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Solare Restaurant, Liberty Station, Point Loma, San Diego CA


Thirteen of us gathered at Solare for an evening of friendship, fine wine, fine Italian cuisine, and fresh winter truffles.

We voted on our favorite wines in two categories, white (including sparkling and sweet) and red. Rankings are by group vote, point scores are my own.

White wines

A hush fell, like the entrance of royalty, as the fresh Alba truffles were brought into the room. The champagnes and dry still wines were tasted with the first two dishes on the menu:  flan di ricotta e tartufo bianco; and risotto, uovo e tartufo bianco. The sweet wine was tasted with dessert:  choice of tiramisu or chocolate mousse.

1998 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare - France, Champagne
Magnum. Clear straw yellow with fine bead. Outstanding notes of lemon, white grapefruit, croissant, dried chamomile, almond. Fresh, crisp, pure and precise.  My #2, group's FIRST PLACE in this flight.  (96 pts.)

1995 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut - France, Champagne
Clear deep yellow-gold with scant fine bead. Faded on the nose, better on the palate, with notes of cider, butterscotch, lemon peel. Pleasantly tart and pure.  This particular bottle seems past prime.  Group's THIRD PLACE.

2016 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Roero
Clear straw yellow color. Magical bouquet of fresh white flowers, quince, dragon fruit. Dry, crisp, exuberant, pure and precise.  My #1.  (96 pts.)

2008 Drappier Champagne Grande Sendrée - France, Champagne
Clear straw yellow with lively fine bead. Wonderful notes of Meyer lemon, apple, brioche, orange blossom honey. Fresh, crisp and dry, pure, complex, precise, absolutely lovely. Group's SECOND PLACE.  (95 pts.)

1995 Marquis de Laguiche (Joseph Drouhin) Chassagne-Montrachet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet
Clear yellow-gold color. Musty with faded notes of butterscotch, lemon, cider, toast. Off bottle perhaps?

1955 Barton & Guestier Barsac - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Barsac
Base neck fill. Cork seemed snug but pushed intact into bottle. Decanted. Clear medium-dark amber color. Mesmerizing notes of roasted cashew, honey, tangerine peel, brown sugar. Unctuous mouthfeel, fresh and pure. Bonus points for longevity. Our resident Frenchman remarked "tastes better than it looks."  My #3.  (95 pts.)

Red wines

Next on the menu was Angus filetto al tartufo nero. We passed the golf ball sized black truffles around the table before they were sliced into and onto the dish.

1995 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
Bottle opened at 5 PM, decanted at 5:30 PM, re-bottled at 6 PM, taken to the restaurant and tasted at 8 PM. Clear dark ruby color. Beautiful bouquet of black raspberry, cherry, violets, dark baking spice, leather, stony red soil, mocha. Similar on the palate, full body, balanced, seamless, refined, lingering finish.  Group's SECOND PLACE.  (95 pts.)

1994 Urbina Rioja Gran Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
Popped and poured, not decanted. Clear dark blood-ruby-garnet color. Outstanding wine with notes of red cherries, barnyard, and leather. Undoubtedly would benefit from longer aeration.  (93 pts.)

1998 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo Sperss - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
Clear dark garnet-ruby-blood red color. Outstanding notes of red cherries, roses, manure, tar, stony soil, fennel, green tobacco. Similar on the palate, medium-full body, chalky tannins, seamless, lingering finish. Group's THIRD PLACE.  (95 pts.)

2001 Antinori Solaia Toscana IGT - Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
Clear inky deep garnet color. Glorious bouquet of fresh blackberries, cherries, leather, violets, lilac, stony red soil. Similar on the palate, full of life, full body, seamless, beautiful balance, polished tannins. Classic Super Tuscan, classic Italy. My #1 and group's FIRST PLACE.  (98 pts.)

2005 Elio Grasso Barolo Ginestra Casa Maté - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Clear dark ruby-garnet red color. Glorious bouquet of pomegranates, cherries, blackberries, leather, mocha, dark baking spices, stony soil. Similar on the palate, full body, seamless, beautiful balance, polished tannins, lingering finish. At prime now with a decant, with decades of potential.  My #2.  (97 pts.)

2004 Pio Cesare Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Glorious notes of black cherries and blackberries and their liqueurs; roses, lavender, violets, stony red soil. Similar on the palate, medium-full body, seamless, polished tannins, beautiful balance, lingering finish. Showing brilliantly now, with long life ahead.  My #3.  (95 pts.)

2007 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny
Clear blood ruby color. Beautiful bouquet of red cherries, raspberries, horse sweat, musk, red soil. Similar on the palate, seamless, medium body, balanced, traditional Old World style with terroir and animal quality. Improved with air.  Very nice.  (91 pts.)

2013 Castello di Ama Vigna l'Apparita Toscana IGT - Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
Opened late in the evening. Clear dark garnet color. Outstanding notes of black cherries, blackberries, plum, leather, coffee. Improved with air, needs a decant. 100% merlot.  (94 pts.)


As usual, a ridiculous excess of great wine. Grazie mille to owner Randy, executive chef Filippo, coordinator Petra, and the rest of the team for their wonderful food, service and hospitality. Many thanks also to the members of our wine tasting group for their camaraderie and generosity of spirit and vino. Until next time, ciao!

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The Noble Line Up with Truffles


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  • The Noble Line Up with Truffles
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