“Variant Series” is a term to describe wines introduced to showcase the variations of the classical style. Wilson Creek is excited to announce our new Variant Series, which includes an uncommon mix of our now famous White Cabernet and Cabernet Zinfandel red blend. Both are conceived of and vinted to create a unique interpretation of the Nobel Varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon. Find out the difference between Zinfandel vs Cabernet, including how they get their distinct flavor, and why they are better together in our new Variant Series Cabernet Zinfandel blend.
The Science of Wine Flavor
Wine is interesting stuff from a biochemical and hence taste perspective. It takes flavors and compounds that we are genetically programmed to crave, like sweetness and ripe fruit flavors, and blends it with components that we are genetically programmed to avoid, like acid tannins and alcohols. (Ok, maybe not so much alcohol.)
Many popular wines are blended to only take advantage of those flavors that are easy to love (think White Zinfandel or fruit-driven cheap wine). Many extremely good, and more complexly nuanced, wines are a challenge until the palate has been trained to embrace the push and pull between sweet fruit and tannins acids and alcohols.
This is the genesis of the Variant Series. We are aiming for wines that are initially pleasing to the senses, but have subtle complex nuances of depth and character. The mature Zinfandel brings a fruit-driven approach and the Cabernet ends in tannins that are soft. This leads to a wine that can be paired with just a sunset or will not get lost with a burger. If you’re going to a party where you don’t know the pallets or preferences of the guests, CabZin is the perfect option – ideal for nontraditional wine drinkers, while still able to hold up to the scrutiny of wine aficionados.
California Cabernet Sauvignon
Blends have the unique capacity to combine the strengths of two different varietals, resulting in a more well-rounded and balanced wine. The classic example of this for Cabernet Sauvignon are the French Bordeaux wines. The Left Bank of the Gironde estuary is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant with lesser amounts of Merlot. The Right Bank of the Gironde estuary is Merlot dominant wines with a lesser amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. The California version of these Bordeaux inspired wines are called Meritage (rhymes with heritage).
In the rest of the world, Cabernet Sauvignon often has difficulty coming to full ripeness. But, in the California sunshine and heat, it develops fully ripe non-vegetal wines that have an initial flavor of ripe black cherries and current, spiciness and cedar.
Zinfandel, which originated in what is now modern-day Croatia, was popular throughout northern Italy before it landed in California in the mid-1800s. Thriving in a warm California climate, it then developed a unique California terroir and expression of deep rich fruit-forward notes, including blackberry, strawberry and a mild spiciness most commonly expressed as cinnamon.
The Best of Both Worlds
Our CabZin is a classic blending theory. Although Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel blends are relatively uncommon, this blend shows the best of two classic grapes that have found a unique expression in the ideal climates of Southern California.
We are very careful to use techniques that soften the tannins. This means you’ll taste the tannins, but without that signature, strong and bitter astringent profile often associated with tannins.
Once you start drinking the CabZin, you will acclimate your palate to stronger tannins and venture into wines like Sarah, Cinsault, and eventually wind up on the doorstep of Double Dog.
Zinfandel has large bold clusters that just scream out “look at me!” Juxtaposed to this is Cabernet Sauvignon’s, smaller clusters are reluctant to ripen, a little bit fussy but complex and nuanced. The marriage of these two is a marriage like the life of the party with an introverted intellectual. The expression of two dissimilar but harmonious varietals like Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon is proof positive that opposites attract.
Harvest is just winding down. Yields are a little low, but the quality is exceptional. Block One is the old vine Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard next to the tasting room. We invite you to come grab a cab, be it white or zin, and enjoy all this time of year has to offer in the vineyard where it was born! The vines always enjoy some company and although modest, love a compliment.
Experience Fine California Wine
View of the Rainbow Gap from Wilson Creek. The gap is the one on the left.
The Rainbow Gap: Temecula Valley Breathes
Yes, good wine regions breathe. And, so do vines. Great wine regions flourish through wind flow. And the best part? It’s all through nature’s impeccable design.
The Importance of Mountain Gaps For Grape Growing
Mountains are typically needed to create a barrier from the ocean influence. No barrier to the ocean influence results in a lot of air flow and high winds – weather that’s too harsh for grapes.
However, if there is too much of a mountain barrier, there is not enough flow from the coast, as the air currents are blocked off.
So, a mountain gap is critical – it acts like an opening and operates like a windpipe, drawing air in and out between the ocean and the valley.
The Rainbow Gap in Temecula
The mountain gap between Temecula and the ocean is called the “Rainbow Gap”. In Temecula Valley, we are nestled between two mountain ranges. West of Temecula, between San Onofre Beach and Camp Pendleton, there’s the Rainbow Gap. The mountains east of Temecula, Mt. San Jacinto, separate Temecula Valley from the heat of Palm Springs.
How Does The Rainbow Gap Work?
In the morning hours, the wind in Temecula is relatively still, sometimes flowing slightly west. Then around 10 or 11 a.m., Palm Springs heats up, and the rising hot air creates a vacuum that pulls in the cool ocean air from over 30 miles away. That vacuum pulls the ocean air through the Rainbow Gap and it settles into our valley. Then, in the evening, when the air in the east mountains cools down, the air gets heavier and gently flows downhill/westward back into the valley, cooling Temecula Valley at night.
How The Rainbow Gap Creates Ideal Wine Growing Conditions
The valley inhales the ocean air in the late morning through the Rainbow Gap, then at night, the air gently flows back down into the valley. This coolness at night allows the grapes to recoup and rest a bit from their hard work of photosynthesis during the day.
Some of the most famous wine regions have a similar “breathing” process, including Napa Valley, Paso Robles, Bordeaux and even The Rhone Valley in France.
This breathing creates a necessary diurnal shift that grapes need. Grapes like hot days and cool nights with low humidity. The shift from the hottest time to the coolest time is called the diurnal shift. All good wine regions have a big diurnal shift. Temecula Valley can often shift 40-50%, which could mean 98 degrees to 50 degrees on the same day!
While the valley breathes, the vines and soil get love, too. Vines inhale CO2 all night long and exhale oxygen all day long. The soil does the opposite—it inhales oxygen all day and exhales CO2 all night. They enjoy a symbiotic relationship by feeding each other. For the vines, the CO2 is heavier and falls to the ground and the soil ‘inhales’ it.”
With ideal growing conditions, you can say that Temecula Valley is made for quality wine grapes and great tasting wine.
So, when you visit Temecula Valley again and feel the breeze that flows from the ocean to the west, you can be thankful for the Rainbow Gap. And, next time you go wine tasting, ask about how the area breathes and the diurnal shift to find out exactly how nature’s perfect design brings great wine to your taste buds.
Post by: Mick Wilson
Mick Wilson is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators. He also teaches various subjects at the Wilson Creek Wine Academy.
We all know people consume more sparkling wine during the hot season. Sparkling wine is a refreshing warm weather sipper, add a little Lemon and you have the perfect summer splash.
Summer, meet Wilson Creek Sparkling Limoncello.
Modeled after the popular Italian liqueur, this sparkling limoncello wine is a fresh, crisp, effervescent bubbly with intense lemon flavor and aromas. The fresh acidity is a perfect balance between sour and sweet with a distinct, clean, and light flavor. These characteristics make it a perfect summertime drink: crisp, thirst-quenching, refreshing, and sensational. We recommend serving ice cold which makes it even more refreshing and palate cleansing.
Pair with your favorite summertime foods.
Refreshing and simple on its own our Limoncello sparkling wine is also a perfect complement to many foods. Limoncello’s crisp citrus flavor with a touch of sweetness pairs perfectly with seafood, salads, light fresh dishes with a delicate taste or teriyaki sauce dishes, raspberry vinaigrette salads and BBQ chicken. A perfect sunny day treat, the scent and tart juiciness provide a burst of bright refreshment even when the temperatures drop.
If you’re looking to take your backyard BBQ or summer pool party to the next level with a cocktail everyone is sure to love, our limoncello wine makes the perfect companion. Although very refreshing on its own, it’s also great served over ice with mint and lemon slices or blended with raspberry puree. If you’re feeling adventurous try a sparkling limoncello sunrise, simply add orange juice and a little grenadine for the full sunrise effect.
Looking for more ways to celebrate the arrival of summer evenings? Try one of our many favorite Sparkling Wine Recipes.
Enjoy with your favorite summertime activities!
We are all suited for summer sipping, either with food, on your patio, at the beach, by the pool or on the boat. Summer brings beach parties, festivals, outdoor events, or simply relaxing and enjoying an evening sunset. So, pop a cork to celebrate friendship, love, or a simple break from routine. Buy some, chill it, drink it! It will make any party more sparkling.
When you are ready to enjoy your sparkling wine, the best way to chill your bottle is to fill an ice bucket with ice and one-third water and allow your bottle to cool for 15-20 minutes. When pouring, only fill your glass about one-third of the way full. If you over-pour, it will warm up too quickly.
Listen to what fans are saying: Sparkling Limoncello wine reviews:
A bit of Italy, this limoncello sparkling wine is crisp, refreshing with a little zest of lemon. This is a great addition to a French 75 cocktail, the best of all worlds in a glass. It’s easy and caters to everyone who wants to sip on a food, refreshing cocktail. Brings joy after the first sip!
A brisk, fresh lemon aroma and a touch of tang, this is a classic refreshing flavor. An unexpected surprise with light bubbles and color. Perfect for many occasions, BBQ’s and parties. Limoncello sparkling wine is perfect chilled, over ice and dressed with fresh slices of fruit. So delightful.
Bowl or Paper Plate
Pour a generous amount of Halloween themed sprinkles onto a plate or bowl
Take your wine glass and coat rim with lime juice
Dip rim of wine glass into Halloween sprinkles and slowly spin to coat
Pour half glass of Golden Jubilee
Top of the rest of the glass with Peach Bellini Sparkling Wine, leaving a little room at the top
Splash in some Watermelon Sparkling Wine to create an “orange” Wicked Wilson
Serve to your friends and family this Halloween. Cheers!
Some Helpful Tips to Make Online Shopping Easier!
We love to see you here at the winery as often as you can, however, there are many opportunities and exclusive offers that you can access directly from your home or office. Because these exclusive offers are only available to Wine Club Members, you have to log in to your account to receive the discounts and view the special offers.
Visit www.wilsoncreekwinery.com and follow these helpful tips to login to your online webstore account:
- Your username is the email you used when you signed up.
- If you joined the wine club at the winery, your webstore shopping profile will be setup within 48 hours of joining and you can verify it.
- If you are using your online webstore account for the first time, you must “activate” your account, and reset your password. Click on “verify account” as seen below and follow the prompts. You will receive an email to verify and reset your password.
- If you joined our wine club online, your account is immediately activated with the password you created. No need to do anything else, you are ready to shop!
While logged in, you will receive discounts on any orders you place, you can review any pending orders and track online order shipments.
There will be certain times when you will need your Member ID number. This number is included on the emails you receive from Wilson Creek, please keep it in a safe place for reference.
For additional assistance logging into your webstore account, please email firstname.lastname@example.org