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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.
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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
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
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
March 4, 2010
Here's a lively, fresh Pinot Grigio from the vineyards of the Alto Adige region of Italy, near the Austrian border. Scented with flowers and sweet grasses, the 2008 St. Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio comes from a great little cooperative in the region. I'm taken with its bright acidity and touch of minerality, along with its notes of pear and ripe apple. Pinot Grigio is a tremendously versatile white wine that can go with all sorts of dishes. Minestrone and other rustic vegetable soups, pasta dishes, grilled fish and scampi come to mind first.
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 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
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
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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