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Taste Of Wine columnist and avid Boston Red Sox baseball fan Frank Mangio celebrates Boston’s World Series victory with a Caymus Special Selection Cabernet, one of the world’s great wines, with Internet and Tech Director Rico Cassoni.
ColumnsTaste of Wine

A special selection for a special occasion

In sports, as in life, a big win deserves a big wine. You would have to have had a long nap if you didn’t know that the biggest recent event in sports was the World Series won by the Boston Red Sox over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I have been a Red Sox fan for life. I grew up with them and laughed and cried with them. My hero then and now was Ted Williams, all-time great hitter with the Sox, who was a native San Diegan and who had a freeway named after him out here. With a gathering of close friends, I timed the opening of a Napa Valley Caymus Special Selection Cabernet 2013 to the final moment of victory for the Red Sox. I promised that to my group, because in my judgment, this current vintage of Special Selection cannot be beat. When it was all over, the final game count for Boston for the 2018 season was 119 wins and only 52 losses through the World Series. Only two teams in baseball history had done better, and they were both spelled New York Yankees, the “Evil Empire” of baseball.

I grew up idolizing Ted Williams and loathing the Yankees in any shape or form. I grew into the wine business, loving the other red in this story. Caymus is a wine that I believe is one of the best ever in California. The best expression of that red is the Caymus Special Selection, the only wine to win the “World Series” of wine, No. 1 in the most prestigious wine publication in the world, Wine Spectator, and they did it twice. Now the Sox have won another World Series in this century. In 2004, after 86 years of frustration, they beat the Cardinals four straight games after giving it to the dreaded Yankees in game seven in the American league playoffs. First championship since 1918.

Then in 2007 and 2013, they claimed those World Series titles but never in consecutive years. The Yankees have won consecutive World Series titles in the 1998 and 1999.  Watch out Yankees, the Red Sox are coming to get you, again.

Visit the baseball World Series champions at

Quilceda Creek from Washington best represents a cast of 2015 Reds and the new “CVR” (Columbia Valley Red) leads the field.

A hot list of cool new wines

California’s harvest is winding down into November, with the rich-bodied reds just being crushed and fermented. The excitement is building as it’s being labeled a great harvest with a substantial increase in production over 2017. Napa Valley will be just 4 percent of the total California harvest. However, Napa Valley will account for 50 percent of the value of all California wines sold.

Did you know that the state of Washington comes in second and is the fastest-growing in the U.S.?

I’ve got a great new list of new wine hitting the shelves, kind of a preview of my year-end Top Ten Tastes that you will want to try.

The 2015 Quilceda Creek Cabernet collection tops this preview, right up there with the best of the reds and specifically Cabernets.

All are an extraordinary experience. It’s not unusual to pay close to $200 for these top-shelf wines, so I recommend their “CVR” ( Columbia Valley Red) blend current vintage 2016, with aromatic black and blue fruits laced with subtle minerality. It’s a combination of 87 percent Cabernet, 7 percent Merlot and splashes of Cab Franc and Petite Verdot ($85). “It’s all about pleasure,” comments Paul Golitzin, Quilceda Creek’s winemaker.

Orin Swift is operated by the Napa Valley legend Dave Phinney of Prisoner fame and other wine projects around the world. He took a furlough from making Prisoner-style Zinfandel in 2009, spending eight years away from what made him famous. Now his non-competition agreement is past and he is back with a Zinfandel monster wine called, appropriately, 8 Years in the Desert Label 1. It’s actually a Zin, Petite Sirah and Syrah 2017 blend,  to warm up any cool night and dinner party ($49.95).

Finally, a name you should know if you’re a steady reader of our column, Paul Hobbs, a brilliant crafter of fine wines in Sonoma and Napa, has a 2016 vintage of his brilliant Crossbarn Cabernet series. His comments on the 2016 should make you run, not walk, to the nearest wine shop ($45). Enjoy lively aromas of boysenberry and black cherry, giving way to flavors of bay leaf and oak.

Each of these new releases should expand their flavor profiles over time. Salute!

Wine Bytes

  • 20/Twenty at the Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa has a Thanksgiving Dinner planned including a breakfast buffet from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Later, a lavish dinner buffet goes from 2 to 8 p.m. Menu highlights include free-range slow roasted turkey, garlic and rosemary prime rib, pan-seared salmon along with decadent desserts. This is a casual yet elegant dinner with heated terrace and expansive coastal views. Pricing is $85 for adults and $30 for children. RSVP at (760) 827-2500.
  • Craftsman Tavern in Encinitas is planning a Croatian Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. Nov. 14. This is a five-course authentic old country dinner with five old world wines, created by Chef Sergio Serrano. Roasted CAB Sirloin with Parmesan Polenta headlines the menu, with a 2012 Zlatan Plavac wine. Cost is $65 per person. Call Mike at (760) 452-2000 for your place.
  • North County Wine Company has a full house of wine events this month on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday Nov. 14, a comparative tasting of four Garnachas from four different soil types is featured. Friday and Saturday Nov. 16 and Nov. 17 has tastings of “must-have” wines for Thanksgiving.  On Wednesday Nov. 28, a “Debate Comparative Tasting” of three big Napa Cabs.  Look for more info at or call (760) 653-9032.