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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.
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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