Raise a toast to the South Coast Winery

This column has been privileged to applaud the accomplishments of  South Coast Winery Resort and Spa in Temecula over the years.  So it was with a fair amount of interest and curiosity that we took the drive up to the recently opened South Coast Winery Restaurant and Tasting Room near South Coast Plaza in Santa Ana.
I was warmly greeted by General Manager Michael Sumeracki and Executive Chef Ulises Navarrete.  The wait help for my table turned out to be a brilliantly smart wine aficionado, Sasha Alms, who has a successful high-end wine party planning business when he’s not dazzling restaurant diners.
My South Coast wine tastings were chosen based on the menu selections that evening, and they were many and varied, displaying an eclectic menu that chef had crafted from his special take on salads, seafood, pastas, beef and chops.
But here’s the special offer only South Coast has in this area.  You can taste five premium reserve South Coast wines of your choice for just $15, ranging from  Petite Sirah from the winery’s Wild Horse Peak Vineyard high in the hills of Temecula, to the French style, 30-month aged Estate Private Reserve Cabernet. 
Another exclusive feature that makes this location a winery as well as a restaurant is that you can buy any of the lineup of South Coast Wines here. The selections especially chosen for my enjoyment:  2009 Gewurztraminer, 2008 Estate Fume, 2007 Grenache and the 2007 Wild Horse Peak Il Temporale (mostly Sangiovese with some Cabernet, Petit Verdot, and Merlot).
Master Winemaker Jon McPherson recently picked up nine awards for his nine entries in the Sparkling Wine Beverage Tasting Institute; and the San Francisco International Wine Competition awarded South Coast Double Gold for its 2009 Late Harvest Semillon and 2008 Wild Horse Peak 2008 Syrah.  Gold was awarded for the 2009 Chardonnay and 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. 
With South Coast Restaurant and Tasting Room,  coastal customers can now stay on the coast and sip the benefits of a great Southern California Temecula vintner, South Coast Winery. See SCWRestaurant.com. or call (714) 957-1857.
Other standout summer taste treats
It’s warm out there and I usually lip-lock on to some lovely whites, a few of which I thought were outstanding, so they are counted in on the big 10 list which this August went like this:
1. Attems Pinot Grigio, Collio District Italy, 2010, $19. Frisky white with penetrating acidity, impressive fruitiness and a lively taste.
2. Briar Rose Cabernet Franc, Temecula Valley, Calif., 2005. $42. Lots of muscle in this private reserve great from the hands of Les Linkogle.  Small lots, limited production, where only the most intense grapes make the bottle.
3. Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, Columbia Valley, Wash., 2010. $6.  A thirst quencher made for summer.  Ripe peach and juicy pear make the day worth while.  Heading toward sweet.
4. D’arenberg Viognier/Mousanne, Mclaren Valley Australia. 2009. $12.  A white Rhone Valley Blend, brilliant stroke. Complex, long lasting taste.
5. Fontodi Chianti Classico, Tuscany Italy, 2007.  $25.  The 2006 made my Top 10 Tastes.  This vintage might be better.  Only naturally grown wine grapes.  All Sangiovese.
6. Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel, Napa Valley, Calif., 2008.  $35. A home run for the venerable history-making winery.  Bio-dynamically grown grapes in Calistoga.  A touch of Petite Sirah dropped in. 
7. Headstand Gewurztraminer, Sonoma, Calif., 2011. $13.  OK, got to say it, you’ll flip over this German bred grape.  Low alcohol so drink with abandon.  Perfect summer cooler.
8. Hogue Reserve Merlot, Columbia Valley, Wash., 2006. $14. Hogue is well known to my readers as it recently committed totally to screw cap closures.  This Merlot shows a pattern of fresh flavor, days after the first open. Winery Of The Year by a leading wine and spirits magazine.
9. Thornton  Nebbiolo, Temecula Valley, Calif., 2007.  $22.  Bravo to the new winemaker David Vergari for this Italian heritage wine with a California influence.  The big “steal” on the list.
10. Vietti Barbera D’Asti, Piemonte Italy, 2008.  $22.  Grown and bottled in the middle of the “Langhe” area of Piemonte where Barolo and Barbaresco command hundreds of dollars each for their top bottles. Good reason to buy a case of this wine.
Wine Bytes
— Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido has B Cellars of Napa Valley present their wines Aug. 20 from 2 to 4 p.m.  Cost is $15. Details at (760) 745-1200.
— Vinz Wine Bar and Lounge in Escondido has Jimmy and Enrique with hot Latin rhythm Aug. 20, from 7 to 10 p.m.  Dinner while you listen.  RSVP at (760) 743-8466,
— Viva Vino in Old Town Temecula has a tour of Spanish Wines and Tapas Aug. 24 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.  Check it out at (951) 506-5953.
— An evening with Justin Wines of Paso Robles with Justin Baldwin is planned at Antonello Restaurant at South Coast Plaza Village in Santa Ana, Aug. 26 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.  Cost is $135 per person.  Call (714) 751-7153.
— An Introduction to Wine and a five-course lunch is yours at San Antonio Winery in Los Angles, from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 27 or Aug. 28, for $52 each. RSVP at (888) 223-1401.

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