Taste of Wine

Big format bottles stand tall at Costco

In a move that has eyes turning and cameras clicking at the entrance to the wine department at Costco in Carlsbad, some 60 big format wine bottles are up for sale.

Big format wine bottles are attracting crowds at COSTCO. Photos by Frank MangioGalen Crippin, the Export Manager for Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi
presented the history of the fabled Tuscan winery, at Solare in San Diego.

Sizes range from three-liters to a whopping 27 liters, made by Fontodi of Tuscany Italy. Inside is their Super Tuscan Flaccianello.

A new release 2010 standard sized 750 ml. bottle of Flaccianello holds five, five-ounce glasses of wine and cost $120.00. The most expensive Flaccianello is a 27-liter 2004 vintage that holds 160 five-ounce glasses. The Costco price is $7,599.99.

A more popular value Tuscan wine name to know is Banfi. It is well represented with its Centine (pronounced Chen-tee-nay) brand. The big bottle in this one is 5 liters and cost $58.99. Its vintage is 2011 and is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot. This bottle yields 35 glasses, about $1.68 per glass.

Simple economics tells me that when comparing a standard release with its big bottle counterpart, there is much more wine per dollar in the five-liter, about twice as much. Not to say, we should all go running around looking for big format bottles. There are some drawbacks. These giants are hard to open, short of a jackhammer. All the standard lever pull corkscrews are built for the standard size 750 ml bottles.

Another problem is that all wine should be consumed when open, or up to two days after unsealing. When exposed to air, a turning process begins and the wine begins to get tart and sour. Unless you have some big-time parties lined up, it’s best to stay with the standard bottles. Oh yeah, these bottles can get heavy. When pouring, I can barely balance a five-liter with its 35 glass content. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be pouring a 27-liter with 160 glasses of wine.

On the plus side, they make great party-pleasers. The wow-factor is over the top, and they make very attractive Grand Prizes at wine tasting competitions.

Other choices include: Chateau Malescot St. Exupery Red Bordeaux three-liter for $489.99 and the Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Cabernet three-liter for $94.99.

Thirty Generation Italian Winery Appears at Solare in San Diego

Most chefs would freeze in their boots and quickly forget everything they were ever taught about fine dining, if they ever had to pair up their menu creations with the best wines from Frescobaldi, a Florentine family whose wine fame began in the year 1300. By the time the 
Renaissance happened two centuries later, the artistic greats, the Papal Court and the English Court of Henry the Eighth were all faithful clients of Frescobaldi. I am happy to report that Solare’s Executive Chef

Accursio Lota was up to the task with his menu selections that were an inspirational compliment for the wines.

Here are the extraordinary food and wine pairings, served that evening at Solare:

Albacore Tuna marinated with tangerine, bottarga emulsion and black squid ink, served with Frescobaldi Vermentino Ammiraglia.

Ravioli with slow braised beef short rib, with butternut squash and bone marrow, served with Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni.

Slow roasted Flat Iron steak with braised escarole, pine-smoked whipped potatoes and cocoa nibs, served with Frescobaldi Lamaione.

Cantuccio and Tommy’s orange panna cotta, served with Frescobaldi Pomino Vinsanto.

Solare has a glass enclosed Wine Room for a private atmosphere, surrounded by special selection wines for up to four guests. Reservations are recommended. They also have hands-on cooking classes where you may learn about some of these dishes mentioned. Call (619) 270-9670 or visit solarelounge.com.


Wine Bytes

The Annual Festival of Forks and Corks is being held at Café Merlot and Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo, Oct. 24 from 4 to 8 p.m. to benefit the San Diego Children’s Museum. More than 50 vendors will include wines, beers, micro farms, food, art and craft. Tickets are $25, or $40 per couple. Drink/food tickets $1. Info at (760) 703-5510.

Whiskey & Wine BBQ happens at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa Oct. 24, from 6 to 9 p.m. Food, wine and a sample of exclusive Single Barrel Whiskey. Tickets start at $50. For details call (858) 964-6525.

The first annual La Costa Film Festival at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa is Oct. 24 to Oct. 27, showing the best examples of documentaries, features and shorts. The opening night gala starting at 5:30 p.m. will include “A Taste of North County,” with local cuisine, wine and breweries plus live entertainment. This event to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Carlsbad. For more information and pricing, go to lacostafilmfestival.org.

Frank Mangio is a renowned San Diego 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 www.tasteofwinetv.com. Reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.



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