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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.
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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
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
November 24, 2011 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
2009 Domaine de la Janasse Côtes-du-Rhône Villages "Terre d'Argile" Loving this Côtes-du-Rhône Villages from a vineyard next door to the Domaine's Châteauneuf-du Pape vines in Courthézon. No simple red, Domaine de la Janasse's cuvée "Terre d'Argile" is a blend of 55% Grenache with lesser amounts of Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. The scents of dark berries, earth and something wild and smoky are all right there. The color is intense, the flavors rich and deep. A beautiful bottle for wood-grilled or roasted meats, a burger or a pastrami sandwich.
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
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
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 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
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
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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