Winery/Vineyard: Thornton Winery
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Tom Stolzer
4.1 out of 5 stars on Vivino.
How They Describe It
Thornton Winery’s Vermentino is Thornton’s first effort with this Mediterranean-style grape that is cultivated in Italy and the island of Sardinia. You’ll enjoy the mineral and lemon-citrus aromas as well as its surprising palate weight and richness. There’s no end to the selection of foods that pair up well with Vermentino, so be adventurous and try something new!
Descriptors: integrated lemon-citrus notes with minerality, richer than you’d expect, seamless, balanced finish
How I Describe It
Thornton’s first run at a Vermentino displays as a clear, pale lemon yellow, almost like a Pinot Grigio. Don’t be fooled, though, there’s a lot more to this wine than meets the eye.
While Thornton’s 2019 Vermentino shares much in common with the varietal’s traditional aromas, the winemaker’s style and Temecula terrior help to create a very original bouquet. From the start, crisp canteloupe and honeydew melon waft from the glass, alongside tropical lychee and pineapple. These are not commonly found in Vermentino. Peach, pear, and green apple follow closely beside lemon and grapefruit zest. Finally, there’s a leafy herbaceousness which combines nicely with elderflower and violet.
A triple punch of pineapple, pear, and peach hit as soon as the wine touches your tongue. From there, a citrus combination of grapefruit, orange, and lemon zest join with lychee and mango on the midpalate. Closing flavors include elderflower and green apple.
Thornton produced their first Vermentino dry to off-dry. Medium-plus acid, medium alcohol, and medium flavor intensity give this wine a refreshing medium body. Flavors linger on the tongue long enough for a medium finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
First and foremost, Thornton’s winemaking team deserves a round of applause for a delicious first run at a little known and new-to-them varietal.
Speaking of winemaking team, Thornton Winery recently had a passing of the proverbial torch. Longtime winemaker David Vergari retired in 2019, handing the reigns to protégé Tom Stolzer — seemingly just in time to introduce a new varietal or two to the Thornton wine portfolio.
Vermentino is one of those varietals which isn’t commonly found on American grocery store shelves, so other than intrepid drinkers know what to expect. For the uninitiated, Thornton’s 2019 Vermentino tastes similar to a lighter bodied mix of Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier, and perhaps a less tart version of un-oaked Chardonnay. In short, it’s crisp; it’s refreshing; but there’s still plenty of flavor to go around.
Interestingly, Thornton Winery’s claim to fame isn’t their still whites at all. For over three decades they have been producing sparking wine in the méthode champenoise. In fact, only one other producer in Temecula employs this labor intensive yet highly coveted approach — the winemaking team at South Coast and Carter Estate Wineries — and they initially honed their crafts at Thornton.
All that aside, one of the things which makes Temecula a worthwhile wine region is how the AVA’s climate and terrior both allow hard-to-find varietals to flourish, as well as for more established varietals to take on interesting new life compared to more entrenched appellations. There are only a handful of Temecula wineries producing Vermentino, and not a ton more around the rest of California. White wine drinkers who enjoy discovering interesting wine should be very happy Thornton is producing Vermentino now, and will be very pleased with the 2019 vintage.
When & How I Would Drink It
Firstly, wine experts agree Vermentino pairs well with seafood. And they’re not wrong. However, I poured a glass with pulled pork gyros, and the flavors played nicely together.
The Thornton 2019 Vermetino will do well chilled. With the weather warming up, this is a bottle which screams to be taken outside. In the same vein, if you’re able to lounge poolside, adding a glass of this wine to the occasion would be a refreshing fit.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $27
Cases Produced: 360
Have you tried the Thornton 2019 Vermentino? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.