Kemblefield Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Featuring a guest post by Aunt Donna!

Purchased from Total Wine & More: $8.99

Aaron: Though normally a red guy, I greatly enjoyed this bottle.  The strong citrus and apple flavors were crisp and left a wonderful flavor on the palate.  The nose was a little weak but this was more than compensated for by the flavor.  I actually found this to be surprisingly creamy on the finish for a savignon blanc and loved how long the flavor lingered on.  This was a refreshing white which paired well with a nice tropical chicken dish.  I would highly recommend.  90 points

Teri: This Sauvignon Blanc was crisp and refreshing. Complementary to the nice light color of the wine the taste was full and lingers on the taste buds. The stainless steal fermentation of the grape brings out full cantaloupe and grapefruit flavors without any oak. Great bottle for any occasion. 92 points

Auntie: I usually enjoy white wines, but this was a little too sweet and fruity for me.  Personally, I love nice buttery Chardonnays, so I was hoping to get a richer flavor.  It was unique and nice for a one time trial, but I probably wouldn’t buy it on my own.  85 Points 


Thornton Winery Wine Tasting

Thornton Winery Website

This is a MUST STOP location in Temecula for some great wines. We have not found a winery, until this one, where we loved everything we tried. The wine maker’s signature brings out heavy fruit and perfect tannins in each wine. Taste flights come with full, 2-ounce portions in each glass, so plan to spend some time here and perhaps order a little food with your tasting. As the only winery in Temecula producing sparkling wines (champagnes), you really have versatility in choosing wines to taste. More important, take your time, there are lovely areas to sit both inside and outside while you enjoy your wines so don’t be in a rush. Check out local maps or for 2 for 1 tasting coupons and use the extra money to tip the friendly staff a little more – they’re wonderful and give great advice.

Non-Vintage Brut
Teri: This was crisp and dry with a clean finish that bursts into pleasant aftertastes of apple and tropical flavors. A great sparkling wine that leaves you wanting another sip. 90 points 

Aaron: I usually enjoy bruts because they give the firm flavor I want with a nice carbonated tingle.  This however blew everything I’d had before out of the water!  I felt this was the perfect blend of mild bubbles and crisp fruit.  Moreover, the flavor was not too dry and didn’t get too sweet.  I loved the pear and apple on the palate and can honestly say this is my new favorite Brut.  95 points

2010 Chardonnay
Aaron: This is the best Chardonnay I’ve ever had.  When I tasted the crisp apple and citrus I smiled and applauded the steel tank fermentation.  What won me over however was the long, buttery finish, molding into a luscious cream and leaving the perfect memory of flavor.  The lingering sensation was long enough to savor the brilliance but used no bite – a sure win.  This was mature and round and drank like a red wine, making it the perfect white! 96 points

Teri: I have always been a fan of whites fermented in stainless steel but this one takes the cake. Lots of apricot and pear on the nose with even more flavors of apple and lemon on the palate. There are many flavors to taste but one does not overpower the other leaving it complex but pleasing. The flavor is long and lingers like many reds do but it holds its Chardonnay characteristics and remains cool and refreshing.  Aaron said it best when we were sitting there “this wine drinks like a red.” 93 points

2010 Thorny’s Coat Red
Teri: This wine combines Zin, Syrah, Tempranillo, Petite Syrah and Barbera making a complex wine that surprisingly has extremely smooth tannins. It is medium to full bodied with a small hint of spice on the finish. I think this wine would be best when paired with multiple food items as its complexity can bring out different flavors. 82 points

Aaron: I equated this smell to the jam from a strong zin.  There was lots of strawberry in the flavor and a little too much pepper for how thin the wine was.  As I thought about this I developed one of my newest measures: the pepper to body ratio (acknowledging that some pepper is critical to fuller bodied wines).  The ratio on this wine was a little out of balance but when paired with a good food it stood up to the test; I just wouldn’t drink it alone.  85 points

2010 Merlot
Teri: I was first impressed by the nose on this wine. It smelled sweet with a hit of apricot, very strange characteristic for a merlot. The taste wasn’t as sweet at I predicted from the smell but contained a multitude of red fruits and again a very very smooth finish with just a hint of spice. I think this bottle would appease a variety of wine drinkers. 87 points

Aaron: This Merlot featured a prominent raspberry on both the nose and palate.  The super smooth taste was nice for this medium bodied wine and I felt the tannins were strong enough without being overbearing.  I envision this pairing well with lighter meals because of its mellow flavor.  87 points

2010 Barbera
Teri: As a lover of the Barbera grape this one brought out flavors I didn’t even know a barbera could make! Receiving a huge whiff of strawberry for its smell, I wouldn’t have known it was a barbera unless I was told. Extremely strong fruit forward (similar to good pinot noir) of strawberry and raspberry with a medium body and smooth tannins to carry the flavor all the way until the finish. Excellent wine that I think would appease many white drinkers and lovers or pinot noir. 91 points

Aaron: Teri loves Barbera a little more than I do.  Personally I found this to be a little too light and felt the flavor dissipated before I could truly enjoy it.  I did like the smooth finish but felt the wine could use more body.  86 points

2010 Zinfandel Huis Vineyard
Teri: Fitting with all of the other wines we drank at this winery this one was no different. Lots of fruit on the nose and taste and smooth quality tannins. I would characterize this Zin as the ‘zin for non zin drinkers’ because of its strong cherry and red fruit flavors carried through from start to finish in this medium bodied red. Doesn’t provide the “kick” that Aaron likes from his zin’z but I loved it!  92 points

Aaron: For how much I adore Thorton’s Chardonnay I was somewhat disappointed with the Zin.  Overall it was pleasant but was just too medium bodied for me.  Strong jammy plum on the nose produced a slightly sweet, fruity smell and gave way to a gentle palate.  There was a bold bouquet of fruit on the taste buds but the liquid was lighter than expected.  I love the smooth finish with no pepper but there was a noticeable lack of tannins.  87 points

2010 Muscat Canelli 
Teri: This is a perfect wine to end any meal or enjoy just by itself. Lots of apricot and peach on the nose with flavors in the wine to match. Its fruit flavors linger but are not as sweet as you might expect from a muscat (a side effect from the higher alcoholic percentage 14.1%!) Next time I go back I am getting a whole glass. 91 points 

Aaron:  This was not bad for a sweeter wine – mostly because it wasn’t too sweet.  I honestly felt like I was drinking a thick chardonnay (though to be clear for a sweet wine this was not thick or syruppy).  The strong apricot nose was enjoyable and like most of the wines from Thornton the palate was mellow and pleasant.  88 points

Hamilton Oaks Wine Tasting

Hamilton Oaks is a charming winery nestled in the back of the Trabuco canyon. Passing cooks corner and making your way through the rolling hills of Trabuco you finally arrive at a secluded neighborhood where the winery is located with a small tasting room and lots of open patio space to sit and enjoy the wines.  Hamilton Oaks had 5 wines on the tasting list:

Chardonnay 2011

Teri: I normally lean towards reds but this Chardonnay was my favorite on their tasting list. Light, crisp, apple and pear with a very nice long finish. 91 points

Aaron: I was surprised at how smoothly this Chardonnay went down after experiencing the slightly acidic flavor.  Both the smell and the taste featured a dry citrus and I found this to be natural, but not as fruit forward as I would like.  86 points

Zinfandel 2006

Teri: This was an old vine zinfandel–normally gives richer qualities to the grape variatle. The nose was the best part on this wine with strong strawberry and sweet floral smells. The medium tannins gave a shart bite at first taste then the finish was smooth and full. I still received lots of strawberry (as hinted in the smell) and strong pepper on the finish. Good overall but not my favorite. 81 points    

Aaron: I love old vine zins – the bold flavors are always appealing to me, but I found this to be thin and almost bitter.  The smell was brilliant with a strong sense of strawberry and a mixture of multiple other berries.  My best description is that this wine wants to have a jammy flavor when it grows up – it really just isn’t there yet. One consistency throughout all the wines we tried here was the dirty oak flavor (certainly not my preference).  This dissipated quickly but left a hint of spice lingering on after the swallow.  84 points

Melange de sud 2009

Teri: This was Hamilton’s standards red table wine blend of merlot, cab, syrah, and barbera. The nose was light and sweet but the wine itself had very strong tannins that left me with a strong puckering feeling after the flavor dissipated quickly. I was excited to see that this blend contained barbera, a favorite of mine, but this wine did not even come close to bringing the great barbera qualities. 68 points

Aaron: I was less than satisfied with this blend.  Though I’m not a fan of blends normally anyway, this flavor just didn’t last.  Moreover, for the short time it lingered on the palate there was a hint of oak, far too little fruit and not much else.  78 Points

Malbec 2008

Teri:  Malbec is continually gaining popularity in the US and also with me. Hamilton’s Malbec was a bright rich red color with strawberry and oak on the nose. The flavors also contained the strawberry and cherry making this a pleasant medium body wine. There was a slight bitterness to this wine that I seemed to get with all of the red wines we tried here. It is probably just a signature of the wine maker but it didn’t sit well with my taste buds. 85 points

Aaron:  I enjoyed the bold smell of this Malbec and sensed some fruit and cocoa.  The flavor featured mild tannins with some pepper but finished smoothly.  Unfortunately there was still simply not enough fruit flavor (this is wine we’re drinking right?).  I had difficulty qualifying what I tasted, it wasn’t exactly oak, but it was definitely a little dirty.  85 points

Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Teri: This cab carried a very similar nose to all of the red wines we tried while at Hamilton: medium strength, red fruits. The wine had a burst of fruit (cherry, plum) on the forward taste then lots of oak taste on the finish with some pepper. Good overall but not anything spectacular in my opinion. 78 points

Aaron: I felt this cab was definitely the best of all the wines we tried at Hamilton but still not great.  The bouquet was musty with moderate fruits and did not blend well with the flavor.  The most noticeable attribute was the medium tannins on the aftertaste, coupled with a slightly peppery and almost chalky flavor.  I felt this would be drinkable with a meal whose flavor wasn’t too intense, but did not stand alone well.  86 points

Ghost Pines Zinfandel 2008

Purchased from Total Wine & More, $13.49
The 2009 vintage can be found at BevMo, $19.99

Aaron: Two words: strawberry jam.  The smell, the flavor, everything – almost overwhelmingly – was a beautiful red berry jam.  This was highly evident on the nose and complemented by a slight hint of woody undertones.  The taste was very similar, featuring a bold, robust flavor that left a long, lingering finish.  I honestly could not taste any black fruits but was rather fond of what I equate to a taffy-like consistency on the palate.  Don’t take this the wrong way – this unique finish was very interesting.  I love theway it lingered on and left a thick, flavorful sensation on the tongue.  Overall I enjoyed the bottle. 93 Points

Teri: Right out of the bottle this wine is a beautiful dark ruby color. Everything we have tried from Ghost Pines has been excellent and this bottle is the best so far. This zin is full bodied but not heavy or overwhelming. It contains LOTS of strawberry flavors on both the front and back end in a semi-sweet jam taste that sits well in the mouth. I also got a little hint of oak towards the finish. If you are a fan of Pinot Noir don’t be scared by the zin label…you will love this bottle. 93 points

Buena Vista Pinot Noir 2008

Purchased on special at Trader Joe’s, $9.99
Also available at:
Total Wine and More, $15.99
BevMo, $22.99

Aaron: I was shocked to discover this was pinot.  Had this not been a blind tasting I would have assumed somebody switched the label.  This wine was so brilliantly dark and featured a velvety medium body, both of which I normally do not associate with pinots.  The smell and taste were very similar to me, both featured some wood and nut flavors and I enjoyed the soft vanilla marbled throughout.  I was initially impressed and throughout the entire tasting my opinion did not change. 90 points

Teri: This has been a favorite bottle of mine for a while. I spied it at Trader Joe’s around valentines days for this amazing price and had to get one….wish I would have gotten more! Coming from the Carneros region of napa, this is a great area for pinot noir grapes. Buena Visa has made a great pinot containing heavy a fruit forward flavor that I would classify as strawberry and cherry and a light spice on the finish.  The wine is medium bodied with nice medium tannins that would pair well with lighter meals.  90 points


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