Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SoCal or Bust!

The Napa Valley Vintners are headed to Southern California! We'll be taking "SoCal" by storm starting this Sunday, March 21st (click here for the full "Taste Napa Valley - Southern California" itinerary). Consumer events, trade tastings, wine specials in restaurants - LA, the OC and San Diego are about to be immersed in all things Napa Valley!

In celebration of our friends down South, over the next two weeks our blog will feature SoCal lovers of Napa Valley wine. Today, we start our "5 Questions" series with Maurice DiMarino, the Wine Director/Manager of Island Prime Restaurant in San Diego - visit Maurice at Island Prime and enjoy a glass of Napa Valley wine!

1. How did you first get interested in wine?

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I remember my mom drinking Stag’s Leap Chardonnay. So much later, when I was working in San Francisco as a waiter; I wanted to try the Chardonnay. I decided to take a girlfriend there and kind of show off what I knew about Stag’s Leap. Boy was I was baffled when I arrived at Stags’ Leap Winery. The bottle looked nothing like my mom’s. I was told by the tasting attendant that I was at the wrong winery; man, did I get mud on my face. I realized at that point, that I obviously needed to learn more about wine. To this day I still keep Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Chardonnay on my wine list in tribute to my mom.

2. What do you love most about your job?

I love the fact that wine is brought to me to be evaluated and in turn I share my new finds with our staff and guests. Wine is about sharing and coming together. When people come to celebrate special occasions and have an experience in dining, I get to take part in creating new memories and being part of their experience.

3. What is your favorite food and Napa Valley wine combination?

My favorite dish is simple. A center cut rib-eye with morel mushrooms cooked in cream and truffles, finished with a red wine demiglaze; paired with a Howell Mountain Cabernet, something with acidity and structure.

4. You just won an overnight trip to Napa Valley - all expenses paid. What does your itinerary look like?

Relax, take it easy, and take advantage of not having the kids around! It‘d be simple, no itinerary! May be a trip up Diamond Mountain getting lost and seeing what I’d stumble across. Of course, restaurant hopping; which would have to include foie gras trochon at Bouchon, pigs feet at Bistro Jeanty, and the rest it really doesn’t matter.

5. What do you think is the most under-rated or under-appreciated wine in Napa Valley?

I don’t know if there is a particular winery, but I think that the wines from “Wild Horse Valley” are wines to be on the look out for.

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