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Nov 27th
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DaVine Cellars

dining winemjaCabernet Sauvignon 2008

Fandango in Pacific Grove is one of the most popular restaurants in the area. It has gained a fine reputation over the years due, in no small part, to the expertise of chef and owner Pierre Bain, who runs this upscale restaurant with his wife Marietta.

Friends had invited us to stay overnight in their house in Pacific Grove, along with another couple, and had made a reservation at Fandango. The restaurant is about 10 minutes’ walk away from our friends’ house, so Fandango is a regular haunt for them.

My husband and I had the most wonderful evening with our friends. Food and service at Fandango are more than impressive—and all six of us enjoyed every single dish we chose. I had one of the specials on the menu—wild abalone that was unbelievably delicious.

As well as ordering wine from the menu, I took along a bottle for our friends to try—a DaVine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($45), cellared and bottled by Serene Cellars in Napa. This dark ruby beauty is loaded with wild blackberries, dark chocolate, cardamom and cassis. Roasted smokiness on the nose and a palate brimming with strawberry, currant, pomegranate and brown sugar make every mouthful pure pleasure. With its peppery flavors and a delightful finish of cherry jam and mocha accents, this is a bold and luscious wine to be reckoned with. My friends loved it and I was glad I had taken this dynamic wine to pair with such splendid food.

Operated by MJA Vineyards and owner Marin Artukovich, who is just as adept at growing superb coffee beans as he is at making fine wine—100 percent pure Kona on his plantation in Hawaii—other varietals made under the DaVine label are equally impressive. Head to the tasting room on the Westside of Santa Cruz and try MJA’s other offerings as well. The tasting room is open daily from noon to 6 p.m. in the Swift Street Courtyard complex, and each tasting ends with an excellent cup of pure Kona coffee.

Happy New Year to you all.

MJA Vineyards, 328 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 421-9380. Fandango Restaurant, 223 17th St., Pacific Grove, (831) 372-3456.

The Bench at Pebble Beach
Perched above the 18th green at Pebble Beach is a new restaurant called The Bench—a bright and cheery casual restaurant which has all been redone and replaces the rather dark Club XIX. I had a delicious lunch there recently and loved the bright open space of the new sun room. The Bench also sells wine on tap—four whites and four reds. I had a lovely Tangent Winery Albarino for $10 a glass. 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, 800-654-9300,

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