The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2011

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Page 86 of 124

APPELLATIONS PASSIONATE AND ADVENTURSOME VINTNERS IN TEMECULA EXPLORE THIS AREA’S GREAT POTENTIAL ne of the ways American wine regions and their specifi c appellations mature and ultimately become successful is by determining which set of grape varieties works best in their particular geography and climate. Trial and error, which can be a very long process in the time-consuming world of winemaking, plays a huge part, with vintners—and ultimately the buying public—making the fi nal judgement. Finding Its Own O story and photos by David Gadd It was decided decades ago that Napa is Cabernet country, with other Bordelais players such as Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc assigned important supporting roles. Cooler Oregon opted for Burgundian Pinot Noir and other members of the Pinot family. Although the jury is still out on California’s Central Coast, the verdict seems to be tending increasingly toward Rhône varieties, whether varietal Syrahs or heady GSM blends getting the nod. In southerly Temecula, an up-and-coming AVA on the border between California’s Riverside and San Diego counties, the trial is still underway. Wild, Wild West On a recent trip to Temecula, THE TASTING PANEL sampled everything from classic Bordeaux-style blends worthy of a collector’s cellar to orange- and almond-fl avored sparkling wines geared toward the wedding and tourist trade that’s so important to the area’s fi scal bottom line. In between, we found worthy Zinfandels (some made from the ancient vines in Cucamonga, to the north of Temecula), Malbecs rivaling those of Argentina, delicious rosés of Cabernet Franc, prize-winning Sauvignon Blancs and aromatic Viogniers. Some vintners sing the praises of Italian varieties (even the notoriously diffi cult Nebbiolo is having a go in Temecula), while others are experimental Rhônists who label their Grenache “Garnacha.” 84 / the tasting panel / april 201 1 Temecula pioneer winemaker Joe Hart and his son Jim at their tasting room.

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