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Warm Weather Whites @ Europa Village

(Courtesy photo)

About two weeks ago, I headed down to the newly opened, Europa Village winery in the heart of Temecula wine country. For those who have not been as glued to the updates on this new winery as I have, the tasting room that just opened on April 18th, appropriately called Prelude, is only the very first chapter of the Temecula Valley’s most fascinating new story.

When Europa Village is complete, it will encompass not one, but three, individual boutique wineries, each one representing a different European country. C’est la Vie will take on the form of a French chateau, and will specialize in wines made with French grape varieties. Bolero will have a Spanish theme and Spanish varietal based wines to match it. And lastly, Vienza, which is to include an Italian villa-inspired winery, hotel, and spa, will produce wines made with Italian varietals.

Winemaker Dennis Ferguson. (Courtesy photo)

The Europa Village dream is still in its early stages. Eventually each of the three brands will have an extensive selection of wines, many of which to be made with estate or Temecula grown fruit. As it is now, the Europa Village portfolio is somewhat concise, and, as the estate vineyards are still quite young, contains wines sourced exclusively or at least partially from parts of California other than Temecula.

I love it when I come upon a producer that has too many wines deserving of attention than I can possibly cover in one post. After at least twenty minutes of puzzling with my tasting notes, I’ve determined that this is clearly one of them, and there is no other way for me to talk about Europa Village than to break this review up into two parts. This week we will be talking about their whites, including a wine from each one of the boutique winery brands. My next Temecula Tuesday will explore a collection of their reds, covering single varietal bottlings as well as some blends. Europa Village is quickly on its way to becoming a destination winery, complete with some fantastic offerings, and so without further ado, let’s begin our prelude to Europe Village.

Wine #1: Europa Village: Vienza 2009 California Pinot Grigio

When I did my tasting a few weeks ago at Europa Village, this was the only wine from the Vienza brand that was being poured. They had also released a Sangiovese, but because it had just been bottled, it was being given some time to rest.

Vienza’s Pinot Grigio simply carries the California appellation name on the label, but in truth, both the varietal and the place of origin are more complex than the label leads one to expect. The fruit is primarily sourced from Healdsburg, a region located at the very heart of Northern California’s most famous wine country. And although the grape on the label may be nothing more than Pinot Grigio, traces of Muscat Canelli and Pinot Meunier also add subtlety to the blend.

Crisp white peach, white nectarine, and cut mandarin orange dominate this wine’s aroma. It’s delicately flinty, with very faint notes of light honey, soft grasses, and wildflowers with a spin in the glass.

The palate is just as clean and crisp as the nose, with white peach, white flowers, cut orange, and a very subtle mango tone appearing initially. A lightly flinty quality, and some mixed citrus notes appear toward the mid palate, with a very faint spice undertone showing in the background. Well made, smooth, and pleasantly fresh. Worth Trying – 87 points.

Wine #2: Europa Village: C’est La Vie 2009 California Chardonnay

C’est La Vie’s Chardonnay is made in an interesting style, modeled after the wines of Burgundy more than the typical Californian style. Only about three percent of this wine ever saw oak aging, while the rest remained in stainless steel. The portion aged in oak spent only around a year in used barrels to ensure that the influence of wood would be kept very subtle. The fruit for this wine is sourced principally from the Alexander Valley.

The aroma is driven by tones of lightly spiced cut apples, apple blossom, and white peach and peach flowers. A spin in the glass shows some limestone and a distinct streak of crisp and gritty green pear.

This is a very subtle wine in almost every way. It is clean and light on the palate, with delicate flavors, and a soft acidity. C’est La Vie proudly opposes the typical, high impact style of Californian Chardonnay with this interestingly different example of the varietal. White peach, cut grapefruit pith, and soft apple tones show at first. Very light floral notes, some crushed flint tones, and a soft Asian pear quality also appear surrounding the core. Very smooth, gentle, and delicate, this is a perfect warm weather Chardonnay. Worth Trying – 87 points.

Wine #3: Europa Village: Bolero 2009 California Muscat Canelli

Like the previous Europa Village whites we just covered, Bolero’s Muscat Canelli also is labeled as a Californian wine. More specifically, this wine sources its fruit (100% varietal) primarily from Mendocino.

Very distinct tones of orange blossoms absolutely dominate this wine’s aroma. A spin in the glass reveals cut citrus, with orange and lime showing particularly clearly, as well as dense floral tones hinting at gardenia and white roses. (As I was taking tasting notes I kept thinking, “Why can’t I find an air freshener that smells like this?”)

Very ripe on the palate, and yet still crisp, this wine is pleasantly off dry. Notes of cut pears in syrup, a spritz of fresh lime, and crushed sea stone support an incredible core of white rose petals. This is a wonderful example of California Muscat, with plenty of ripe sweetness and floral tones, but also the firm, mineral structure to keep everything focused. Worth Trying – 89 points.

Follow Tyler Worth as he explores the world of wine and more via his blog What’s Worth Drinking.

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