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Move Over Pumpkin Spice; We’ve Got Delicious Fall Wines

Friday, October 1st, 2021

While we realize seasonal transitions in Southern California aren’t always so obvious – sunny and 85 degrees to sunny and 79 degrees, for example – we still don’t like to miss out on the festive changes we associate with the weather getting crisper and the days getting shorter.

Beautiful Fall Vineyard

One of these changes is, of course, reaching for those fantastic in-between wines that mark the Fall season. You know the ones – the rich, nutty Chardonnay instead of the bright and fresh Pinot Grigio; the light-bodied red packed with juicy red fruit instead of the salmon-colored rosé.

It’s not holiday season yet, and we’re still not ready to move into cold weather wines, but pumpkin spice has started creeping into everything, and we find ourselves eyeing those cozy sweaters in the back of the closet. In celebration, we have compiled a guide to some of our favorite wine for transitioning into cooler Fall weather.

BOLD WHITES

Peltzer Family Cellars Chardonnay

Says Pelzer Tasting Room Manager Danae Wager, “The transition from summer to Fall is not always smooth (like we insist our wines to be). As the weather cools off, we love to feature our Chardonnay with any dish that would typically be paired with a lighter bodied red wine to ease the transition in temperature.”

This robust Chardonnay boasts notes of yellow apple, apricot, and lemon meringue pie and is perfect for homemade Fall soups. Think: roasted butternut squash or loaded baked potato soup to warm the palate. 

Fazeli Cellars Oaked Chardonnay

This luscious white is aged on the lees in French and Hungarian oak barrels for eight months. It exudes all that one expects from a classic California Chardonnay, with notes of Fuji apples, pear, pineapple, and prominent warm, toasty oak notes on the finish.

Leoness Cellars Viognier

“Fall in Temecula seems to be staying warmer and warmer!” Says Leoness Cellars Executive Director, Spencer Szczygiel. “Around this time of year, I’ll often reach for a white wine with a little more weight to it – our Leoness Viognier being a favorite.”

He explains that the Viognier’s stone fruit and spice notes pair exceptionally well with heartier fall salads like peppery greens with apple, blue cheese, nuts and grilled chicken – which are great if you want to avoid turning on the oven during the lingering Southern California Fall heat.

 Europa Village Estate Arneis

Showing complex yet light and airy aromas of honey, wild herbs, water chestnut, and pear skin, this golden-colored wine immediately draws the attention of the taster. This is a rich and very full-bodied wine, with flavors of apricot, pear, and a slight nuttiness like honey-dipped cashews, that carry this wine through a long and harmonious finish – just like the slow transition from Summer to Fall in the beautiful Temecula Valley.

HEARTY REDS:

Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery Monastrell

This is a lighter red wine with hints of cherry and cedar, making it perfect for a sunset charcuterie board or even a fish dish, as well as classic options like chicken and pasta. This is the ideal red on a warm day when something rich and velvety doesn’t feel quite right.

Peltzer Family Cellars Estate Sangiovese

This medium-bodied Sangiovese is packed with maraschino cherries, pomegranate, allspice, and violet. It’s a great wine for Thanksgiving, with the red fruit notes enhancing the traditional turkey dinner flavors. “You may need more than one bottle to satisfy the in-laws!” jokes Tasting Room Manager Danae.

Chapin Family Vineyards Montepulciano  

This wine is the perfect choice if you’re looking for an elegant, light-bodied red, packed with an abundance of aromas and flavors of cherry, blackberry, currant, and fresh herbs, with soft, round tannins, and a smooth, dry finish. Pair this with a backyard sunset as the cool evening breezes set in.

Fazeli Cellars Megregan

“Mehregan” is the Persian harvest festival celebrating the Autumn solstice. This earthy Grenache (with a touch of Shiraz) lovely to sip as we prepare for winter and toast to the close of our long summer days. It’s got bright Bing cherry cola and anise notes and a medium body, with soft supple tannins on the finish.  

Lorimar Winery Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre

This quintessential Rhône Valley-style blend is the perfect wine for the cooler fall months, boasting aromas of red currant, ripe plum, cocoa and a pleasant touch of Red Vines.

Wilson Creek Winery Cinsault

This bright, vibrant sipper is the ultimate light red wine for this time of year. When grown and harvested in Temecula Valley, Cinsault features all the fall fruit flavors from cherries to berries to complement the comfort foods of the season.

Leoness Cellars Grenache

A blend of 78% Grenache, 14% Syrah, 8% mourvedre, and aged in French and American oak barrels for 18 months, this wine is medium-bodied with aromas and flavors of raspberries and cherries complemented by hints of tobacco, earth, and spice leading into a soft, lengthy finish.

“During this unique transition between seasons, my favorite wine is our 2017 Grenache,” says Leoness Director of Hospitality Leonard Grose. “With its lighter body and vibrant rhubarb and clove hints on the nose and palate, this wine is perfect for a hearty fall chicken soup with lentils, carrots, and celery.”

Europa Village Primitivo

This jewel-toned Primitivo dazzles with aromas of raspberry crème, cherry liqueur, and autumn leaves. On the palate it stays true to the Puglian style, balancing fresh acidity and a pleasant jamminess, with flavors of black cherry, and smooth, well-integrated tannins. This is the perfect wine to enjoy as the sun sets a bit earlier and the twilight beckons us to enjoy the lovely fall weather.

A LITTLE SOMETHING SWEET

Bel Vino Winery Late Harvest Blanc

Grapes harvested later in the season have a chance to develop rich, ripe aromas and accumulate high sugar levels. When pressed and vinified the resulting wines are lusciously sweet and make a stellar pairing for salty cheeses and dessert courses – or can serve as dessert course themselves!

“What better way to experience fall, than with a late-harvested, intensely flavorful and aromatic Late Harvest Blanc,” says Mike Janko from Bel Vino Winery. “The relatively high sugar levels balanced by bright acidity make it great for sipping or to be enjoyed as a dessert wine.”

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Baked Striped Bass with Peperonata, Olives, and Saffron Aioli

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Braised sweet peppers, potatoes, and tomato make a succulent foundation for baked fish. Sauced with a garlicky, saffron-scented aioli, the dish needs only some crusty bread to complete it. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Grenache Blanc or Rosé.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, halved and sliced
1 pound (500 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch (6 mm) thick
½ pound (250 g) peeled plum tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced
1 green bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced
1 gold or yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley, plus some for garnish
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
Kosher or sea salt
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) white wine
1 dozen black olives, preferably unpitted
4 fillets of striped bass or other firm white fish, 5 to 6 ounces (155 g to 185 g) each

Aioli
1 large clove garlic
Kosher or sea salt
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large, wide Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion, potatoes, tomato, peppers, parsley, oregano, saffron, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes render their juice and the vegetables begin to soften, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Cover the pot and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and peppers are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Stir in the olives. Taste for salt.

Season the fish with salt and place the fillets on top of the bed of vegetables. Add ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) water, cover and cook until the fish just flakes, about 10 minutes.

While the fish cooks, make the aioli: In a mortar, pound the garlic and a generous pinch of salt to a paste; alternatively, mince to a paste by hand. Put the egg yolk in a small bowl, add a splash of lukewarm water, and whisk. Begin adding the olive oil gradually—drop by drop at first—whisking constantly. (Recruit a helper to pour while you whisk.) When you have achieved an emulsion, you can add the oil a little faster. When you have incorporated all the oil, whisk in the garlic paste.

When the fish is ready, tilt the cooking pot and draw off about ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) of the juices. Whisk enough of these flavorful juices into the aioli to make it thin enough to drizzle. Taste for salt.

With a spatula transfer the vegetables and fish to individual shallow bowls or plates. Spoon aioli over the fish. Garnish with more chopped parsley.

Suggested Pairings: 

Chapin Family Vineyards ~ Rosella Rosé – Delicate flavor with a hint of grapefruit and a slightly dry and crisp finish.

Hart Winery ~ 2016 Rosé of Sangiovese –  Lightly pink, near-dry, delicately scented and flavored Rose′ wine, very much in the dryer, food-friendly European style.

Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery ~ 2016 Grenache Blanc – Green apple and mandarin orange dominate with citrus peel with herbal notes in the mix.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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Wine Country Recipe: Roasted Duck Leg with Black Currant Sauce and Roasted Turnips

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Roasted Duck Leg

A tart, slightly sweet currant sauce complements and adds bright flavors to these crispy duck legs and roasted turnips.  Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 (8-ounce) duck legs, skin on, excess fat removed
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
2 medium turnips (about 10 ounces), peeled and each cut into ten wedges
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup black currant preserves
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the upper and lower third.  Sprinkle both sides of the duck legs generously with salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon of the thyme leaves.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking.  Add the duck legs, skin side down, and sear for 4 minutes.  Turn the legs and sear 1 minute.

Transfer the duck to a medium roasting pan, skin side up.  (Reserve the duck fat in the skillet for later use.)  Cover the pan and roast the duck for 1 hour on the upper rack.  Uncover and roast for an additional 15 minutes.  While the duck is roasting, spread the turnips in a single layer, in another roasting pan. Drizzle the turnips with 2 tablespoons of the reserved duck fat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the remaining teaspoon of thyme leaves.

About 35 minutes before the duck is done, put the turnips in the oven, on the lower rack, so that the duck and the turnips will be ready at the same time.  When the duck is ready, let it rest while you make the sauce.

To make the sauce, remove all but 1 tablespoon of duck fat from the skillet used for searing. (If there is less than 1 tablespoon left, just use what is left.)  Heat the skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and cook and stir for 30 seconds.  Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer for 1 minute.  Add the black currant preserves and water and simmer for 30 seconds.  Turn off heat and whisk in the butter.  To serve, spoon the desired amount of sauce on 2 plates and top with 2 duck legs.  Arrange the turnips next to the duck.

Pairing Suggestions:

Chapin Family Vineyards ~ 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Rich, concentrated layers of vanilla, chocolate, roasted coffee and clover.

Doffo Winery ~ 2012 Zinfandel ~ A heartfelt wine which embodies all of the Doffo family’s passion and experience.

Lorimar Vineyards & Winery ~ 2011 Solo-Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Solo can save any occasion with its super powerful dark cherry and green bell pepper and captivating ruby color.

Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery ~ 2011 Zinfandel ~ Rich fruit aromas of blackberry and plum coupled with a slight spiciness of black pepper.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Wine Institute of California.

 

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