Taste of Wine

Bella Dolce in Rancho Santa Fe serves up Italian flavor

Italy never looked or tasted as beautiful as it does at the new Dolce Pane E Vino in the Del Rayo Center in Rancho Santa Fe. Guests are literally transformed in this rustic, elegant creation that is at once a world of wine, a wine bar of elegance and a small-bites master restaurant with the charm of Venice and Tuscan surrounds. 
Dolce Pane E Vino (sweet bread and wine) is the creation of Michael Melone and Dr. Anthony Smith, who have carefully crafted an original Italian design unlike anything I have experienced. They bring a passion for the customer, cultivated from remarkable dining experiences worldwide.  You’ll marvel at the tables that are crafted for sharing, and lighting that is linked in communal harmony, yet each element is its own artistic rendering. The entire atmosphere is an architectural triumph.
I would be remiss by not devoting space to the wine and cuisine. Wine flights of three offerings are paired with the meal as a delightful option, especially since bottles can be purchased that match the flavors. On the evening I visited, wines from Fort Ross, Wolf Family and Orin Swift were served and all had rich flavors to pair with an ever-evolving Mediterranean menu.
Dolce Pane E Vino is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Mondays just dinner is served. Local seasonal produce is used with the freshest quality available.  Dolce is now booking inspiring wineries for special events including Laird Family Estate at 5:30 p.m. March 24 with Rebbecca Laird. Visit www.dolcepaneevino.com or call (858) 832-1518 for more information.
New wines & a perfect gift idea
In the past 30 days I have tasted some 500 wines of note and the following wines were especially memorable:
—  Castel Giocondo Brunello di Montalcino, Italy, 2004. The cost is $45. From the Frescobaldi family of traditional Italian winemaking with 100 percent four-year aged Sangiovese. The first of the recently great harvest years in Tuscany. Gets greater with more aging.
— Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz, Australia, 2007. The cost is $19. This striking, flavorful wine comes from the oldest winery in the Aussie nation in the heart of the Barossa Valley. First vines were planted in 1845. Classic and refined.
—  Leal San Benito Estate Grown Cabernet, Hollister, 2006. The cost is $20. North Central Coast flavor of soft, rich intense wines. A cab that is delicious and easy on the palate.
— Louis Latour Beaune Burgundy, Cote-D’or, France, 2005. The cost is $39. Burgundian wines fathered the immensely popular Pinot Noirs of the West Coast of the U.S. Mellow cherry with a smoky licorice taste. Balanced, mellow tannins.  2005 was a golden harvest in France.
— Oak Mountain Meritage, Temecula, 2005. The cost is $42. One for the locals with a nicely calculated 40 percent Cabernet, 40 percent Cab Franc and 20 percent Merlot Bordeaux classic style. Long, smooth finish.
— Pedroncelli Block 007 Estate Vineyard Sonoma Cabernet, 2007. The cost is $25. Ninety one points in a major wine publication, this is 100 percent cab grape with 18 months in oak. Elegant premium quality.
—  Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Sonoma 2008. The cost is $20. Another master stroke from winemaker Rick Sayres, pulling a premier harvest from this popular pinot area.  Silky texture, floral accents and a hint of spice make this one a standard to look up to. 
A personal expression on a bottle or glass makes the perfect gift to give for wine lovers. 
Tom Bwarie of Bwarie Gift Baskets in Carlsbad (pictured)  has made hand-engraving an art form. As a focal point of your custom gift basket order, this personalized service is free of charge. He showed me a popular new wine aerator that he is engraving for customers, the Soiree, a glass globe with an aeration chamber that is secured to the top of a wine bottle to enhance balance and flavor. He also does wine events where he quickly engraves the names of visitors on their tasting glasses. It’s a “take-home” gift that insures branding life for the hosts. Contact information is (760) 730-1458 or access www.bwariegiftbaskets.com.
Wine Bytes
— Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas is serving Italian “Succulent Sangioveses” at their weekly wine tasting from 6 to 8 p.m. March 26. Check with them for price and the wine lineup.  Call (760) 479-2500 for details.
— Wine Styles in Encinitas has live jazz and wine with the flamenco group En Fuego, from 6 to 8 p.m. March 26. An extensive menu of wines from around the world, with a small bite menu of cheeses and paninis. No cover charge. Call (760) 633-0057 for details.
— The Wine Bank in the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego has the Best of Italian Wines for its event from 6 to 8 p.m. March 27. Names like Gaja, Masi Amarone and Sassicaia will be poured. The cost is $50 per person. RSVP on pre-purchase at (619) 239-0334.
— 3rd Corner in Encinitas has a Hitching Post Wine Dinner coming at 6 p.m. March 30 for $65 each. This was the Santa Barbara winery made famous in the movie “Sideways.” RSVP at (760) 942-2104. The Hitching Post winemaker will also be at La Costa Wine Company from 6 to 8 p.m. March 31. Cost is $20. Call (760) 431-8455 for details.