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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.
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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
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.
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
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
November 14, 2011 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
Don't recognize the Beaujolais cru called Régnié? That's probably because it's the youngest, established only in 1988, and not as well known as Morgon or Fleury. Vines grown in sandy soil produce a wine that's round and supple, with light, graceful tannins. Burgaud's Vallières comes from 50-year-old vines. The result is an elegant, refined Beaujolais that hints at Burgundy. Vivid and quick, it is Gamay at its best with tastes of cherries and sweet spices. And it's a terrific value.
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.
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
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.
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