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Jim and Judi own Roadrunner Ridge Winery in Rainbow, CA. Judi is the vineyard manager and Jim makes the wine. We got together at their home in Murrieta to share wine, food and conversation.

WINEormous wine tastingOn an evening when the last blast of summer heat was making its presence felt, we tasted six wines, the first a 2014 biokult Grüner Veltliner from Austria. I found it spritzy, crisp and dry with a pineapple nose. Brian called it “really delightful, a great pre-dinner drink.” Judi said it wasn’t her style, but it was well made. At $13, it scored an average of three out of a possible five stars.

Next we tasted the Astoria Alisia 2014 Italian Pinot Grigio. Ken liked the subtle melon nose, but found it a “bit muddled” on the palate. Jim described green apple on the tip of his tongue and called it well made. Laura also picked up green apple with honeydew melon on the nose. Everyone liked the $10 price point. Reviews were mixed and it, too, averaged a three star score.

Our group is generally a huge fan of Dry Creek Vineyards wines, but the 2014 Taylor’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc was also met with mixed reviews. Brian called it soapy, oily, sweet and sour. “Might be good with Chinese food.” Laura said it wasn’t crisp enough. I enjoyed the grapefruit nose and found it pure Sauvignon Blanc. This $20 wine also garnered three stars.

I was introduced to Yealand’s New Zealand wines at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi. We tasted the 2014 single vineyard Pinot Noir. Ken said the nice strawberry nose carried right into the palate. Kim loved its nose and color, noting “cherries galore.”Judi called it well-balanced. Jim said “good job at a fair price.” $35 and a score of just under four stars.

We moved on to the 2013 Cabernet Franc from Temecula’s Wilson Creek Winery. Jim said the taste was nut-like with eucalyptus on the nose. I picked up eucalyptus on the nose, too and found it quite complex. Ken thought it was subtle and spicy. At $43, it averaged a four star score.

We ended with Jessie’s Grove Royal Tee Ancient Vine Zinfandel from 135 year old Lodi vines. At the conference in Lodi, I had the chance to spend time in this majestic vineyard. From Ken “wow, very cool nose, like raisins covered in grape jelly with a chocolate coating.” Kim said she could drink it every night. Laura called it delicious with classic Zin flavors. Judi said it tasted like spice cake. It will run you around $40 if you can find it and it scored better than four stars.

Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701. Ask about special discounts.

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