We’ve been waiting for the past year to let Thornton Winery’s new winemaker David Vergari settle in, find his groove and show us what he can do with Temecula grapes. Let me tell you, it was worth the wait.
Experience counts for a lot. Thoughtful appreciation for land stewardship, a focused mindset to mentor grape quality, and a “do what it takes” attitude to bring about a quality finished wine is definitely in residence at Thornton Winery. We’re lucky to have a man who has worked on four continents. According to Vergari, his diverse experiences working abroad, “…has taught me to appreciate what makes a piece of land ideal for grapes and how to take it from there. After a while you can just look at some land and sense that it has what it takes, but it took a lot of travel and experience for this to sink in.” Yup, I get it, and am very glad he’s bringing all that and more to the Temecula Valley wine scene.
Last week, I sat down to taste 14 of David’s new releases (all 2010’s) . A person can get a very good idea of a winemaker’s style after going through 16 of his wines. These are David’s wines from grape to glass, and rings in a new era of style and grace to the Thornton lineup. What comes to mind overall are stylish well balanced wines with cultured structure, varietal fruit expression, soft tannins, and elegance. I love that each wine has its own voice, but does not need to shout to get your attention. My guess is a whole new level of sophistication has arrived in Temecula. Drink these wines now, or lie them down for a few years.
The 2010 Line Up
Barbera – $28. French and American cooperage help frame the raspberry and blueberry aromas . Vibrant fruit character.
Chardonnay – $19. Fruit driven stainless steel beauty with notes of green apple, lemon, citrus and spice.
Cabernet Franc – $24. Nose has hints of pepper, as well as violets, raspberry and cedar.
Cabernet Merlot – $22. A gorgeous blend presenting cherry, blackberry, currant and blueberry nose with a fruit driven entry that is complemented by oak cooperage from France, Eastern Europe and North America.
Cabernet Sauvignon – $29. Classic blueberry and red currant aromas along with some barrel spices. Small quantities of Cab Franc and Petit Verdot bring complexity and nuance.
Estate Syrah- $28. Berry and plum aromas aged in limited new oak by design brings a subtlety that will surprise and delight you.
Estate Petite Sirah – $22. Grapes for this wine were grown on the gently sloping rows of the Thornton Estate’s east block. Lively fruit with aromas of pepper and berries.
Merlot – $22. Aromas of blackberry and plums along with soft tannins make it ready to drink right now.
Mourvedre – $22. Complemented by red fruit aromas, this wine has a gamey, earthy quality to it.
Muscat Canelli – $22. A refreshing aperitif with aromatic and floral aromas of orange blossoms, pear and ginger spice. The right pairing for spicy Asian foods or a fruit salad.
Nebbiolo – $22. Great example of this Italian –style varietal with California influences. Expect finesse and nuance.
Tempranillo – $25. Enjoy the aromas of strawberries, cherries, tobacco, and some soft earthy notes.
Thorny’s Coat Red – $17. A food-friendly blend of Zin, Syrah, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and Barbera makes a wine that has a lot of fruit as well as soft tannins as a counterpoint.
Zinfandel Huis Vineyard $29. Pronounced red raspberry aromas with some spicy notes in the background. Ideal complement to game, red meats and aged cheese.