May 17th, 2013
If you are interested in reading the introduction to this series of wine blogs, click here.
Robert Renzoni Vineyards – production ? cases
Oak Mountain Winery – production 10,000 cases
Palumbo Family Vineyards– production: ? cases
The Temecula Valley is roughly 40 minutes south of Riverside in the inland empire of the greater LA area. It can be reached from either the Rancho California or the Temecula Parkway exits off of Interstate 15.
Welcome to part two of our wine blog about the Temecula Valley. If you are interested in first reading about part one of the wine blog, please click here.
No matter what you are doing, some days end up being a sprint…others, a marathon. Today was certainly a marathon. Doing research for a wine blog can be like that. We like to try and hit a number of Wineries in a day to give ourselves a broad sampling of what a region has to offer, but even though Karen and I share tastes, it makes for a long day. Six different Wineries equates to roughly 40 tastes so keeping taste buds “fresh” can be an issue. We usually start as soon as the Wineries open and try to put some time between each one to let our palate rest, never mind insuring we are in an acceptable state to drive.
After lunch at Masia de Yabar. we decided to stay on the “Portola” side of Temecula where the Wineries tend to be a little smaller. This also cut down on the driving a little so after lunch, we packed up and moved on to Robert Renzoni Vineyards, one of the few Wineries that seemed to be almost universally recommended. Currently, Renzoni tastes in their barrel room, from the outside a pretty non descript aluminum building. Not much longer however. They are in process of building a larger tasting room so check back later in the year to see where they are. Inside however, it exudes a welcoming, friendly vibe tasting amongst the barrels.
We started with the Arneis, an Italian Varietal that usually has pretty heavy sweet, floral overtones. This one however avoided the cloying sweetness that can haunt this Varietal. With the warmer weather, Karen is constantly on the look out for refreshing wines for sitting out on the deck and reading a book. This one fit the bill. We both liked the Tempranillo as well and assumed it would be our favorite – that is until we tasted the Sonata which was very nice. Our favorite however ended up being the 2009 Fiore de Fano. This is a heavier red wine that is crying out for food, preferably a large chunk o’ beef.
Moving on to Oak Mountain Winery, we parked right next to a sign pronouncing the vineyard at the top of the hill to be Counoise. Seriously? I’ve been trying to find a producer of Counoise for some time because that is one of the few Varietals on Winery-Sage that doesn’t actually have a write up. I know that some one looking at the Varietals section of the site will probably stumble onto the Counoise page once every 17 years but it bugs me having a couple of remaining Varietals that don’t have a complete write up. Finding a four pound block of gold, a six legged Elephant or an honest politician is easier than finding Counoise in California. Unfortunately, it wasn’t available at the time we were there but at least we now had a resource for info. Our tasting started with two pleasant surprises. The 2012 Roussanne was light, balanced and very enjoyable (yes, 2012 – it is quite young but in this case, it really worked). Neither Karen or I are particularly fond of most Rhone white Varietals, but if we’re going to have one, Roussanne is likely the one we like best. The Rose of Syrah was also nice with just a hint of the fruit remaining so it didn’t come across as bone dry. They also make a Tempranillo that was a little lighter than the others that we tried and had a stronger hint of Vanilla (I am guessing the Vanilla comes from American Oak but as I said, that is strictly a guess). Karen also noticed that they provide loaner reading glasses, for those of you who struggle to read tasting notes. Also, Oak Mountain was just about to start digging barrel caves into the hill so if you are reading this blog, quite some time after it was published, check to see if they have been finished and are open for tours.
We ended our day tasting at Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery, which sits on top of a ridge surrounded by vineyards and provides a nice view of the surrounding areas.
The Tasting Room is surrounded by several estate vineyards, a number of which are named after the Palumbo children. However, the one closest is called “Catfish” so unless one of the kids did something seriously wrong to really piss off their parents, we’re going to assume that not all of them have their names rooted in family history. Nick Palumbo brings an interesting set of experiences to his winemaking. He started out as a chef in San Diego while playing in an Indie/Punk rock band. Clearly these two pursuits qualified him to become a wine grower (hmm?) so after producing grapes for several years, he added winemaking to his repertoire. All of the wines are Vineyard designated except for the “Brezza di Marre” which has Roussanne from Temecula but not their vineyards. Speaking of Roussanne, we had anther shock when Karen declared that she liked it here as well as at Oak Mountain (at this point I knew she had finally had enough wine tasting or some one had substituted my wife with an alien look-alike). Seriously….two Roussanne based wines in one day that she liked? I’d have given that roughly the same odds as the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series (for those of you non sports fans, the Cubs last won a Championship in 1908 and they don’t look like they are threatening to win one any time soon). The Sangiovese was a good representative of a Temecula version, not surprising as I believe the region is particularly well suited to Sangiovese.
If you are in the greater LA or San Diego regions, you have wine tasting sitting on your doorstep. Venture out to Temecula and make sure you plan on treating it like an event because many of the Wineries are large places set up to host “happenings”. If you are looking for part 1 of our Temecula Wine Blog, click here.
1) To view more information for the Wineries of Temecula Valley (the local regional association), click here and type “Temecula” in the “quick search” field to see their listing on Winery-Sage.com.
2) To find more Wineries in Riverside County, click here and enter “Riverside” in the “quick search” field for Winery-Sage.com’s Winery database.
3) More information can be found for each Varietal that we’ve listed by clicking on the link that we’ve created the first time the Varietal is listed in each post.
Karen – Ken
Check out their tastes and bios here
If you are interested in reading the introduction to this series of wine travel blogs, click here.
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