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Sharing in the Banfi new release festivities at Seasalt in Del Mar were columnist Frank Mangio, Seasalt owner Sal Ercolano and Banfi District Manager Diane Cappetta Nares. Photos by Frank Mangio
ColumnsTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Castello Banfi lights up Seasalt with new wines

The most celebrated winery in Tuscany’s Montalcino, Castello Banfi, made an occasional and eventful appearance at Del Mar’s Seasalt Seafood Bistro at the onset of the holiday season, and played to a full house of guests thirsty for this world-renowned, award-winning lineup of wines.

The Banfi wine dinner inspired owner Sal Ercolano to offer a third and fourth course of entrees including spinach and cheese ravioli with tossed duck ragu with the Chianti Reserva; then a lamb loin with smoked prosciutto and caramelized onion root vegetables, paired with the Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2012 ($79). This was the wine I was

The most creative restaurateur in Carlsbad is Mayur Pavagadhi owner of PAON and three other food/drink locations, shown with columnist Frank Mangio.

waiting for. The lovely Diane Cappetta Nares, district manager for Banfi wines, presented the history of Castello Banfi, founded in 1977 in Montalcino, Italy, and dedicated to a finer wine world and spotlighting Brunello. The company, under the direction of the owners John and Harry Mariani, invested in the best talent and research to elevate and improve Brunello’s standing in the wine world, using the highest premium vines from the Sangiovese grape, generic to the Tuscany district. It is released five years after harvest, including four years in barrels like large Slavonian casks and French oak barriques.

Castello Banfi is the accomplishment of Banfi Vintners, a worldwide venture of multi-national proportions with three generations of the Mariani family who have contributed to this award-winning success, and the first winery in the world to be awarded international recognition for exceptional environmental, ethical and social responsibility. I am certain their neighbor wineries in Montalcino are praising them too for bringing worldwide attention to their beloved Brunello. Learn more about this major Italian wine story at

PAON unveils new wine club

If PAON was a winery, this would not be fascinating news, but PAON is a restaurant and a wine lounge so when it came out with a “Special Tasting of Great Wines” to boot up its new wine club, I had to go to get the story for my Taste of Wine readers.

Mayur Pavagadhi is the owner of PAON and between he and Steve Barr, the GM, they have raised the bar in the Carlsbad Village dine out scene. They oversee four food/drink properties within a few blocks of each other.

You can bet their wine sommelier and buyer Gino Campbell has a lot to do with it. He runs the wine store part of the operation and he’s brought in some mind-blowing tasting events. Pricey, yes, but memorable … forever!

Think of the most famous wines you would ever want to taste in the world, this guy has recently offered them. So a few weeks ago, here comes the invitation for this special tasting offering wines from Napa Valley, Sonoma, France, Italy, Paso Robles and more, the kind of wines you will see on your wine club membership at PAON. You get my point, it’s not just one winery like most club memberships, it’s the best wines that the member selects. Two bottles a month, hand-selected to your taste, with a wine tasting party once a month with 30-plus wines to explore and personal sommelier service.  There’s many more benefits to check out, so call (760) 729-7377 or email [email protected].

Wine Bytes

• An Italian Walk Around Wine Tasting is planned for Winesellar & Brasserie in San Diego’s Sorrento Valley from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 20. Cost is $35 per person, $30 for club members.

• Winesellar and Brasserie is also presenting a Tuscany Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. Jan. 20. Chef Gustavo Perez and Italian Sommelier Stefano Butto will work together on this paired dinner. Call (858) 450-9557 for price and RSVP.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading commentators on the web.  View his columns at Go to menu then columns. Reach him at [email protected]