Van Roekel is the sister property to Maurice Car’rie. It sits on the hill overlooking Maurice Car’rie and is where their winemaker Gus produces his more refined wines. The winery complex is on a drive that includes the Van Roekel winery, a small wine country art gallery, the Temecula Wine Makers Association offices and the Van Roekel tasting room. The tasting room has a sparkling wine menu and a regular menu.
The pourers in the tasting room were friendly and we had great conversation while we tasted the wines. We began with the Gewurztraminer which was crisp and not overly sweet and is a great buy at $12.95. All the wines here are very reasonably priced. We also tasted their White Zin , and the Chardonnay which was very crisp and slightly sweet and very un Chard like to me, but fascinating enough that I took a bottle home. On to the reds. The 2011 Merlot had a bit of oak and spice and a light mouth feel with butter on the end and only a slight hint of tannins. The Syrah was medium bodied with light silky tannings and pepper with a cooling bit of eucalyptus on the nose. This felt very finessed for a syrah, not your big fruit bomb or barnyard style syrah. The 2008 Grenache was full of plums and had higher tannins. The Papa Red is a non vintage blend that gave you cooked berries on the nose and a variety of fragrances that my nose could not pick out. They were very well rounded and blended. Bright tannins fill your mouth and there is a little hint of oxidations which is actually very pleasant and provides a depth of flavor. There is a little bit of barnyard/wet dog on this that is very nice. This wine is extremely unique.
Our afternoon here was very nice. The wines, while not what I typically think of for the varieties were very enjoyable as well as cost effective. These wines are an adventure and one that caught me by surprise and I enjoyed.