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NEWS
February 7, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
If you're one of the impatient ones, and have to have a bottle of Brangelina's latest rosé from Provence right now, you'll have to jet over to London or France. That's right. The first bottles of 2013 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence rosé will be sold first in France and England. There's been a waiting list for the wine since last year and the people on it were notified by email that they could sign on Thursday and buy one case of six bottles each. Just in time for Valentine's Day. Go to the website and you'll be informed very politely, in French, that the reservation list for the first bottles of the 2013 vintage is now closed.
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NEWS
February 5, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
What is a Tuesday Night Wine? A friend used the term one evening as we were sipping an expensive wine -- a dense, smoky Côte-Rôtie from the northern Rhone -- for a birthday celebration. Tuesday Night Wine was definitely not what we were drinking. Her definition: an everyday wine, something that's usually under $15 or, on a stretch, under $20. Something to drink with a regular dinner -- meat loaf, sauteed chicken, pork chops, maybe pasta or a stir-fry. She had her usual picks but was tired of drinking the same wines all the time, so she asked me for some suggestions.
FOOD
February 4, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
Crisp and nervy, this Txakolina from the Spanish Basque country has more depth than most and a welcome minerality. Scented with Key lime and jasmine, it ends on a slight bitter note, just enough to make you want to take another sip. A serious wine. Of course, it's a brilliant match with crudo or sushi, a chilled seafood platter or grilled fish. Have it with salt-cured anchovies drizzled with olive oil, which is what winemakers typically serve with their Txakolina in the tasting room.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 30, 2014 | By Glenn Whipp
Driving to Silver Lake the other day to visit his father, Leonardo DiCaprio passed through the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, the neighborhood where he spent the first nine years of his life. Back then, DiCaprio says, he'd be in the car, riding to and from school, and see micro-skirted prostitutes on every corner. In the alleyway near his home, he'd occasionally notice people smoking crack and shooting heroin. "I try to tell my godson, who lives close to that area, what it was like, how there used to be a major prostitution ring on my street corner, crime and violence everywhere.
FOOD
January 17, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
LA RIOJA, Spain  - "I'll only be a minute," says Juan Muga of Bodegas Muga as he heads off to a whitewashed building next to a vineyard. I walk along the vineyard, taking in the idyllic view of Tempranillo vines stretching across the Ebro river valley, framed by the Sierra Cantabria and Demanda mountain ranges in Spain. Just days before the harvest in October, blue skies, big vistas and bees, dive-bombing wildflowers between the vines. Smelling smoke, I turn to see that Muga, U.S. marketing director for his family's estate, has rolled out a grill and set grapevine cuttings alight.
NEWS
January 10, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
Forget about all the butter we Americans are supposed to be consuming, I'm deep into olive oil practically every meal, lavishing a slab of grilled country bread with the intensely fruity Tuscan oil and sopping up every bit of the remains on my plate. This is from my annual shipment of olio nuovo (new oil) from the Rare Wine Co. in Sonoma. The color is an iridescent jade-chartreuse,  gorgeous to behold. This is olive oil more as food than condiment. I float a thread on winter minestrone or pasta fagioli, eat halved avocados with a drizzle of the oil, dip artichoke leaves in a little dish of olio nuovo . I get my fix every year from the Rare Wine Co., which has been bringing in a selection of new oils from Tuscany for almost 20 years now. This year, after tasting the new oils in November, Rare Wine founder Mannie Berk chose oils from half a dozen wine estates in Tuscany.
NEWS
January 7, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
It's a new year, why not drink like it and try something new and unfamiliar. My wish is that in 2014, wine lovers will take a chance and say goodbye, at least every once in a while, to their tried and true, and branch out. This is such a great time to be a wine drinker, especially in Southern California. Take a chance, put yourself in the hands of an enthusiastic sommelier or wine shop clerk (be sure to give them a price range) and discover a grape, a wine or an appellation that's new to you. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
FOOD
January 7, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
From respected winemaker Laura Catena, a rich, ample Malbec made from older vines from three vineyards in the Uco Valley of Argentina. The 2011 Luca Malbec, mostly aged in French oak, has an inviting bouquet of black cherries, strawberries, chocolate and tobacco. The wine is smooth and balanced, a classic example of Malbec. Of course, it's a beautiful wine with grilled steaks or chops, with a hearty stew, or braised pork or lamb shanks. Go ahead, throw bold flavors at it. This Malbec can take it. Region: Mendoza, Argentina Price: $26 to $30 Style: Rich and balanced What it goes with: Grilled steaks and chops, hearty stews, braised meats Where to find it: Amazing Grapes Wine Store in Rancho Santa Margarita, (949)
NEWS
December 21, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
These wine books are sure to fit someone on your list, from the aspiring sommelier to the merely curious . To wrap and put under the tree: a couple of serious reference works, a wine atlas that can also be purchased as an eBook, a guide to newly fashionable sherry and a couple of good reads. The most novel, though, is a Scratch & Sniff introduction to wine from a master sommelier who knows his stuff.  "The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert" by Richard Betts (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99)
NEWS
December 20, 2013 | By Anne Harnagel
Join photographer Joanne Heaviland for the “Ultimate Italian Experience.” This 11-day, 10-night excursion starts in Rome and continues on to the picturesque Amalfi Coast and the Mediterranean-chic towns of Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. Included are a photo workshop, an Italian cooking class, a tour of a mozzarella di bufala organic cheese farm, wine tasting and a tour of the island of Capri. Participants also learn photography techniques, including lighting, composition, landscape and portrait photography.
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