DAOU Vineyards and Winery was in San Diego recently at Vittorio’s. Sheridan Dowling of American Spirits & Wine is holding “The Pessimist” blend, and Dan Brunner of DAOU displays the 2014 Reserve Cabernet from Paso Robles. Courtesy photos
Columns Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Top 10 wines tasted in the first half of 2017

In the first half of 2017, two major trends occurred in the San Diego wine market that bear spotlighting. Most wines on the top 10 list this season are big flavored, highly sought-after Cabernets from Napa Valley. They rode into this market this year on the backs of great, well-publicized wine dinners, trade shows and marquee events. Also, wine lovers are educating themselves on the best vineyards, not just wineries.

The Pym Rae vineyard on Mount Veeder in the Napa Valley.

The best example is To-Kalon vineyard next to Robert Mondavi winery in Oakville, Napa Valley, where the owner is asking and getting upwards of $50,000 a ton for his grapes. Opus One, an all-time great red blend, was born in the To-Kalon vineyards. I have seven Napa Valley wines for you, plus one from Oregon and one from Chile. All wines are rated equally excellent and are ranked alphabetically. Pricing is the best I could find.

  • Beringer Knights Valley Vineyards Cabernet, Napa Valley 2012, $22. Rocky alluvial soils perfect for growing Bordeaux-style wines with concentrated flavors. Visit Beringer.com.
  • Concha Y Toro Gran Reserva Malbec, Chile 2014, $21. Wines are made with a Mediterranean advantage: river corridors, cold mountain winds from the Andes and elevated levels. Visit Conchaytoro.com.
  • DAOU Reserve Cabernet Paso Robles 2014, $51. The DAOU Reserve collection is made with premium fruit sourced from DAOU Mt. and other Paso Robles vineyards. They are high-quality, Bordeaux-style offerings. Visit Daouvineyards.com
  • Elouan Pinot Noir Oregon, 2015, $12.97. Fantastic price for this Joe Wagner made wine from Oregon. Caymus and Conundrum both from Napa Valley, were part of his pedigree. Visit ElouanWines.com.
  • Flora Springs Trilogy blend, Napa Valley 2014, $85. Made from the finest lots of estate vineyards with Cabernet, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Full-bodied with soft, rounded tannins. Flora Springs tastings and picnics are really unique. Visit florasprings.com.
  • Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Napa Valley 2014, $72. The one we’ve been waiting for in an exceptional vintage. Twenty-one months in French Oak with 14 percent Merlot, 4.5 percent Petit Verdot and 2.5 percent Cab Franc. Vineyards are farmed naturally. Visit grgich.com.
  • Heitz Wine Cellar Cabernet Martha’s Vineyard Napa Valley 2012, $235. The 2012 Cabernet from Napa Valley was no better expressed than the Heitz from Martha’s Vineyard, just released this year. The vineyard from Oakville has been supplying grapes to Heitz since 1966. Visit heitzcellar.com.
  • Robert Craig Mt. Veeder Cabernet Napa Valley 2014, $90. This esteemed wine comes from the Pym Rae vineyard, owned by the late actor Robin Williams, above the clouds on Napa Valley’s Mt. Veeder, plush and rich in extract. Visit Robertcraigwine.com.
  • Rombauer Chardonnay Carneros Napa Valley 2015 ($36.95) and Rombauer Merlot Carneros Napa Valley 2013 ($43). A rare double win for this 35-year-old winery and vineyard produced by three generations of Rombauers. Their 2014 Zinfandel was the Taste of Wine June wine of the month. Director of winemaking Ritchie Allen has been making these powerful, full-bodied wines since 2008. Joyful wines full of character. Visit Rombauer.com.


Wine Bytes

  • Il Fornaio in Del Mar has its latest Festa Regionale, this time spotlighting the Veneto Italian cuisine, now to July 23. Special reward promotion for this series. Beautiful dishes like Risotto and Branzino, a Mediterranean seabass Veneto style, along with district wines. Make your RSVP at (858) 755-8876.
  • A R Valentien restaurant in La Jolla has an Artisan signature wine series featuring Pahlmeyer from Napa Valley from 7 to 9:30 p.m. July 20. Cost is $230 each for the wines and a four-course family-style dinner. Call (858) 777-6635.
  • BK Cellars in Escondido has a unique Wine Barrel Tasting event from 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 20. Joe and Dania will present a barrel tasting session with tasting samples along with light food. Taste Syrah, Cab Franc and Tempranillo. Cost is $24.95 for club members, and $34.95 for the public. RSVP and details at (760) 270-9851.


Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading commentators on the web. View his columns at http://thecoastnews.com then hit menu, then column. Reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.