Spirits Can Raise The Spirits Of The Holiday Season

December 1, 2010

Glenrothes

Holiday gift ideas including some special Scotch, Gin and Vodka as well as two book suggestions

Options abound for the wine-lovers on your holiday gift list, many of whom also enjoy other spirits. For those who like Scotch, a special whisky is a great present. From the noted Japanese distillery Suntory is Hibiki 12 Year Old ($55). Its name is a word that can be translated into a number of positive expressions including “harmony.” This version is offered in a lovely 24-sided bottle that represents the ancient Japanese calendar. It has vanilla and fruit aromas along with a clean, slightly sweet, soft caramel, clove and tropical fruit notes with a pleasant smooth finish lacking the burn of lesser made spirits.

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Wish They All Could Be Napa Valley’s Fine Wines

October 27, 2010

Chappellet Winery

A review of several of the excellent wines produced at Napa’s Chappellet Winery.

Within two years of Donn and Molly Chappellet’s establishment of their eponymous winery, they produced a Cabernet Sauvignon still considered one of the finest ever made in Napa, Calif. The Chappellet Winery, now run by their children, remains in the forefront of innovation, sustainability and exceptional quality.

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Bennett Lane: Napa Newcomer Nails Cabernet And More

August 25, 2010

Bennett Lane Winery

A review of the terrific wines produced at Napa’s Bennett Lane Winery.

What do NASCAR and wine have in common? The answer lies near the northernmost aspect of Napa Valley at the Bennett Lane Winery.

Located just a couple of miles past Calistoga, Bennett Lane was established in 2003 by Randy and Lisa Lynch, who came to the area a year earlier looking for a second home surrounded by some vineyards. They were planning to live there part-time and sell the grapes rather than actually make wine.

But their timing was a bit off since the California wine industry was in one of its periodic downturns, making it not the best time to sell grapes. Entrepreneur Randy Lynch saw the situation as an opportunity rather than an obstruction. So they purchased a winemaking property, renamed it Bennett Lane, and focused their efforts on Cabernet Sauvignon.

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White Is One Of Summer’s Genuine Pleasures

June 23, 2010

Kunde Sauvignon Blanc

Summer white wine suggestions including Sauvignon Blanc, Spanish whites, Chablis and Pinot Gris.

White wines, served with the lighter warm weather fare or sipped solo as the sun sets, come in a wide range of flavors and styles. Every wine-producing area creates worthwhile whites, making summer a perfect time to explore new varietals and regions.

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A Dramatic Transformation For One California Winery

May 5, 2010

Zaca Mesa Winery

A look at the Zaca Mesa Winery.

Once known only for characterless, cheap and cheerful quaffs, the Zaca Mesa Winery now produces incredibly flavorful wines from varietals like Syrah, Roussanne and Viognier. Located in California’s Santa Barbara County, specifically the Santa Ynez Valley, Zaca Mesa planted its first vines — a mishmash of varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Merlot and Zinfandel — in 1978. In the ensuing years, the number of original investors dwindled, leaving the Cushman family in charge since 1988. With the realization that the location is best suited for the classic “Rhone” varietals — Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsaut, Roussanne and Viognier, new vines and a new winemaking team — the quality of the Zaca Mesa wines has increased significantly.

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Value-Priced Wines Come From Around The World

March 31, 2010

Greg Norman Estates Shiraz Cabernet

A look at some wine values from Chile, Australia, Spain and California.

Underlying every wine purchase is the question: Is this bottle really worth the price? Does some fundamental aspect of the $200 Cristal Champagne make it better than a $15 Spanish sparkler? Maybe to a hip-hop artist, but to most of us, discovering pleasurable wines that cost considerably less is more pleasurable. Fortunately, many of the world’s wine regions still produce reasonably priced wines. Each of the following recommendations costs $15 or less.

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Sicily’s Wines Are Well Worth Sipping

February 24, 2010

Planeta Syrah

A review of several wines from Sicily including Planeta, Cottanera, Tenuta Rapitala, and Morgante.

Sicily has a long history of winemaking, mostly from indigenous grapes like Nero d’Avola and Grillo. The island’s complex geology, a combination of volcanic and African soil types, has led many producers to make wine from better known “international” varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay. The results of both approaches have shown steady improvement.

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Planning Ahead: Suggestions For Romantic Sipping

January 27, 2010

Palazzo Montanari Amarone

Romantic wine suggestions for Valentine’s Day

Indulge your beloved by sharing a bottle of wine or other fine libation on Valentine’s Day. California’s full-bodied Terra Valentine Spring Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($38), with richly spiced dark currant and blackberry flavors that finish with cedar, chocolate and caramel, is an excellent choice. Or, sip the more hedonistic, highly regarded Mollydooker Carnival of Love McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007 ($90), with big mouth-filling blueberry, exotic spice and dark plum flavors that seem to linger forever.

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A Glass Of Red Warms Body And Soul

January 6, 2010

Phekps Insignia

Reviews of red wines from Phelps, Castello di Amorosa, Quivira, Frei Brothers, St. Clement and Tempra Tantrum.

Winter weather is best faced with a glass of red wine. Properties like Joseph Phelps Vineyards provide the comfort of consistent high quality. Its flagship Joseph Phelps Insignia 2006 would make a wonderful gift since it needs a few more years of bottle-age before its complex, spicy earthy blackberry, licorice and cherry flavors fully develop. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon (95 percent) and Petit Verdot (5 percent) exclusively from its estate vineyards, it will drink beautifully for at least 20 years.

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