The bucolic settings and décor of the seven Vigilucci’s Italian Restaurants in San Diego County have been a source of old world charm and character, studied, copied and shadowed by competitors since Robby Vigilucci opened his first restaurant in Encinitas in 1994. His dinners are all occasions and not just occasional.I recently joined GM Vittorio Homberger at the Coast Highway location in Carlsbad for a fun, happy time in front of a full house of diners who enjoyed the legendary Il Poggioni Tuscan wines, with part of the menu his mother’s secret recipes.A “Mama’s” favorite was Risotto simmered with Italian sausages, yellow, green and red bell peppers and goat cheese.A leading Brunello winery in the south of Tuscany near Montalcino is the only growing grounds for this immmaculate wine. “Rosso di Montalcino is a younger Brunello,” said Craig Henriksen the regional Il Poggioni Manager. It’s a little younger and lighter but it’s the same Sangiovese grape clone as Brunello, its big brother. It ages one year in Slovanian Oak and six months in bottle for a richer, cherry taste.”
Everyone was waiting for the Brunello and when it came, it was paired with a grilled Prime Filet Mignon, served with Bordelaise sauce, with a vegetable ravioli in butter sauce.
The surprise of the night was a glass of Vin Santo. Be sure to search for this gem, an after-dinner dessert wine, made from Malvasia and Trebbiano white grapes. The grapes are dried on racks for several months to load them up with natural sugar. They are then aged for an average seven years in small barrels and another year in bottle. Some winemakers add a small quantity of Sangiovese for color and texture.
To the south in Encinitas, is the first Vigilucci’s, and it hosted a “Taste of Venice” with Sartori Vintners Fine Wine Ambassador Diane Cappetta Nares. A parade of popular wines put lots of smiles on the guests: a sparkling Prosecco started it, then on to a Sartori Ferdi white 2010. The highlight was an Amorone della Valpolicella 2007, paired with a risotto topped with lamb chops. The Encinitas Trattoria is planning a Lombardy Wine Dinner at 6:30 p.m. March 15. Call for details and reservations at (760) 942-7332. Also visit vigiluccis.com to get the latest in living and loving that Italian lifestyle.
— Meritage Wine Market has Stellar Wines from Santa Barbara from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 17. Cost is $20 per person. Call (760) 479-2500 for details.
— Bacchus Wine Market in the Gaslamp Downtown San Diego presents Just Pinot Noir from 2 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 18. From Burgundy, the Russian River Valley to Oregon, get your fill of beautiful Pinot. Seven tastes. Cost is $20. For more information call (619) 236-0005.
— Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido opens All-American wines for Presidents Day, starting at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 20. Cost is just $5 each. Learn more at (760) 745-1200.
— Twisted Vine Bistro Wine Bar, off the 56 in San Diego, has the Niven Family Wines with their new releases from the Edna Valley, on Feb. 22 with a 6 p.m. start. Meet the winemaker. The cost is $35 per person. Seating is limited, so call early at (858) 780-2501.
— A vintner dinner with legendary great Mike Grigich of Grigich Hills Estates will be held at Sirocco’s in Indian Wells near Palm Desert on Feb. 23. Call (760) 773-4444 for pricing and time.
— San Diego Wine Company is planning an Argentinean Tasting from 11 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 25. There is a $10 fee. For wine names, call (858) 586-WINE.
— Pechanga Casino in Temecula is holding their fourth annual Wine Festival and Chocolate Decadence on March 1 and March 2. The cost is $75 each. Call the box office for times and tickets at (877) 711-2946.
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. His library can be viewed at www.tasteofwinetv.com. (Average Google certified 900 visits per day) He is one of the top five wine commentators on the Web. Reach him at [email protected].