Taste of Wine

Discover Tesoro in Temecula

You might call them the new kids on the block but Buzz and Kimberly Olson grew up fast and now they are among the innovators of Temecula Valley winery owners. Their Tesoro Winery is really three attractions: the Old Town Tasting Room with new release treats and gifts for the holiday; the Club House & Urban Barrel Room, a private center where music and special events take place; and the crowing achievement, a vineyard/winery and bed and breakfast, still being realized in the middle of wine country with a spectacular view reminiscent of old Italy.
The new location will be known as Castellini di Tesoro, which will allow up to 10 rooms for a bed and breakfast. The Olsons recently purchased the adjoining property, the well-known “Castle,” which will be the new Tasting Room and Winery.
Veteran Temecula winemaker Etienne Cowper loves to work with smart, small, hands-on wineries that put the wines first. “We lack a distinct identity in Temecula,” he declared. “We must narrow our focus to Mediterranean varietals that suit our terroir. I make some blends that harmonize and gain interest in wines. I bring out the flavors with a longer season.”
Cowper believes in less intervention. “You can tweek a little bit and add a grape for synergy but I don’t believe in covering a wine with barrel manipulation,” he declared. At Tesoro, look for the 2006 Sangiovese, the 2006 Trinita Super Tuscan and 2007 Elio Doro Rhone Blend for great examples of this wine-making style.
The Olsons have old friend and former NFL Rams star Vince Ferragamo coming in for a “Guys Night Out” event at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in the Club House and Barrel Room to benefit the Pure Aveda Ranch for Autism. It includes barbecue dinner, barrel tasting, cigar selection and highlights of Super Bowl XIV, Ferragamo’s big game. Price is $95. Call (951) 308-0000 or visit www.tesorowinery.com for more details. 
Leonesse Cellars wins over Rhone Valley wines SUB SUBHEAD
The Temecula Creek Inn hosted a recent Tale of Two Valleys pitting Syrah from Leonesse Cellars in Temecula versus Syrah from the Rhone Valley in a blind tasting. 
Leonesse was founded in 2003 by Mike Rennie and Gary Winder who had more than 50 years of agriculture and grape-growing experience in the valley. Their offerings are balanced, ripe and concentrated. Well, it was no contest. The Leonesse entries were the near-unanimous choice over the French entries. 
Temecula Creek Inn executive chef Salvatore  Giuliano created pork and lamb dishes that  brought out the best in depth and flavor for the Rhone and Temecula selections.
For more understanding of Leonesse Cellars, visit www.leonessecellars.com.
More wines to know SUB SUBHEAD
Last week we revealed Wine Spectator’s number 10 to six top 10 wines. Here are the rest of the 10:
—5: Altamura, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Red, 2007, $85.
4: Revana, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Red, 2007, $125.
3: Peter Michael, Chardonnay, Sonoma Ma Belle-Fille, White 2008, $85.
—2: Two Hands, Shiraz, Barossa Valley Australia, Red 2008, $55.
—1: Saxum, Grenache-Mourvedre-Syrah Blend, Paso Robles, 2007, $67.
 In the last two months up to Nov. 1, after some 70 events and many more tastings, I recommend these wines. Most are widely available. Check Google or Bing for others.
— Banfi, Chianti Superiore, Sangiovese/Cabernet Blend, Tuscany Italy, 2008,  $11.
— Chateau St. Michelle/Dr. Loosen, Eroica Riesling, Washington, 2008, $18.
— Grgich Hills Estate, Fume Blanc, Napa Valley, 2009, $30.
Justin, Justification Cab Franc/Merlot Blend, Paso Robles, 2008, $45.
—Starmont, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2006, $18.
Taste Of Wine is excited to now be linked in with Dining Out San Diego, the area’s leading glossy magazine on fine dining, available now in the great restaurants and wine shops in San Diego County. Look for our first column on Winemakers To Know.  Learn more at www.diningout.com/sandiego.
Wine Bytes SUBHEAD
— Owner’s Picks Wine Party at Bacchus Wine Market downtown San Diego from 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3. Karin pours her faves including Bordeaux, Barolo, Cabernet … only the good stuff with gourmet appetizers. Cost is $25 per person. Call (619) 236-0005 for more information.
— Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas pours a blind Napa Face-Off from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 3. There is a $20 fee. Call (760) 479-2500 for details.
— Falkner Winery in Temecula hosts a Holiday Winemaker Dinner at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11 with a reception before a five-course meal and Falkner’s best wines. Cost is $85.  RSVP at (951) 676-8231, ext. 109.
— Old Town Temecula Theatre has the beloved “Nutcracker” Dec. 14 through Fri. Dec. 24.  Cost and details available at (888) 363-2852.