This weekend we hopped in the car and motored off to a little place called Temecula, our local answer Napa/Sonoma. Temecula is tucked inland, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego.
The meandering Rancho California Road leads you through slopes and hills blanketed in vines, wee bundles of blue-ish grapes peeking out. Tasting rooms and homes dot the landscape; old red barns, Tuscan-like villas, stone cellars, sweeping patios dotted with umbrellas and rigged with misters. Vines and vines between them all. Roadside farm-stands display their bounty – 15 avocados for $5! All around, the rich burnt red of the earth contrasts in stark beauty with the cerulean blue of the sky and distant sage mountains.
Little dust clouds kicking up behind us, we pulled into the parking lot at our first stop: Ponte.
Lured by their eclectic varietals and quaint gift shop, we settled in at the bar for a round of tasting. Daniel was incredibly charming, and guided us through their menu offerings, giving high praise to the Chardonnay. It did not disappoint – and though I was biased to it’s gorgeous label featuring watercolor sunflowers, it had deep fruit and buttery flavor that kept me wanting more. Unusual for the Temecula valley, it was not as oaky and dry as I would have expected, but was much more rich, complex, and smooth. (According to my very amateur palate).
Moving on to reds, we tasted their outstanding 2009 Super Tuscan (which we ended up purchasing), as well as a lovely Zinfandel and a Tempranillo which I deemed my favorite.
When I inquired, Daniel was kind enough to point us in the direction of one of his favorite tasting rooms, Masia De Yabar, not found on the main road.
At Masia De Yabar I learned three things:
1. The perfect wine tasting is paired with goose-bump-inducing notes of live Spanish guitar.
2. I adore their 2009 Malbec Rose
3. Do not gesture wildly while wine tasting – but if you do, soda water does wonderful things to remove stains from a blouse you
stole borrowed from your mother’s closet.
Finally we made it back down the road to our final stop: Wiens.
Happily, my parents are members here and I jumped at the chance to pick up their summer shipment. How kind of me ;)
Treated to a complimentary tasting in the member’s cellar, we happily munched on cheese and crackers before diving into our final and most anticipated tasting of the day. Having tasted more than a handful of times at Wiens, I already knew I would be happy with pretty much anything they poured in my glass. A few favorites will always be: 2010 Reserve Chardonnay (ugh, love it), 2010 Reflection, 2010 Reserve Primitivo, and the 2010 Refugio.
Without a tinge of a doubt, there is no reason why one should ever taste at Wiens and NOT give the Amour De L’Orange a try! This sparkling wine is ridiculously, stupidly good. It is an excellent Chardonnay cuvee that is set apart by the addition of real orange extract – if you adore mimosas, you will die for a bottle of this. And……if you ask quite kindly, your pourer will even slip you a few chunks of white chocolate to enjoy with your glass, creating the unmistakable flavor of a creamsicle in your mouth.
So, get your cute arse down to Temecula.
Just don’t go traipsing through the vines behind Wiens like I did – it has become apparent to me that upon stepping on a nest of fire ants, all the wine in the valley will not keep the pain at bay. Poor attempts to take a cute photo will follow, including awkward leg positioning and dancing in place due to said pain. See below.