Taste of Wine: Pacifica Del Mar – quintessential seafood dining

I’ve thought recently about what people love about fine wine and dine restaurants, and what makes them come back for more. Certainly part of the allure is about the food and the perfect glass of wine matching the chosen dinner. A lot of it is the memorable service and the environment, like the view while you dine and the comfortable serenity of the experience.

A perfect match and a go-to restaurant in coastal Del Mar is Pacifica Del Mar, where a dining experience is brought to extraordinary new levels.

Pacifica Del Mar’s brilliant, passionate Wine Director J.T. Hutchens.

Pacifica Del Mar’s brilliant, passionate Wine Director J.T. Hutchens.

First and foremost, I want you to know about J.T. Hutchens, Pacifica’s wine director.

Everybody calls him “JT” so that’s what we’ll do.  JT is easily the most hospitable wine person I have ever met in this pleasurable business. His knowledge of wine runs deep, and he has an engaging easygoing confidence and style as he walked me through his choices.

JT’s been with Pacifica Del Mar for some 20 years and California style red wines are his flavor favorites. There are 2,000 wines in the Pacifica cellar. Many are half bottles of some famous names, especially in Napa Valley. I consider the availability of half bottles to be a strong plus for the wine lover who wants to test-run a famous name winery, without the price of a full bottle. With conservative pouring, four three-ounce glasses are easily consumed, a nice amount. Names like Duckhorn, Grgich Hills and Oregon’s Argyle can be found on the extensive West Coast wine list.

“New wine and food ideas are being placed into the mix with more emphasis on what I call the home team of wines from California,” JT revealed. “I am unveiling a large group of reds from the Central Coast of California, with names from the Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Lucia Highlands and they’re creating excitement, especially the Pinot Noirs.”

He opened up a 2013 Duckhorn Cabernet with the enthusiasm of a coach on a pro team. “Let’s go for it, no game-playing here,” was the sound bite that I wanted to hear. Seriously great wine in a great restaurant.

Seafood is what Pacifica Del Mar does best, and there is nothing better than a luscious Mahi Mahi with a dramatic view of the ocean.

Seafood is what Pacifica Del Mar does best, and there is nothing better than a luscious Mahi Mahi with a dramatic view of the ocean.

That Duckhorn was so smooth and supple, it was like velvet with a Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi, with Wasabi peas, coconut risotto, pea puree and baby carrots in Miso butter. Give credit to Executive Chef David Burke for this signature creation.

Pacifica Del Mar has the prestigious Gold Medallion for “Best seafood dining in San Diego” and Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” for its superior wine list. You’ll enjoy indoor and outdoor dining for lunch or dinner, half-off wine bottles on Thursdays and a Happy Hour bar scene from 4:30 to 6pm with an all-night Happy Hour on Sunday and Monday. Check out more at pacificadelmar.com. Call for a reservation at (858) 792-0476.

5th Annual Vin Diego Better than Ever

David Fraschetti is the whiz-kid of the wine events scene in San Diego. The wineries he has at his ever-popular Vin Diego Wine & Food Festival at Liberty Station in Pt. Loma San Diego, almost always return to this fun and well-attended extravaganza. It’s wine only with chef-inspired food sampling and live entertainment, outdoors on a beautifully carpeted lawn promenade. In April of this year, the maestro put on another great performance and wanted me to thank you all for supporting this, the “classiest wine-only event” in SoCal! Watch for it next year, and check with vindiego.com for updates for next year.

Wine Bytes

  • Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas has Paso Robles wines at its Friday night tasting on May 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. Paso is the wild west of California wine and Meritage has a great lineup of wines. Four to six wines for $30 each. Call (760) 479-2500.
  • A “Rose’ All Day” wine class is forming at Mira Costa College on Manchester Ave. in Cardiff. Tuition is $79 with materials $60. Sommelier Bridget Cheslock is the instructor. Classes are weekly Thursday June 1, 8 and 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. Call (619) 980-2135 for details.
  • The San Diego Urban Wineries, a group of 14 quality wineries dedicated to creating artisanal wines, are kicking off their 10-day Urban Wine Week celebration with a high energy event Thursday June 1 from 5:30 to 8 p.m., at The Headquarters at Seaport Village. Taste many different wines and talk to the winemakers themselves. You’ll also enjoy a Salsa band and small bites. The events will climax with a North County event called Sip the City Finale Sat. June 10 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Maple Street Plaza in Escondido. Tickets for either event are $25 each. Visit com for ticket information.
  • Pala Casino Spa and Resort and its Underground Cave will be the location for a Franciscan Estate Winery dinner and wine tasting Thurs. June 8. Reception starting at 7 p.m. Franciscan Estate is a famous Napa Valley winery of the highest character and excellence. This will be a five-course dinner with wines paired up with the entrees. Cost is $85 per person. RSVP at (877) 946-7252.
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