August 20, 2003 |
Rioja is most identified with the svelte reds made from the Tempranillo grape. A small amount of white wine is made there too. And an even smaller amount of rosado, or rose. Bodegas Muga, a top Rioja estate founded in 1932 and best known for its flagship Rioja, Prado Enea, makes a rose that is a stunning bargain at about $6. Pale salmon-pink in color, it's dry and fruity with a light scent of strawberry and the barest hint of oak.
March 4, 2009 |
What a little beauty of a Syrah from Jonathan and Susan Pey of Spicerack Vineyards. Their "Punchdown" Syrah comes from two cool-climate sites on the Sonoma Coast. Rich and spicy with scents of cassis, black pepper and wild herbs, this is an elegant, moderately priced Syrah, a great buy for the price and a California Syrah that plays well with food. Open a bottle for some grilled or sauteed calves' liver, a pasta with chicken liver or gizzard sauce, some lamb chops or a simple roast chicken.
April 22, 2009 |
Hail the 32nd vintage(!) of Brander Sauvignon Blanc. Made from fruit grown in the Los Olivos area, the 2008, like all the vintages before it, is a summer classic. Crisp and minerally with a touch of grapefruit rind and grass in the perfume, this is a California Sauvignon Blanc that's closer to Sancerre than some of the overly oaked fruit bombs around. And at under $15 -- sometimes well under, it's a basic for warm-weather drinking. Owner and winemaker C.
April 15, 2009 |
When I tasted this wine and then looked at the price, the two didn't match up. This gorgeous and elegant red from Terra de Verema in the Vilella Baixa del Priorat region of Spain could easily cost twice the price. Instead, for about $30, you get a stunning Carinyena (Carignan) with a touch of Garnacha and Syrah. Spicy and lush, the 2006 Triumvirat is beautifully balanced, even elegant. And it's smooth as silk, almost Burgundian in style.
March 26, 2003 |
Get this affordable Barolo from a famous producer while you can because you'll never see it again at anything comparable to this price. This is a village wine in the sense that it's not from any single vineyard. And yet it is very much a high-class Barolo. Its perfume carries the classic hint of cedar and sweet Asian spices. In the mouth, it's soft with medium body and dusty ripe tannins. Ready to drink now, and like most Barolos, it's a great food wine.
January 29, 2003 |
Wines from Joel Gott, the small Napa Valley producer, have a cult following. This well-crafted and sensibly priced Zinfandel is made from a blend of grapes from six vineyards in Napa Valley, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Amador and a vineyard in Lo- di that was planted in 1918. Deeply stained with red, tasting of dark berries, cherries and plums, it has an unusual elegance, but it's no lightweight. It's definitely got some power and spice.
May 10, 2006 |
A wonderfully appealing red from a family-owned Piedmont estate, Sassisto is a blend of Barbera with 10% Nebbiolo. Old vines mean concentration and heft. Beautifully balanced, it's warm, earthy, very Piedmontese. And an attractive buy. It's great with salami and prosciutto, pasta dishes and a classic braised stinco di vitello (veal shank). -- S.
March 12, 2003 |
In this hilly area west of Florence, winemakers have been including a little Cabernet in the same basic Sangiovese- dominated blend as Chianti since at least the 18th century. That's what gives Carmignano a darker tone than Chianti or a pure Sangiovese. And that's why it's one of the four great denominazioni of Tuscany. Italian wine aficionados have made Piaggia's something of a cult wine. The 1999 riserva is, hands down, the best in the Carmignano appellation.
July 29, 2009 |
Pali stands for Palisades and this fledgling wine company is owned by a group of 21 friends and co-workers who live or work -- some both -- in Pacific Palisades and thought it might be nice to own a winery together. Little did they know how much work and effort is involved. But they found a winemaker -- Brian Loring -- and are producing some excellent wines out of Lompoc in the Central Coast.
January 14, 2009 |
Chianti Rufina, just outside the Chianti Classico region, offers some great value in Chianti, and Selvapiana, one of my longtime favorites, is one of the top estates there. The 2006 is bright and juicy, redolent of black cherries, sweet spices and earth. Sangiovese with just 5% Canaiolo, it's drinking beautifully now, but will also gain something from aging a bit. It's getting difficult to find wines with real character and sense of place at the $20 level, especially from Tuscany.