I began writing this article from a bench on the pier in Pismo Beach, with the surf washing up on the shore and the gentle sounds of the coast all around me. I made a lot of plans for this trip and I intended to explore so many wineries that I had to start an Excel document to keep track of all my planned destinations. So in the midst of all this activity, I had to think of something really great for this Temecula Tuesday. I needed something that would be just as exciting as the task before me. The answer: Stuart Cellars.
I visited this winery a few weeks ago and was very impressed by not only the quality of their wines, but also their style. Family owned and operated, Stuart Cellars makes wines that are true to Californian typicity with an Old World influence. Their line includes something for everyone, with a vast selection of white wines, both varietal and blended reds, and even a few dessert wines.
During this visit, my focus was entirely on reds, and although every one of the wines I tried impressed me, today it’s their varietal Bordeaux wines that are getting the attention.
Wine #1: Stuart Cellars 2007 Watters Vineyard Temecula Valley Malbec
Our first wine caught my attention right away, after having just devoted an entire week to Malbec not too long ago. Sourced from a single vineyard and bottled unfiltered, this wine had all the makings of a masterpiece of complexity.
Subtle tones of tart cranberry cut through an absolutely earthy nose. The depth of this wine’s forest tones is stunning. There are mossy aromas of forest floor, mushrooms, and a deep, rich, soil and berry bush component.
Delicate moss and berry bush tones introduce the palate, with intricately woven flavors of forest floor appearing on the mid palate. Pine sap and fallen fir needles mingle with dried orange peel and mushrooms to create an experience that is not only surprisingly unique, but also extremely impressive. The depth and sense of place this wine delivers is just spectacular, combine that with a full, elegantly balanced body, and you’ve got a wine…
Worth Trying. 91 points.
Wine #2: Stuart Cellars 2006 Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
There’s nothing like a classic, well integrated, big and gripping Cabernet. I try to explore lesser known varietals that don’t have quite the name recognition that Cab does, but every once in a while, regardless of popularity, I’ve got to give credit where it is due.
This wine offers aromas of blue cheese, nuts, and blackcurrant. Blackberries, violets, and coffee beans appear at the core, and wet chalk and blueberries open up on the spin.
There are foresty tones of blackberry and blueberry on the palate, with an edge of blackcurrant leaves and deep minerally, black stone components. Crushed raspberry, floral tones, and butter make an appearance and last into the finish. This is a restrained, well structured Cabernet, with refined, smooth tannins, and an overall impressive effort.
Worth Trying. 90 points.
Wine #3: Stuart Cellars 2007 Temecula Valley Cabernet Franc
One of my favorite lesser known Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Franc is probably the most distinctive red from the region. There is just absolutely no way to confuse its signature black stone, black pepper, and green bell pepper aroma and flavor profile. I think of this grape as the red equivalent of Sauvignon Blanc, green toned, incredibly expressive, and sometimes a little intimidating. But just like Sauvignon Blanc, in the hands of a skilled winemaker, this otherwise tight, austere varietal can open up multiple layers of complexity and a refined, Old World mouthfeel.
The aroma is dominated by very ripe, dark red fruit and something like melted brown sugar. Browned butter with black pepper and green plum and tomato leaves add depth to a sweet, pleasant core.
The same very ripe, dark, and supple fruit detected on the nose make their presence known instantly on the palate. Moving in, there are black minerals and slightly coastal tones that sort of make me think of Hawaii’s black sand beaches. There are violets and notes of geranium, with blackberry and plum making up the mid palate and finish. This wine has a very Old World, reserved styling to it, and its depth, transparency, and excellent balance make it a very impressive, enjoyable drinking experience.
Worth Trying. 90 points.
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The Grapevine: What’s your favorite food pairing with an awesome Bordeaux wine? (You pick the varietal.)