Robert Renzoni Vineyards in Temecula grows up

It was only a little more than a year ago that I set foot on a dusty slope on the De Portola Trail of Temecula Wine Country to greet Robert and his father Fred Renzoni at their new Robert Renzoni Vineyards. At that time, they promised true Italian-style wine, unlike any others in Temecula. The promise was kept, and then some.
This 12-acre remarkable estate has been busy making no less than 14 wines plus a startup Marinara Sauce, Olive Oil and Wine Vinegar business. The property is surrounded by soaring mountains with the vineyards tucked into hillside acreage with a creek running through picnic grounds. It could be Tuscany or Piedmont in the mother country of Italy.
Robert is a passionate product of several generations of Renzoni winemakers. “My family started making wine in 1886 on the Adriatic Coast of Italy,” he said. “I followed in three generations of footsteps in 1989. My family has more years in the wine business than the entire Valley. Ninety-five of the varietals produced here are Italian.” We both sipped his latest triumph, a savory 2006 blend called Fiori Di Fano. “This is our version of a Super Tuscan,” he asserted. “It’s named after my great grandfather’s hometown of Fano, Italy and Fiore means flower. The blend is 40 percent Cabernet, 38 percent Sangiovese, 10 percent Merlot and 3 percent Cab Franc. It’s our flagship wine, aged 22 months in French Oak.” (Wine club price is $36.)
He went on to say that “we are not feeling the depressed economy. It’s a wonderful experience with the growth of our company. The fruit this year is plentiful and we are even harvesting our first Brunello clone of Sangiovese, we first planted on 2007.” (This grape is considered the highest and best quality in Italy, from Montalcino in Tuscany.)
Another brilliantly produced wine is the 2007 Barbera. This Piedmont-style wine is an easy to drink red with a smooth velvet touch to the palate. Robert and his team are producing wines with a lowered alcohol content, in keeping with traditional Italian wines that compliment food, not overpower it.
For summer wine tasting, the new estate Pinot Grigio is best. It has a perfumed fragrance with mild but penetrating floral notes. Wine club price is just $13.50.
The “Vino Famiglia” Wine Club gets the member two special pre-selected Robert Renzoni wines, six times a year, at 25 percent off the regular winery price. Other nice discounts apply and no membership fee is required. See the winery for full details. Call (951) 699-7925 or access the Web site at www.robertrenzonivineyards.com.
Summer wines are everywhere in Temecula
This summer, like no other, light and pink summer wines are flourishing as more customers want easy-on-the-palate refreshing varietals. I have noticed two trends this season: white blends, combining several varietals into a winemaker’s proprietary offering; and the increase in rose (ro-zay) varietals, something of a comeback for this formerly overdone process.
In addition to the Robert Renzoni Pinot Grigio, mentioned above,
here are my summer wine recommendations the next time you do a day-trip to Temecula:
— Thornton Rose 2007 for $22. A blend of 57 percent Cab Franc and 43 percent Sangiovese. Fruit forward and lip smacking cranberry, cherry and strawberry. Chill it for best flavor.
— Ponte Beverino 2008 for $28.95. Beverino means “easy to drink” in Italian. Subtly sweet, try it with a dessert.
— La Cereza Viognier 2008 for $24.95. We have raved about this Rhone-style wine before. Rich, complex and perfumed.
— Falkner Riesling 2007 for $16.95. Winning recent gold, a delightful pear flavored German style touch of sweet.
— Callaway Quartet 2008 for $28. Subtle flavors of melon, pear and pineapple from four white grapes.
Wine Bytes
— The new series of wine extended study courses at San Diego State is starting from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25 with the first class on “Exploring Wine.” The is a certificated program designed to give the student the tools to enter the wine business. Call (619) 594-6924 or visit www.ces.sdsu.edu/ wine.html for details.
— Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido hosts a Quintessa Barrel Sampling from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 21. Cost is $20 to taste one of Napa Valley’s most coveted wines. Call for an RSVP at (760) 745-1200.
— Bistro West in Carlsbad is combining the great Sonoma wines of Ferrari Carano with an exceptional four-course dinner from 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25 for just $55 per person. Cuisine includes shrimp ravioli, veal osso buca and seared New York steak. Call (760) 930-8008 for details.
— South Coast Winery Resort and Spa has a unique Wine & Yoga event on Aug. 28, exclusively for women, from noon to 9 p.m. Includes spa treatment and all amenities, meditational journey of the chakras and an incredible picnic under the stars. The cost is $190 each. Reserve by calling (951) 587-9463, ext. 7280

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