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Sunday, February 21, 2016

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Wine Tasting for Lent

It's the Lenten season where many forego hard liquor for forty days.  In the meantime, we’re tasting wines and beers for this week's Cocktail Hour.
This week, we taste a white and a red…just like you’d get from your wine club shipment!

The white is the Thornton 2008 Gewürztraminer.  Thornton is a winery in Temecula, California that is best known for their sparkling wines.  Temecula is a popular place to visit due to its proximity to Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego which are roughly all equidistant from it.  It’s a hot, dry area sitting south of Lake Elsinore and north of Escondido off of Interstate 15 inland and over the mountains from Camp Pendleton on the coast.
My gripe with the area is that they’ve succumbed to the Napa Valley disease…charging a lot for tasting, and charging a lot more for their wines even though  you can buy them at various retailers for less…because swarms of tourist descend upon the area each weekend.
That grievance aside, they do make some good wines here.
This Gewürztraminer is an example.  From grapes grown in the area, which is known more for reds than whites, this pale, greenishly yellow wine pours like syrup into the cup.  A sniff reveals a citrusy tart, sweet nose with a strong pear scent along with hints of honeysuckle and peach.  It smells like it’s going to be another tarty, immature white.
Drinking is another matter.  Like the pour, there’s a syrupy taste and mouth feel.  It’s not nearly as fruity or tart as the nose would suggest.  The taste is a nice, mature balanced flavor with hints of honey and apple.
Easily the best white wine I’ve had in at least eight months. 
At the winery, this will set you back $22.  The Wine of the Month Club has it for $14.99, while Tom’s Farms…alongside the 15 in Corona…has a 2004 for $9.99.  I’d bet a buck that they’d also have this vintage for less than the winery price too.

For the red, we’re going with a wine we’ve tasted many, many times and picked up while filming our California’s Hidden Wine Country video a couple of weeks ago.  It’s the Centro Basco Red from Galleano Winery in Mira Loma, California.
Here in the Cucamonga Valley it’s hot, dry and dusty…which makes it perfect for bold, red wines like zinfandel.  Centro Basco is a very good Basque restaurant not too far away in Chino.  Galleano produces their house wine, a red table wine blended with their zinfandel grapes.
The nose is peppery with hints of plum and currant.  It’s a dark, inky pour into the glass.
That pepper nose carries over into the taste.  It’s spicy with tastes of cherry and a tannic, oak smoothness.  Slightly pucker.  A perfect complement to the big, bold dinners served at Centro Basco.

There are only two places on this earth to get it.  As the house red at Centro Basco (where they call it a Claret) at $8 a bottle or here at the winery for $5 a bottle.  Yes, those prices are not typos.
You can also get a coupon for a free glass with your dinner when you have a free tasting at the winery.

It’s a much better wine than the price suggests and one of the true bargains in wine but you’ll have to travel to the Inland Empire to get it.  Definitely worth the trip, especially if that includes dinner at Centro Basco.


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