If you live in San Diego and love good wine, you probably steer clear of Pacific Beach.  And I don't blame you.  Garnet Avenue, with its tattoo spots, smoke shops, and hordes of unruly college kids, isn't the most obvious location for a great wine spot.  But lucky for those of us who live in PB for the affordable housing and prime beach location, there are a few such hidden gems.

Costa Brava is something special, to say the least.  It's hidden not only in the depths of PB, on Garnet Street North, but behind a wall of greenery.  From the street, you can't really see what's back there.  And good thing, too, for Costa Brava is concealing a secret that I'd love to keep to myself, but just can't help sharing: GREAT Spanish tapas and GREAT wine.

Every time I've been to Costa Brava, the server has hooked me up with an incredible, reasonably-priced Spanish wine (and oftenJuan Gil Jumilla Red the choicest bottles are off-menu, so don't be afraid to ask for a recommendation!)  It's been delicious every time, but last night was something special: a 2007 Juan Gil red wine, from Jumilla, Spain.  Above all descriptors, you should probably call this a balanced wine.  It's fruity yet dry, with tannins and a high alcohol content (15%). Yet no flavor overshadows the rest, and the taste is long on the finish, and full of spice flavors without being overwhelming.  We noticed flavors of dark berries, nutmeg and fig, and loved how the wine was bold but not overwhelming, even when paired with the variety of dishes we tried.  And it was well worth the $38 at Costa Brava (though it's available for about $15 online).

Don't miss the 2007 Juan Gil paired with the restaurant's imported Manchego cheese.  Though we've discussed on the VC blog the difficulty of pairing wine with cheese, this was a perfect match.  The sharp but smooth Manchego (comparable, we thought, to a Swiss Gruyere) was the perfect counterpart to the dry yet rich flavors of the Juan Gil.  Try the two together and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

I plan to post more about Costa Brava and their fantastic food and wines soon, but in the meantime, venture into PB and check it out for yourself!  Visit Costa Brava's website here.