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December 12, 2013
Re "How the other half invests," Business, Dec. 8 This article on wine collectors reaping windfalls repeats a typical theme of rising markets - making money faster - but it performs a disservice as well. As in the case of 1957 Chevrolets now bringing six-digit prices on the auction block, the downside of an influx of big money into a field of collecting is that what was a pleasant hobby for many becomes a speculative battleground for the wealthy few. The whiff of high prices at auction has driven up the retail price of very ordinary wines and pushed those bottles into climate-controlled cases.
December 11, 2013 | By L.A. at Home staff
Our scouting for this gift guide recently brought us to that L.A. haven for the handmade, Freehand Gallery. That's where we came upon the porcelain wine cups of Ojai ceramist Sandra Torres. The artist said she likes porcelain because it's "the thinnest of its expressions. " To create vessels that are at once delicate yet tough, Torres uses a slipcasting process. She pours her material into delicate molds, then later manipulates the wet clay so each piece carries the presence of the artist's hands.
December 11, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
For the oenophile who snatches up everything made from reclaimed barrels - light fixtures, chandeliers, tables, outdoor lounge chairs, platters, candelabras, key chains, rocking horses, lazy susans, bottle holders, bread boards, coat hooks  - here's something he or she probably doesn't have yet. Sunglasses made from reclaimed oak wine barrels. And not just any wine barrels, but those once used for Robert Mondavi Private Selection wines. Talk about provenance. Actually, the barrels under discussion were used to age the Coastal Crush Red blend.
December 7, 2013 | By Susan Denley
On a visit earlier this year to California's Central Coast wine country, I fell in love not just with some excellent pinots, but also with a set of lawn furniture handmade from the staves of old wine barrels. And, yes, I did buy a couple of chairs and a table for a not-particularly-reasonable price, with no regrets. The chairs are oversized and comfy with staves that extend from the sides of the seat to hold a wineglass stem wedged between. Better yet every time I sit on my suburbs-of-L.A.
December 7, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
The renowned Sashi Moorman makes the wines for Stolpman Vineyards in Santa Barbara County's new Ballard Canyon appellation. Though Stolpman's Syrahs tend to get most of the attention, I'm more impressed with the Roussanne called L'Avion. The vineyard, farmed organically, the vineyard is actually planted on what was once the landing strip for planes in the '30s and '40s. Fermented in big French oak casks and aged on its lees for over a year, the 2010 L'Avion is rich and complex with scents of honey and jasmine.
December 3, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
Famed Berkeley wine importer Kermit Lynch is making the rounds in southern California starting next weekend to promote the 25th anniversary edition of “ Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer's Tour of France .” The book, first published in 1988, is required reading for anybody interested in wine, particularly French wine, and the natural wine movement, which Lynch, in a way, helped jump-start some 30 years ago.  When he first got...
November 30, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
This is a terrific Montsant from the husband-and-wife team of Sara Perez and René Barbier. Their parents, who have Mas Martinet and Clos Mogador, pioneered the Priorat region. Now the children are striking out on their own in the less known Montsant region adjoining the Priorat in Catalonia. Made from a blend of Garnacha, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, the 2010 Dido red is elegant and balanced with smooth tannins and a lush, lovely finish. The yellow wax seal is pretty great too. Just point that corkscrew right through the wax. A perfect red with roast birds, seared duck breast, braised lamb shanks or grilled lamb chop.
November 30, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila, Betty Hallock, Rene Lynch and Russ Parsons
Whether the cook on your holiday gift list is interested in reading about family and food in Soviet Russia or the preparation of classic French dishes such as jambon au foin ("ham in hay"), baking pies or making authentic pasta carbonara, this fall has been an excellent season for food and wine books. Los Angeles cooks and authors are heavily represented: Valerie Gordon's "Sweet: Inspired Ingredients, Unforgettable Desserts," Kevin West's "Saving the Season: A Cook's Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving," the long-awaited "The A.O.C.
November 21, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
Pairing wine with the Thanksgiving meal should be a question on the Master Sommelier exam. The usual feast has so many elements and so many of them are sweet and/or tart, it is notoriously difficult for wine pairings. Really, there is no one wine that will go with your aunt Rita's sweet potato casserole, your uncle Howie's sausage and oyster stuffing and the experimental elBulli-inspired side dish your cousin Elena insists on bringing. OK, you could just throw up your hands and serve just one wine throughout the meal, whether from a box or a magnum.
November 6, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
It's that time of year. The third Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles will be held this weekend at Windfall Farms. If you've never attended one, this is the place to discover wines from Paso's artisan winemakers. To bring you up to speed, the term garagistes is French for small-lot winemakers, often working in their garages and likely not to follow the rules. Or at least, that's the way the Garagiste Festival tells it. I'll go with its synonyms: rule-breakers, pioneers, renegades, mavericks.
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