Last week I made a trip to Temecula in search of material to review. I stopped by a few of my old favorites and sampled their new vintages, and also visited some new wineries I had not yet explored. The most impressive of my new discoveries was a family owned and operated winery that actually has been in production since 1980.
Hart Family Winery is the kind of place I love to feature. Truly focused on providing a unique, high quality product, Hart specializes in small production wines, many of which made with estate grown fruit. The estate vineyard is only 10 acres, but its offerings are diverse, with white plantings of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier and red plantings of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. Additionally the Hart line-up features delicious wines made from other fruit grown throughout select vineyards in the Temecula Valley.
Today’s wines are all red, as that was specifically what I came looking for when I visited Hart. But when I was there tasting their many delectable red options I had the opportunity to meet the owner and winemaker, Joe Hart. He told me that they actually had three white wines that were awaiting final labeling approval and bottling and let me taste each of them from the tank. Even as tank samples, I’ve got to say that these were some of the most crisp, fresh, and delicious white wines (actually two whites and one rosé) that I have tasted out of the Temecula Valley. As much as I am having trouble containing myself, I’m keeping my review on those wines under wraps until a little closer to their expected release date sometime next month, so be sure to look for part two of this article in the near future for some spectacular whites.
As for today, I found it hard to choose from the dozen or so wines I tasted while I was there which ones I wanted to feature. Just about all of them could have easily made a great topic for today’s look at Hart Winery, but one thing that impressed me about Hart was how diverse their list of offerings was, featuring Spanish, Italian, Bordeaux, and Rhone varietals, and so today I decided to talk about some of Hart’s more obscure varieties – a Tempranillo, a Mourvedre, and a Cabernet Franc.
HART FAMILY WINERY 2006 TEMPRANILLO ($18). I’m very interested in the idea of Spain’s Tempranillo being grown in the Temecula Valley. Very much like Sangiovese, which also originates from a hot, Mediterranean climate, this grape should prove to be an ideal match for the weather and growing conditions found in Temecula. Not yet as widely produced in the Valley as Sangiovese, I predict that we will be seeing much more of this grape in the near future. Hart’s Tempranillo sets a great example, clearly taking inspiration from Spain’s famous Rioja region, with just enough aging in American oak to add complexity, while keeping the fruit precise.
Cherry and plum show at first on the nose, with mixed, crushed berries appearing with a little more exploration. Delicate notes of vanilla, caramel, and spice show the influence of oak in this wine, with subtle floral tones hinting at violets showing with a light spin in the glass.
Cranberry, cherry, red plum, and raspberry introduce the palate. Hints of vanilla and cream from the American oak show toward the mid palate, with notes of spice and leather giving the wine additional definition. This wine is soft and plush, with generous fruit tones and just enough complexity to make it fun to drink and interesting at the same time. Well done. Worth Trying – 88 points.
HART FAMILY WINERY 2009 MOURVEDRE ($28). Mourvedre is yet another grape that I think we will be seeing more of in the Temecula Valley because of its suitability to the climate. It’s a favorite of mine with origins in both Spain (under the name Monastrell) and France’s South West and Rhone Valley. This one is made with fruit sourced from a newly planted vineyard, and it gives us a taste of what I hope is to come from Temecula. Like our first wine, this one also undergoes some aging in American oak.
With excellent depth of aroma, this wine overflows with pomegranate, intense cranberry, and plum tones. A soft undertone of huckleberry and light hints of spice and vanilla make this wine especially appealing.
A very interesting combination of red and blue fruits dominates the palate. Cranberry, huckleberry, black plum, and blueberry all come together to build a richly flavored core. An interesting combination of pomegranate seeds and orange peel blends with vanilla and a pleasantly earthy vineyard dust flavor toward the end and into the finish. This is a very nicely integrated wine, smooth drinking and ripe, with plenty of complexity. Worth Trying – 89 points.
HART FAMILY WINERY 2006 CABERNET FRANC ($26). Our next wine comes from fruit grown on a two and a half acre plot of the Hart estate vineyard. Following fermentation, this high quality juice spends just under two years in Eastern European oak barrels.
Blackcurrant and black stone appear immediately on the nose, with blackberry and black tea aromas opening up with a little further exploration. A spin in the glass reveals creamy coffee tones, with just a hint of vanilla and cracked black pepper.
Black plum preserves dipped in black pepper introduce this wine’s palate, with subtle notes of green tea and herbs showing on the edges a few moments later. Vineyard dust, oak barrel tones, and just a slice of orange peel also show through, further developing this wine’s complexity. This is an impressive, interestingly reserved and subtle take on Cabernet Franc, with very nice integration, lots of ripe fruit, bright acidity, and soft, dusty tannins. Well made, solid, and very enjoyable. Worth Trying – 90 points.
Hart Family Winery
41300 Avenida Biona
Temecula, CA 92591
Keep up with Tyler Worth via his blog What’s Worth Drinking where he explores great wine, beer, and spirits.