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World of Wine: Best of the Best

The Taste of Temecula (TOT) team spent all day Saturday and Sunday reviewing wineries as part of the World of Wine (WOW) event.  The review included food & wine pairings, overall look of the facility, interviewing the many wine makers, and meeting the winery owners.  At the end of the day the group got together to review each other’s notes and select a winery based on the following categories:

  • Best new Winery – Vindemia Vineyard & Estate Winery
  • Best White Wine – Stuart Cellars
  • Best Red Wine – Tied between Vindemia’s ’06  Commonwealth and The Doffo ’09 Mistura
  • Best Food/Wine Pairing– Palumbo Family Vineyard & Winery
  • Best Overall Winery – Doffo Winery (Wine, Facility, Food, etc.)

Best New Winery: Vindemia

The winner of Best New Winery is Vindemia, a winery who’s opening day coincided with the first day of the World of Wine weekend. Vindemia is a brand new winery, owned and operated by the owners of California Dreamin’ Balloons. Their 2006 Commonwealth Bordeaux blend was a standout. It was complex, with firm tannins and a smooth slightly cherry finish. It had a rich mouthfeel and a long finish. The light bodied Grenache was very different in style from the Commonwealth, being light bodied with soft tannins, but equally delicious. It is a perfect red wine for warmer weather. The tent that Vindemia was pouring in was charming and pleasant. There was additional seating in an elevated rose garden. Wine could be enjoyed in a beautiful natural setting. This winery is definitely one to watch.

Vindemia's 'building'. Photo courtesy of Tom Plant

Best White: Stuart Cellars

The best white from World of Wine weekend came from an unexpected place. Stuart Cellars, known for their big bold reds produced a Sauvignon Blanc that was outstanding. The light, barely colored wine opened with the minerally notes, showed bright citrus characteristics including a little grapefruit zest. It was crisp, but softened slightly to and ended with a smooth, round finish. It was the best of the New World style of Sauvignon Blanc. We at Taste of Temecula voted unanimously for this as our favorite white.

Best Overall Food

This was a tight race as a few wineries really stood out.

Honorable mention goes to Vindemia Winery, who was serving a Fillet Mignon in a Vindemia Syrah reduction over potatoes. Food was prepared by Wine Country Catering, and they did a great job.

Palumbo Family Vineyard, wins for the best food. Couscous with a lamb tangine. The couscous was delicately flavored with hints of clove and cinnamon, paired with a truly fantastic tangine, which had lamb, tomatoes and dried plums. This was smart cooking, and I spent ten minutes enjoying it, and taking in the beautiful vista. Paired with Palumbo’s 2009 Syrah (big fruit, aging well, probably one more year to go in…going to be a killer wine) and Rossto Seco (fantastic dry rose, with a hint of tannin). If you ever have an opportunity to eat Nick Palumbo’s food, drop everything to try it.

Nick Palumbo. Photo courtesy of Tom Plant

Best Overall: Doffo Winery

The best overall winner was given to Marcelo Doffo and his family at Doffo Winery.  This winery is quaint, well groomed, and visually appealing, yet still has the feeling of home.  Adding to the charm, there is  path leads up to the wine tasting area, as well as an old motorcycle perched to the right of the path.  The WOW & TOT attendees picked up the tapas and went to the barrels for the tasting.  The food paired well with the wine and neither the tapas nor wine overpowered the other.

Marcelo started with his ’09 Mistura, a Portuguese term for Meritage.  This Cabernet Sauvignon blend was also made up of Syrah, Cab Franc, Merlot, and Petite Verdot.  Even at 5 ½ months barreling, this wine was already well developed and rich in dark berry, cherry, and earthly notes, it finished with just a little spice.

Next Marcelo poured his Zinfandel, which was produced from 5 year old vines and barreled in 100% American oak with a medium toast.  This Zinfandel expressed rich dark berry and cranberry, and had about a one percent residual sugar.  This Zinfandel was delicious and will be even better after the blending process is finished.

After completion of the barrel tasting, the team looked at the grounds. A hand crafted barbecue and wood pizza oven sat in the picnic area.  The wine room was large and spacious, with a black counter top that stretched the length of the room.  The countertop looked almost like black granite, but was made from concrete and contained embellishments of the winery logo under the polished surface.  The bottles were dark antique glass with distinctive labels.  Marcelo invited people to further taste different wines in the tasting area that were not a part of the WOW event.  As the people started to gather around Marcelo, his eyes lit up as he started to talk about his wine and some of the labels that were created.  He told stories about the different labels and how one of the labels represented the names of two of his grandchildren.

As he continued with his stories of his parent’s home in South America, visions of the beautiful Argentinean landscape started to fill the imagination.  He finished his story with how he started in the wine business with a trip to Italy and his craft is reflected in his wines.  Marcelo Doffo has done what other boutique wineries could only dream, produce great wines that rival some of the better wineries in Napa.  It is obvious that Marcelo, as well as the other participating wineries are trying to produce some of the best wines in the world in our own back yard.  This event showed us that these craftsmen are racing towards that goal.

All Photos courtesy of  Tom Plant. Visit his site at http://wineormous.com/

Damian and Marcelo Doffo. Photo courtesy of Tom Plant

Authors: Bethany Rogers, Edwin Mahieu, Crispin Courtenay

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