It sounded intimidating, especially being in the industry and knowing I was going to a seminar full of winery owners, winemakers, and winery management. But walking into Palumbo Winery’s barrel room was nothing short of comforting and welcoming.
The table was long, set with five glasses per seat and a few dump buckets and bottles of water for rinsing. Two packets were handed out, one was a quick description of the region and history of the wines we tasted and the other packet had pages of description and public ratings of the wines. The seminar focused on Bordeaux reds, single varietals and blends. I love wine but I certainly didn’t go to school for this. I felt a bit out place with all these people who had such big backgrounds in wine. All I had under my belt was a three hour crash course via Google on Bordeaux blends right before the seminar started.
There was not much talk about the actual region of Bordeaux, just a brief description of the types of wines that were produced from that region of France. Immediately the tastings began, with five blind flights and at least three different wines in each flight. There was a Merlot flight, a Cabernet Franc flight, a Cabernet Sauvignon flight, and two Meritage blend flights. The wines selected were wines from the Temecula region, Napa region, and Bordeaux. Everyone had the chance to taste, smell, and discuss the wine.
Here is where I panicked; discuss wine…discuss wine with people that probably didn’t Google Bordeaux wines before arriving! I broke out into a mild sweat. Before long, though, I realized that I wasn’t alone in this feeling of trying to say the right thing.
The host of the event joked for all of us to, “Relax. Have a glass of wine and relax.” This put everyone at ease, and sure enough we all started talking about what we tasted. Now, I was still nervous because my impression of the first wine I tasted was watermelon. I don’t know the last time you tasted watermelon in a wine but it is what I tasted, however unusual that may sound.
Here at Ponte we have a motto that “if you like the wine then its good wine.” But what if you taste watermelon. Are you right? The woman across from me didn’t taste watermelon, she tasted branch, tree branch. I don’t know what branch tastes like but that was her opinion. The gentleman next to her tasted more herb qualities in the wine. So, maybe my watermelon taste was a little off but no person was right. Isn’t that the beauty of wine tasting? Whether you are sitting next to a wine maker or person that has never tasted wine, there is no reason to be nervous. Just enjoy what you are drinking and the people that you are drinking it with.
Nick Palumbo (host of the event and winery owner) mentioned that it was not a competition to taste the best wine but rather just to see if Temecula wines were holding up to the wines of the world. Of course everyone had different opinions on the wines, but at the end of each flight there was a vote. The vote was not on our favorite but, rather, would we serve this wine to friends and family?
The results were great; Temecula was very comparable to the wines of other regions. Out of the five flights everyone tasted, Temecula wines were chosen 4 out 5! What an accomplishment for Temecula. With keeping our standards high we are a growing region that can be thought of as an equal competitor with regions that have had hundreds of years of wine making on us. I liked the way Nick Palumbo finished the night by encouraging everyone to keep a goal of making great wine but not losing the connection between each winery. With seminars like this we will be known for fantastic wines and our fantastic community.
–Katie Mokhlessin, Tasting Room server
–What is the most unusual flavor you’ve tasted in a wine?