Taste of Wine

Rock Star Makes Wine in Italy

In 1999, after a decade long frustrating search, Gordon Sumner and his wife found a 650-acre estate on a hill in Tuscany, Il Palagio.

The rock star Sting relaxes at his winery in Tuscany, Italy, Il Palagio, a leading maker of “Super Tuscan” wines. Photo courtesy of Bing.com

Jena Letchaw, assistant executive director and Donato Santarsieri, executive director toast the success of the San Diego Wine Show. Photo by Frank Mangio

Now this has little interest to you until I tell you that this man’s show business name is known worldwide as Sting!

Gordon Sumner’s first years in the world of rock music were in Newcastle, England with his first gigs paid in dinner and beer. He didn’t know a thing about wine. But as his fame grew as bandleader of the Police, the money poured in, along with gifts of world-class French and Italian wines like Chateau Petrus and Biondi Santi Brunello.

Over time, Sting got the wine bug that affects most of us that are caught up in the need to know and consume the best there is.

So with a definite yearning for Italian style wines and a sympathetic film producer wife, Trudie, they set out in 1992 to find the ideal Tuscan villa and winery, with a cash hoard that could buy them the best. A decade later they came up empty and Sting walked away frustrated.

But his wife persisted and found a cypress-lined, yellow villa that was in disrepair. They closed on the property the next day and subsequently invested millions in the buildings and the vineyards, restoring Il Palagio to its former grandeur. Il Palagio is now so prolific in output that Sting and Trudie have opened a farm shop selling everything made or grown on the estate, including fresh vegetables and fruits, olive oil and salami.

“We have spent many years transforming our vineyards and olive groves,” he observed. “We hope all this effort has paid off and the tastes will delight you as much as it does our family and friends.”

After 10 years of hard work, the first vintage of an Italian blended wine has been released, the 2008 Il Palagio “Sister Moon” Toscana was made, named after one his great hit songs ($44.99 on the internet).

A blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet, the palate is enriched with powerful black fruit, laced with crème-de-cassis. The rustic, tannic finish is pure Tuscan, aged in French barriques for 24 months. 1,000 cases were made.

Another wine is ready for release, the 2010 “When We Dance.” This charming everyday Chianti is 95 percent Sangiovese, with small amounts of Canaiolo and Colorino grapes. The fragrances are cherry and iris.

The winery, near Panzano in Tuscany, is open to the public Monday through Friday. See more at palagiowineandoil.com.


Reviewing the San Diego Wine Show

The San Diego Wine Show, in the lovely Paddock area of the Del Mar Racetrack and produced by the dapper, congenial Donato Santarsieri, had its sophomore debut recently and the results were fascinating for its engaging innovations.

Many of the Pacific Coast’s finest wines were poured during the two-day event. Cooking demos and samplings were paired with wines, and visitors could also try olive oil, cheeses, and chocolates and watch the making of cigars.

Charlie Plummer, a leading wine sommelier and wine distributor, educated and entertained with his blind tasting seminar. A large selection of Mexico’s wines from L.A. Cetto showed great promise with its worldwide list of red varietals, all grown in the Guadalupe Valley near Ensenada.

For news on next year and an opportunity to participate, contact the producer at thevinemaster@gmail.com.


Wine Bytes

Wines from Sonoma headline the event 2 to 8:30 p.m. June 22 at Bacchus Wine Market in the Gaslamp, downtown San Diego. You’ll taste Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to name a few. $20. More details by calling (619) 236-0005.

A Bocce Ball Tournament is in play at Europa Village in Temecula Wine Country. Next tournament is June 23 at 2 p.m. Finals are July 21. $10 per player. Info at (951) 216-3380.

Rossi’s Pizza & Family Sports Bar in San Marcos presents the Robert Hall Winery of Paso Robles with a dinner and selected wines June 25 at 6:30 p.m. Price is $60 and includes a four-course Italian dinner. Call (760) 727-7542 for a reservation.

Twenty/20 in the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa has a series of six “Sunset Grilling with the Masters” BBQ cooking events, starting June 26 at 6:30 p.m. when Executive Chef Alex Carballo of Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens will showcase his “how-to” techniques. Complimentary eats and beverages from the grill are included in the $50. The rest of the series will be Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. until Aug. 28. Tickets at: sunsetgrilling.brownpapertickets.com.

The new Vittorio’s Family Style Trattoria in Highland Village Center in San Diego invites you to a Bianchi five-course wine dinner for $49.50. To RSVP call (858) 538-5884.


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