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Victor Magalhaes, owner of Vittorio’s Italian Trattoria, left, with guest Margarite Triemstra and Republic National Distributing's Emily Moody and Maddie Bloom at Vittorio's. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Victor Magalhaes, owner of Vittorio’s Italian Trattoria, left, with guest Margarite Triemstra and Republic National Distributing's Emily Moody and Maddie Bloom at Vittorio's. Photo by Rico Cassoni
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Bubbles flowing at Vittorio’s sparkling wine dinner

Victor Magalhaes, owner of Vittorio’s Italian Trattoria in San Diego’s Highland Village, hosted a celebratory Champagne and sparking wine dinner to close out his 2022 Wine Dinner series.

As usual, Magalhaes had a full crowd with his loyal and dedicated guests. As my colleague Frank referred to a few months ago in a Vittorio’s dinner recap, “Magalhaes has created a cult-like following of repeat guests.”

I agree! Each month, guests look forward to his monthly wine dinners, which are typically held on the last Thursday of each month. There are several reasons for their popularity. One is the very affordable and consistent $75 price. Guests can enjoy five-course meals that include dessert and at least four wines over dinner. On a few occasions, guests spilled into the restaurant, so it is always key to RSVP early.

Many guests come with groups of friends that they already know or met over time at Vittorio’s. This makes the great food even more enjoyable. During this dinner, guest and friend of Taste of Wine, Margarite Triemstra, was celebrating her birthday.

Additionally for most dinners, Republic National Distributing‘s Emily Moody, account manager, and Maddie Bloom, sales rep, narrate the pairings, hold several raffles for wines served throughout dinner and other extras, and offer discounted pricing on wines served at dinner. Both Moody and Bloom were on hand sharing stories for the bubble’s extravaganza dinner.

- Truffle Mac & Cheese with five cheeses paired with 2018 Schramsberg North Coast Blanc de Noir. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Truffle Mac and Cheese paired with 2018 Schramsberg North Coast Blanc de Noir. Photo by Rico Cassoni

Dinner launched with a Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose Pinot Noir paired with smoked salmon rillettes and crème fraiche. Pierre Sparr, located in Alsace, France near Champagne, benefits from nine generations of family-owned winemakers dating back to the 1600s. In World War II, their vineyards were demolished. The family’s commitment was to come back and be better than before with new plantings.

Being a fan of both macaroni and cheese and Schramsberg sparkling wines, I was excited to see this pairing on the menu, which was my favorite combination of the evening. The macaroni and cheese was infused with truffle oil and had five cheeses – Parmagiano, Reggiano, Pecorino, mozzarella, and aged cheddar.

This baked delicacy was so remarkably good that it was deserving of the Schramsberg, which is the preferred sparkling wine served today at the White House for formal occasions. This tradition began in 1972 when President Nixon chose it for the China Peace treaties vs. French-produced champagne and sparkling wine.

The 2018 Schramsberg North Coast Blanc de Noirs translates to white from black as the fruit is red pinot noir fruit sourced from Sonoma vineyards combined with pinot noir fruit from Carneros and Anderson Valley producing fruit forward aroma and palette. The nose and flavor of peach and apple was simpatico with the richness of the truffle oil and five cheese dish.

The third course was Chicken Roulade with goat cheese and spinach topped with green peppercorn sauce over a carrot puree. This was served with Villa Sandi Prosecco Di Treviso Il Fresco Brut hailing from Italy’s Northeast Veneto region in the Prosecco area, specifically in Treviso with 100% Glera fruit. Its stainless-steel fermentation created a fresh, bright, and dry palate. I liked how the brightness complemented the peppercorn sauce and chicken.

I suspected this prosecco could also be a winner with shellfish, especially scallops which happened to be the fourth course. I still had some prosecco left when the pan seared scallop arrived and confirmed my hunch.

The jumbo scallop was plated with a creamy lemon-butter champagne sauce, then a parsnip cake, before being crowned with the scallop. This was paired with Piper-Heidsieck 1785 Champagne Brut, founded in 1785, hence the number in the title.

Since sourced from Champagne, France, it can officially carry the title of Champagne. The 50% pinot noir, 30% pinot munier, 20% chardonnay blend had green apple and pear on the palate with citrus notes of lemon and grapefruit on the nose.

This was impressive for a non-vintage champagne and a great partner with the scallop dish. Dinner concluded with chocolates and was a treat for those who still had some champagne left to pair with the chocolates.

Hats off to Victor and his team including servers Daniel and Lee, along with Emily and Maddie from RNDC who always make Vittorio’s wine dinners special!  I am looking forward to the 2023 Wine Dinner series starting in January with Foxen vineyards and VP Sales/Marketing Kaitlin Hite from the winery.

— Story by Rico Cassoni

Wine Bytes

— Descobres is teaming up with Winebow Imports for their Wines of the World event being held on Sunday, Feb. 26 at San Diego’s The Westgate Hotel. More than 60 limited edition, highly-rated wines from over 30 producers across Europe and the Americas will be poured. This will be a limited entry event without crowded tasting tables. Cost is $119 per person (1 p.m. to 2 p.m. industry/media, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. general public). Buy tickets and see the wine list at descobres.com.

— Save the date. Family Winemakers will host its annual tasting of family-owned and produced, hard -to-find California wines on Sunday, March 12th at the Del Mar Fairgrounds from noon until 4:00pm. The Sunday tasting is a one-day event of award-winning, small, family-owned wineries that create wine from many of the state’s fabled wine growing regions. A Map to Amazing Wines is this year’s theme. RSVP at familywinemakers.org/taste.

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