talking about Sauvignon Blanc.  We all know how popular this crisp white wine is, but here are five interesting anecdotes about this universal grape that you may not know  – toss ’em around at your next wine party!

  1. Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety which originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape gets its name from the French word sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”) due to its possible early origins as an indigenous grape growing all over southwestern France.
  2. Sauvignon Blanc is widely cultivated in France, Chile, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, and California.  The first cuttings of Sauvignon Blanc were brought to California in the 1880s by Charles Wetmore, founder of Cresta Blanca Winery and were brought into mainstream popularity by Robert Mondavi in 1968.
  3. California Sauvignon Blancs tend to fall into two styles: The New Zealand influenced-Sauv Blanc have more tropical fruit undertones with citrus and passion fruit notes while the Mondavi-influenced Fumé Blanc are more round with melon notes.
  4. Along with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc was one of the first fine wines to be bottled with a screwcap in commercial quantities and is usually consumed young.
  5. Sav Blanc always pairs well with cheese, chicken, and is one of the few wines that is a great match for sushi.

Pick up a great bottle of Temecula Valley Sauvignon Blanc from the following wineries:

 

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