The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

Discovering wines on the boot

The results are in on the 2013 Italian harvest and for those that enjoy a good Barolo, Chianti Classico, Primativo or Nero D’ Avola and hundreds of other Italian varietals, the news is good.

You will of course have to wait until bottles of these favorites are ready to be shipped to the U.S. and other countries that enjoy a lovely Italian red.

Balanced ripeness is what I read for 2013.

All well and good, but our sights are set on vintages that are ready to drink now, such as 2010, 2011 and to some extent 2012. So let’s launch our latest wine tour of the “boot” with new releases from an old friend, Castello Banfi in Tuscany. It was a time of celebration for Banfi and the popular Solare

Italian Restaurant in San Diego. Recently a full house of diners was treated to the latest 2010 reds, affectionately called “Super Tuscans.” The 2010’s may be the finest vintage since 2001’s great year. The intensity is there, as well as rich, berry fruit in the Sangiovese base grape. For noble reds, the Summus Toscana with Cabernet, Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah are as tasty as they come.

Banfi is founded and owned by the Mariani Family, whose achievements in wine are recognized worldwide. Go to

From icons to discoveries, two names to know in Italy are: Stemmari from Sicily and Centanni from Le Marche. Stemmari is the new label of Feudo Arancio, a major Sicilian wine enterprise owned by northern Italy’s Mezzacorona, well known in the U.S. which buys half of its million plus cases per year, according to Wine Spectator. Stemmari has focused in on its Nero D’Avola, Sicily’s go-to wine. Its calling card is “Celebrate the Art of Living.” ($9.99) Other varietals in the Stemmari selections include: an elegant Pinot Noir, a Pinot Grigio, a Moscato and two blends, Dalila and Cantodoro. All are $9.99 with the blends at $13.99. Go to

Jonathan Zeiger is a young, fresh face distributing a growing list of new Italian names for us to know in SoCal. His ZGR Imports specializes in wines from the Le Marche district of Italy, including Centanni.

As I write this he is working hard setting up buyers at the largest wine event in the country, Vin Italy.

The first thing noticed about Centanni bottles is that they use the fascinating VinoLok glass tops. These “eliminate the risk of cork taint, allow for easy opening and resealing, minimize additional oxidation on an open bottle and are aesthetically pleasing.” The wines that I favored include: Pecorino 2012 with 100 percent Pecorino grapes ($28.99) and Monte Floris 2011 Marche Rosso with 100 percent Montepulciano grapes ($28.99).

Go to

The San Diego International Wine Show

International wines from all around the world will be tasted at the 3rd annual San Diego International Wine Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds April 26 and April 27 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Paddock area.

Hundreds of local and world-renowned wines will be brought in by experts in wine making, with music and seminars all for a single event price of $55 advance, $65 at the door. Proceeds to benefit the Country Friends nonprofit projects.

This show is a must for wine connoisseurs and those simply interested in trying new worldwide wines. Sample cooking under a big tent is an extra special attraction with creative cooking demos from well-known chefs. Look for olive oil, cheeses and chocolates. The fairgrounds’ 17 Hands restaurant will be open for menu items. Buy tickets at More information at (619) 8WINESD.

Wine Bytes

The Grand Del Mar will host a Peay Vineyards Sonoma Wine Tasting April 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Delectable hors d’oeuvres, cheese, cold cuts and six wine selections; $55. RSVP at (858) 314-1996.

The Orange County California Wine Festival is April 25 and April 26 at Laguna Cliffs Marriott Hotel and Lantern Bay Park, Dana Point. This two-day show features Rare & Reserve Tasting Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday 1 to 4 p.m. Get all details and ticket info at

San Diego Magazine presents the Best of North County April 25 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad. It features the best restaurants, breweries, wineries and live entertainment; $75. Visit

The DePortola Trail Wineries in Temecula is having their RedFest from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27. Ten wineries will serve samples of three wines each and a serving of food. Early Tickets are $49, and are available at

 Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. His columns can be viewed at HYPERLINK “” He is one of the top wine commentators on the web. Reach him at [email protected].