The Coast News Group
Robbie Torres and Ashley Roy offer the 2010 Viognier at Orfila Winery’s Grape Stomp. Photo by Frank Mangio
Taste of Wine

Wine and dine with the beauty of nature on the CUSP

The economic news for San Diego and its sister cities in the county is finally pointing up, away from the chill of the deepest recession since the great one way back when. Recently I read that residential housing sales are up and the average price per home is up.

Now, another reason to cheer: San Diego is first in California travel destinations according to, and it’s the fourth most popular destination in the entire U.S.A. in the first six months of 2012.

Hotel rates are up and restaurants and wine bistros are doing much better.

This leads me to the fact there is a booming launch of new and remodeled restaurants and resorts taking place, especially along San Diego’s coastline.

La Jolla has more than its share and one of the best is high in the sky on top of Hotel La Jolla called CUSP.

It’s the former Elario’s, which boasts the most panoramic views of La Jolla and the sweeping Pacific coastline, a setting perfect for the Mediterranean menu of fresh seafood with a Moroccan-Italian- panish twist to it.

Executive Chef Donald Lockhart makes all pastas “in-house,” with such favorites as baked rigatoni and spinach fetuccine.

A popular salad at CUSP in La Jolla is Candy Cane Beet with warm epoisses cheese & apple. Photo by Frank Mangio

He adds shrimp, chicken or salmon for just a few dollars more.

There’s also a showcase Moroccan Spiced King Salmon with tomato picchio and caramelized fennel that will sear in your memory as a flavorful masterpiece.

The wine that I want you to try is the Rubicon Estate Zinfandel Edizione Pennino 2009, a dark, solid, dense red made by Francis Ford Coppola’s Napa Valley winery.

CUSP is a stylish, relaxed and comfortable penthouse restaurant with healthy, tasty menu items. Breakfast, lunch and Happy Hour are Monday through Friday, with dinner daily from 5 p.m.

Brunch is served from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more, check out

“Red red wine makes me feel so fine”

So goes the great song from UB 40. I would go along with that thought but I do have one exception, a white wine that does the same, Viognier.

Here’s the latest list of fine wine tastes:

Amavi Cellars Cabernet Walla Walla, Wash., 2008 for $33. Black cherry and plum flavor with a distinctive Washington outcome, with those long days of summer like no other wine country. Sustainably farmed. Visit


Fiftyrow Vineyards Cabernet Rutherford, Napa Valley, 2008 for $49.

Encinitas olive oil pioneer Paul Johnson’s third vintage and easily his best with Napa winemaker Gary Galleron. Twenty-four months in new French Oak barreling. Ninety-one Parker points. Visit

Jarvis Winery Merlot Napa Valley 2009, for $95. One hundred percent estate Merlot and a much sought-after version. Aged 22 months in new French oak. Maximum flavors with toasty vanilla at the finish. Ultra-soft tannins and silky mouth-feel. Visit

Jordan Winery Cabernet Alexander Valley Sonoma, 2008 for $52. An estate Cabernet with start to finish quality control matching the best of Bordeaux. Yields were down this year, but the elegance and balance were evident. Visit

Keenan Cabernet Spring Mt., Napa Valley, 2007 for $35. Went operational in 1977 and never looked back. One hundred and fifty acres of “Mountain Wine.” Lots of earth characteristics. Visit

Niner Winery Estates Pinot Noir, San Luis Obispo, 2009 for $41. A first for Niner, grapes are from the nearby Edna Valley. Classic cherry base with a long-lingering finish. Visit

Orfila Winery Estate Lotus Viognier San Pasqual Valley, Escondido, 2010 for $29. Rhone-style white with melon, citrus, pear and apricot blend aromas. Bright acidity. Aged in oak and stainless steel. Visit

Sodaro Winery Estate Blend, Napa Valley, 2008 for $68. This full-bodied wine brings you a unique taste that only a well-crafted blend can do. Eighty-one percent Cabernet, 17 percent Petit Verdot and 2 percent Merlot. Robust and concentrated, this is a wine experience as great as any blend found anywhere. Hints of black licorice and plum. Visit


Wine Bytes

Del Mar Village presents a Taste and Art Stroll from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 7. Art Stroll starts downtown at 10 a.m., tasting and sipping starts at 1 p.m. Live music and a kids mart. Cost is $25 for tasting on pre-purchase. Visit delmarvillage

Woofs and Purrs in the Vines is the event at Oak Mountain Winery in Temecula Wine Country from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 7. Live music, lunch, silent auction and games. Admission is a $35 donation. RSVP at (951) 699-9102.

Thornton wines from Temecula will be featured at a wine dinner at the Grant Grill, downtown San Diego from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 8. Five-course prix fixe dinner with complimentary Thornton pairings. Cost is $130 per person. Call (619) 744-2077.

Lewis Cellars of Napa Valley conducts a wine dinner at the Grand Del Mar’s Amaya from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 12. The Lewis Family will be there to speak with guests. Cost is $78 each. RSVP at (858) 314-1996.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. His library can be viewed at (Average Google certified 900 visits per day) He is one of the top five wine commentators on the Web. Reach him at [email protected].