I really love living in the Temecula Valley. I cherish the small town feel, its proximity to San Diego and Los Angeles, and of course its world class wineries. I have a handful of favorites and Thornton Winery is among them. A while ago I sat down with the winemaker and tasted their latest releases, which I consider to be among the winery’s finest.

We began with the 2009 Viognier, made with grapes from Hart Vineyards and Summit Vineyard on De Portolo Road. The first thing you notice is peach and honeysuckle on the nose. This is a wine filled with delicate flavors, good acidity and a satisfying finish. I think it’s one of their finest to date.

The remainder of the wines were from the 2007 vintage. Thorny’s Coat Red was introduced in 2005. Steve Thornton’s college nickname was Thorny, so the name plays off that and is a nod to the French Côtes. This latest release is predominantly Syrah based with Grenache, Sangiovese and Barbera blended in. The winemaker calls it Rhône meets Italy. It’s a “buy today, drink tonight” wine, with notes of chocolate, it’s an easy drinker.

There are two Zinfandels from the ’07 vintage. The Old Vine Zinfandel is from the Galleano Vineyards in the Cucamonga Valley. It’s not the jammy fruit bomb most have come to expect from a Zin. This is a more delicate wine with blackberries on the nose and palate. It’s a beautiful wine. The other Zin is from the Huis Vineyards off of Calle Contento in Temecula. It’s a Zin lover’s Zinfandel, big and jammy with a lot of big black fruit.

The Cabernet Sauvignon is another big wine. The color is gorgeous and it has a nose you could spend all day smelling. The fruit is from the Temecula Valley and 2007 was kind to the grapes. There are hints of nutmeg and sage and vanilla from the oak barrels. The finish lingers.

This is the first time Thornton has released a Petite Sirah. They wanted to make sure it was worthy of bottling, and it truly is. It presents a classic deep dark Petite Sirah color. It was worth the four year wait for them to offer their first release of this varietal.

Rounding out the bunch is the Nebbiolo. Up until now the Cab had been my favorite wine of the day, but the Nebbiolo stole the spotlight. Typically a blending grape, this wine stands beautifully on its own merits. The fruit is lovely, it’s a mouth coating wine with a lingering finish.

The wines at Thornton continue to improve and display what this valley is capable of producing. If you haven’t visited Thornton Winery in a while, I highly recommend it. It’s time well invested. 32575 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA – (951) 699-0099