The San Pasqual winery has been bustling lately; this weekend the owners harvested and pressed San Diego County Syrah and Sangiovese. But on a Sunday afternoon at the beginning of football season, the La Mesa outpost was serene. Tasting room manager Brenda first poured a fruity 2010 Albariño grown on former San Diego Padre Steve Finley’s land in Rancho Santa Fe. We sampled 2008 and 2009 Sauvignon Blancs, but the standout white was a 2010 Lake County Fumé Blanc cured in Hungarian oak – slightly toasty with a lemony finish. Why does the winery use the names Sauvignon Blanc and Fumé Blanc since both wines come from the same grape? The term "Fumé Blanc" was coined by Robert Mondavi because, once upon a time, California Sauvignon Blancs had a bad reputation. Since then it’s become traditional to age Fumé Blanc in oak while Sauvignon Blanc is aged in stainless steel.
A newly released 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend was light bodied and fruit forward but pleasantly dry. Also new: a silky 2007 Merlot with grapes from Dry Creek in the Sonoma Valley.
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