Taste of Wine: Touring and tasting in La Costa, La Jolla & Il Fornaio

Taste of Wine: Touring and tasting in La Costa, La Jolla & Il Fornaio
Andy Wilcox, right, managing partner of Italics Winegrowers of Napa Valley, is shown pouring the “15” blend for a guest at the annual Wine & Wishes in La Costa. Photo by Frank Mangio

Capturing the essence of a quality wine in descriptive words that feels perfect for the moment of judgment can be a simple expression.  Love is a deep, involved feeling that forecasts long-term devotion, while luscious is a more exciting, let’s jump in the pool together feeling.

I used both words without hesitation at my three recent wine visits to The La Costa Resort, Harry’s Bar & Grill and Il Fornaio in Del Mar.

Nicole Gilberts and Sara Klein of Kobrand with Harry’s owner Garo Minassian. Photo by Frank Mangio

Nicole Gilberts and Sara Klein of Kobrand with Harry’s owner Garo Minassian. Photo by Frank Mangio

At the recent La Costa Resort benefit for Make a Wish of San Diego, expertly produced under the leadership of Dustin Cano of Meritage Wine Market, Italics Wines of Napa Valley’s Coombsville district stole the show with its “15” blend.  The story on this wine is that winemaker Steve Reynolds wanted to highlight the best that Napa Valley had to offer so over a decade ago, with 13 sub-appellations at that time, he blended wines from each of the 13 and so created the blend “13.”  Now he has created the 2012 “15” as Napa Valley added two more sub-appellations.  Now Coombsville has been created as No. 16.  Instead of looking around for a winery to collaborate with, Italics was born, in Coombsville, on 73 acres southeast of the city of Napa.  Love and luscious were perfect descriptors for “15.”

In La Jolla, across from UTC, you will find Harry’s Bar & Grill.  The original is still going strong in Florence Italy.  Owner Garo Minassian brought in Kobrand Wines, reps for some of the finest Italian wines on the “boot.”

With a lively menu, Kobrand brought in among others, the Feudi Maccari Saia, 2012 Nero d’ Avola ($18.50).

This one comes from the hot selling wine country of Sicily and on average, 30 year old vines 80 meters above sea level on volcanic soil.  Twelve to 14 months aging is done in small French Barriques, then aged for six months in bottle.  Like California there was just enough rainfall in 2012 and the vines sought lower ground for sustenance, producing beautiful balance — lovely and luscious!

IL Fornaio in the Del Mar Plaza has a seascape view to love.  Table #54 is the one to ask for.  Manager Mathew Galli is as congenial as any I know.  He brought in Beni Di Batasiolo, represented by a passionate shepherd of the wines, Stefano Poggi with his million-dollar smile.

Stefano Poggi, left, presents the wines of Benni di Batasiolo to Il Fornaio manager Mathew Galli. Photo by Frank Mangio

Stefano Poggi, left, presents the wines of Benni di Batasiolo to Il Fornaio manager Mathew Galli. Photo by Frank Mangio

Poggi took the assembled through his inventory of Piemonte wines, and then warmed up when he spotlighted the 2010 Batasioli Barbaresco ($44.95), the iconic wine for the district.  The grape is the Nebbiolo, a luscious grape of great nobility, strongly tannic, yet delicate in floral flavor. It comes from the town of Barbaresco.  Italy has more than 2000 different wines, more than the rest of the world together.  Remember to always eat some food with your favorite Italian wine.  It always enhances the flavor.  Now that’s amore!

Wine Bytes

A Taste Of Wine congratulations to the Tobin Brothers and their great success at North County Wine Company in San Marcos.  It was named the Best Wine Bar in North San Diego County by a leading poll.  Check it out at northcountywinecompany.com.

Tuscany in La Costa has an “End of Summer Jam” show Sept. 6 from 6 to 10 p.m., featuring the Roni Nash All Star Band. $10. See tuscanylacosta.com/events.

Falkner Winery in Temecula is offering Labor Day weekend concerts, BBQ and lunch specials Sept. 5 and Sept. 6.  Free concerts both days starting from noon to 3 p.m.  Several wines at discount prices.  Lunch specials at the Pinnacle Restaurant. Information at (951) 676-8231 ext.1.

The Emilio Nares Foundation, supporting families with children battling cancer, will host the 12th annual Harvest for Hope, Sept. 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the San Diego Central Library. Event includes unlimited tastings from San Diego’s finest restaurants and beverage brands to raise funds for this worthy cause.  Live and silent auctions and local musicians. Ticket cost is $135. For more information and tickets, call (760) 310-9467 or visit harvestforhope2015.org.

Hotel Del Coronado presents a special 5-course dinner Sept. 15. Each course will be paired with exquisite wines from Cakebread of Napa Valley.  Cost is $95 per person; $165 with wine pairing.  RSVP at (619) 522-8490.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.  View and link up with his columns at tasteofwinetv.com, and reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.  Follow him on Facebook.

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