Since I chose the "Pick Up" option for my shipments from Leonesse Cellars I now have an excuse for going up at least quarterly. Saturday was one of those time and it was supposed to be a "double date", Cory, Elbert, my beau and me, but my sweetie has worked for about 28 hours straight and needed to sleep so the three of us took off to the wilds of San Diego's wine country. I've written several times about Temecula and how it seems to be improving with each trip in its offerings so I won't do a lot of redundant tasting notes on this posting, just the highlights.
Since we arrived before Leonesse was open we decided to go to a place I had not been, Keyways Winery just down the road from Leonesse. The grounds were quite pretty and the tasting room was very nice though we all detected one thing missing... their beautiful bar doesn't have a foot rest. Throughout the tasting we were all trying to rest one foot or another while standing there. One interesting wine they offered was a 2005 Frolich, made from 100% Lemberger grapes, a little known Austrian varietal. Nice hint of cloves and cherries. My favorite (which followed me home) was their 2005 Cabernet Franc which greets the noise with notes of berries, spice, and vanilla and delivers nice fruit and soft tannins ending with a medium finish.
Once Leonesse was open we hit the tasting area in the barrel room. I love Leonesse and nothing disappointed (though they were out of their lovely Cab Franc/Merlot blend). After the normal tasting we were treated to a couple of barrel pulls including their soon to be released new blend of Cab Franc/Merlot, a little more balanced in the grapes and quite lovely, but the real "Wow!" was their not yet released 2006 Syrah which was, simply, awesome! Watch for it in the spring of 2009.
Lunch time took us to Ponte Family Estate and the Smokehouse Restaurant where we had a nice lunch served by the cute and capable Keith. Instead of a separate tasting, for about the same price we each got a flight of wines to go with our lunch. The wines were alright, but for some reason they didn't make me want to buy a bottle... nice, but nothing to write home about (or blog about) this time. I'll be back, they do some decent Italian wines but my palate just didn't jump for joy.
We tried to go to Alex's Red Barn Winery but they were closed until January! Disappointed we went to the much larger Falkner Winery but again nothing spoke to any of us. The most interesting was something they called "Hot Lips" which is their 2006 Luscious Lips (a semi-sweet red wine) mulled with a special blend of spices. Quite good, very "Christmasy".
It was starting to get a little late so we decided one more stop. Cory is a fan of Baily's Winery so we stopped there. I have to admit, I had been there once before and just wasn't that impressed but thought what they heck... and I am glad we did. Something seemed to have caused them to step up in this taster's opinion, so much so that I joined their win club. Their 2003 Meritage was quite nice but the star of the show for me was their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. Outstanding! Excellent dark fruits, hints of vanilla, well balanced acid and tannins that all combine to a nice, lengthy finish. A wonderful find for the end of the trip.
So again, Temecula surprised me... it's slow going, but the potential is starting to become reality for the local boys and girls in the wine game.