Driving up the stately driveway to Thornton Winery is always a lovely, peaceful endeavor. Last Friday was no exception, as my husband Steve and I headed there to become reacquainted with some old friends. The weather was unusually cool for August, and we knew the outdoor patio and unique tasting procedure at Thornton would provide just the relaxing afternoon the four of us were craving.
Clara and Jess were already seated in the partial shade of the outdoor patio, just off the tasting room and gift shop at Thornton. They’d ordered a Warm Brie en Croute, drizzled with a silky honey sauce, but had not yet started wine tasting.
Thornton has a completely different approach to wine tasting than most, maybe all, Temecula area wineries. Instead of standing at the bar and choosing a variety of one-ounce pours, tasting room customers at Thornton may choose from 10 different wine flights. The flights are coordinated by style and come with four generous tastes. They are served with fresh bread and wonderful herb garlic butter. There is also a large assortment of appetizers, small plates, and desserts to choose from. It is an arrangement that encourages lingering, and noticing the wine.
Thornton is a place where the wine should be noticed, and lingered over. In the area for many years, Thornton has long been known for high quality award-winning sparkling wines, but to overlook the other wines made there would be a mistake.
I have long been a fan of Thornton’s dark chewy reds, while my husband loves the light crisp whites. Clara had only drunk the sparkling wines, while Jess preferred sweeter wines. We decided to all get different flights, in order to try the maximum number of wines. After some deliberation, we decided on a Sweet Sippers flight for Jess, a New Release flight for Clara, White Wine for Steve, and Champagne/Sparkling Wine for me. The dappled sunlight and the flowing conversation was a great pairing with the delicious wine.
After trying so many different wonderful wines, like the crisp 2004 Brut Champagne, with its tiny bubbles and refreshing feel, and the barely sweet, very light Riesling, it came down to the rich full Nebbiolo, and the fruity but dry 2007 Rosé. The two wines were completely delicious, and completely different. The 2007 Nebbiolo was full and gorgeous, with a lush mouth feel, firm tannins, with notes of caramel, plum, and leather. The Rosé was dark, almost as dark as a light bodied red, with light floral fruit at the front, but absolutely no lingering sweetness. The finish was dry and tight, with evidence of a bit of tannins, unusual, but welcome.
I looked at Clara, who would not consider herself a lover of Rosés and raised my eyebrows at her, “What do you think?”
“I love it!” she said, surprise and delight evident on her face.
We decided that the 2007 Rosé was the perfect summer wine, for Red wine lovers in particular. The structure, and light body is perfect for the long days, and it can be drunk cooler than most Red wines, making it so drinkable when the weather is warm.
If you want a slowed down version of wine tasting in Temecula Wine Country, or a light meal with your wine, try Thornton Winery. From the lush culinary garden, to the tall fountain in the courtyard, to the superb wines, it is everything that is great about Temecula Wine Country.
Thornton Winery is located at 32575 Rancho California Rd. Temecula CA 92591