The Wine Trail of Don Quixote

Don Quixote is a character in a 17th century novel, a thin country gentleman who studies medieval stories full of knights, cavalry, jousting and castles. He believes he has been called upon to change the world and goes out to do battle in the name of his lady love who stands for perfection and purity … a very selective vision of the real world. Welcome to the wine country of Don Quixote’s Spain — La Mancha.Castilla-La Mancha is a beautiful wine region located in the center of Spain, the largest vineyard in the world with more than 1.24 million acres under vine. There are 46 grape varieties grown in this massive area, up to now little known in the outside world. Some are well-known like cabernet sauvignon. Others like tinto velasco wait for their time. Beside the rich lime and chalkstone soil, there are many more hours of daylight, some 3,500 hours a year, providing a “luminocity” for longer hours of grape ripening without overheating. This leads to flavor balance without a strong alcohol presence. These are wines of high minerality and earthiness with a bright acidity.Two standouts of the 26 wines offered at the showing, were the Vina Cerron “Remordimiento,” a red blend with tempranillo, cabernet, petit verdot and shiraz with tasty and smoky flavors; and AurumRed, a 2009 cabernet sauvignon that has been awarded 97 points by France’s most prestigious wine guide.Spanish winemakers continue to respect the wisdom of traditional ways of making wine and they benefit from the flavors that result, especially in Castilla-La Mancha, a wine country 100 times larger than Napa Valley. See more at

Brian Malarky is a chef on fire

Super “Top Chef” Brian Malarky, who, faster than a speeding bullet, has recently opened Herringbone in La Jolla, his fifth restaurant with managing partner James Brennan.

It joins Searsucker, Burlap, Gingham and Gabardine in San Diego County in a hip, casual, marketplace-bazaar format, each with their own culinary experience. All have opened in the past two years. The everyday food operation is under the supervision of chef de cuisine Amanda Bumgarten, a finalist on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” Season 7. Malarky playfully calls the format “Fish Meats Field.”

I asked him about his restaurants in a Q&A recently.

Taste of Wine: What’s the idea behind naming your restaurants after fabrics?

Malarky: Searsucker was named for my love of wearing a seersucker suit to the racetracks.

My restaurants designer and I decided to have fun with it and continue naming them after a fabric.

Taste Of Wine: I love hats and wear them a lot as you do. What’s your favorite hat?

Malarky: I’m an old-school Goorn Bros. straw fedora guy. The more worn and miles it has, the better.

Taste Of Wine: When you’re away from your restaurants, what meal with wine would you make for yourself?

Marlarky: Rotisserie chicken and a side of artichokes, paired with brie and a baguette, with a nice bottle of sauvignon blanc.


After several positions in restaurants around the country, Malarky opened downtown San Diego’s Oceanaire as executive chef in 2004. He then starred in Bravo TV’s “Top Chef 3 Miami” where he advanced to the finals, gaining national fame for his culinary talents and high energy.

When I sat down to sample Herringbone, it was with an Alaskan halibut with farro, oyster mushroom and topped with hazelnut, after a fascinating spinach salad with feta and bacon balsamic.

The star of the wine menu was a Napa Valley Spring Mountain ’08 Syrah called Schoolhouse. All five of the Malarky Restaurants now offer half-off bottles of wine and no corkage fee on Tuesday nights. Check out Herringbone at

Wine Bytes

Bacchus Wine Market downtown San Diego has their Anniversary Wine Tasting Party from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25. They promise a fabulous lineup of wines, food and live music including a 6-liter bottle of Imperial Bordeaux for a $25 fee. Call (619) 236-0005.

Europa Village Winery in Temecula is hosting a Fiesta De Noche Musical Wine Dinner from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25. Cost is $85 per person. RSVP at (951) 216-3380.

Bistro West Carlsbad presents an Orin Swift Wine Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 28. Wine pours include Mannequin, Saldo, The Prisoner and Papillion. Cost is $75 each. RSVP at (760) 930-8008.

La Costa Wine Company is pouring a Robert Craig Winery Pre Release of Napa Valley Cabs and a Chardonnay from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 29. RSVP only at (760) 431-8646.

Belle Marie Wine and Culinary Campus has its Grand Opening from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 1 to Sept 3. Free admission and entertainment, with food available. You can now taste different wines from at least eight wineries in one place. Details at (760) 796-7557.



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