Chuck’s brother was visiting this weekend, and we had a full slate of San Diego fun planned out. First among them, wine-tasting in Temecula. After a quick stop at Influx for a perfectly flaky croissant (with tomato and basil and brie, yum!), we headed up the 15 to Wine Country.
Our first stop of the trip was Thornton Winery, unique among Temecula wineries for their variety of champagnes. The tasting setup at Thornton is a little bit different from most Temecula wineries- they have table service in the “Champagne Lounge”, where you can order pre-selected flights of wines or choose your own set of tastes at individual prices. We sat on the outdoor patio, which was well-shaded and had little white wisps of fuzz floating around from some of the plants – it was all very elegant and relaxing. Chuck ordered the Champagne Tasting, I tried the Reserve, and Chuck’s brother had the Red. I don’t think I disliked any of the wines that we tried there, but it was the champagnes that really stood out. I often like the idea of champagne better than the actual experience of it, but Thorton’s Brut Reserve pulls off the concept of a dry, drinkable champagne incredibly well. It has none of the harsh yeasty notes that can make champagne taste bitter to me – this was probably my favorite wine of the day. We bought bottles of three of the champagnes from Thornton – the Brut Reserve, Cuvee Rouge (the strikingly colored red champagne in the picture), and Cuvee de Frontignan, a lightly sweet champagne.
The other wineries we visited were Callaway, where we have a wine club membership, and they make consistently good wines in many varieties. I used to be quite fond of their un-oaked chardonnay and am hoping for another release of it, but will happily sample their other selections until then. We also stopped at Stuart Cellars, where we started to run into the afternoon crowds (and an out-of-control bachelorette party!). The wines that we sampled at Stuart were a little more uneven (i can’t remember the ones I wasn’t as fond of), but their Zinfandel was really good, with full fruit flavor and a smooth finish, and we picked up a bottle of White Merlot as well.
All in all, a successful trip. Our wine rack at home is full again, so we need to start cooking some wine- friendly dinners!