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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.
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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