June 3, 2013 |
Jancis Robinson is a force. The prodigious British wine writer hopped on the Internet long before most other wine folks could muster a blog post or a tweet. Her site JancisRobinson.com -- "immoderately updated" -- contains thousands of her tasting notes, articles and comments. Some content is free, some reserved for subscribers. She seems to be everywhere at once, tasting, commenting, participating. The wine editor of Financial Times , she is also the author, co-author or editor of numerous serious wine books, including "The Oxford Companion to Wine ,” “ Jancis Robinson's Guide to Wine Grapes ” and most recently, “ American Wine .” Here's what she's drinking now: 2010 Bergström Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir Willamette Valley in Oregon.
June 1, 2013 |
The coals are hot. The big steak sizzles as you put it on the grill. What are you going to drink with that? A big brawny red from Spain, Alto Moncayo's Campo de Borja Garnacha. The color is a gorgeous deep ruby, the aromas raspberries and sweet, sweet fruit. It's a mouthful all right, intense and ripe, but also bright and juicy. And it just cuddles up to that steak. A perfect match. OK, you could also drink it with thick pork chops. And Grenache always loves lamb, so consider a butterflied leg of lamb too. And give the wine time to breathe: You might want to open the bottle an hour or so before you plan to drink it. But wait for the meat, please, and pour something lighter and less demanding as an apéritif, maybe an Albariño.
May 11, 2013 |
This is a stunning Arneis from Giovanni Almondo in the Roero region of Piedmont. And to think this grape was once almost extinct. It may be temperamental, but whatever pains must be taken to produce this lovely white are worth it. The 2011 wafts the scents of ripe pears, melons and flowers from the glass. It's fleshy but lithe, cool-toned and with a vivid minerality. I'd pour it with mozzarella and pea shoots, with summer soups and pastas, and grilled whole fish. It's a terrific basic that doesn't cost the Earth.
April 6, 2013 |
La Rioja Alta is one of the great old Rioja houses, best known for Viña Ardanza, long one of my favorite Riojas. The 2004 Viña Arana is winning me over, though. Made with 95% Tempranillo, rather than Ardanza's 80% (the rest being made up with Garnacha and, in the case of Arana, with Mazuelo), the 2004 has a beautiful balance and grace. It's all in there - dark cherries, licorice, leather and earth. Ready to drink now or put away for a while. Give this terrific Rioja some time in the glass for all its layers to show themselves.
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.