The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2011

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 75 of 120

T here are times when we crave complexity: in the plot twists of a mystery novel or the fl avor mosaic of a great Burgundy. But on other occasions—especially when there’s a bocce ball in your hand or beach sand under your feet—a complex wine can seem overly complicated. The wineries of California’s Temecula Valley produce white, sparkling, and rosé wines that are sunny and straight- forward, much like the region itself. THE TASTING PANEL recently spent some time sipping and sleuthing to uncover a sense of terroir and a few of the appellation’s most refreshing wines for summer. The Quest for Balance With its warm winds, sun-baked grasslands and orange orchards, Temecula’s landscape evokes the Mediterranean spirit of southern Meticulous farming: winemaker Craig Larson among the vines at Callaway Vineyards and Winery. Spain—and it gets just as hot. Daytime temperatures June through August, when fruit matures, can range from 80 to 100 degrees. Cooler coastal air circulates in the evening and morning hours through the valley’s Rainbow Gap, providing dramatic diurnal fl uctuations, at times of 40 degrees or more. For wine grapes, the high day- time temperatures translate into early physiological maturity and elevated sugar levels. Well-defi ned acid structure: winemaker Steve Hagata of Falkner Winery with his Sauvignon Blanc The challenge, then, for Temecula winemakers is to maintain balance between acidity, alcohol levels and fruit fl avors. Harvesting fruit early in the season and picking during nighttime hours is an essential part of preserving the crisp acidity and purity of the fruit’s fl avors. “A well-defi ned acid structure is essential,” says Falkner Winery winemaker Steve Hagata. “It’s that lip-smacking tartness that balances out the intensity of the fruit and makes you want another sip.” Temecula wineries also address balance in the vineyard through meticulous farming—canopy manage- ment, vine nutrition, and lower yields. “We fi nd that by creating harmony in the vineyard, we have to do less to the wine, and we get higher quality in the glass,” says Craig Larson of Callaway Vineyard and Winery. His team takes tri-annual foliar tissue samples (during pre-bloom, bloom and pre-set stages) to monitor the nutrient levels within the vines. That way they are able to make adjustments with minerals such as nitrogen and potassium via drip irrigation prior to veraison and fruit- ripening. These adjustments result in healthier vines, cleaner fermentations and more elegantly balanced wines. Something for Everyone The region’s 35 tasting rooms have made it a popular destination for residents of L.A., Orange County and San Diego—so popular, in fact, that most area wineries rely heavily on direct-to-consumer sales. While positive for the bottom line, for wine- makers this retail-driven sales model means producing wines that appeal to a diverse range of palates. Does that mean that the tail wags the dog a bit in Temecula? You bet. and Straightforward SIMPLICITY SHINES IN CALIFORNIA’S TEMECULA VALLEY by Laura Sanchez PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TEMECULA VALLEY WINEGROWERS ASSOCIATION july 201 1 / the tasting panel / 75 PHOTO: LAURA SANCHEZ PHOTO: LAURA SANCHEZ

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - JULY 2011