The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

Have your Cakebread and drink it too

Wine royalty came to Coronado a few weeks ago when Il Fornaio’s General Manager lit up the island by bringing in Cakebread Cellars of Napa Valley for a wine dinner that packed the restaurant.  Luca Allieri has ramped up Il Fornaio’s dinner events and called in some name wineries, many from Napa Valley’s finest, to present the wine side of the occasion.  The Cakebread distributor, Alex Daniels, put together five great wines to mate up with Executive Chef Giorgio Loverde and that night’s family-style recipes.  Daniels chose Cakebread’s new vintage 2011 Cabernet to enhance the chef’s roasted veal loin with linger-berry sauce, a house favorite.

Another popular Cakebread favorite was the Chardonnay from Napa Valley’s Carneros District ($36.50), from the class of 2012 that received the highest marks in a decade.  “Carneros is the coolest part of the valley with lots of fog,” Daniels pointed out.

Carneros is one of nine vineyards now owned by Cakebread including the respected Howell Mountain“Dancing Bear Ranch.”  Here they make the sought-after Reserve Cabernet.  This is classic Bordeauxwith backbone and an earthy spice and pepper ($61.50).  Rich and smooth on the palate, with integrated tannins and balanced acidity.  Maybe you can’t have your cake and eat it too, but with Cakebread, you can have it all. Visit at


Temecula’s CRUSH Brings Out the Syrahs and Sangioveses

In my rounds of events and meet-and-greets, the wine conversation almost always touches on Temecula, its wineries and wines.  Last weekend the Wine Growers Association got all of its members together at Wiens Family Cellars for what they call CRUSH, a guest walk-around tasting that also featured supreme cuisine sampling and live music.  Good timing because September is California Wine Month.  This year, I tasted far more Syrahs and Sangioveses than I ever have before in an event like this.  This answers the most asked question about Temecula and its 30-plus wineries: What wines do best in this growing Southern California wine country that sits in the middle of a population of millions in five counties?

Syrah is the varietal from the Rhone Valley in Southeast France and is a bold, spicy red that loves warm inland areas.

Sangiovese hails from Tuscany and is a smooth red wine with balanced acidity and earthy minerality.  It thrives in the warm hill country of mid-Italy that looks remarkably similar to Temecula’s hill country. South Coast Winery has long advocated Sangiovese.  Through the skills of Master Winemaker Jon McPherson and Winemaker Javier Flores, who have been together since South Coast began in 2003, Sangiovese has flourished.  It is a marquee wine at Robert Renzoni, Mt. Palomar, Danza Del Sol and Cougar.  Syrah was a feature pour at Callaway, Chapin,Europa Village, Falkner, Footpath, Frangipani, Hart, Lorenzi, Lorimar, Miramonte, Ponte and Thornton.

The next major event in Temecula Wine Country is the Harvest Celebration Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.  For tickets, visit or call (800) 801-WINE.


Wine Bytes

The WineSellar and Brasserie in Sorrento Valley presents their Grand Pinot Noir Tasting Sept. 27 from 2 to 5 p.m.  Pourings include styles from all over the world.  Hors d’oeuvres provided.  Call (858) 450-9557 for price and an RSVP.

Ponte Winery in Temecula has its 12th annual Grape Stomp Sept. 28 from 4 to 9 p.m.  $95 adults, $46 for kids. Call (951) 587-8688.

Europa Village in Temecula Wine Country has its Oktoberfest Oct. 3 from 6 to 10 p.m.  Beer, wine, games, food, music and more.  Admission is $15, including a logo glass.  Call (951) 216-3380, or visit

Lobsterfest is coming to Meritage Wine Market Oct. 4 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. $100. Call (760) 479-2500 for a feast of steamed lobster with all the fixings.  Wines are by Amitie.

The annual Del Mar Taste & Art Stroll comes to Del Mar Village Oct. 5. Guests view original artwork and sample food delights, craft beer and wine tastes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with tastings from noon to 3 p.m. Live music included. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 the day of the event with $10 for sip stops.  Details at


Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.

He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.  View and link up

with his columns at  Reach him at [email protected].