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Vinos Lechuza winemaker Kristin Magnussen Shute enjoying a glass of wine that she created. Photo by Rico Cassoni
ColumnsTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: A Valle de Guadalupe Wine Dinner trio at Flora Bar & Kitchen

Senior Editor Frank and I, along with 50 other guests, were wowed at a recent Valle de Guadalupe Wine Dinner at Sal Ercolano’s Flora Bar & Kitchen, featuring three of the top owners and winemakers from that region: Jorge Maciel (Cava Maciel), Paolo Paoloni (Villa Montefiori) and Kristin Magnussen Shute (Vinos Lechuza).

As always, Ercolano hosted a wine dinner feast ensuring guests were treated like royalty with six courses prepared by Executive Chef Hilario, including an appetizer platter and dessert. Dinner kicked off with Chef Mini Bites, including bruschetta, ahi tuna atop cucumber with wasabi, and chicken skewers served with a Paoloni chardonnay complementing the appetizer platter.

Next up was a Citrus Jeweled Ceviche with shrimp paired with Vinos Lechuza “Vuelo,” meaning to take flight. Vuelo was an intriguing wine. Winemaker Kristin Magnussen Shute said, “The goal of Vuelo was to have consumers experience both chardonnay and sauvignon blanc at the same time.”

The 2019 Vuelo had tropical flavors influenced by three rainy years. The sauvignon blanc provided brightness and acidity along with the creamy mouthfeel finish of the chardonnay in harmony with the lime and jalapeno of the ceviche.

The second course was a chicken enchilada garnished with sour cream and queso fresco served with a Cava Maciel “Alba” cabernet sauvignon. The Alba had a combination of new world cherry as well as old world earth, tobacco, and smoke characteristics that paired well with the tomatillo salsa.

Asada Beef Tacos, the third course, were served with Villa Montefiori’s Paoloni Aglianico. The Aglianico grape had its origins in Greece and then migrated to Campania, Italy, before spreading across the globe. Paoloni’s version was complex and full bodied with black cherry on the palate and hints of coffee on the finish that went well with the tacos.

The main and fourth course was Filet Mole Poblano featuring beef tenderloin with a killer poblano mole sauce served with rice and cactus salad. Guests experienced a pair of Nebbiolos in this main course. One was the Paoloni with old world earthiness, vanilla, and spice compared to the new world traits of the Cava Maciel “Apogeo” with red fruit cherry and a softer finish. Each perfectly accented the mole topped tenderloin.

The evening concluded with decadent Chocolate Cayenne Churros aside a duo of chocolate and caramel sauces paired with a Vinos Lechuza Red Blend “Amantes.” The Amantes had a floral nose with strawberry, honey and red fruit on the palate with a delicate finish worthy of the churros and sauces.

All three of these outstanding Valle de Guadalupe wineries would love to see you as guests. For those not wanting to make the trek down to Valle de Guadalupe, you can order these fabulous wines direct to consumer at

In our car ride back home, Frank and I thought it would be great to have a wine shop in a San Diego neighborhood such as Old Town or the Embarcadero where guests could enjoy and purchase wines from these south-of-the-border wineries and other Valle de Guadalupe gems. Hopefully one day!

Fans of Ercolano Wine Dinners should save the date and, even better, RSVP for upcoming events featuring:

  • Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Wednesday-Thursday, Aug. 18-19, at Flora, $75 per person.
  • Paso Robles DAOU Family Estates, Thursday-Friday, Sept. 23-24, at West End, $75 per person.
  • Napa Valley Wagner Family/Caymus Vineyards, Tuesday, Oct. 19, and Thursday, Oct. 21, at Flora, $85 per person.

All dinners start at 6 p.m. RSVP for Flora Bar & Kitchen at 858-461-0622 and West End Bar & Kitchen at 858-259-5878.

— Story by Tech Director/Writer Rico Cassoni


Wine Bytes
  • Come out for A Sip of Julian, Saturday, July 31, from 11 to 5 p.m. The Julian Chamber of Commerce is co-hosting the 6th annual Sip of Julian, offering samples of its wines, beers, hard ciders and craft cocktails of Julian growers and producers. There’s plenty of time to enjoy the samples of small bites in each location. Ticket holders have the option of a self-guided tour or purchase a ticket to a shuttle service. Guests will be given a wine glass and tote at the Chamber office at 2129 Main Street in Julian. Cost is $35-$50. For more info, see
  • A.R.Valentien in La Jolla presents its latest Signature Wine Series featuring Duckhorn, Thursday, Aug. 19, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. This Duckhorn wine salute is part of a multi-course menu of creative cuisine on the al fresco terrace, led by Executive Chef Jeff Jackson. Reserve your private table today. Cost is $185 plus tax and gratuity. For more information, visit

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. Reach him at [email protected]