Saturday, September 16, 2006

Temecula's Wilson Creek Winery Tasting Notes by (Billy)

Well Hooray. My shipment of Temecula wines arrived safe and sound yesterday. These were the various bottles I had picked up while visiting the region last week. Thankfully the souvenir winery tasting glasses also arrived fully intact. (on a side note, the Mt. Palomar Winery glasses were hands down the nicest glasses you received at a tasting).

Now that my wines are here I can post the tasting notes I took at the various wineries. Here are the six wines I tasted at the Wilson Creek Winery.

2005 Sauvignon Blanc - $18.95
Eyes: Clear translucent straw
Nose: Crisp apricot tropical flower, green honeyed melon
Palate: Dry and crisp. Not bad, touch of green stem bitterness at the back of the tongue.
Finish: Slightly astringent linger, but crisp and spritely.
This was an OK sauvignon blanc.

Quartet Blanc (non vintage) - $18.95
Eyes: The palest yellow straw
Nose: subtly blended vanilla and kiwi and green apple. Slight citrus. Not as minerally as I would have expected.
Palate: Mixed rather than complementarily blended flavors. Overly yeasty and lacking any distinguishing character of any varietal. Comes across watery and blase.
Finish: what finish?
This wine was a blend of Semillon, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. While the nose was nice, the scent profile had to be teased out rather than coming out on its own. As the tasting review suggests, the mouth feel was limp and watery and generally not nice. This tasted like what you might get pouring a bottle of these varietals into a bowl, adding some water, and letting it sit out for a while. A wine to avoid.

2004 Estate Syrah - $34.95
Eyes: Ruby with burnt brick at the edge
Nose: Coffee, chocolate, dried cherry and creamy hints.
Palate: Over hot and peppery. Bitter at the back. A bit too acidic for my taste. Very good tannic structure.
Finish: Warm and better than the initial palate impression. Nice dried cherry on the back. Will mellow with another 2 - 3 years aging.
Overall this was a nice syrah. It could maybe blow off some of the hotness with decanting or more breathing (I have no idea for how long the bottle we tasted was opened). The bitterness at the back of the palate was distracting, but for that, the wine was quite nice.

2004 Zinfandel
Eyes: Translucent red mellon at the edge moving to clear red apple at the center.
Nose: Makes me say, "OOH!" Smooth chocolate, cherry, raisin and leather.
Palate: Nicely balanced with a warm and firm structure.
Finish: smooth with black cherry hints at the back of the finish.
This was the best wine we tasted at Wilson Creek. It was really quite nice. Unfortunately, I do not see it on their website (though I do see the 2003 there). The fetching Mrs. Billy also agreed that this was the best wine of the bunch. Their zinfandel was well constructed, had outstanding flavors that were balanced and not overpowering and showed a maturity and character absent in the other wines. This is one to get again.

Almond Champagne - $16.95
Eyes: Nearly Clear
Nose: Big almond nose
Palate: medium bubbles, light structure, almond hints. Nice
Finish: none to mention.
I should note that I am really quite poor at "tasting" sparkling wines. The bubbles throw me, I will admit it. I am also not really one for "flavor spike" wines like this sparkling champagne style with almond. Nevertheless, this was actually fun to drink. It was sweeter than I would have liked, but it easy to see its appeal. This wine, according to the Wilson Creek gang, is what put them on the map. Alex, our server, said that she likes to put a splash of this almond champagne into a glass of our last reviewed wine - the Grand Cuvee Champagne. We brought a bottle home, so when we pop that cork, I'll post another review for comparison.

Grand Cuvee Champagne - $18.95
Eyes: Nearly Clear eggshell
Nose: Nice traditional champagne nose. Granny Smith apple
Palate: small bubbles, crisp and apply. Dry and easily drinkable. Quite nice actually.
Finish: Very nice, though short, smooth finish.
For a southern California winery to produce such a well structured and smooth champagne style wine is something that I (correctly or incorrectly) found amazing. This was really nice. I brought a bottle of this home with me as well, so we'll get to see another review and then we can compare what I tasted there to what I taste here. Then maybe we'll see how much the ambiance and the atmosphere affected my "on site" reviews.

Until then,
Raise a Glass to Temecula Wines and Wilson Creek Winery


Anonymous said...

thank you so much for posting about your visit to temecula! my bf (also a minnesota native) and i are heading there this weekend. i'd love to read more of your notes on the wines you tasted at the other wineries in the area. cheers :)

Anonymous said...

Four parts almond champagne to one part choclate port and you have an Almond Joy. Wonderful!

Terry from Oceanside said...

I've seen your blog post two trips to Temecula. So far you aren't impressed because their are 20 wineries and you haven't hit my favorites yet! I live 30 minutes from Temecula, and visit their wineries at least once a year. Here are my favorite stops:

1) Miramonte
2) Falkner
3) Palomar
4) Stuart Cellars

You did visit Wiens Family Cellars before I had a chance to check them out. I'm going Tuesday. If by chance you ever make it to this area again, check out the above as well as Orfila Vineyards in closeby San Pasqual Valley. Their winemaker Leon Santoro is formerly with Louis Martini and Stags Leap. And then raise a glass...

Andy said...

If you care about animals or people, don't spend your money here!!! This was our favorite vineyard in Temecula and we visited often until last Sunday. Now, I definitely will never go back. I saw the most horrifying thing. I was sitting in the back garden with my friends and one of our friends brought their dog. The dog was a small little black fluffy mix that was sitting attached on a leash beside them. "Cabernet" who is the Wilson's dog came running up and scared the poor little dog. When her dog went to stand up, the beautiful Golden Retriever that is owned by the Wilson's attacked it. The Golden Retriever (who we had seen on many occasions previously) bit into the dog's neck, viciously shook it back and forth, and almost killed it. The dog was screetching and writhing in pain. My friend jumped up and tried to pry her dog out of it's mouth. Finally she succeeded and at the same time a Wilson Creek employee started screaming at her that "dogs are not allowed here." We just witnessed their dog attack and almost kill the poor little dog and instead of seeing if my friend's dog was going to survive, she screamed at us to get it out of there. The other people in the garden were staring dumbfounded. What type of person would scream at someone whose dog was just attacked by the vineyard owner's dog. She did not come to see if the dog was ok, she just took the offending Golden Retriever inside. While her cousin took the poor little injured fluff to get care, my friend went to talk to the owner but the employees said the owner was not there. Several employees began to scream at my friend and tell her "dogs are not allowed." I could understand if there was one ignorant employee but out of seven of them NOT ONE had the decency NOT to be rude and mean. No one cared about the poor little piece of fluff that their vineyard dog attacked and no one had any sense of human decency. Seven different employees told her it was her fault in several different ways: 1) for bringing her dog into the garden (even though there are dogs in the garden very frequently); 2) because her dog growled (when he was scared by the large golden retriever who proceeded to attack him); and 3) because she didn't tell the dog to go away??? I saw the whole thing and there certainly was no time to "tell the dog to go away." My friend was so visably distraught and shaking when she left that place because it was such an incredibly horrifying experience and not one of the employees did anything to help and instead they verbally accosted her WHEN it was their dog who almost killed her little pup. DON'T GO HERE. They are a bunch of phonies. They use their dog as a marketing ploy but they could care less about people or animals.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for fine red wines, Wiens Family Cellars is the place. Focus on the Domestique, their Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre blend, the Tempranillo-Petit Sirah combination, and the Refugio Cabernet Sauvignon, a lush full bodied wine with a long finish. ALSO, the Amour D'Lorange is a wonderful champagne with a delightful citrus finish.