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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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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