Taste of Wine: Taste of Europe at Carruth Cellars’ annual reserve sale

Fans of Carruth Cellars, one of San Diego County’s premier urban wineries, were able to take advantage of its annual reserve sale several weeks ago.

Owner and operator Adam Carruth digs deep into Carruth’s reserve cellars to make limited releases of award-winning wines for up to 60% off the retail price for members. Non-members were also able to take advantage of discounts.

The reserve sale event was perfectly timed for guests to buy exceptional wines as gifts for wine lovers or to spoil themselves during the holidays.

Attendees including me, Senior Editor Frank and his visiting grandson, James, were able to virtually travel to four European-themed wine stations that included Italian, Rhone, Bordeaux, and Burgundy regions. Additionally, several stations offered mini verticals with a few wines several years apart.

Our first stop was Italian wines with two of Carruth Cellars’ lead bar educators, Carly and Rachel, who are certified as WSET Level 2. When not pouring, these two also sing together in a band.

We enjoyed three zinfandels at this station. Two sourced with Dry Creek fruit (2014 and 2016) and one from Russian River (2014). The 2014 Dry Creek had a cooler year, allowing longer hang time resulting in higher concentrations and more body. The 2016 Dry Creek experienced more rain and had a silky finish.

Carruth Cellars' annual reserve sale features top-notch wines at fire sale prices. Photo courtesy of Carruth Cellars
Carruth Cellars’ annual reserve sale features top-notch wines at fire sale prices. Photo courtesy of Carruth Cellars

The 2014 Russian River 100-year-old vine zin had tart cherries and spice along with bright acidity.

Next up was the Rhone station, featuring 2013 and 2014 Sonoma Syrah and a 2015 Alexander Valley Petite Sirah. The 2013 syrah was drier in nature than its 2014 counterpart, which was more fruit-forward with juicy blackberry, blueberry and boysenberry.

The 2015 petite sirah had a fuller, jammy palate with plum and blackberry jam expected of the smaller concentrated petite sirah fruit.

The third station we explored was the Burgundy one, pouring the 2016 Russian River and 2016 Santa Lucia pinot noirs. The first had cherry with old-style earthy layers of forest floor on the nose with cherry and strawberry on the palate.

The Santa Lucia seemed lighter, more subdued, and more balanced. Either of these would be great for holiday meals featuring turkey or ham.

We concluded with the Bordeaux station. I have always been a fan of Carruth Cellars’ BDX blend and was happy to see the double gold 2015 North Coast being poured. The BDX will put your senses in overdrive with cranberry, caramel, and vanilla on the nose and palate.

The 2015 Alexander Valley Merlot and double gold 2015 AV Cab Sauv were also served, keeping the BDX in great company.

In our visit, we met one of Carruth’s newest members, Carlotta Addante, who will be assisting Adam with management and operations.

Besides great wine, you can always count on great music and vendors at Carruth events. Addante introduced me to Salvo Giordano, owner of Motor Bites, an Italian street food provider.

What intrigued me the most was the smaller size of Giordano’s food truck, about 1/3 the size of a standard food truck.

Despite the small footprint, there was no sacrifice for the Piccante Sandwich with Italian salami and provolone cheese on homemade focaccia.

Another intriguing vendor was Lisa Giannuzzi, owner & creator of Wine Reflections who makes soy candles from recycled wine bottles, a great holiday gift idea combining wine-themed candles with up to 100 hour burn times.

In addition to the wine bottle candles, Giannuzzi has you covered with a variety of themes that include a Hanukkah gift set with eight candles, a 12 Days of Christmas set, and 6-ounce tins.

Congrats Adam and Carlotta for a great wine event with wonderful vendors!

— Story by Tech Director/Writer Rico Cassoni

Wine Bytes

• At The Forum in Carlsbad, the 19th annual Lighting of the Forum kicks off Saturday, Nov. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. Enjoy a live holiday musical stage show, Santa’s grand arrival with the La Costa High School Marching Band and the lighting of the Christmas tree. An incredible light show and magical snowfall finalize the production. Children will be invited to visit Santa on stage.

• La Fleur’s Winery in San Marcos has a Charcuterie Board Workshop on Thursday, Dec. 9, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Guests will gather over meats, cheeses and other accompaniment to create their own charcuterie board. The cost is $35 and includes all ingredients and your first glass of wine or sangria. More info at

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