Tio Ely calls me a gay "cougar" so I decided to scope out Cougar Winery in Temecula. I've seen the sign before and even been to their neighbor Frangipani, so this time I took the winding road up to their tasting room. It was not a disappointing detour. Rather than trying to move into an already crowed Bordeaux group, Cougar is making a nice name for itself with some Italian and Argentine grapes (including but not limited to Malbec, Sangiovese, Arneis, Nero d'Avola (which I am really wanting to try), Malvasia Bianca, and Aglianico). Ambitious, but what I tasted today definitely shows there is some skill at this winery and they may just pull it off. Some of the highlights of today's tasting:
Arneis 2008. Lovely little wine, full of peaches and apricots. Difficult to grow and often used as a blending wine in its native Piedmont region of Italy, this is a nice, crisp. "fruit-sweet" wine perfect for a hot summer's day.
Sangiovese 2006. This is actually a super Tuscan blend creating a nice medium-bodied wine, lots of fruit and a touch of spice, soft tannins and good acidity. If you're looking for a grill wine or a pizza wine this should be on your shopping list.
Malbec 2006. I really enjoyed this wine. Deep puple bleeding out to the edges of the bowl, aromas of plum and I swear smokey bacon, very fruit forward on the tongue, nice tannins and the acid made my mouth water. This was definitely a keeper.
Malvasia Bianca 2008. Green apples and honey. Sweet but not cloying, just enough acidity that it could be a sipping wine for those who like their wines sweeter but for me would make a nice dessert wine.
So if you're in the area and looking for something a little different Cougar is well worth the stop.