Categories

Category Archives: Articles

‘Cougar Meets Italy’ creates a night of fun for winery goers

http://myvalleynews.com/restaurants/cougar-meets-italy-creates-night-fun-winery-goers/


Day in the life of a vinter with Cougar Vineyard & Winery

http://myvalleynews.com/restaurants/day-life-vinter-cougar-vineyard-winery/


Making wine at Cougar Vineyard & Winery is a true passion

 http://myvalleynews.com/entertainment/making-wine-cougar-vineyard-winery-true-passion


TEMECULA: Dine in Wine Country on a budget

www.pe.com/articles/pizza-793291-deli-cheese.html 


Cougar Vineyard and Winery offers a boutique experience in Temecula Valley Wine Country

myvalleynews.com/entertainment/cougar-vineyard-winery-offers-boutique-experience-temecula-valley-wine-country/ 


Cougar Winery owners gain knowledge of Italian winemaking during trek through Italy

 http://myvalleynews.com/restaurants/cougar-winery-owners-gain-knowledge-italian-winemaking-trek-italy/


Approval of Grape Variety Falanghina

Falanghina has been approved as a recognized varietal by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for use in the United States.

Temecula, California USA – WEBWIRE – Thursday, November 06, 2014

Falanghina is an native white grape of Italy. The origin of this grape is the Campania region of Italy in the area of Naples, Caserta, Avellino and Benevento. First described by l’Acerbi in 1825 and subsequently by Carlucci in Viala Vermorel 1909. Its name comes from the expansive canopy of the vine: “Falanghina” is a direct derivative of the Latin noun “falangae” which refers to the stakes used to support grape vines. There are two distinct biotypes: Falanghina Flegrea and Falanghina Beneventa: the biotype which UC Davis Foundation Plant Service received in 2000 from the MastroberadinoWinery of Atripaldi, Italy has been confirmed by Piero Mastroberadino to be the Beneventana selection from the Sannio area of Benevento,Italy.

Professional publications that names and identifies the variety is: Calo, A., Scienza,A., and Costacurta, A., Vitigni d’Italia , p. 218-219, Edagricole-Edizione della Calderini, Bologna, Italy (2001) and Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (2014) p. 279 – 282, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California.

In lieu of the recency of the finding of this grape in the U.S. , the commercial potential of Falanghina grown and produced in the United States can only be projected from the reviews and sales of wine based on this varietal made in Italy and imported into the United States. Italian producers are Feudi di San Gregorio; Terredoro di Paolo; DonnaChiara; Masroberadino; Terre de Vulcano; Villa Matilda

A list of wineries and vineyards in the United States that are currently growing and/or producing wine made from the Falanghina grape are: Cougar Vineyard & Winery Temecula, CA; Eusinus Vineyard Carlsbad, CA; Steve Viani Viani Vineyard Rancho Murietta Pilot Hill, Ca; Wrath Wines Soledad, CA .

Cougar Vineyard & Winery cougarvineyards.com
Temecula Valley AVA
39870 De Portola Road Temecula, CA 92592
1 (951) 491-0826


Approval of Grape Variety Brachetto

Brachetto has been approved as a recognized varietal by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for use in the United States.

Brachetto is an autochthonous grape of Italy. In 1877, Count Giovanni di Rovasenda listed the grape in his landmark Saggio di una ampelografia universale (Essay on Universal Ampelography).

The origin of this grape is the Piedmont region of Italy in the area of Acqui from which it gets the eponymous name Brachetto d’Acqui. A professional publication that names and identifies the variety is: Calo, A., Scienza,A., and Costacurta, A., Vitigni d’Italia , p. 218-219, Edagricole-Edizione della Calderini, Bologna, Italy (2001). Dr Anna Schneider CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche), Istituto di Virologia Vegetale Sezione di Grugliasco Torino), Italia has done considerable research on this grape and has advised that based on her DNA testing the Piedmont Brachetto is not the same as the French Brachet (aka: Braquet) which was indicated in Jancis Robinson’s wine grape desciription.

Pete Anderson owner of an Italian vine research vineyard Eusinus in Carlsbad CA discovered that this varietal had been received by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Germplasm Repository at Geneva, NY in May 1969. Cuttings were presented by the Istituto Sperimentale Viticoltura, Conegliano Italia.The vines were later transferred to the National Clonal Germplasm Repository at Davis, CA. It is documented by the DVIT number 2906 and Plant Inventory number PI 342668. Cuttings from the DVIT 2906 vines were propagated in Eusinus for some 6 years. Samples of the Eusinus vines were submitted to the Foundation Plant Service at University of California Davis for DNA testing which reported: The Eusinus reference profile for Brachetto is based on matching profiles from Italian researchers, one annotated as Brachetto, the other as Brachetto (Acqui). The Eusinus sample also matches two samples of Brachetto, DVIT2906, from the National Clonal Germplasm Repository at Davis.

In lieu of the recency of the finding of this grape in the U.S. , the commercial potential of grown and produced in the United States can only be projected from the reviews and sales of wine based on this varietal made in Italy and imported into the United States. One such Italian producer is Banfi (Rosa Regale which is described as a rare, semi-dry, red sparkling wine). However, a list of wineries and vineyards in the United States that are currently growing and/or producing wine made from the Brachetto grape are: Cougar Vineyard & Winery 39870 De Portola Road Temecula, CA 92592 and Eusinus Vineyard 4870 Kelly Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery cougarvineyards.com
Temecula Valley AVA
39870 De Portola Road Temecula, CA 92592
1 (951) 491-0826


Approval of Grape Variety Lambrusca di Alessandria

Lambrusca di Alessandria has been approved as a recognized varietal by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for use in the United States.

Lambrusca di Alessandria is an autochthonous grape of Italy. It was first described and recognized by name by Count Giuseppe Nuvolone , Vice Director of Piedmont Agricultural Society , the Royal Academy of Agriculture where in 1798 he read his celebrated “Instructions for the Cultivation of Vines and the Best Method for Making and Storing Wine”. It is most likely native to the area of Alessandria and Pavia in Piedmont, Italy. The name Lambrusca or Lambrusco comes from Latin “labruscum” meaning fruit of the wild grape. There are many grape varietals with the word Lambrusco in their title. For instance, it is used to identify many grapes in the Emilia Romagna area of Italy which are used to produce a wine called Lambrusco. These Lambrusco grapes and Lambrusca di Alessandria are genetically different which was evidenced by Italus Hortus (Mar-Apr 2006) Lambruschi from Piedmont: historical investigations, fingerprinting and genetic relationships with other autochthonous Italian grapes [Vitis vinifera] J Torello, Marinoni D., Raimond, S., Boccacci P., Schneider, A.

Current findings indicate the first documented Lambrusca di Alessandria vine in the United States was in 1983 when donations were made to the National Clonal Germplasm Repository Davis, California by Bioletti, F. University of California andOlmo, H., University of California from the Vititculture Dept. vineyard location while under their care.

The vine samples (assumed to be Nebbiolo) submitted by Pete Anderson of Eusinus Vineyards to the Plant Identification Lab at University of California, Davis Foundation Plant Services for DNA analysis matched the Lambrusca di Alessandria reference profile of the NCGR collection. The lab director, GS Dangl, advised that the Lambrusco vine listed in the FPS registry is not Lambrusca di Alessandria. This was further confirmed by Dr. Anna Schneider CNR, Istituto di Virologia Vegetale Sezione di Grugliasco, Torino, Italy. who reported the profile perfectly matched the Lambrusca di Alessandria in her database.

The commercial potential of Lambrusca di Alessandria if based on the commercial sales and wine competition awards that were achieved by wine made from this grape when it was misidentified as Nebbiolo then the potential is exceptionally high. A list of wineries and vineyards in the United States that are currently growing and producing wine made from the newly identified Lambrusca di Alessandria grape are:

Cougar Vineyard & Winery cougarvineyards.com
Temecula Valley AVA
39870 De Portola Road Temecula, CA 92592
1 (951) 491-0825

Eusinus Vineyard 4870 Kelly Dr, Carlsbad, CA
San Diego County


Italian Varietals Abound in Temecula Wine Country – Part X

 

The Brachetto grape

Today’s article is about the Italian varietal Brachetto (“Brah-ke-toe”). Brachetto is predominately grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. Most of the grapes come from the provinces of Asti and Alessandria between the rivers Bormida and Belbo plus various parts of the province of Cuneo. At Canelli, on the border between the hills of Asti and the Lange proper, the grape is known as Borgogna. This is a native grape used for sweet wines, both still and sparkling.

The most notable wine is the red Brachetto Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) which is made in both still and spumante (sparkling) versions. The Piemonte Brachetto DOCG is made with a minimum 85% Brachetto, for the most part done as a still wine. The grape is also used for up to 10% of the blend for the Ruche-based Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato DOC, a small production red varietal wine.

The red Brachetto d'Aqui, of Piedmont, is most often made as a sparkling wine and usually grouped among the sweet wines. Brachetto, dry or sweet reds, has managed to climb all the way to DOCG status. The wine has a natural affinity with the great chocolate of Piedmont. Rose-scented, with delicate hints of strawberry on the palate, a good sweet brachetto (still or sparkling) is a unique sweet wine experience. These wines are crisp and light, perfect at the end of the meal.

In Temecula Valley, one row in the established Cougar Vineyard & Winery Estate vineyard was grafted over as a nursery to grow more bud wood of Brachetto. These buds were used to propagate more of the Brachetto until an acceptable number of vines are established. The vines will begin producing grapes next year. Look for this wine at Cougar in late 2012. There is a strong possibility that Cougar will produce both a sparkling and still version of the wine. This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country. As far as this author knows there are no other comercial growers of Brachetto in the United States. Cougar Vineyard & Winery is a member of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted entirely in Italian varietals. The Brachetto is actually planted in the backyard of the owner's home in Fallbrook and is managed as an estate vineyard. The vineyard is planted with one thousand vines of Brachetto. Cougar's Brachetto is on rootstock 110R. To the best of Cougar's knowledge they are the only commercial wine grower of this grape in the United States. We will be discussing all of these other varietals being grown and managed by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.


Italian Varietals Abound in Temecula Wine Country – Part IX

 

The Negro Amaro grape

Today’s article is about the Italian varietal Negro Amaro or Negroamaro.  This grape is primarily grown in the Puglia region and one of the most planted reds in Italy.  It is the base for Salice Salentino and numerous other reds of the Salentine peninsula.  The name means “black and bitter” and the wines are typically deeply colored and brawny, with hints of exotic spice.  There's also a subvariety called Negoamaro Precoce.

It is grown almost exclusively in Puglia and particularly in Salento, the peninsula which can be visualised as the “heel” of Italy. The grape can indeed produce wines very deep in color. Wines made from Negroamaro tend to be very rustic in character, combining perfume with an earthy bitterness. The grape produces some of the best red wines of Puglia, particularly when blended with the highly scented Malvasia Nera, as in the case of Salice Salentino.

The grapes are used exclusively for winemaking.  100% varietal wines are usually produced but more common use is to blend with Malvasia Nera, Sangiovese or Montepulciano.  These wines can be red, rosato or frizzante.

Negro Amaro is a favorite wine by the glass offering by restaurateurs.  The wine's bitterness is so interesting that the customer is often enticed to order a second glass.

In Temecula Valley, two thousand cuttings of Negro Amaro (clone FPS01) were grafted to existing 110R rootstock in 2010 at Cougar Vineyard & Winery located at 39870 De Portola Road.  The vines will begin producing grapes this year but wine will not be ready from these vines for 2-3 years.  Look for this wine at Cougar in 2-3 years.  This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country.  As far as this author knows there are no other growers of Negro Amaro in the Temecula Wine Country.  Cougar Vineyard & Winery is a member of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

Altamura in Napa Valley has produced a Negroamaro.  Fox Hill Vineyards in Mendocino County has also produced a Negroamaro.  This author is unaware of any Negroamaro planted in Southern California.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted entirely in Italian varietals.  The Negro Amaro is actually planted on the adjacent property to Cougar that is managed as an estate vineyard.  The vineyard, La Vigna e Destra, is planted with two thousand of the eight thousand vines planted being Negro Amaro.  Cougar hopes to release their first estate Negroamaro by 2013.  We will be discussing all of these other varietals being grown and managed by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.


Italian Varietals Abound in Temecula Wine Country – Part V

 

The Vermentino grape

Today’s article is about a wonderful crispy and acidic grape varietal Vermentino (pronounced “ver-mehn-TEE-noh”), again from Italy. The best known Italian Vermentino is from northern Italy and the island of Sardinia. It is also the most widely planted white grape on the island of Corsica, where high altitude and hot climate vineyards produce more full-bodied wines with heady floral aromas. Some say that Vermentino is possibly related to the Malvasia grape.

In this article we will discuss another one of these newly emerging Italian varietals in Temecula Valley Wine Country. Vermentino is not widely grown in the United States. The original vineyard source that supplied cuttings to be grafted to root stock is located in Paso Robles at the Tablas Creek Winery.

Tablas Creek brought the cuttings in from Italy and entered them into quarantine at the USDA station in Geneva, New York. In 1993, they were declared virus free and released to Tablas Creek. These cuttings are sold through nurseries, such as NovaVine in Santa Rosa which has exclusive rights to propagate and sell their Tablas Creek Vineyard Selections (TCVS), to vineyards throughout the United States. In fact, one of the bottles of wine that President Omaha gave to the Italian President Napolitano recently was a United States grown Vermentino. Specifically the wine that was given as a gift was from a Vermentino vineyard in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley made by Raffaldini Vineyards.

Vermentino is gaining in popularity among vineyard managers due to the grape being a vigorous grower, resistant to drought, and usually ripens towards the middle of the harvest cycle.

Wines made from Vermentino tend to be pale straw in color and relatively low in alcohol. The wines are generally crisp, dry and have a pronounced minerality. Flavors of green apple and lime are common.

The wine’s crispness makes it a delicious accompaniment to fresh seafood, oysters on the half shell or grilled Mediterranean vegetables.

In Temecula Valley, Vermentino is available in limited quantities as an estate wine at Cougar Vineyard & Winery located at 39870 De Portola Road. The grapes are head pruned and also cordon trained. The wine is 100% varietal and finished extremely dry with flavors of lemongrass. This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country. Cougar Vineyard & Winery has planted 3 year old vines on the winery property in Temecula Wine Country. Also growing Vermentino in Temecula Wine Country is a newly planted vineyard located at Ponte Family Estate. Ponte is located at 35053 Rancho California Road in Temecula Wine Country. Look for this varietal on Ponte’s tasting room menu in a few years. Cougar Vineyard & Winery and Ponte Family Estate are both members of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted entirely in Italian varietals with two thousand of the eighty five hundred vines planted being Vermentino. We will be discussing all of these other varietals being grown by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.


Italian Varietals Abound in Temecula Wine Country – Part VIII

 

The Sagrantino grape

Today’s article is about the Italian varietal Sagrantino (“Sa-grahn-tee-noh”). Sagrantino is an Italian grape variety that is indigenous to the region of Umbria in Central Italy. Sagrantino is grown primarily in the village of Montefalco and its surrounding areas, with only 250 acres (1.0 km2) dedicated to the grape in the hands of about 25 producers. With such small production, the wine is not widely known outside of Italy, even though it was granted DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) status in 1991. DOCG is granted for wines of exceptional qualtity and renown. The Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG requires 100 percent Sagrantino used, with a required 29 months aging before release. The origin of the grape is unclear. The grape is one of the most tannic varieties in the world, and creates wines that are inky purple with an almost-black center. The bouquet is one of dark, brooding red fruits with hints of plum, cinnamon, and earth. Several different wines made from the grape have been described as having exotic spiciness.

A appassimento or passito is sometimes made from Sagrantino grapes. These are made by drying the grapes on straw mats to concentrate the sugars. The result is a thick, syrupy wine with raisin and blueberry qualities. The flavors are similar to a vintage port. The alcohol content runs around 14 percent.

Sagrantino is more tannic then Sangiovese. This gives the wine more potential to age longer. The tannins are considered by some Italian growers to be sweet rather than sharp, making the wine drinkable when it is still young.

Good Sagrantino pairs nicely with rich, strong flavored meats as well as dry, aged cheeses that may be too strong for other wines. Sagrantino also goes well with the foods of Umbria such as game birds, roast suckling pig and truffles.

In Temecula Valley, two thousand vines of Sagrantino were planted in 2010 at Cougar Vineyard & Winery located at 39870 De Portola Road. The grapes will begin producing grapes next year but wine will not be made from the vines for 3-4 years. Look for this wine at Cougar in 4-5 years. This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country. As far as this author knows there are no other growers of Sagrantino in the Temecula Wine Country. Cougar Vineyard & Winery is a member of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

Mosby Winery, located in Buellton California, has had an Estate Sagrantino offered since 2006. The Mosby Sangrantino is the first domestically produced Sagrantino available for sale.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted entirely in Italian varietals. The Sagrantino is actually planted on the adjacent property to Cougar that is managed as an estate vineyard. The vineyard, La Vigna e Destra, is planted with two thousand of the eight thousand vines planted being Sagrantino. We will be discussing all of these other varietals being grown and managed by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.


Italian Varietals Abound in Temecula Wine Country – Part VII

 

The Nebbiolo grape

Today’s article is about the Italian varietal Nebbiolo.  There are a couple of different thoughts on where the name of the grape comes from but my favorite is that it comes from the Italian word “nebbia” or foggy.  Ripe Nebbiolo grapes have a foggy/frosty appearance thus the name.  Predominately grown in the Piedmont region of Italy the grape is known for its’ dark, inky, and bold qualities.  Nebbiolo in Piedmont, northwest Italy, is also known by the names Spanna and Picutener.  Nebbiolo in the Lombardy region, located near Piedmont, is known by the name Chiavennasca.  Nebbiolo is famous in wines like Barolo, Barbaresco and Gattinara.  Interestly enough only about 3% of the wines produced in Piedmont are produced from Nebbiolo.  It definitely takes a production “backseat” to Dolcetto and Barbera.

The Nebbiolo vine can be a difficult grape to cultivate and a very late in the season ripener.  Additionally, some claim the vine is prone to powdery mildew though recent cloning research has begun to isolate clones of Nebbiolo that have more tolerance to mildew. Other research claims contradict this by saying that the skins are thin but very tough so resistant to molds and pests. The vine’s tendency for low crop yields and for the wine to reportedly oxidize easily contributed to its’ steady decline in popularity in the early to mid 20th century. Better understanding of the variety in the later half of the century helped revive the variety as winemakers found that the chalky, sandy soils around Roero gave the grapes more acidity and structure while Nebbiolo grapes planted in sandy clay soil developed an elegant and exotic perfume.  (Roero is a geographical area in the north-east corner of the province of Cuneo in Piedmont.)

Nebbiolo’s historical role has been for blending with other red wines.  Today the grape is more commonly seen as a varietal wine.  Nebbiolo has the potential to produce wines with aromas of cherries, violets and black licorice or truffles.  A great Nebbiolo is rich in flavors with a big finish.  Some producers make a late harvest passito Nebbiolo.

As an aside, passito is an Italian term used both for a method of making sweet wines and for the sweet wines made this way.  Passito wines begin by laying freshly picked grapes on mats (or hanging them in bunches) so that they can partially dry. This process eliminates much of the grape’s water and concentrates its’ sugar and flavor components.  Depending on the technique used, the drying time can vary from several weeks (in the hot sun) to several months (in a cool ventilated room).  When the grapes are crushed and fermentation begins, the sugar content is usually high enough to take the wine to a reasonable alcohol level and still end up with enough residual sugar so that these wines are fairly sweet.

Back to the grape at hand… food pairing.  Good Nebbiolo pairs nicely with rich, strong flavored meats as well as dry, aged cheeses that may be too strong for other wines.

In Temecula Valley, Nebbiolo is available in limited quantities at Cougar Vineyard & Winery located at 39870 De Portola Road.  The wine is 100% varietal, aged for 19 months in American Oak Cooperage.  This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country.  Cougar Vineyard & Winery has planted 3 year old vines on the winery property in Temecula Wine Country.  Also growing Nebbiolo in Temecula Wine Country is vineyard located at Ponte Family Estate.  Ponte is located at 35053 Rancho California Road in Temecula Wine Country.  Also growing the varietal in Temecula is Villa di Calabro.  The vineyard is in Temecula Wine Country but their tasting room is located in Old Town Temecula.  Look for this wine on their tasting menu in a few years.  Curran Ranch Vineyard also has Nebbiolo planted. Cougar Vineyard & Winery, Ponte Family Estate, Villa di Calabro and Curran Ranch Vineyard are all members of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted entirely in Italian varietals.  The Nebbiolo is actually planted on the adjacent property to Cougar that is managed as an estate vineyard.  The vineyard, La Vigna e Destra, is planted with sixteen hundred of the eight thousand vines planted being Nebbiolo.  We will be discussing all of these other varietals being grown and managed by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.


Italian Varietals Abound in Temecula Wine Country – Part VI

 

The Arneis grape

Today’s article is back to my basics again, I’m back to describe and investigate a little known Italian varietal that happens to be grown in Temecula Wine Country.  The Arneis (pronounced “are-NAYS”) grape is today’s featured varietal.  Some of the common synonyms for Arneis include Barolo Bianco, Bianchetta d’Alba, Bianchetto, Bianchetto di Verzuelo and Nebbiolo Bianco.  The last name is interesting, because Nebbiolo in Italy has been blended with Arneis in order to soften the tannins found in a traditional Nebbiolo.

The Arneis vine can be a difficult grape to cultivate, with naturally low acidity (although seems to possess more acidity in California than in Italy) and tendency to get over ripe if it is harvested after September.  Additionally, the vine is prone to powdery mildew though recent cloning research has begun to isolate clones of Arneis that have more tolerance to mildew. The vine’s propensity for low crop yields and for the wine to oxidize easily, contributed to its steady decline in the early to mid 20th century. Better understanding of the variety in the later half of the century helped revive the variety as winemakers found that the chalky, sandy soils around Roero gave the grapes more acidity and structure while Arneis grapes planted in sandy clay soil developed an elegant and exotic perfume.  (Roero is a geographical area in the north-east corner of the province of Cuneo in Piedmont, northwest Italy.)

Arneis historical role has been as a softening for Nebbiolo, though today the grape is more commonly seen as a varietal wine. Arneis is an ancient variety grown near Alba in Piemonte (northwest Italy).  Recently the grape was saved from extinction by a few notable Barolo (Nebbiolo) producers.  Wines fermented and/or aged in oak will be more full bodied while unoaked Arneis can have more aromatics and perfume. Arneis has the potential to produce highly perfumed wines with aromas of almonds, apricots, peaches, pears and hops. Some producers make a late harvest passito Arneis.

As an aside, passito is an Italian term used both for a method of making sweet wines and for the sweet wines made this way.  Passito wines begin by laying freshly picked grapes on mats (or hanging them in bunches) so that they can partially dry. This process eliminates much of the grape’s water and concentrates its’ sugar and flavor components.  Depending on the technique used, the drying time can vary from several weeks (in the hot sun) to several months (in a cool ventilated room).  When the grapes are crushed and fermentation begins, the sugar content is usually high enough to take the wine to a reasonable alcohol level and still end up with enough residual sugar so that these wines are fairly sweet.

Back to the grape at hand… food pairing. Arneis is a light to medium bodied white wine.  Arneis is a wonderful sipping wine with ripe Bartlett pears and a good companion for shellfish and lightly breaded, sauteed sole.  From what I have read, Arneis doesn’t pair well with cheeses and strongly herb-influenced dishes.  Myself, I prefer the wine with chicken and fish.

In Temecula Valley, Arneis is available in limited quantities as an estate wine at Cougar Vineyard & Winery located at 39870 De Portola Road.  The grapes are cordon trained and tend to have more acidity then their Italian grown counter-parts.  The higher acidity yields a crisper wine with a more lingering finish.  The wine is 100% varietal, aged in stainless steel tanks, and finished extremely dry with flavors of peach.  This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country.  Cougar Vineyard & Winery has planted 3 year old vines on the winery property in Temecula Wine Country.  Also growing Arneis in Temecula Wine Country is a newly planted vineyard located at Ponte Family Estate.  Ponte is located at 35053 Rancho California Road in Temecula Wine Country.  Look for this varietal on Ponte’s tasting room menu in a few years.  Cougar Vineyard & Winery and Ponte Family Estate are both members of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted entirely in Italian varietals.  The Arneis is actually planted on the adjacent property to Cougar that is managed as an estate vineyard.  The vineyard, La Vigna e Destra, is planted with sixteen hundred of the eight thousand vines planted being Arneis.  We will be discussing all of these other varietals being grown and managed by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.


Italian Varietals Abound in Temecula Wine Country – Part IV

 

The Primitivo grape

Today’s article is about a wonderful fruity grape varietal Primitivo (pronounced “Pree-mih-TEE-voe”), again from Italy.  Primitivo is a dark red wine with bold fruity flavors.  Primitivo has been genetically linked to the better known grape varietal Zinfandel.

In this article we will discuss another one of these newly emerging Italian varietals in Temecula Valley Wine Country.  The earliest knowledge of this varietal is that it originated in Greece or Albania. It is not known exactly how or when this plant was transported into Italy, but the history of this grape in Italy dates back many centuries. In the 17th century, it is known that the Benedictine monks named the varietal “Primitivo” because of its precociousness (early maturity of the grape) in this zone.

Primitivo has been called many things such as the father of the Zinfandel grape, now so popular in California. In recent years, DNA studies at the University of California at Davis show that the Zinfandel grape is the same as the Primitivo grape grown in southeastern Italy’s Puglia region.  Other tests by University of California at Davis have shown that Zinfandel is a clone of the Croatian variety Crlienak.  Interestingly enough, Primitivo also originally mutated from Crlienak.  This explains why the two grapes, Zinfandel and Primitivo, make similar tasting wines and beautiful port-style dessert wines.

Wines made from Primitivo tend to be deeply colored, rich, and concentrated with flavors of zesty cherry, clove, wild blackberry, raspberry and spice.  Sometimes Primitivo wines have a jammy characteristic.  Primitivo not only makes a nice table wine but a beautiful, raisin-ey and pruney port-style dessert wine.

Primitivo pairs well with a common dish in Italy of grilled lamb.  The wine also pairs well with outdoor grilled steaks or chops or meat that has been stewed with or stuffed with fruit.

In 2002, the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) began considering ruling Zinfandel and Primitivo synonymous for use of wine labels.  This means that if the ruling is decided upon that you may find Italian Primitivo wine labeled as a Zinfandel.

In Temecula Valley, Primitivo is available in limited quantities as a red table wine and Port-style dessert wine at Cougar Vineyard & Winery located at 39870 De Portola Road.  Cougar chose to keep the wine labeled as Primitivo keeping to their Italian varietal-centric tasting menu.  This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery also manages an acre of 9 year old vines in Fallbrook and has planted 3 year old vines planted on the winery property in Temecula Wine Country.  Europa Village vineyards has three year old Primitivo vines planted.  Europa Village is located between Callaway Winery and Baily Winery on Rancho California Road in Temecula Wine Country.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted in entirely Italian varietals with two thousand of the eighty five hundred vines planted being Primitivo.  We will be discussing all of these other varietals being grown by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.


Cougar, what’s in a name?

 

Why name the winery Cougar?

This month I am taking a hiatus from my articles on the Italian grape varietals that we are growing and/or producing wine from.  Next month I will be back on the grape subject.  I am writing this article because of the misconception about the name of our winery by a few around the Temecula Wine Country.  It is possible that this misconception could be held elsewhere so I felt the need to document the naming of our winery for all to read.

Seventeen years ago Rick and I started making wine from a kit in our home in Fort Worth Texas.  We enjoyed drinking wine so we decided to try our hand at making some.  The first attempt at winemaking was a Merlot that we both thought was good enough to drink and share with our friends.  After a few successful batches of wine and a move to Bellevue Washington we started to enter our wines in home winemaking competitions and fairs.  We were purchasing our grapes from Yakama and the Gorge area in Eastern Washington and the quality of our wines increased ten fold.  We also purchased our own basket press and electric crusher/destemmer plus a few tanks and small barrels.  After digging out under our home to create a 400 square foot room for winemaking, our little hobby was getting a little bit more serious.  At the time we also owned polled Herefords.  So years before Demi Moore started dating Ashton Kutcher, the Cougar Winery brand and Cougar Mountain Cattle brand came about.   We even had a short lived (still slightly breathing) company Cougar Software Solutions.

So you are still wondering why the name Cougar?  The home we owned in Bellevue resided at the top of Cougar Mountain.  Although we never saw a cougar there was plenty of wildlife including bears, deer, coyotes, and raccoons.  I do not recall seeing older women dating younger men in the forest that our home backed up to.

When we purchased the property in Temecula Wine Country I remember being asked if we would change the name to “Buffington Estate Winery”.  Even though the whole “Cougar” trend had kicked into gear I didn’t hesitate to say “No”.  We had our label, our brand, our website, and trends go away.  Well, they are supposed to anyway.

Yes, we have heard all of the jokes.  If you think you are a Cougar that is great.  We like all kinds of people and have met many characters that make the world an interesting place.  The name sometimes gets guests in the door and then it is our mission to win them over with our wine.  We also respect the name Cougar since it is the mascot of many of our wine club members alumni such as Washington State, University of Houston, and UC San Marcos to name a few.

So if you are looking for a gift shop full of Cougar items, this is the wrong winery for you.  Besides the bling shirts we pretty much just sell wine.  If you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary let us know and we will cork and lei you (the cork is a keychain and our corks are really cute).  If you are in front of our sign taking your picture, please drive up and come on in.  You are out wine tasting so you should try our wines too.

In Temecula Valley, Cougar Vineyard & Winery is located at 39870 De Portola Road.  This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country.  Cougar Vineyard & Winery is a member of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association and the Meritage Society.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted entirely in Italian varietals.  We will be discussing all of these other varietals being grown by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.


Italian Varietals Abound in Temecula Wine Country – Part III

 

The Malvasia Bianca grape

Today’s article is about a wonderful fruity grape varietal Malvasia Bianca (pronounced Mal-va-ZEE-ah Bee-AHN-Kah), again from Italy.  Malvasia is genetically the same as the more commonly known Muscat Canelli or Muscat Blanc grape.  Styles of this wine can vary from lightweight to full-flavored, dry to sweet, low to high alcohol. It is sometimes made as a sparkling wine.

In this article we will discuss one of these newly emerging Italian varietals in Temecula Valley Wine Country.  Malvasia Bianca is a member of an ancient, highly esteemed Greek family of grapes vinified in a myriad of styles throughout Italy. Malvasia Bianca is one of the most widely planted, light-colored grape varieties in Italy and the world. On the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, it makes rare, rich and wonderfully aromatic passito wines.

Whether sweet or dry, Malvasia Bianca offers delightful aromas and flavors of honey and ripe Bosc pears with hints of allspice. Round, lushly fruity flavors and a plush texture lead to a finish that is determined by the degree of residual sugar and the cellar treatment. The lightest versions offer a clean, crisp finish, while those aged in small barrels may display light tannins and a hint of vanilla. Sweeter, more opulent versions linger on the palate.  Pair Malvasia Bianca with pork, rich cheeses or enjoy by itself.  Other interesting food pairings with this wine are Seafood antipasta dishes (shrimp, scallops, and calamari dressed with oil and lemon) and grilled vegetables for the lighter wines.  Grilled fish with light provencal-style sauces pairs well with the fuller wines.  The dessert wines need only a simple almond biscotti (no chocolate please) to dip in the wine, real Sicilian cannoli or an apricot or plum tart with a marzipan pastry crust.

Malvasia is planted widely in Italy and around the world.  It performs best where it gets good exposure to the sun and where the soils drain well.  Other than the dessert wine variations, Malvasia wines do not age well and should be consumed quickly.

In Temecula Valley, Malvasia Bianca is available as a 2% Residual Sugar (amount of sugar left in the wine after fermentation is stopped) at Cougar Vineyard & Winery located at 39870 De Portola Road.  This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country.  Cougar Vineyard & Winery also has 3 year old vines planted on the winery property in Temecula Wine Country.  Wein’s Family Cellars has a similar styled Malvasia Bianca.  Weins is located at 35055 Via Del Ponte off of Rancho California Road also in Temecula Wine Country.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted in entirely Italian varietals with 2,000 of the 8,500 vines being Malvasia Bianca.  We will be discussing all of these other varietals being grown by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.


Italian Varietals Abound in Temecula Wine Country – Part II

 

The Montepulciano grape

Our first article was on the not so widely known grape Aglianico.  Today’s article is about a misunderstood grape varietal, again from Italy.  Montepulciano is often confused with Sangiovese.  There is a town in Italy with the same name, Montepulciano, that is famous for a wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.  Well, the wine name translates to the “Nobel Wine of Montepulciano”.  The confusion stems from the fact that the wine is also 100% Sangiovese grape varietal.  The Montepulciano grape does not even grow near the town, but in the Tuscan region of Italy.  Specifically Montepuliciano grows in the Abruzzo region of east central Italy. The story goes that the grape was named by former residents of the town Montepulciano that missed their beloved city where they used to live.

In this article we will discuss one of these newly emerging Italian varietals in Temecula Valley Wine Country. Montepulciano (pronounced "mawn-teh-pool-CHAH-naw") is typically a fruity, dry wine with soft tannins and usually drunk young. In Italy if the wine is aged for more than two years with at least 6 months in wood, the wine may be labeled “Riserva”. In 1995 another DOC, “Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane”, was created in Italy to separate out Riserva wines that were aged for at least three years.

The new found interest in these varietals is partly due to the similar terrior of Temecula Valley to the regions that these vines thrive in Italy. Another reason for the interest in planting these varietals is that they previously were not available in the United States. Recently Montepulciano has been planted in the United States, specifically in Southern California. Montepulciano thrives in dry, sunny climates like that found in Temecula Valley AVA. The grapes are plump with high amounts of juice. The grape also has a deep purple and ruby color to its juice.

As with all of the Italian varietals growing in the Tuscan region, these all grow quite well in the Temecula Wine Country. Montepulicano is currently planted in the new vineyards of Europa Village and also in the more established vineyards at Cougar Vineyard and Winery. In fact, the varietal was not available to plant in the United States until 2002 and was planted by Cougar that year. So Cougar has some of the oldest Montepulciano grapes available in the United States in their Fallbrook Estate vineyard. New varietals, such as Montepulciano, go through a multitude of tests for diseases at UC Davis before becoming readily available through a grape vine nursery.

In Temecula Valley, Montepulciano is only available for wine tasting as a varietal Estate wine (dubbed “The Full Monte”) and also as a dry Rose (Monte’s Blush) at Cougar Vineyard & Winery located at 39870 De Portola Road. This winery resides on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country. There is a well established vineyard planted by Cougar Vineyard & Winery in Fallbrook in 2002. Cougar Vineyard & Winery also has 3 year old vines planted on the winery property in Temecula Wine Country.

Cougars Monte’s Blush is 100% Montepulciano grapes done as a dry rose similar to rose wines found in Europe. The nose is fresh strawberries with flavors of ripe plums and cranberries ending in a dry smooth finish. Cougar claims that the wine is great with spicy foods and spicy friends. Cougars The Full Monte is also 100% Montepulciano grapes done as a full-bodied red wine. The nose is earthy and musty but the finish is smooth and jammy. Montepulciano pairs well with pork and lamb dishes.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted in entirely Italian varietals with 2,000 of the 8,500 vines being Montepulciano. We will be discussing some of these other varietals being grown by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.


Italian Varietals Abound in Temecula Wine Country – Part I

 

The Aglianico Grape

When you think of Italian wine the varietals that most likely come to mind first might be Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, Super Tuscan Sangiovese and basket wines (Chianti). With over 2,000 Italian grape varietals identified, there are so many other Italian varietals that are becoming available in the United States and Temecula Wine Country is starting to take notice and plant them.

Ever heard of grape varietals such as Aglianico, Montepulciano, Vermentino, Malvasia Bianca, Arneis or Primitivo? Well, they are all now being planted as well as exist in established producing vineyards in the Temecula Valley AVA.

The new found interest in these varietals is partly due to the similar terrior of Temecula Valley to the regions that these vines thrive in Italy. Another reason for the interest in planting these varietals is that they previously were not available in the United States.

In this article we will discuss one of these newly emerging Italian varietals in Temecula Valley Wine Country. Aglianico (pronounced “ah-LY-AH-nee-koe”) is a black grape grown in the Campania and Basilicata regions of Italy. The vine originated in Greece and was brought to Compania by Greek settlers. The name may be a corruption of Vitis hellenica, Latin for “Greek vine”. Another etymology derives the name Aglianico from a corruption of Apulianicum, the Latin adjective which indicates the whole of southern Italy in the Roman age. In early Roman times, it was the principal grape of the famous Falernian wine which was the Roman equivalent of a First Growth. Recent research has indicated that Aglianico may be related to the Syrah grape.

Recently Aglianico has been planted in Australia and the United States, specifically in Southern California. Aglianico thrives in dry, sunny climates like that found in Temecula Valley AVA.

In 1988, Caparone Winery in the Paso Robles established the first American Aglianico planting at their San Marcos Road vineyard. They produced the first American Aglianico wine in 1992 and continue to produce Aglianico to this day.

Wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full bodied with firm tannins and high acidity, making this a wine that has aging potential. The rich flavors of the wine make it appropriate for matching with rich meats such as lamb and wonderful red-sauced pastas.

In Temecula Valley, Aglianico is available for wine tasting blended as a percentage of the dessert port-style wine available at Masia de Yabar Winery located at 39788 Camino Arroyo Seco and also as a varietal Estate wine at Cougar Vineyard & Winery located at 39870 De Portola Road. Both of these wineries reside on the De Portola Wine Trail of Temecula Wine Country. There is a well established vineyard planted on property owned by the Temecula Olive Oil Company and also planted in 2006 on the winery property of Cougar Vineyard & Winery.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is planted in entirely Italian varietals with 2,000 of the 8,500 vines being Aglianico. We will be discussing some of these other varietals being grown by Cougar in upcoming articles about the Italian grape varietals planted in Temecula Wine Country of Southern California.