I just visited with Keyways Winery (Temecula Valley) winemaker David Raffaele this week to see how his winemaking program is coming along. David invited me to come over and taste some of his new wines. Because I spend so much time traveling to other wine regions around the US and internationally, I don’t have much time left over to visit this trending appellation which is right in my own backyard. So, I don’t do much on Temecula wines anymore, but I am glad I accepted David’s invitation. Final report card? Damn fine wine, thank you very much.
David’s vision for Keyways is simple: to continue learning the science and art behind great winemaking and viticulture, to promote Temecula Valley’s unique terroir, produce Rhone style food -friendly wines, and develop innovative winemaking programs that will bring Temecula Valley grapes into their highest form of varietal expression, depth and character.
David like most innovative winemakers isn’t afraid to try new things, experiment in barrel and in the vineyards, change his mind about what the best direction for his wine program is, and is not above hiding a barrel or two from the rest of the group to see what happens using different treatments.
I enjoyed his lighter treatment of the new releases. All the right Temecula components are there, just not overdone in some of the monster styles warm climates tend to produce. If you’ve traveled in Italy and France and loved the elegant, food friendly, easy sipping, family wines produced there, you’re going to love David’s new offerings. I was especially taken with the following wines.
Cuvée Blanc 2011 ($27) – This medium bodied white is a Rhone-styled blend of Grenache Blanc, somewhat influenced by barrel-fermented Roussanne and a dash of Viognier . Think bright fruit and sweet cream. Loved the aromatics of tangerine, pear and hints of toasted almond followed by tropical fruit, melon and honey. David says to enjoy this wine with semi-soft cheeses or Ratatouille.
Albariño 2011, Temecula Valley ($23) – A hard to find, but up and coming varietal for the Temecula Valley, Albariño is beginning to make a name for itself. Commonly found growing in the northwest regions of Spain and Portugal, this grape does extremely well in warm climates. I think you’ll like this light crisp wine. With its lighter style it is perfect for hot summer days. The honeysuckle on the nose is complemented by apricot and peach undertones with a hint of minerality. A great patio or Jacuzzi wine and David tells me it pairs well with seafood and shellfish dishes.
Valley Cuvée Du Nord 2010 ($35) – This wine is so good, I’d like to share it with all of my Wine Councils as an example of what’s right with Southern California appellation wines. David says its, “Temecula Valley’s answer to the red blends traditionally known to come from the Northern Rhone Valley in France.” Yup. Been there, done that. I get it. With a significant amount of Syrah, the “Du Nord” displays vibrant ruby and violet hues. Got to love the lush – but not overdone- nose with yummy blackberries, blueberries, mocha and smoky spice accents. Rich dark fruit and nicely balanced tannins lead to a beautiful finish. David thinks this wine will age and develop over the next 3-6 years and will pair beautifully with a Santa Maria-styled BBQ tri-tip.
Dessert Roussanne ($38) – This was the big surprise of the tasting. When I hear dessert wine, I think here we go again…sweet and cloying. Got that one wrong. Partially fermented on its skins and barrel-aged for 12 months, this has a distinctly light floral and candied-lemon fragrance on the nose. The mid-palate is quietly rich and complex. Loved the teasing notes of apricots, pear and hazelnut. Enjoy this wine with a good quality cigar, banana Flambé, on its own, on the patio, or as an after dinner treat. I am thinking this is a unique gift for the special “Mr.” in your life.
In one of those odd, but important coincidences that come along ever so often, today I received a lovely sushi recipe from the delightful PR people at SUSHISAMBA, Las Vegas Click here for Recipe. My first and only thought was to pair that recipe with David’s refreshing and food-friendly Albariño. Something tells me they’re going to be life-long buddies.
At SUSHISAMBA in Las Vegas you’ll find a unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, music and design. SUSHISAMBA is born of the energy and spirit of these three distinct cultures — a tri-cultural coalition that took root in the early 20th century when thousands of Japanese emigrants traveled to South America’s fertile soil to cultivate coffee plantations and find their fortune. In bustling cities like Lima in Peru and São Paulo in Brazil, the integration of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cultures flourished. You can get that wonderful taste experience through Executive Sushi Chef John Um’s wonderful TUNA TATAKI by clicking here . Enjoy!