The Magnificent 7 now at Thornton Winery

Success in any endeavor these days, no matter what the product or service, is measured by a number of different yardsticks. Image means a lot in any enterprise, but in the wine world, product is first and foremost.
In the Temecula Valley, Thornton Winery’s 22 years making acclaimed wine seems a lifetime compared to the recent flurry of new wineries that have come on board or have aspirations. A recent drive-thru revealed six colorful “coming soon” vineyard and winery signs.
In 1988, a prominent San Diego family, John, Sally and son Steve Thornton, made the decision to purchase an existing winery and opened Thornton Winery at the gateway to the Temecula Valley.
They concentrated on award-winning and premium varietal wines. Using a process called Methode Champenoise to make sparkling wine/champagne, the awards and medals quickly followed, in a burst of fame from this traditional French method of production.
Their Brut Reserve is considered one of the finest classically made Methode Champenoise in the country. This varietal got so much of a reputation that for a while, Thornton was considered a “one trick pony,” a winery that was known for this one style of wine. No more. Under Steve Thornton’s direction, the winery smartly diversified into the French Rhone-Italian style that has uncorked a magnificent seven new releases, mostly 2007 vintage wines. They are:
1. 2008 Viognier for $28. My favorite white. Floral notes with a tropical underbelly of coconut and tangerine.
2. 2007 Thorny’s Coast Red for $18. What’s a complex wine like this doing with a value price like that? A blend of nine vineyards with a combination of Syrah, Grenache, Barbera and Sangiovese.
3. 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon for $30. Native grapes from the west hills of Temecula and the Deluz area of Fallbrook.
4. 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel for $28. Produced from century-old vines from Cucamonga, with original clones planted by Italian and Portuguese farmers. Rich berry fruit and spice.
5. 2007 Huis Vineyard Zinfandel for $36. Barrel aged 22 months highlights what the Temecula Valley can do with Zinfandel. Balanced flavors and lowered alcohol. A “delicate monster,” raves the winery.
6. 2007 Nebbiolo for $34. My personal favorite of the seven. The grape backbone for the famous Italian twin towers: Barolo and Barbaresco. Rich, visceral red fruit and mocha on the palate. A sell-out every year.
7. 2007 Estate Petite Sirah for $40. Complex and big, color and structure reaches new heights. California style wine, grown on the property.
So there it is, a five-star lineup of new, exciting wines from the proven cellars of Thornton. Other features to be familiar with are the wine clubs and their special pricing and benefits, and the Champagne Jazz and Supper Club Concerts that run every weekend through September. Get all you need to know at
Wrap your lips around these
Other wine tastes worth noting this past month or so:
— Banfi Chianti ClasscioTuscany Italy, 2007 for $10. Banfi just won the Best of Italy award at the San Francisco International Wine competition. It’s easy to see why with this worthy value wine. Lovely cherry and plum flavors.
— Ferrari-Carano Prevail West Face, Sonoma, 2005 for $55. Deep purple. Vineyards faced for ideal exposure. Blend is 65 percent Cabernet, 35 percent Syrah. Classic Proportion.
— J Vineyards Pinot Noir Nicole’s Vineyard Sonoma, 2007 for $50. Dark plum, cherry and fennel.
— Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon, Three Vineyards Sonoma, 2008 for $16. Full-bodied, hand-picked fruit from the first family of value wines in Sonoma. Recent gold winner at the Orange County Fair. Will excel even more with age.
Wine Bytes
— Cal State San Marcos has a Wine & Brew Festival from 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 14. Twelve local wine and beer names to know. A variety of local restaurants will be offering food samplings.  Live music and silent auction. Cost is $35 for alumni and $50 for the public.  Call (760) 750-4270 for details.
— San Diego Wine Company presents Italian and French wines from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 14 for a $10 fee. Call (858) 586-9463 for details.
— Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido has come up with a $5 Wine-Down Monday. Starting at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 16 it’s the Wines of Portugal and Aug. 23 it’s Chardonnay.  Call (760) 745-1200 for details.
— San Diego State’s next wine class is “Red, White and Champagne,” Mondays starting Aug. 16, part of its Professional Certificate in the Business of Wine. Call (619) 594-6924 for the complete story.


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