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FOOD
August 13, 2008 | S. Irene Virbila
I poured this light, lively red from Piedmont at a dinner party recently and every single guest messaged me the next day to ask where to buy it. Not many retailers stock the 2006 Marchesi Alfieri Sansoero Grignolino, I'm afraid. But they should, because this is a perfect summer wine. Made from the local Grignolino grapes, Sansoero (named for the hill where the vineyard is located) smells like violets and lavender. It's full in flavor (wild strawberries, raspberries) with smooth tannins and a lovely, bitter-almond finish.
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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.
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 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
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 2, 2010
  2009 Verdad Albariño, Sawyer 'Lindquist Vineyard' Albariño isn't a grape that's much grown in California, but winemaker Louisa Sawyer fell in love with the Spanish white and planted some in the cool-climate Edna Valley vineyard she owns with husband Bob Lindquist of Qupé. The grapes are certified biodynamic. Her 2009 Verdad Albariño is palest gold and has a delicately floral aroma. Crisp and minerally, it has more body than some Spanish Albariños, plus a lovely finish.
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
September 10, 2008 | S. Irene Virbila
Adam Tolmach and his wife, Helen, have been making wine in the Ojai valley for more than 25 years. Known for their splendid Syrah, they also produce a very pretty rose. The 2007 on shelves now is a blend of mostly Grenache with some Mourvedre and Syrah and a touch of Sauvignon Blanc. A dry rose is such a versatile food wine that most of it goes to restaurants, but you can still find it in a handful of local shops. The blend is seamless and delicious -- a little strawberry, a little raspberry, something earthy in there too. It's brilliant with goat cheese, with frittatas and omelets, with salads and smoked 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)
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.
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