I got a call from Trasier the other day and he asked me if I had time to meet him in Old Town Temecula at The Collective. He told me that Chris and Melody Johnston of Middle Ridge Winery were going to show off their new release – a 2008 Cinsault.
Before getting to the Cinsault, we tasted several other wines from Middle Ridge: a Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and their Meritage. Chris, a communications expert by trade, is also very willing to talk about all things relating to wine, which allowed me to get my “wine geek” on and discuss things like French oak (and the different forests that he buys oak from to cork), fermentation, and yes – even yeasts and sulfides. Yes, I am sure that those around us had to be bored to death, but I loved every minute of our conversation. Seldom do I get a chance to show my true wine “geekness.”
The wines are made here in Temecula, but Chris has his lab in Idyllwild (where he and Melody live), so you could say that the ideas for their wine are created there and the finished wine is born here in Temecula.
Cinsault is a grape variety that has its origin from France, typically found in the south-eastern part of the country. It is the 4th most widely planted variety in that region and is a very prolific grape that can produce 6-10 tons an acre (but the quality is much better when it is kept to 4 tons an acre or less).
The 2008 Middle Ridge Cinsault is a blend of 83% Cinsault, 12% Grenache, and 5% Syrah. The wine is very soft with very little tannin or acidity. Chris says that it is a great bridge for those wanting to switch from white to red wine. It also has a combination of both red and black fruits, followed by notes of violets and a hint of black pepper on the finish.
After talking with Chris, I am expecting big things from Middle Ridge. He has sourced fruit from Paso for some of his newer vintages, which he will be blending with the grapes he has found in Temecula.
You can find his wine at The Collective in Old Town. For you Facebook users, you can “friend” them and find out when he and Melody will be in town. Stop by and say “hi” yourself. I’m certain you will appreciate the passion that they bring to their winemaking and the wines they produce.