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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.
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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
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
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
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
January 27, 2011 | By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
  2004 Alejandro Fernandez 'Dehesa La Granja' Yet another stunning, value-priced wine from Alejandro Fernandez and his Grupo Pesquera, the 2004 Dehesa La Granja is 100% Tempranillo from 13-year-old vines. That's young by Spanish standards, yet this unfiltered medium-bodied red is lush and complex, with deep flavors of blackberries and plums, herbs and a touch of smoke. Tannins are mellow, and the finish lingers. Drink it now or wait awhile. But somehow I don't think this bottle is going to be hanging around in anybody's cellar for long.
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
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
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
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.
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