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Archive for the ‘“Best Of” Wines’ Category

Temecula Valley Winery Owners Tell All! Their “Family Favorites.”

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

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Have you ever wondered which wine is a “family favorite” at your favorite Temecula Valley winery?  We have too…so, we decided to ask a few of our winery owners which of their wines is their favorite….and, why.  Of course, we knew that asking them this question would be much like asking parents of multiple children which is their favorite, but we thought we’d give it a whirl!

Nick Palumbo, owner of Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery says that he and wife Cindy’s fave is the “Tre Fratelli” Meritage blend.  As Nick tells it, not only is this wine consistently very good, but it’s got sentimental value for the Palumbo Family as well.  It is one of the first blended wines they produced in 2002 when Palumbo Winery opened and takes its name “three brothers” from the 3 boys of the Palumbo Family. The current release 2012, is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.

The Lin Family, owners of Callaway Vineyard & Winery, have a brand new favorite wine. They challenged their winemaker, Craig Larson, to pull out all the stops and “do whatever it took, with no cost restrictions” to create a Cabernet Sauvignon that reflects their dedication and passion to bring the best quality wine in all of Temecula Valley and California.  What came of this challenge is the OPR, the Owner’s Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which the Lins believe has captured the very essence of everything they envisioned.

Over at Oak Mountain Winery, owners Steve and Valerie Andrews’ favorite is their Tenacious.  This wine is a Syrah-heavy Rhone blend named after Valerie’s mother who passed away over 25 years ago.  Val says “my mother, Arlene was tenacious in everything she did, and she did plenty.  Her license plate on her car was Ten8shs.  Whether she was working in the family liquor store, volunteering at the hospital, battling cancer or just being a great mom and friend, she was tenacious.  My parents introduced the wine industry to Steve and I, and look what happened!  Sorry to say, the wine is so good we drank it all…but a new vintage is coming soon.”

Monte De Oro Winery’s Ken Zignorski is passionate about their Syrah.  For him, it’s all about how well it pairs with food. Ken says “I like pairing the Syrah with a nice ribeye steak or tri-tip on the grill.  It’s got a full-bodied, mellow and a nice, lasting finish for me.  And, I think that Syrah is one of those grapes that really demonstrates Temecula Valley’s capabilities as a wine region.”

Rick & Jennifer Buffington, owners of Cougar Vineyard & Winery, lists Aglianico as their family favorite.  A black grape grown in the southern regions of Italy, it originated in Greece and was brought to the south of Italy by Greek settlers. Although it’s not a popular wine amongst the Temecula wineries, it is one that the Buffington family is proud to offer since it isn’t widely available and is very unique.  They appreciate the wine’s complexity, high acidity, firm tannins, rich flavor and its ability to pair well with food.  Plus….it only gets better with age!

At Briar Rose Winery, owners Les & Dorian Linkogle didn’t hesitate when it came to their favorite wine.  Sacrament is a rare and historic Mission Wine.  The Mission Wine is made from the Mission Grape planted by Father Junipero Serra to use for the Sacrament of Communion as he established 9 California missions from 1769-1782.  These Mission Grapes, also known as the Heritage Grape of the State of California, were planted along the El Camino Real by the Founder of California Missions.

Well, it’s safe to say that our owners love their Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends!  So, what is your favorite Temecula Valley wine….and why??

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A Midsummer’s Night Dream ~ Crisp & Refreshing White Wines

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

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When you think of summer, does your palette scream for red wine or does white wine consume your thoughts?  Around here, we’re celebrating summer with crisp and refreshing white wines.  Since the weather is hot, we tend to prefer eating lighter foods, cold dishes and main course salads; which complement white wines.

From Chardonnays with flavors of green apple, citrus, pineapple and papaya to Pinot Grigios with fresh pear, melon and citrus notes, the possibilities are endless.  Perhaps, try a Chenin Blanc with its floral aromas and apple and pear flavors, or for those of you who prefer wines of the sweeter persuasion, a Gewurztraminer may suit you just fine.  And, let’s not forget about the ultimate in a refreshing beverage…a glass (or two) of sparkling wine!

Whether lunching by the pool, or barbecuing with friends, white wines perfectly pair with many summer eats.  Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc both pair well with chicken, shellfish and pasta, while Pinot Grigio would be perfect with a spicy Chinese food dish or a antipasto plate.  Pair that Gewurztraminer with a light and healthy chicken salad and your sparkling, well, we just like to pair that with anything!

Here are some suggestions for your table:

Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery ~ 2012 Chenin Blanc – This light and slightly sweet Chenin Blanc is rich in floral aromas reminiscent of honeysuckle.

Ponte Family Estate Winery ~ 2014 Pinot Grigio – Medium bodied wine with the aroma of pear, melon and lemon.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ 2013 Gewurztraminer -This vintage is lightly sweet, with a solid acidity and exotic floral scents of rose and lychee fruit.

Wilson Creek Winery ~ Grand Cuvee Sparkling Wine – Light and refreshing, and very fun. Great in Mimosas! A fun party sparkling wine.

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Temecula Spring Wines and Special Sparklers for Mother’s Day

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

May is a big month for wine and dine celebrations! Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, weddings and spring birthdays… So what Temecula Valley wines perform best in these lovely pre-summer months? And what’s the best seasonal fare to pair them with?

*Reminder tip! Get the most balanced flavor from your bottle by using the simple 15 minute rule for serving all wine: Pull whites and rosés out of the fridge 15 minutes before drinking; put reds in the fridge for 15 minutes before drinking.

 

Spring Whites: Crisp Vermentino and Floral Viognier-Rousanne Blend

Try some unique whites this spring and give your family something to talk about at the next picnic. How about…

Of Spanish-Mediterranean origin, Vermentino is often a grape used in white-wine blending. Relatively low in alcohol with crisp acids, Cougar Winery offers their 100% 2013 Vermentino for $17. Serve this white alongside grilled spring vegetables like asparagus, artichokes and charred green onions.

Palumbo Family Vineyards’ Brezza di Mare Viognier-Rousanne is a Rhone-style blend (meaning in the style of the Rhone wine region in the South of France) which sells for $19.95. Made up of 75% Viognier and 25% Rousanne, this food-friendly white blend has a minerality that goes nicely with fresh seafood (think chilled mussels and shrimp) or a charcuterie platter if you’re having a weekend get-together.

 

Spring Reds: Fruity Merlot and Spicy Tempranillo

Lighten up with some easy-drinking reds, perfect for a spring day or evening. We recommend…

Leoness Cellars focuses on sustainable practices in the vineyards and it shows in their wines. Try the fruit-forward 2010 Vineyard Selection Merlot, $55. This bottle is a great stand-alone drinker and has a high likelihood of being consumed before the food is finished cooking. But if you must pair it with your meal, serve with a medium-rare pork loin with cherry compote or a spring pasta tossed with early-season tomatoes, asparagus and caramelized spring onions.

Miramonte Winery offers an excellent quality 2010 Tempranillo for $38.95. Technically a blend (80% Tempranillo, 10% Grenache, 10% Cinsault), this Spanish red pairs well with cooked meats hot off the grill, like lamb chops and brats served with a side of grilled peppers and onions.

 

Special Wines for Mother’s Day: Sparklers and Spring Three-Packs

Think ahead and pop into one of these Temecula wineries for mom’s perfect brunch beverage. Our favorites…

For special toasts to mom, there’s nothing like a sparkler. But first, some background. What’s the difference between champagne and spumante? Well, it begins with the country of origin. For a sparkling wine to be officially designated as “Champagne” it must be made in the Champagne region of northeast France. Spumante (also known as Asti Spumante) is a sparkling white wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, made from Muscat Bianco grapes.

Champagne and spumante are crafted differently as well. Unlike Champagne, Asti is not made sparkling through the use of secondary fermentation in the bottle but rather through a single tank fermentation utilizing the Charmat method. While Champagne can land anywhere on the scale between sec (sweet) or brut (dry), Spumante tends to be on the sweeter side; another well-known version is Moscato d’Asti.

Ponte Estate offers two California bubblies: the popular Moscato and the beautiful Rose Spumante. Moscato – by itself or in a Mimosa with fresh OJ or tangerine juice – pairs perfectly with your Sunday Mother’s Day brunch (think Quiche Lorraine and fruit.) Its gentle bubbles will tickle your taste buds with mellow flavors of apricot and nectarine. Even better, pick up Ponte’s Sparkling Wine Trio for $92 (or $69 wine club sale.) You’ll get a bottle of Moscato 2012, Rose Spumante 2012 and Vernaccia Nera 2011.  This sparkling trio will certainly keep glasses filled throughout your Mother’s Day celebrations.

Another top winery choice for that special Mother’s Day bottle is South Coast Winery, which makes a variety of unique California sparkling wines like Pinot Noir Rosé, Pinot Grigio Sparkling and Spumante Diamonte. Pair these with your favorite brunch items – eggs benedict, french toast with strawberries and even a ham & cheese melt topped with powdered sugar (ala Monte Carlo.) And send mom home with a bottle, too.

Last but not least, Leoness Cellars has put together a hand-selected spring three pack for your Mother’s Day picnic: White Merlot, Grenache and Melange de Blanc. The White Merlot is a lovely pink hue, bursting with berry flavors. Melange de Blanc is a Rhone-style white wine blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne and pairs perfectly with seafood, soft french cheese and seasonal fruit like fresh strawberries. The Grenache is a soft and supple medium-bodied red (a warm-climate alternative to Pinot Noir) that matches the flavor of barbecued meats and light pasta salad. Remember to serve all three of these wines cool.

 

Happy Spring & Happy Mother’s Day from Temecula Valley Wine Country!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Temecula Wines Win in San Francisco!

Friday, February 7th, 2014

 

 

 

 

The 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition results are in! One of the largest wine competitions in America, this annual wine event received 5,000 entries from 1,500 wineries all across the country.

We are pleased to announce several winners from Temecula Valley, CA:

  • Callaway Winery won 2 golds, 3 silvers and 1 bronze for their 6 entries: Syrah, Rosé of Sangiovese, Muscat Canelli, Roussanne, Profonde and Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Falkner Winery won silver and bronze for 3 of their wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Meritage and Rosato.
  • Monte De Oro won 1 gold, 3 silvers and 2 bronze for: Petite Sirah, Simplexity, Congruity, Cabernet Sauvignon, Synergy 65 and Syrah.
  • Last but not least, congratulations to Vindemia for winning the gold for their Petite Sirah!

 

Check out the full list of winners here.

 

Come experience these award-winning Temecula wines firsthand – plan your trip today!

 

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California Wine Round-Up: Unusual Wines for Spring

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Spring has sprung and Temecula Valley is celebrating with some unexpected wines! For the seasoned wine-lover, these unusual varietals offer a new and surprising twist to the classic wine tasting experience.

Check out our recommendations for some exciting wines coming out of Temecula Valley wine country. Now that’s something worth toasting – cheers!

 

Temecula Sparkling Wines for Spring

California sparkling wine is primarily made with chardonnay and pinot noir – but here are a few surprising sparklers to liven up your spring table!

South Coast Winery grows a large variety of fascinating grapes in Temecula Valley. This winery estate currently offers Sparkling Gewurztraminer (a popular German grape) and Sparkling Pinot Grigio (Italian white grape), both at $18. Their famous Ruby Cuvée* ($22) is bright red in color and made from syrah, which is a key grape from the Rhone region of France. The stylish bottle makes a favorite host gift for bridal showers, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day and other girlie special occasions.

Thornton Winery offers a similar sparkler: their syrah/grenache blend – N.V.** Cuvée Rouge – retails for $24.

Counoise Blanc de Noir Sparkling ($24), produced by Oak Mountain Winery, offers an unusual sparkling wine – fruit-forward with a blush color and an earthy finish.

Food Pairing Tip: What should I eat with these wines?

Pair these spring sparklers with some seasonal fruit (oranges, cherries and strawberries) and locally-sourced cheese. We recommend a visit to Temecula Valley Cheese Company (951-693-9500.) Or top off with some OJ and you’ve got yourself one classy mimosa to serve with a simple spring frittata.

 

Temecula White Wines for Spring

Commonly found in Spain and Portugal, Albariño is a lesser-known white grape which does very well in Temecula Valley. Keyways Vineyards & Winery produces this bottle for $23, along with the French grape Roussane ($29) which is similar in taste to Viognier.

Bright, zesty and crisp, French fave Sémillon makes an appearance at the micro-boutique winery, Doffo Vineyards.

Wilson Creek Winery’s Spring White ($18.99) is a light and refreshing choice, and an obvious selection given the season.

Food Pairing Tip: What should I eat with these wines?

Sip these rare white wines alongside citrus-marinated salmon or a light asparagus & pea pasta dish topped with Parmesan. Might we also suggest a spring-vegetable paella?

 

Temecula Red Wines for Spring

Robert Renzoni grows an unusual Italian grape called Lagrein, which he then combines with Merlot to create an unexpected blend called Vecchio Frate – translation “Old Friar” – resulting in a perfectly light and fruity red to sip during these spring months. ($38)

Heard of Primitivo, Vermentino or Arneis?  Don’t worry, most of us haven’t!  But Cougar Vineyard & Winery boasts these virtually unknown Italian red grapes, happily introducing them to Southern California wine enthusiasts. (prices vary)

Food Pairing Tip: What should I eat with these?

Quick crab stew in tomato-fennel broth or Mediterranean grilled chicken salad not only pair well, but are simple weekday supper options when you want to keep things light and easy.

 

*cuvée means blend

**non-vintage meaning grapes from different years blended together

 

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”  ~William Shakespeare

www.ronaldpratt.com

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Five Fun Facts About… Merlot

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Considered one of the most food-friendly and approachable wines on the planet, Merlot surged to popularity in the United States in the 1990s. Now wine-lovers can find great Merlot and delicious Merlot blends from all over the world – from South America to France to Italy to right here in Temecula Valley, California.

Here are five fun facts about Merlot!

Sourced from Snooth/Wikipedia
  1. Did you know the word “merlot” translates to “young blackbird” in French? The name was thought to have been given either because of the grape’s beautiful blue-black color, or blackbird’s fondness for grapes.
  2. Merlot’s flavor profile fluctuates within the sweetness spectrum. Cooler climates bring out hints of berries, plum, and even tobacco. Merlot grown in hotter climates might mimic flavors found in fruitcake or chocolate.
  3. A bit about Merlot blends: When Merlot first arrived in California, it mostly sold as single varietal bottlings (100% Merlot) until winemakers began blending it with other red grapes in the French Bordeaux tradition. Now, California’s Meritage wines are a signature of the state and always include Merlot as one of the essential blending grapes.
  4. Merlot is so popular because of the grape’s ability to please all palates. Wines can range from very fruity simple wines to more serious, barrel-aged bottles.
  5. Merlot has a high sugar content and low acidity, which makes it a very food-friendly wine, able to be paired with a variety of dishes. For example, Cabernet-like Merlots pair well with grilled meats. Softer, fruitier Merlots go well with salmon, mushroom-based dishes and greens. Light-bodied Merlots pair well with shellfish like prawns or scallops, especially if wrapped in bacon or prosciutto.

 

Looking for a great bottle of Temecula Valley MerlotCheck these wines out!

 

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New Year’s Eve Parties in Temecula Valley: Celebrate in Wine Country!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Ring in New Year’s Eve in Temecula Valley wine country! Choose from delectable multi-course dinners, dancing, elaborate winery parties and more. 

See some options below or call your favorite Temecula Valley winery to see what else is happening in wine country this December 31st!

Looking for that perfect New Year’s Eve bubbly to toast? Scroll down for a list of Temecula wineries which offer sparkling wine and California Champagne.

 

Baily Winery

Early New Year’s Party

Monday, December 31; 5:00p-9:00p

Dine in the beautiful Bacchus Hall and dance to the music of Fandango.  Four-course dinner includes complimentary glass of champagne.

$40 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Limited seating.  Reservations required by calling 951- 676-9243

 

Ponte Winery

New Year’s Eve dinner at The Restaurant at Ponte

Monday, December 31; 5:00-8:00pm

Enjoy a special menu in the barrel room. Dinner is by reservation only, please call 951-252-1770 to make your reservation.

For those who wish to spend the night, we invite guests to book at room at Ponte Vineyard Inn and enjoy a complimentary bottle of Moscato, exclusive access to The Cellar Lounge, a midnight toast and a late check-out. Please note that The Cellar Lounge will not be open to any non-hotel guests that night.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

Vineyard Rose Fire & Ice Dinner

Monday, December 31; Seating from 6:00p-9:30p

$150 per person. Must be 21 years or older

Includes four-course fixed menu, musical entertainment by the Gayle St. Gregory 5-piece band, party favors and a bottle of wine.

Call 951-587-9463 Ext 1 or visit us online here for reservations.

 

Fire & Ice New Year’s Eve Party & Balloon Drop

Monday, December 31; 8:00p-1:00a

Party is $75 per person. Must be 21 years or older.

Ticket price includes hors d’oeuvres, party favors, bottle of wine and champagne toast.  Enjoy dancing to the music mix of DJ Dillenger.

Call 951-587-9463 Ext 1 or visit us online here for reservations. Be sure to ask about our all-inclusive overnight stay packages.  These packages sell out each year so reserve early!

 

Wilson Creek Winery

Jet-Setting Rockin’ New Years Eve Celebration

Monday, December 31; 7:00p to 12:30a

$160 per person, plus gratuity and tax

Grab your passport and celebrate this New Year’s Eve on a journey around the world! As your surroundings transform, you will begin with a midnight toast in Australia, then London, next Egypt and back to New York in time for the ball drop and the final New Year’s toast to welcome in 2013, all without boarding a plane!  During your globetrotting evening enjoy a 4-course dinner, a hosted wine and champagne bar pouring only the finest, and groove to the electric, funky, soul sounds of Sibling Rivalry. Reservations: 951-699-9463

 

Sparkling Wine and California Champagne

The following Temecula wineries offer sparkling wines, available for purchase online and in the tasting rooms. Cheers!

 

Temecula Valley Wine Country wishes you a safe, healthy and happy New Year!  See you in 2013!

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