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Vin du Cucamonga

December 16, 1998|RUSS PARSONS

Though Rancho Cucamonga was the home to one of California's first wine countries, that was at the turn of the century. Today, it's better known for industrial parks, real estate developments and its minor league baseball team, the Quakes.

There still are a couple of wineries operating in the area, though. And, given the area's hot temperatures, some of the best wines are those based on the products of Spain and Portugal.

In fact, Joseph Filippi, a winery since 1922, has wines that are inspired by both--a Sherry-like Angelica Elena and a Port-esque Fondante Ciello, which features added "chocolate essences."

But the class of the area is probably Rancho de Philo's Triple Cream Sherry. A project of Philo Biane and his daughter, Janine Biane Tibbetts, it draws on Mission grapes from 50-year-old vines, aged in 13 soleras for up to 18 years. It has a mature Sherry nose and a good, deep flavor of toffee and butterscotch.

The bad news is that it's for sale only at the winery (10050 Wilson Ave., Rancho Cucamonga) and its mid-November release has become something of an annual event. All 300 or so cases disappear within a week.

Not to worry, says Tibbetts; she's putting in a 14th solera this year, which will add 20 cases to the output. "I know that's not a lot," she says, "but when you're working with something this old, you move slowly."

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