Exploring the De Portola Wine Trail

2018 Brought New Adventures Along the De Portola Wine Trail in Temecula

January is a great time of the year to be in Southern California, particularly if you are from the Midwest and the temperatures are hovering somewhere between “where atoms stop moving” and freezing. This year, our Temecula wine adventures focused on what I will call the South Valley, along the recently formed De Portola Wine Trail.

De Portola road sits on the south end of the Temecula Valley, north of CA-79 and in direct receipt of the Rainbow Gap cool breezes that flow from the Pacific into the valley. In the winter time and into the very warm summers, these cool breezes keep temperatures moderate and restore vineyard health and moisture.  While this does not completely remove by any means the need for significant irrigation – and the drought years since 2012 have been an extreme case of this – the topography allows for warm climate grape varietals to grow and flourish.

The road along De Portola was largely horse country until the early 2010s when a group of nine family owned wineries opened and aligned together to form a sub-area of the Temecula Valley AVA. De Portola is neither its own unique AVA or district, however it does favor a certain “old world, new style” character in the wine making that we have written about previously from the region.  Our experiences with Robert Renzoni Vineyards and Fazeli Cellars speaks to the family feel yet big business potential of wine style living – enjoying food and wine with friends in large well kept surroundings while keeping to the narrative of the local terroir.  Stunning views and new adventures are what the initial visitor will find.  Red wine varietals – including the stunning Renzoni Sangiovese and Tempranillo, as well as the Fazeli Shiraz and GSM blends (many 90 point wines based on our reviews) show the commitment and direction of these wineries to the local region.

Here are our initial reviews from De Portola Trail, as well as other offers from the Temecula Valley AVA.  Updates as they become available.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards

NV Prosecco

SW91 (Previous review) Tart cherry on the nose with a deep fruit forward mouthful of plums and red fruit. Light tannins yet a long pleasant finish. Very traditional Italian offering and all day sipper.

2016 Barile Chardonnay

SW88 Citrus and candies Apple nose and hazelnut and toast palates. Moderate finish.

2016 Viognier

SW89 Bright citrus and jasmine nose with a creamy honeydew finish. A very mature expression of this varietal.

2014 Sangiovese

SW91 CT89 Tart cherry on the nose with a deep fruit forward mouthful of plums and red fruit. Light tannins yet a long pleasant finish. Very traditional Italian offering and all day sipper.

2014 Big Fred Red

SW88 A sultry blend of Sangiovese and Zinfandel yields a tribute to the wine Papa served at dinner. Better paired with foods short tapered finish.

2014 Montepulciano

SW89 Big red fruit and plum with notes of oregano with a full palate of black pepper notes and traces of cocoa. A very impressive construction.

2014 Tempranillo

SW90 Elegant rich color offering with leather and earthy notes. Moderate tannins with a bit of grip on the finish.

2014 Estate Sonata

SW89 Dusty earthy trail note on the nose with dark fruits and tobacco notes. Traditional super Tuscan Blend of 50% Sangiovese 50% Brunello. Some limited cellaring time.

2013 Estate Reserve Sangiovese

SW91 Rich Bing cherry nose with caramel traces and deep rich dark fruits with cinnamon and spices. Not an ordinary varietals offering. Exquisite. Cellar potential for 5 or more years through 2023.

Fazeli Cellars

2015 Chardonnay

SW89 Not a typical California Chardonnay. Bold citrus notes and melon yield fresh minerality on the palate and a long, creamy finish.

2012 Mayhem

SW89 Cedar and leather nose with red fruits and traces of currant on the palate with red pepper notes on a prolonged finish. 71% Cinsault 39% Mourvèdre Rhône Blend.

2014 Shiraz

SW90 Deep dark and seductive color with a nose like a basket of Smokey potpourri. Full earth leather and vanilla splash on the palate. A firm Syrah offering.

2014 Meritage

SW89 58% Merlot 32% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% Cabernet Franc 5% Petit Verdot. Smoke leather and bing cherry on the nose with dry dark fruits and plum on the palate. Moderate tannins with a long allspice finish.

2014 Ferdowski

SW89 82% Cabernet Franc 13% Merlot 5% Petite Syrah. Green and Black pepper notes with a full palate of cocoa leather and currant with grippy moderate tannins

2008 Yalda

SW91 Aging very well, tried on industry vertical. Bacon fat and nutmeg on the nose with a coffee and vanilla mouth. Starting to amber in color could still age another 2-3 years thru 2021.

2010 Yalda

SW92 42 Shiraz 28 Grenache 22 Mourvèdre 8 Cinsault A fantastic expression of terroir from the area. Full smoke earth and gooseberry on the nose with a dark rich palate of cocoa and dark fruits and pepper on the palate. Drink through 2022.

2012 Yalda

SW89 Traditional Rhône GSM Blend 42% 27% Grenache 22% Mourvèdre 9% Cinsault. Spices and cloves on the nose with mouthfuls of blackberry and cherry on the palate.


2016 Viognier

88 Bright citrus with honeydew notes and finish of white pears.

2013 Robato (GSM)

SW89 Nose of Black pepper and red fruits with full finish on the palate

2015 Tempranillo

SW90 Deep color and texture appears for a full bodied varietal with plum and currant with cayenne notes

2014 Meritage

SW87 Rich cocoa and leather notes on the nose with full bodied mild tannin finish which falls a bit flat like a bucking bronco who takes a nap out of the gate

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

SW89 Leather and cloves in the nose. Deep dry long finish which holds very well. A good expression of the regions growing Cab offers

2015 Cabernet Mourvèdre

SW91 Whoa! Big mouthfuls of currant pepper and allspice. Full palate of blackberry, plums and black pepper with a long dry finish. Flagship wine.

Ponte Estate

2016 Pastorello

SW88 Crisp citrus notes and lemon grass on the nose juicy guava and kiwi on the palate. Pleasant Sauvignon Blanc Alternative from the Pecorino varietal.

2016 Chardonnay

SW90 Full bodied nose of honeysuckle and tropical fruits with a beautiful long buttery finish on the back palate

2014 Sangiovese

SW 89 Bacon and toast notes with semi-dry finish of assorted red fruits. A fun sip, pair with bolognese and meat dishes for a lighter offer

2014 Dopietta

SW89 A muscular expression of this Italian meal field blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Leather and cedar notes with a full, dry finish.

2014 Super T

SW90 Classic Super Tuscan blend featuring a big pork belly and chili pepper nose yielding to a full mouth of plum and dark fruits.

Monte De Oro

2012 Cuvée De Oro

SW91 An impressive toasty GSM Rhône expression with enhanced Cinsault Blend. Long finish with moderate tannins and long finish. Exceptional QPR.

On the Deportola Wine Trail, Temecula Valley

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: