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Taste of Wine's Frank Mangio, and BK Cellar’s Joe Ames celebrate double gold winner, "The Experiment." Courtesy photo
Taste of Wine's Frank Mangio, and BK Cellar’s Joe Ames celebrate double gold winner, "The Experiment." Courtesy photo
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Discover these 10 wines for a taste treat

Rico and I want to share with you ten of our best discoveries in the world of wine during the last few months. From a local San Diego Urban winery to the far reaches of Italy and Argentina, these wines are not that well known, but once tasted, your palate will want to re-visit these names again and again. My five begin, followed by Rico’s picks.

BK Cellars The Experiment Red Blend, South Coast AVA 2018 ($35) This wine, a combination of syrah, merlot, cab sauvignon and cab franc with grapes from Valley Center and Temecula, recently won Double Gold at the Orange County Fair for owners Joe and Dania Ames. Joe loves to experiment with blending wine from existing barrels, allowing him to explore his artistic side. 118 cases were made. Visit

Coen Malbec Classic Mendoza Argentina 2019 ($25) Coen is located in the Uco Valley south of Mendoza. With vineyards at an average of 4,200 ft. above sea level and with stony alluvial soils, it offers wines of dynamic characteristics. Cold nights extend the grape’s ripening period. The vineyards that create this Malbec are certified organic, for more than thirty years. Find out more at

Double Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2018 ($80) A harmonious cover of decadent fruit, refined structure and exotic spices, this wine possesses a dark plum-purple hue. Notes of chocolate, nutmeg, fruit, spearmint, and violets swell from the glass. A wine conceived, produced and bottled by Shrader Cellars. See more at

Halter Ranch Synthesis, Paso Robles, 2016 ($35) Synthesis is a red blend that harmonizes the boldness and structure of Cab Sauvignon with the intensity of Petite Sirah, a good marriage of both black and red fruit. Enjoy with everything. 4000 cases made. Details at

San Simeon Viognier, Paso Robles, 2020 ($14) This white wine is as complex as most reds.  Bright floral aromas with peach and other tropical fruit flavors make it the singular textured white wine, due to the French oak barrel treatment.  The full story at

Rico’s Picks

Thanks for the handoff, Frank. I have the remaining five discoveries with one from Italy, two from Napa Valley, one from Temecula Valley, and the last from Sonoma County. I would also like to remind our readers about two recent DAOU discoveries we covered a few weeks ago – Bodyguard Chardonnay and Sequentis Merlot. Additional information at

Antiche Terre Venete Amarone della Valpolicella Italy, 2016 ($30) The Antiche Amarone is a blend of Corvina Veronese and Corvinone Rondinella fruit.  These hand-harvested grapes undergo a drying process for 3 to 4 months concentrating the resultant juice which is fermented 15 to 20 days. With a nose and palate of plum, cherry, and hints of raspberry, this is perfect for red meats and earned a 91 point Wine Spectator score. Details at

Lewis Racecar Red Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2019 ($45) Racecar Red is a 100% Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon created by former Indy 500 driver turned winemaker Randy Lewis. The 2019 vintage is rich and deeply fruited with the characteristics of a fine-tuned racecar. The label has a vintage red Indy Racecar vs. the normal letter “L.” Take this for a spin! See

Robert Renzoni Barile Chardonnay, Temecula Valley, 2020 ($32) The 2020 Barile Chardonnay was a recent 2021 San Diego International Wine & Spirits Gold winner.  This unfiltered chardonnay features baked apple and hazelnut on the nose, lemon meringue and vanilla nut on the palate with a bright lingering finish. The Barile undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation aged for 10 months in 40% new French oak.  More at

Santo Stefano Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2018 ($30) When I first tried the Santo Stefano Cab from Napa Valley’s Rutherford region, I was not expecting this $30 wine to have “Rutherford Dust”, a hint of bittersweet cocoa, on the palate.  However, I was proven wrong.  My taste buds were also greeted with ripe blackberry, currant, and black cherry as well as a smooth texture and soft tannins.  This is a must-buy!  Visit

Walt La Brisa Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, 2018 ($44) Walt Wines focuses on pinot noir and chardonnay wines across five appellations with La Brisa coming from Sonoma County’s Russian River. La Brisa, a 91 point Wine Spectator awardee and 100% pinot, has a palate of dark fruits merging with hints of orange and a splash of cola. The finish lingers especially for a Pinot Noir and includes spice undertones.  More info at

Wine Bytes

— The Wizarding World of Lorimar is Lorimar Winery of Temecula’s annual Halloween party, Fri. Oct. 29 from 7 to 11 p.m. Enjoy a costume contest, live music, DJ and more. The cost is $25 per person and $20 for wine club members. Tickets are pre-sale only. Go to

— A South American-inspired wine dinner is being presented at Vittorio’s Italian Trattoria, Thurs. Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in Carmel Valley, San Diego. The wines are from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The menu includes fresh spinach pasta and grilled flank steak. The cost is $75. per person + tax and gratuity. Call 858-538-5884.

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