March 16, 2013 |
I'm a longtime fan of wines from the Alsace estate Zind-Humbrecht, which can trace its wine growing history back to the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century. Who wouldn't covet any of their stunning grand crus? But a Tokay Pinot Gris from Clos Saint Urbain from Rangen de Thann, say, is strictly a special occasion wine. The estate's entry-level 2010 Pinot Blanc, however, is very affordable, and it's a perfect white for everyday drinking. Scented with flowers and peaches, it's crisp yet with ripe fruit and a thrilling complexity.
March 9, 2013 |
Lirac may not have the cachet of nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but I've sometimes scoured wine shops in France looking to turn up a bottle of Domaine de la Mordorée's exquisite "Cuvée de la Reine des Bois. " Fortunately, it's somewhat easier to find here in Southern California. It's worth seeking out any year, but the 2010 may be the best the domaine has ever made — juicy, dark and wild, tasting of ripe berries and plums that drip down your chin. Super-rich and super-concentrated, this blend of equal parts Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah needs bold food.
February 23, 2013 |
A great bottle of white from Austria. Crisp and cool, with classic Grüner notes of green apple, lime and white pepper, the 2011 "Kamptaler Terrassen" from Bründlmayer reboots the palate in much the way that Champagne sets you up for the meal to come. Serve it well-chilled with hors d'oeuvres, smoked fish, chilled shellfish and grilled fish. Region: Kamptal, Austria Price: About $22 Style: Crisp and aromatic What it goes with: Smoked fish, chilled shellfish, grilled seafood Where to find it: BestWinesOnline.com, (888)
February 16, 2013 |
OK, score one for California Chardonnay. Here's a beauty from Brewer-Clifton that combines the juice from five vineyard sites in the Santa Rita Hills, each one contributing a different expression of Chardonnay to the blend. The result is an elegant, food-friendly Chardonnay with aromas of melon and orange blossom. It's lean and focused, yet complex and long in the finish. This is a terrific entry-level Chardonnay at a great price for the quality. Drink it with seared scallops or steamed Santa Barbara spot prawns.
January 5, 2013 |
It's winter, or as wintry as it gets in these parts. Time to start soaking beans to braise with lamb shanks, slow-roasting great chunks of pork and sitting down to platters of salumi . What goes with all of the above? Barbera d'Alba, and here's a terrific one from third-generation producer Bosco. Barbera doesn't get much better than this - lush and velvety, with polished tannins and a rich perfume of dark plums and cherries. Its lively acidity pairs beautifully with fatty foods. This is the time of the year when Italians go in for lentils with heavily marbled cotechino sausage - with Barbera.
December 29, 2012 |
At the holidays, the sound of corks popping and the sweet gurgle of sparkling wine splashing into Champagne flutes sparks the celebration. But good Champagne for a crowd can be expensive, and in the thrill of the party, that exquisite vintage Champagne can go unnoticed. As for the cheap stuff, well, it's hardly worth buying. Happily, there are some smart alternatives, namely sparkling wine, much of it méthode Champenoise , meaning it's made in basically the same way as Champagne but from different grapes and from different regions.
December 22, 2012 |
If you're hankering to drink a big old-vine California Zin, it's now or never. You need a chill in the air - and a big piece of beef braising on the stove. These intense, almost syrupy wines aren't for everyone, but if you love them, you'll love this example from Renwood in Amador County in California Gold Country. Renwood is a specialist in Zin, making half a dozen different bottlings. The Premier Old Vine is the least expensive and a bargain for the quality. The 2010 has deep blackberry and bramble flavors, ripe tannins and a velvety mouth feel.
December 15, 2012 |
Note the vintage: 2002 is the latest release of white Rioja from the legendary house of R. Lopez de Heredia, founded 135 years ago and still one of the benchmark estates in Rioja. If you've never tasted a white Rioja before, this is the one to try first. The color is golden straw, with a scent of hazelnut drifting over the glass. Dry, but with rich complexities, Viña Gravonia is unique in the world of white wine, a compelling expression of the Viura grape. Drink it with lobster, Dungeness crab, steamed mussels and clams, even a roast turkey.
December 8, 2012 |
Always on the lookout for a juicy California Pinot, one with some character and grit, I think I've found it in the 2011 from August West. The label is a collaboration between Ed Kurtzman and growers Howard Graham and Gary Franscioni. The grapes - a tiny crop this year - came from the vineyards Rosella's, Sierra Mar and Sberanes. Tasting of black cherry, plums and earth, this latest vintage of Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands, their fourth, has gorgeous fruit and ripe tannins.
December 1, 2012 |
In Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc plays second fiddle, adding a touch of spice to Cabernet Sauvignon blends. But in the Loire Valley, it shines on its own in Chinon and Bourgueil. Here's a lovely Chinon from Château de Coulaine, an estate that dates to 1300. Etienne de Bonnaventure farms his Chinon vineyards organically and vinifies his wines simply and naturally using indigenous yeasts. The wine is a rich ruby red, its intense dark berry flavor laced with Chinon's characteristic spice and pepper.