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FOOD
September 10, 2008 | S. Irene Virbila
Adam Tolmach and his wife, Helen, have been making wine in the Ojai valley for more than 25 years. Known for their splendid Syrah, they also produce a very pretty rose. The 2007 on shelves now is a blend of mostly Grenache with some Mourvedre and Syrah and a touch of Sauvignon Blanc. A dry rose is such a versatile food wine that most of it goes to restaurants, but you can still find it in a handful of local shops. The blend is seamless and delicious -- a little strawberry, a little raspberry, something earthy in there too. It's brilliant with goat cheese, with frittatas and omelets, with salads and smoked fish.
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FOOD
August 27, 2008 | S. Irene Virbila
I opened a bottle of Atalayas de Golban the other night to have with a rack of lamb. The combination of Tinto Fino (the local Tempranillo) and lamb is classic and sublime. And this Ribera del Duero from Madrid wine merchant Miguel Sanchez and winemaker Bertrand Sourdais is a beauty. The grapes come from Sanchez's second property, Atalayas de Golban (his first is Dominio de Atauta -- famous and much more expensive). Atalayas comes in at a terrific price for such a graceful and irresistible Ribera del Duero.
FOOD
March 1, 2012 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
  Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain is renowned for its seafood, which is some of the best on the planet. And what wine is an ideal match with shellfish and crustaceans? Why, Albariño, which comes from that same corner of Spain. Pazo de Senorañs consistently makes one of the best Albariños in Spain, but in 2010 - a great vintage in Rias Baixas - the estate, which dates back to the 16th century, made a truly great one. Aged sur lie , the 2010 is wonderfully complex, with hints of apple, lemon and flowers.
FOOD
December 29, 2011 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
It's the time of year for rich, full-bodied reds, and this week that would be the Langmeil Barossa "Three Gardens. " A blend of Shiraz, Mourvèdre and Grenache, the 2009 has an understated elegance and a beautiful, silky texture. The fruit is bright with a touch of sweet spice and smooth tannins. Bring it to a holiday dinner party or give some lucky red wine lover a bottle as a gift. At about $18, it's a bargain. Drink it with prime rib, braised lamb shanks, roasts and stews.
FOOD
June 23, 2011
  2009 Domaine Chignard Fleurie 'Les Moriers' If the only Beaujolais you've ever encountered is Beaujolais Nouveau and you've never tasted a Beaujolais cru, then this is the wine to make you fall head over heels for the region. Unfined and unfiltered, Domaine Chignard's Fleurie "Les Moriers" from the great 2009 vintage carries the scent of wild sweet strawberries. It's so lush and vivid, tasting of blueberries, black cherries and plums. The vines average 60 years old, so this is some deep fruit underpinned with soft tannins.
FOOD
March 5, 2008 | S. Irene Virbila
Enrico Scavino is some kind of genie with grapes. In good vintages and indifferent ones, this Barolo producer makes exceptional wines. But give him a really good vintage and even his so-called lesser wines such as this Dolcetto d'Alba stand out. Fresh and loaded with ripe, sweet fruit, the 2006 has all the right stuff: character, balance, terroir and sheer deliciousness. A Dolcetto like this is perfect with bruschetta, or pour a glass with a plate of salumi and cheese. It's great with a hearty bean soup, with pasta and chicken fricassee, too, and, well, just about anything.
FOOD
November 25, 2010 | S. Irene Virbila
  Like their brethren here, sommeliers in France are making their own wines. One is Marc Besnardeau, a Paris sommelier, who married Mireille Farjon and became a vigneron . Her family estate, Domaine Les Grands Bois in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes, has vines that are 30 to 60 years old, which give the estate's wines a depth they wouldn't have with younger vines. Its Côtes du Rhône "Cuvée Les Trois Soeurs" is a blend of two-thirds Grenache with one third Syrah and Carignan. The 2009 has that spicy, sauvage character of reds from the southern Rhone, richly perfumed and full-bodied, tasting of wild berries and herbs.
FOOD
February 2, 2012 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
Celestino Lucin, winemaker for Abbazia di Novacella, an abbey in Italy's Alto Adige region that dates to 1142, is renowned for his white wines. This Sylvaner from the 2010 vintage is no exception. The grapes are grown on steep hillsides surrounding the abbey. Yields are low. And the result is this complex Sylvaner with a flowery bouquet and mineral undertow. It tastes of honey and pear, and its crisp acidity makes it an ideal food wine. Drink it with steamed mussels or clams, vegetable soups and grilled fish.
FOOD
December 15, 2011 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
It's not often that you find a premier cru Burgundy of this quality at this price. I still can't quite believe it. Beautifully balanced, with a silken texture and subtly ripe flavors of plum and cherries, the 2009 Faiveley Mercurey "Clos des Myglands" would make any Burgundy lover very happy. Erwan Faiveley, the seventh generation of his family to run Domaine Faiveley, hit it out of the park with this one. Drink it with a roast chicken, skirt steak or veal schnitzel. It actually would go with almost anything, including salmon or tuna.
FOOD
December 2, 2010
  2009 Verdad Albariño, Sawyer 'Lindquist Vineyard' Albariño isn't a grape that's much grown in California, but winemaker Louisa Sawyer fell in love with the Spanish white and planted some in the cool-climate Edna Valley vineyard she owns with husband Bob Lindquist of Qupé. The grapes are certified biodynamic. Her 2009 Verdad Albariño is palest gold and has a delicately floral aroma. Crisp and minerally, it has more body than some Spanish Albariños, plus a lovely finish.
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