Today’s article is a continuation of my tasting adventures at Briar Rose Winery first mentioned a few weeks ago in Post #29: Strange Fruit: Temecula Tuesday #5: Tasting Two Whimsical Whites by Briar Rose Winery. If you’d like to know more about the winery and their white wine offerings, be sure to check it out. Today’s post features four assorted reds by Briar Rose, not including their Cabernet Sauvignons, which will be featured in part three of this tasting. Each of these wines is truly spectacular, and each one affirms my opinion that this Temecula Valley, “fairy tale” winery is the fairest in all the land.
Wine #1: Briar Rose Winery 2004 Temecula Valley Cabernet Franc
This lovely wine is the final red Briar Rose has chosen to pour in their standard tasting lineup. The winery also offers an “ultra premium” tasting of their most expensive vintages, which I have yet to try, and a “premium” tasting, which is the source of the other three wines in this review. So, in essence, let’s begin our tasting with a grande finale.
The nose on this wine is over flowing with sweet, delicate kitchen spices, soft plum, and deep black currant preserves. It’s almost slightly maple-like and there are tons of really nice, earthy aromas that remind me of peat and cigars. It has a very nice soil toned minerality with a dark fruitiness, and the softest tinge of green.
It opens plush with soft, ripe fruit tones, a slightly grilled quality and a combination of dried cherries and cranberries. There is an edge to this wine, which is reflected in its characteristically Cabernet Franc, green quality and its peppery mid palate. It’s nicely earth toned, with cacao nibs and coffee beans, giving depth to the mix. The finish lasts for a considerable amount of time and is almost reminiscent of rose hips.
This wine is very nicely done, and it has a masterfully controlled structure and body that is often difficult to find in Cabernet Franc. The tannins are gripping, while remaining smooth, and there is a certain fullness, which is maintained quite nicely by this wine’s minerality and earth tones. It’s refined, balanced, and almost Old World influenced, and a solid buy at $42. A wine…
Worth Trying. 91 points.
Wine #2: Briar Rose Winery 2004 Temecula Valley Petit Verdot
Our second wine is one of my favorite unknown varietals. Petit Verdot is one of the five traditional grapes used in the red wine of Bordeaux. Traditionally a blending grape, used to add a little extra impact to the mix, Petit Verdot is now increasingly gaining attention as a varietal all its own. It’s small berry size creates a high skin to pulp ratio, allowing for big, inky, and sometimes tannic wines with excellent intensity that can easily get out of hand when trying to be toned by inexperienced winemakers. Fortunately, Briar Rose knows what they’re doing.
The aroma of this wine is so intensely chocolate and coffee toned that it almost smells infused. It’s absolutely inviting with tons of black stone, honey, plum preserves, and rose petals. There is the faintest tinge of green herbs, vanilla cream, and concord jam, with delicate earth tones.
The palate opens sweet, with a lush, velvety quality. There are tons of dark, faintly dried tones of berry and cranberry. Cherry pie filling and dark honey lead into a coffee and chocolate flavored finish. The body and structure of this wine is quite well composed, and the finish is incredibly flavored and lasting. This is definitely one of the most elegant takes on Petit Verdot that I have found, and whether you’re new to the grape or a seasoned fanatic, this is an awesome experience. For just over $100, this wine isn’t cheap, but for the quality, this is a wine…
Worth Trying. 92 points.
Wine #3: Briar Rose Winery 2007 Temecula Valley Katrina Estate Zinfandel
Zinfandel is an amazing varietal with the potential to produce some outstanding wines, however, in the heat of California’s sunniest climates, it can also become massively thick and overpowering if not carefully controlled. Briar Rose attempted to create an “Old World” styled Zinfandel with this bottling, by aging their 100% single varietal juice in French and American oak barrels for 16 months. The result was as follows.
The nose on this wine is characteristically jammy, and very smoky, with a somewhat bitter, brambly, and extremely powerful quality. Interestingly enough, it has notes of apple and pear, combined with more traditional chocolate and licorice, with an exceptionally dark minerality. It really comes across as being extremely elegant, with a great amount of varietal spice and terroir based minerals.
It opens very sweet and rich, with tons of lush, ripe, jammy fruit. Blackberry and plum preserves dominate the palate, but it has an excellent balance, and a fullness that makes it a completely hedonistic experience. Lush, fruity, sweet and silky smooth, this wine is almost criminally good, and the coffee bean and chocolate toned finish, that seem to last forever, make it unforgettable. This is an amazingly crafted Zinfandel, brimming with complexity and perfectly balanced, entirely free of any alcoholic heat, but the ripeness of it’s fruit, and its absolutely velvety texture make it a truly opulent. Absolutely heavenly and possibly one of my all time favorite wines, at $92…
Worth Every Cent. 94 points.
Wine #4: Briar Rose Winery 2005 Temecula Valley Temecula One
Briar Rose’s take on a California Meritage blend, Temecula One was crafted to compete with the biggest names in the Napa Valley. It’s made in the “Super Tuscan” style, which blends the traditional grapes of Tuscany with those of Bordeaux. Composed of 40% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot, this wine is built to take on the best on both sides of the world.
The nose on this wine is buttery and sweet with an excellent amount of spice. It’s got tons of delicate rich solid components, the same chocolate tone that I am finding throughout most of their reds, and almost something along the lines of an English toffee. More typical plum preserves, and cherry pie filling make an appearance, with a light touch of finely ground pepper, and a bit of melted licorice.
A bit smoky at first, and then giving way to some pepper and menthol, this wine is unique. The mid palate is full of juicy black currant and rustic leather, combined with chocolate covered mint leaves, and an excellent, dig-into-the-soil earthiness. This wine’s structure is what truly makes it a work of art. It’s so elegant and balanced, with an amazing way of capturing each varietal’s characteristics, a generous taste of the terroir, and tying them all together flawlessly, creating an incredibly refined masterpiece. Not cheap at $115, but neither at the big name competitors from Napa Valley. This is a real wine, you can taste the passion they pour into their product, this is what fine wine making is all about. If you’re going to buy a $100+ bottle of wine and you want to get every possible drop of value out of your money, this is a wine…
Worth Buying. 94 points.
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The Grapevine: Of the four, what would be your choice? What’s your style of wine?