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Cougar Vineyard & Winery Shines at Annual Wine Judging Event!

Published by Terri Graham

Cougar Winery Tasting Cougar meets italy   

By Barbara Pape
PassPort to San Diego

In a rare act of sobering (pun intended) courage, Rick and Jennifer Buffington allowed five of their favorite varietals to not only be compared side-by-side in a blind tasting with their Italian counterparts, but to also be judged by seasoned experts in the wine industry as well as 50 loyal wine club members, customers, friends, family and the press. The 3rd Annual “Cougar Meets Italy” event was held Thursday, January 18 at their boutique winery in Temecula, CA. Confidence in their easy-drinking, award-winning wines produced exclusively from Italian grapes but grown on the De Portola Wine Trail in Temecula Valley, as well as inspiration from the movie “Bottle Shock”, spurred the idea for this annual wine tasting and food pairing event.

The five wines compared and judged were Montpulciano, Primitivo, Negroamaro (red wines), Arneis & Fiano (white wines). The six professional judges included winemakers, bloggers, sommeliers and educators who were at no point made aware of which wine they were tasting – the one produced in Southern Italy, or the one produced at Cougar Vineyard & Winery. Their guests also had the opportunity to learn and execute the judging process using the UC Davis system, a gold standard in wine competition. Judging blindly as well in categories such as color, bouquet, body, acidity and of course flavor and taste, attendees each provided their own scores that ultimately determined the “People’s Choice” winners of each of the varietals judged.

As judging concluded, a delicious four-course dinner was served utilizing local restaurants’ famous dishes with refreshing Cougar wines paired to each. Live guitar music accompanied this casual, educational and palate-pleasing evening as the 3-hour event progressed.

With anxious anticipation pulsing through the room, the scores were carefully tabulated and it was announced the Judges Award went to Cougar Vineyard & Winery for two out of the five wines compared – the Primitivo and the Negroamaro. In addition, People’s Choice awards went to Cougar Vineyard & Winery for three out of the five wines – the Negroamaro, Arneis & Fiano.

Thrilled with the outcome, hosts Rick and Jennifer beamed with pride for all their hard work and the recognition it gleaned, but most importantly, they sincerely enjoyed an evening surrounded by peers and neighbors whom they see often at the winery enjoying a glass on the patio, listening to live music or grabbing a bite to eat from the deli at their charming, accessible winery on the De Portola Wine Trail in Temecula Valley.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery

39870 DePortola Road (on the De Portola Wine Trail)

Temecula, CA 92592

(951) 491-0825

Owner: Rick Buffington


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