Saturday, August 23, 2008

Two Wineries In Three Hours

Today Mr. Beau and I used the excuse of picking up my wine club shipment to do a little wine tasting in Temecula. Since we got a little late start we went to Leoness Cellars and had lunch at the wonderful Block Five restaurant. I had their flat bread "pizza" (crispy flat bread with pesto, roasted chicken and feta cheese) while my beau had their salmon. For an accompanying wine I had their 2006 Pinot Grigio (stainless steel fermentation allows the green apple and melon notes to speak uninfluenced by oak with nice crispness and refreshing finish) and he their 2006 Riesling (an off-dry offering with tasty apricot on the palate). After having satisfied our hunger we went to do a tasting and pick up our wine club shipment. I didn't go to any whites this time (having just had the Pinot Grigio) my taste buds lead me to the following standouts:

  • 2007 Lana~Lisa Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, named in honor of the wives of the owners of Leoness Cellars this rosé was made "saignee-style" made by running off or "bleeding" a certain amount of free run juice from the just crushed dark skinned grapes. A touch of sugar and nice raspberries on the tongue would make this a nice pairing for something spicy.

  • 2005 Cabernet Franc-Merlot, a nice nod to St. Emilion (could this become Temecula's Chateau Cheval Blanc?) this blend is wonderful with spicy notes on top of strong black cherry and blackberry, well rounded tannins balanced with good acidity and medium-long finish made me wish for a medium-rare steak to go with it. As I write I have a glass of this wonderful blend beside me.

  • 2005 Meritage, a tasty blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and just a touch of Petit Verdot carried aromas of tobacco and some hints of eucalyptus and brought black fruit and spice to the tongue. A fine blend.

  • There were others I could talk about (such as their yummy Zinfandel and Mr. Beau's ravings on their Muscat Canelli almost made me break my red binge) but you should be getting the idea I really, really like what Leoness Cellars produces.

    Our other tasting today took us to the other end of the Temecula Valley wine trail to Alex's Red Barn where we enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the place while being served by non-other than Alex himself! I have enjoyed his wines since my first trip to Temecula several years ago and today did not disappoint. As testament to the overall skill of Alex Mr. Beau told me that he enjoyed everything on the tasting list: Riesling, Viognier (one of the best I have tasted), Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon (and Mr. Beau almost never likes Cabs), Syrah, and Cream Sherry (a rare treat)! Alex doesn't "massage" his wines, letting the grapes speak for themselves. Many of the grapes come from vines that were planted over 40 years ago and have yielded fantastic fruit. As Alex told us, "When you have good grapes you don't have to "massage" the wine". One of the first wine courses I took said that the character of a wine is combination of "the grape, the ground, and the guy". Alex's Red Barn is a fine example of what can be done when the quality of all three is high.

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