A Great Kick-off To A Long Weekend – Coquelicot Wine Tasting At Temecula Wine Company

written by Laura Plant

I can’t think of a better idea than tasting wine rather than battling traffic on a holiday Friday evening.  Temecula Valley Wine Company provided the perfect occasion by bringing in Christine Kruger from Coquelicot Estate Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley.

My first question was:  what does Coquelicot mean and how is it pronounced?  It means red poppy in French with distinctive red poppy images gracing each label.  It is pronounced “ Ko-Klee-Ko” The wines can also be pronounced “delicious.”

We tasted six wines from winemaker, Louis Van Tonder, a South African who is also vineyard manager and proponent of sustainable, organic farming.  The estate vineyard is on 58 acres in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley.

Wine Company Patrons - photo by Tom Plant

We began with two whites, a 2007 Estate Chardonnay and a Refugio Ranch Sauvignon Blanc.  The Chardonnay had been aged 9 months on oak, creating a creamy, buttery finish at a very good price of under $15.  All tasters agreed it would be great with food as we nibbled on hors d’oeuvres provided by TV Wine Co.  The winemaker’s notes on the Sauvignon Blanc were, “If New Zealand and the Loire Valley met and fell in love, this wine would be the result.”  We agree and found it to be fresh, crisp and bright – a good summer wine choice.

Then we moved on to the reds, beginning with a deep red Sangiovese, moving on to 2 distinctively different Syrahs – 2007 Estate Syrah and 2007 Black Oak Syrah.  Both had won silver in the San Francisco Chronicle Competition.  Wine Enthusiast April 2010 Buying Guide gave the Estate Syrah 93 points noting warm-climate ripeness and cool-climate structure. The Black Oak Syrah was given 91 points for its dark dense structure and ripe flavors.  Our tasters seemed to prefer the Black Oak, citing a strong, full flavor that hits the senses with a smoother, fruitier flavor and better balance.

After a few more bites of cheese, crackers and grapes, we tried the 2006 Mon Amour Bordeaux Blend, a lingering mix of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot and 6% Malbec.  This led the technophiles among us (read gadget geeks) to their I Phones and Blackberry’s looking up all 7 Bordeaux Blends to find which one was missing, with heated discussions to follow. (We won’t tell – look it up yourself)

Christine Kruger - photo by Tom Plant

All-in-all it was another wonderful wine company event.  We thank Christine Kruger and Coquelicot Estate Vineyard for making the journey.  Many attendees were thinking a Santa Ynez road trip might be in their future.

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