Thursday, June 16, 2011


Wines of South Coast Winery

One of Temecula’s showcase wineries - South Coast Winery - held their second live-streamed Group Therapy session of 2011 on May 25th.  Interested parties watched the live video stream and tweeted with one another - and the world - about the wines they were tasting.

The event is designed to coincide with their wine club shipments, so you can expect another Group Therapy session sometime in August.  Tasters were able to order ahead of time the package of wines being featured so they could taste and tweet along with everyone else.  Now And Zin was provided with complimentary samples for review.

With one event like this already under their belts, the group at South Coast Winery seemed pretty relaxed in their comfy chairs in front of a cozy fireplace.  South Coast Owner Jim Carter and winemakers Jon McPherson and Javier Flores held the fireside chat in a living room setting with the logs burning behind them.  Carter used the homey setting to announce that the South Coast wines will soon be distributed nationally.

The participants on the viewing end had a nice time, too.  In addition to those tasting in person, there were wine lovers chatting on the winery’s website and on Twitter about the four wines in the tasting group.  I caught several comments indicating pleasant surprise at the quality of the wines as well as at least one complaining of overly ripe fruit.  That’s a matter for debate; while the flavors were admittedly big, I didn’t feel it was something unexpected from grapes grown in Southern California.

Here are the wines which were tasted in the most recent Group Therapy session:

the tasting tableSouth Coast Winery Sauvignon Blanc Musqué Clone 2009 
Temecula Valley Carter Estate Vineyard
This extremely aromatic wine is made entirely of the Musqué clone of Sauvignon Blanc.  That’s a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat.  This clone allows the florality of Muscat to soften the acute grassiness of Sauvignon Blanc.  The Carter Estate Vineyard, from which the grapes come, is now seven years old.  The wine has an amazingly low alcohol level of 12.2% abv.

Light in color and beautifully aromatic, the wine has generous notes of fresh cut grass and a driveway after a brief rain.  The mouthfeel comes on strong, too.  There’s a striking acidity, with flavors of lemon peel and minerals.

South Coast Winery Brut 2007 
Temecula Valley Sparkling Wine
70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, this sparkler shows off its main grape.  Most of the fermentation was in stainless steel, while only 12% of the blend was fermented in new French oak.  Closed cuve secondary fermentation with 11 months on the lees finished this methode champenoise offering.  The alcohol level is 13% abv.

Despite the limited exposure to oak, there's a very aromatic nose with huge yeasty notes.  Flavors of apples and citrus dominate the palate, and there is quite a bit of acidity.  It's a very fizzy wine, but when the bubbles die down it takes on the feel of a dry still wine with a touch of yeastiness.  Several tasters were pining for some sushi to pair with it.

South Coast Winery Tempranillo Rosé 2010 
Temecula Valley Carter Estate Vineyard
This Temecula Tempranillo is a beautiful light magenta color.  The nose is, once again, aromatic.  Strawberries are met with a touch of funk, while herbal berry aromas also come into play.  The wine offers a zippy acidity, and the strawberry and cherry flavors are enormous!

South Coast Winery Syrah 2005 
Temecula Valley Rolling Hills Estate Vineyard
This Syrah was fermented in stainless steel and aged 14 months in French/American hybrid barrels.  The 14.3% abv alcohol level makes itself known on the nose, which is all spices, vanilla and clove layering over the blackberry and cassis fruit.  Definitely not a cool climate Syrah, there's a ton of very ripe and juicy aromas with lots of spice and a touch of tar.
The palate shows intense fruit with big spice flavors as well.  There's a lot of influence from the oak at first and it runs a bit hot, so let it sit a while or decant before serving.  The wine shows a great meatiness after it opens up a bit.  Three days after opening the nose is incredible.  Tar, leather, meat and sage all play with an admirable complexity.

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