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Wine Pick of the Week – Mount Palomar 2008 Castelletto Cortese (new release)

2008 Cortese. This was shot in thier newer upper patio garden area. It's beautiful and quiet. -Photo by Juanita Juarez

As autumn officially began I anticipated the selection of a big bold red wine for this week’s pick from Mount Palomar Winery.  Oh, and Mount Palomar offers some wonderful and unique reds that delighted my palate, including the blends of their 2006 Trovato & 2004 Cloudbreak, and 2005 Best of Vintage Charbonno.

Alas, 100 degree plus weather changed my thoughts and I gravitated toward a lighter chilled, yet very vibrant selection – the 2008 Castelletto Cortese.  I see Cortese as one of the few white wines to appeal to red wine drinkers.

These are Sherry Barrels outside in the crush area of the winery. A hidden gem I was lucky enough to see and experience. Bees were having a great time as well. - Photo by Juanita Juarez

Cortese is a white grape grown almost exclusively in the Piedmont Provence of northwest Italy.  Mount Palomar introduced this fine varietal to California in 1991 and is still the only grower of Cortese in the Temecula Valley.  Craig Boyd, the winemaker, told a colorful tale (albeit a tale) of discovering the vines in a rundown vineyard in New Mexico after they had been smuggled into the United States in the suitcases of Italian immigrants. The fact is that the vines ended up in the hands of Mount Palomar and were extensively tested at UC Davis, and now create the wine I tasted.

They were harvesting Sangiovese in the late afternoon trying to get every last grape off the vine. This was a very hot day, but you have to get it done when they say it's "ready" - Photo by Juanita Juarez

On to the tasting!  The color of this wine is a light straw yellow. The bouquet is a complex and lingering aroma of ripe peach and pear with a burst of citrus and a pleasing hint of minerality and oak. The taste is best described as fresh and juicy with a tangy citrus finish and long aftertaste.  However, Cortese is a dry wine with surprisingly low sugar content that has been fermented in stainless steel and aged briefly in neutral French oak.

I re-tasted the Castelletto Cortese at last weekend’s outdoor Grape Stomp.  It lived up to my expectations perfectly – a well-balanced, refreshing alternative to some better known dry white wines.  This is the ideal time to visit Mount Palomar and enjoy.

2008 Castelletto Cortese (new release) – $24.00 case / $19.20 wine club members

Photo by Juanita Juarez

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