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FOOD
August 13, 2008 | S. Irene Virbila
I poured this light, lively red from Piedmont at a dinner party recently and every single guest messaged me the next day to ask where to buy it. Not many retailers stock the 2006 Marchesi Alfieri Sansoero Grignolino, I'm afraid. But they should, because this is a perfect summer wine. Made from the local Grignolino grapes, Sansoero (named for the hill where the vineyard is located) smells like violets and lavender. It's full in flavor (wild strawberries, raspberries) with smooth tannins and a lovely, bitter-almond finish.
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FOOD
October 21, 2010
  This year's Beaujolais Nouveau is about to be sprung on the public with much hoopla. While the festivities are fun (not to mention a great marketing ploy), there's more to Beaujolais than Beaujolais Nouveau. Namely, Beaujolais Villages, and even above that, the crus. Here's one from the stellar 2009 vintage that has all the right stuff ? complexity, finesse and structure, and a taste of earth and blackberries. Though it's 100% Gamay, the terroir comes through so clearly that if you tasted this blind, you might think it's a Burgundy.
FOOD
August 20, 2008 | S. Irene Virbila
A gorgeous Sauvignon Blanc from Napa's Gamble Vineyard, which is planted to vrais (true) Sauvignon Musque de Loire and Preston Sauvignon Blanc clone. Pale gold, with a scent of ripe pears, honey and flowers, the 2006 Source Napa Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and clean, with a bright citrus zing and a light touch of oak -- perfect for summer drinking. The wine is the project of Bill Davies and Tom Gamble, who grew up in the business (Davies' family made wine and the Gambles farmed grapes)
FOOD
July 2, 2003 | S. Irene Virbila
German wine labels are long-winded, admittedly, but German wines are almost the perfect whites for Southern California's climate. This one is worth seeking out for summer drinking. A Riesling from Weingut Monchhof, which has made wine in the Mosel village of Urzig for more than eight centuries, it tastes like a tropical fruit from an island not yet discovered. There's something complex and marvelous, really a sort of alchemy at work, in the Erdener Treppchen Kabinett's exquisite balance of sweet to tart.
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
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.
FOOD
December 22, 2011 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
German wines can sometimes be astonishing bargains. This gorgeous Riesling Kabinett from St. Urbans-Hof winery in the heart of Germany's Mosel is a case in point. Juicy and fragrant as a ripe white peach, the 2010 Riesling Kabinett is sheer nectar laced with the bright acidity that makes these wines so food-friendly. Open a bottle for a Moroccan or Thai meal. It's also a terrific match with cheese. Or simply enjoy it as an aperitif before dinner. irene.virbila@latimes.com Quick swirl Region: Mosel, Germany Price: $17-$20 Style: Lightly sweet with a bracing acidity What it goes with: Moroccan or Thai food, cheese Where to find it: Manhattan Fine Wines in Manhattan Beach, (310)
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
July 28, 2011 | S. Irene Virbila
Say what? A Sauvignon Blanc from Burgundy? Under $15? I was skeptical. But when I tasted the 2009 Saint-Bris from Domaine Bersan, I understood why Saint-Bris is the only appellation in Burgundy where the required grape is Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and bone dry, Bersan's Saint-Bris has an enticing minerality and a light touch of citrus. Perfect summer drinking at an incredible price for the quality. Bring on the oysters! Serve it as a cool refreshing aperitif or with smoked salmon or a whole grilled fish.
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