On the eve of the 4th of July, we met at Scott and Wanda’s to begin the wine tasting festivities a bit early. As always, Wanda outdid herself in preparing a feast for the troops and Scott pulled some exceptional ‘bonus’ wines from his ample cellar. WINEormous wine tastingI love beginning or ending with bubbles and that’s just what we did. First up was the Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2009. Kim noted dry vanilla and loved the nose. Ken called the nose incredible and found it dry and lovely on the palate with light strawberry and rhubarb. “Fabulous!” he proclaimed. I thought it was simply elegant with delicate bubbles and a long finish. Brian gave it a perfect five-star score and called it “wonderful stuff.” At $69, Scott called it a good value. The panel scored it better than four and a half stars. Our second wine was Dave Phinney’s Locations NZ7 Sauvignon Blanc. Brian picked up pineapple on the nose and  lemon sherbet on the palate. Ken got huge white grapefruit on the nose and called it delightful. Kim said it was mellow and bright. An anonymous taster loved its clean finish and said simply “yum.” A bargain at $16, it grand better than four stars. Next we tasted the Bonterra Young Red from Mendocino County. Served chilled, the nose reminded me a Beaujolais Nouveau. Brian called it a “really very nice summer wine.” Ken also found it reminiscent of Beaujolais Nouveau with subtle hints of strawberry. Kim loved the color, but felt it was a little flat. Also $16, it scored just under four stars. We tasted two Hess Select wines, the first the 2016 Pinot Noir from California’s Central Coast. Kim found it a bit too sweet. On the other end, Ken was a fan, noting cherry and cardamom on the nose with a smooth palate. I loved its delicate nose with true Pinot Noir characteristics. Brian thought it was somewhat shallow and sweet. At $20, it scored nearly four stars. The second Hess Select wine was the 2015 North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. A few tasters thought it was too sweet, another remarked that is was light. Scott commented “solid flavor” and felt $20 was a fair price. It barely scored four stars. We wound the festivities down with a Temecula wine, the 2015 Le Grange Malbec from vineyards in the hills to the west of Temecula. Lisa picked up mocha and pepper and called it very nice. I enjoyed the beautiful violet color and plum nose and found it well-balanced with bright fruit on the palate. Ken called it a “wonderful Malbec that will be fabulous if you lay it down.” At $49, it scored a solid 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. WINEormous is the recipient of the Luxury Travel Guide’s Wine Tour Operator of the Year award for Temecula 2017. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701. Ask about special discounts.