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February 27, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
The French have gotten into fruit-flavored wines in a big way. As if news of declining consumption of wine overall wasn't enough, drinkers in France are snatching up bottles of rosé pamplemousse (grapefruit-flavored rosé) and rosé mandarin or black currant at an ever-growing rate. Sales of flavored wine (and sangria) in France jumped 45.2% in 2013 over 2012's figures, “beating rum, specialty beers, cognac and iced teas,” according to a study by IRI in the beverage trade magazine RayonBoissons.
February 26, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO -- Wine exports from the United States, mainly from California, generated a record high revenue of $1.55 billion in 2013, the Wine Institute reported. It was the fourth record in a row for foreign sales when ranked by value, the San Francisco trade group said. Total sales, 90% from California wineries, were up 16.4% over 2012. QUIZ: How much do you know about California's economy? "Consumers across the globe continue to recognize the quality, diversity and value of California wines, despite significant trade barriers and heavily subsidized foreign competitors," said Wine Institute President Robert P. Koch.
February 23, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
Here's a scenario: You've got a hankering for roast chicken, either from your favorite takeout, a restaurant, or from your own oven. Mine would be Judy Rodger's justly famous bird with bread and arugula salad from her masterful “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant.” The beautiful thing about roast chicken is that it pairs with both red and white wines. Nothing too intense and certainly no reds with massive tannins.
February 19, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
From the legendary Quintarelli estate in Valpolicella, here's a lovely and surprising white wine scented with white peaches and lime. With its minerality and bright acidity, this could be the Veneto's analogue to Grüner Veltliner. Perfect for impressing a wine geek. It's terrific with oysters and chilled shrimp, and a great choice with a frittata or omelet. It works with asparagus too. And, of course, it would be ideal with sushi and Thai food. Region: Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy Price: $38 to $40 Style: Crisp and minerally What it goes with: Chilled shellfish, omelet and frittata, sushi, Thai food Where to find it: John and Pete's Fine Wines & Spirits in West Hollywood, (310)
February 17, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
Small wonder French wine producers are looking forward to this year's biennial wine fair Vinexpo Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong. According to the French wine trade body FEVS (Féderation des Exportateurs de Vins & Spiritueux), in a story reported by the British Wine magazine Decanter , French wine exports in 2013 were down by 3.1% in volume. (The sales value was just 0.1% less.) Interestingly, the volume of low-priced exports eroded the most, a whopping 17.3%. Champagnes and higher-priced wines with A.O.C.
February 15, 2014
On a recent girlfriends weekend, I had a wonderful experience at the chef's table at Root 246 in Solvang, Calif. For $88 each, we were treated to a multicourse chef-designed meal with wine (or beer) pairings. Chef Seth Nelson and his staff could not have been more welcoming. Dining in the kitchen was a fun first. The food and wine were excellent, and the experience was first rate. Root 246 , 420 Alisal Road, Solvang, Calif.; (805) 686-8681, . Jane Kimball Ladera Ranch
February 14, 2014 | By Jonathan Gold
Have you ever tried the beets and berries at Rustic Canyon? Because the dish is kind of mind-blowing when you think about it, a mess of roasted beets and purple quinoa in a rustic pottery bowl. There are herbs scattered over the top, and a few crisply roasted pistachios, and a few chunks of buttery, ripe Reed avocado, along with a seedy smear of slightly unripe mashed berries that seems to be there more for its fragrance and acidity than for any particular flavor. There may be a hint of dairy, and I seem to remember a version of this dish with creamed horseradish, but it could probably pass as one of those vegan feel-good bowls at a place like Real Food Daily or Café Gratitude - at least until you realize that you have powered your way to the bottom without half realizing it, and that the berries are doing unspeakably wonderful things to the avocado and that this may be the first bowl of quinoa you have eaten with pleasure since the last time you went to Peru.
February 14, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
Typically, wine clubs have had about as much coolness factor as the old Columbia Record Club. No serious wine drinkers would have ever considered joining such a club. But now a handful of new wine clubs is changing the game with selections focused on Santa Barbara wines, grand cru Burgundy or natural wines. Bottles are hand-picked, often highly allocated (i.e. hard to find), come with tasting notes and/or recipes - and inside is something you'd actually like to drink. Some clubs cater to what you already like.
February 13, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
Hard to believe, but the 2005 is the latest release of the LAN Gran Reserva. Rioja works on a different time scale than the rest of the wine world, releasing its reds only when they're ready to drink. The 2005, mostly Tempranillo with just 10% each Mazuelo and Garnacha, still tastes youthful. Such a pretty wine with notes of cherry, spice and earth - and a pleasant rasp of tannin. Perfect for a plate of jamón ibérico and chorizo. Region: Rioja, Spain Price: About $20 Style: Supple and balanced What it goes with: Prosciutto or serrano ham, beans with chorizo, baby lamb chops Where to find it: BestWinesOnline, (888)
February 12, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
Last year, on a beautiful afternoon, I drove up north for the Santa Barbara Wine Futures Tasting in the courtyard next to the then brand new Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant. As wine events go, this one was terrific -- low-key, not too crowded, excellent wines and the chance to meet and talk to the winemakers. This year, they're doing it again on Saturday, April 19, with more than 50 local wineries pouring futures, i.e., wines that haven't been released yet. Not only do you get to taste the unreleased wines and get a quick sketch of the vintage, you can buy the wines at 20% off retail.
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