What better way to welcome the new year than to go wine tasting? In our family, at least, this is pretty much a rhetorical question. The only serious question on the floor was the selection of wineries for our first outing of 2015. After some spirited discussion, we settled on a mix of old and new winery friends. Here’s how our day started, kicking off the year at Murrieta’s Well.
Sited on an estate dating back to the mid-1800’s, Murrieta’s Well is now part of the Wente family. The grounds and tasting room are beautiful, a bit off the beaten path, and well worth the trip. All of their wines are made from grapes grown on the 92 acre estate. This focus on small lot, premium wines was apparent in every wine we tasted.
The Murrieta’s Well tasting room is spacious, warm and inviting, with lots of dark wood and seasonal decorations. Visitors are arranged around tables made from wine barrels and long dark bar-tops. Although we didn’t visit the beautiful barrel room downstairs, we have previously enjoyed that venue during a chef’s meal with wine pairings many years ago as part of a wine club event.
Some of us started with some white wine, their 2011 Semillon Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc blend. Starting with a Chardonnay aroma, this pool-side favorite showed hints of peach and citrus with a nice oaky finish. Just add a warm breeze and a chaise by the pool… oh, I just can’t wait for the return of summer! This was our first bottle purchase of the day.
The rest of us started with the 2012 Tempranillo. A zippy expression of the Tempranillo grape, there are citrus zest and blackberry notes that would pair well with an aromatic soft cheese and a roaring fire.
Next, our wine host Barbara brought all of us their 2012 Cabernet Franc. A true small lot wine, only 16 barrels of this wine were produced. We found this nicely balanced, with good acid and a pleasant cherry finish. Although this wine is ready now, this will be truly memorable in a year or two.
The 2012 Touriga Nacional was our next taste. This was smooth, with one long note on the palate. A balance of tannin and acid, this calls out for a nicely seared steak and baked potato on the side.
The 2012 Zarzuela is a blend of Tempranillo, Touriga, Souzão and Petite Sirah grapes. Souzão is a Portuguese varietal that is most commonly associated with Port. This blend was a real favorite with our group. A parade of flavors, starting with clove and spice notes and moving through an amazing roller coaster of fruit, this wine can pair well with most meals but has enough complexity to stand by itself.
Our final tasting was the 2011 Petit Verdot. This an LVAWA Featured Varietal Program wine, which means that it enjoys special pricing all month. Pricing aside, we found this wine to be superbly balanced and complex, with low acidity and a lot of fruit. This was our second purchase of the day.
Our tasting flight complete, we wished Barbara a happy new year and set off to our next winery.
Happy New Year!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?