New wines previewed in the Regal Portfolio

High over the San Diego skyline and with a heavenly view of the Padres’ Petco Park, Regal Wines, a leading distributor of some of California’s most popular wines, uncorked their latest offerings atop the Marriott.
I’ve always admired Regal and their “book” of fine fruit-forward wines. They blanket the San Diego wine shops, restaurants and hotels with a straight-forward factual presentation of wines like Byron, Cambria, Clos LaChance, Kendall-Jackson, La Crema, Tablas Creek and a cluster of imports that are at the head of the class.
A review of the most impressive new wines points to a lovely line of Clos LaChance entries. This is a premium estate-based winery from 150 acres in San Martin, in the Santa Cruz foothills. Standouts were the ’06 Pinot Noir and the ’06 Zinfandel. Their Hummingbird ’05 Zin was one of my top 10 choices for 2008 as a rare version that exhibited European ancestory flavors. Check it out at www.clos.com.
Another Regal showstopper was Byron and their Santa Maria vineyard favorite: the ’06 Pinot Noir from their Bien Nacido Vineyard. A unique micro-climate along with natural farming methods for some 30 years has produced a benchmark Pinot. It’s smooth as silk with a back palate aftertaste that causes a pause that burns in the full flavor of this wine.
Finally I would recommend the Kendall Jackson Highland Estates Wines from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma, namely the ’05 Cabernet Hawkeye Mountain Vineyard. This is a pure expression of terroir with distinct character; as climate, grape variety, soil and location combine for a rare excellence. Its $55 suggested price makes it a special occasion wine, like right now!
Taste this wine … please
Drinking wine is easy. Fill a glass, make contact with the mouth and down it goes. What a waste. How can you possibly understand and appreciate this best of all beverages.
Next time you get a request to taste, think of the five Ss, the essence of tasting, and you will get so much more out of the experience. Here they are …
Sight. Pour a small amount of wine in your stemmed glass and hold it by the stem. Focus on the color, intensity and clarity, while tilting the glass.
Swirl. Rest the glass on a table and rotate the wrist. Notice the wine on the side of the glass and the film it leaves. It’s called the wine’s “legs.” A thicker “leg” means higher alcohol. You are also aerating the wine with oxygen, enhancing the taste to come.
Smell. Get your nose inside the glass, close to the wine and strongly inhale. The sensations rush through your sinuses and set up the palate with the penetrating aromas.
Sip. Slowly drink in the wine, making sure your entire mouth is flooded so that all your taste buds are getting saturated. Let the fruit, tannins and alcohol work their magic by “chewing” and sloshing it around the palate before the fifth “S” comes into play.
Swallow. The finish of a wine can last up to a minute or more depending on its body and vintage. It’s a moment of meditation and satisfaction that only wine can create.
Wine Bytes
— From now through June 19, Palm Desert and other desert resort areas are offering Restaurant Week with fine dining low priced three-course prix fixe menus as low as $24. Each dining location created its own menu. Check out participating hotels and restaurants at www.palmspringsrestaurantweek.com.
— June is an active month for Carlsbad Wine Merchants in the Island Center. At 5 p.m. June 18 Halter Ranch of Paso Robles is pouring, with the rockin’ sounds of Audio League. Live music every Thursday through Saturday. Call (760) 804-9994 for more information.
— Tasting on the Terrace happens at the Westgate Hotel in downtown San Diego from 5 to 7 p.m. June 13 for $30 per person. Education and tasting of Sonoma wines will liven up the event. Call (619) 583-9463 for details.
— Bistro 39 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Del Mar shines with a winemaker’s dinner from 6:30 to 10 p.m. June 13 for $39.39 each. Five courses will include wines like Dolcetto d’Alba, Batasiola Barbera and Barolo, all from Italy. RSVP at (858) 720-9500.
— Wine Loft in Carlsbad is planning at Costa de Oro Tasting with winemaker Gary Burk at 6 p.m. June 17. Sample four of his wines for $15 per person. Call for details at (760) 944-1412.
— The Four Seasons Aviara Carlsbad presents 6 Chalk Hills Estate Wines paired with a specially prepared dinner. Date is June 18 with a 6:30 p.m. start. Cost is $95 each guest. Call( 760) 603-3790.
— Firefly Grill and Wine Bar in Encinitas is busy this month with a South African Wine Tasting set for June 17 and the great Cakebread wines coming June 23 in a fine dine and wine format. Make your reservation for the Cakebread event at (760) 635-1066.

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