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Trinitas proprietor Garrett Busch displays his 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel, a gold medal winner. Photo by Frank Mangio
ColumnsTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Top 10 tastes from first quarter of 2018

The year 2018 began with a few of my favorite restaurants and wine bars going out of business but then the good news came pouring in about new format openings and my favorite market premiering a full-service wine bar on premises with a full array of small bites, wine and beer.

Gelson’s here in SoCal is stretching the envelope with some creative, over-the-top ideas about food and drink presentations. Vons market unveiled premium wine rooms, temperature controlled, with world-renowned names, in their higher income neighborhoods.

I’ve got 10 top tastes  that I have sipped and found satisfaction … nine reds and one white from New Zealand:

Kim Crawford Pinot Gris New Zealand. Courtesy photo

Kim Crawford Pinot Gris New Zealand, 2017, $17. Fruit and acidity is fresh tasting. Aromatics of ripe pear and honey with an apple and floral taste. I much prefer it over the famous Sauvignon Blanc. Just a perfect touch of citrus. 

COHO Headwaters Blend, Napa Valley, 2013, $30. The fruit from this wine comes from the Coombsville district of Napa Valley, which is Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, seasoned with Petite Verdot. 

Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Tuscany It., 2015, $32. Big and bold with mostly native Sangiovese and a dash of Malavasia, Colorino and Merlot. Made by the famous Mazzei family of wines. Twelve months in French oak. Taste fresh cherries and a pleasant acidity.       

Justin Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, 2015, $21. Picked it before, will do it again. I lay my reputation on the line, this is a great Cab for the price. The soil and climate of Paso is up there with the most desirable in California, and Justin is at the top.

Katherine Goldschmidt Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 2013, $16. This is the start-up sweet spot for wine pricing in today’s market. Classic Cab with individual direction, from Healdsburg in the Alexander Valley of Sonoma. Rich and robust with a dark chocolate hint.

Privada Red Blend, Argentina, 2014, $17. Made by Bodega Norton in the Mendoza District, this is their Private Reserve formerly for their closest friends. Mostly Malbec with some Cab and Merlot.    

Orfila Vineyards, Pinot Noir Sequestered, San Pasqual Valley Escondido California, 2014, $55. Well-crafted and delicious. Grapes are from the Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast of California.  A hearty black raspberry bursts through with much richness.

Shafer One Point Five Blend, Napa Valley, 2009, $78. Aged to perfection, found at Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas, it’s from the Stags Leap district in Napa. Strong, polished black fruit with a cedar flavor note. Classic Bordeaux style.

Trinitas Old Vine Zinfandel, Mendocino, California, 2014, $18. A powerful, well-balanced Zin with a core of cherry, cranberry and classic spice. The vines which yielded the grapes are 70-plus years old with concentrated flavor. The winery is in the city of Napa where an exciting new luxe resort is being built, next door to the current Meritage Resort Spa and wine cave. The new property is Vista Collina, a spectacular guest experience with 145 guest rooms and suites with tranquil retreats of Tuscan-styled décor. A spotlight feature is The Village, with nine tasting rooms featuring premium wineries plus an upscale market. See for the wines, and for the new resort to open in July.

Volver Tempranillo, Spain, 2014, $13. From the La Mancha district of Spain, the largest wine grape growing area in the country, from old gnarly vines. Calcareous clay soil with rocks and stones remind the wine connoisseur of the south of France. Ripe plums and black cherries fill the flavor profile that will age well. Another great value from Spain.

Wine Bytes

• The Westgate Hotel downtown San Diego is the perfect place for an Easter Champagne Brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 1. Entertainment for children. Cost varies from $35 for kids to $89 for adults. RSVP at (619) 236-8397.

• Capri Blu in 4-S Ranch near Rancho Bernardo has a Tour De France wine dinner at 6 p.m. April 4. This is a five-course dinner with well-known paired French wines. Cost is $60 per person. RSVP at (858) 673-5100.

• A Napa Valley Boutique wine seminar is being held at Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 6. Some of the finest age-worthy wines from Napa Valley will be tasted and explained by an expert in the education of what makes Napa Valley so great. Cost is $49 each.  Call (760) 479-2500 to learn more.

Reach Frank Mangio at [email protected]