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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.
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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
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.
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 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
February 23, 2012 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
  The Antinori family now counts 26 generations in the wine business in Tuscany, Italy. That's quite a history. But in the Napa Valley, it's much shorter. Though Marchese Piero Antinori bought an estate on Atlas Peak in the 1980s, the family produced its first wine, a Cabernet, only in 2001. The 2009 Antica Chardonnay is one of the finest Chardonnays I've tasted recently from California. I love its minerality and bright acidity, the light touch with oak. Each sip reveals something different - citrus, smoke, stone.
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
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
January 26, 2012 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
Hungarian wines encompass much more than sweet Tokajis. Consider this lovely dry red from J&J Eger Wine Co. in the hills 60 miles west of Tokaj. The grape is the indigenous Kékfrankos, and it's made by the winegrower Janos Stumpf in partnership with Canadian master sommelier John Szabo (who's of Hungarian ancestry). Similar to Blaufrankish in Austria, Kékfrankos gives a minerally nuanced red with a generous perfume. The Eged-Hegy Dülö (Eged Hill Vineyard) is dry-farmed, and the vines are 40 years old. Production is small, and only a few wine shops carry the wine.
FOOD
February 9, 2012 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
This is the first vintage for Jack Hammer Wine Co., and they've come out with a terrific Pinot Noir for the price. The grapes come from all three Central Coast counties - Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara - and the juice sees some aging in old French oak barriques . The result is a delightful Pinot Noir with bright fruit flavors, gentle spice and round, smooth tannins. It goes down very easy and marries with all sorts of dishes. Drink it with hors d'oeuvres and vegetable dishes, with grilled salmon or duck breast.
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