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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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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Musings on Food and Wine Pairing

February 11, 2010

DC wine &food festival

Wine and food pairing is not very complex.

We all know the rules. Wine and food are meant to compliment each other. But the complexity of multiethnic cuisine and the subtlety of much of modern gastronomy have invalidated the traditional convention of “red with meat and white with fish.” There is really only one iron-clad rule: Drink what you like! Don’t be swayed by scores, prices or the presence of animals on the label.

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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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Winning Wines From Maryland Well Worth Exploring

October 28, 2009

Elk Run Cabernet Franc

A look at some award-winning wines from Maryland.

Wine is now being produced in all 50 states, even in Alaska where some daring souls in Homer, Kodiak and Anchorage are using fruit and purchased grape concentrate to create them. Often starting with meager resources, as well as ample enthusiasm, winemakers located in lesser-known wine-producing areas struggle for acceptance even as the quality of their product continues to improve.

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Cabernets From Down Under Emphasize Elegance, Cost Less

May 4, 2009

Rosewood Show Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

A review of some Australian Cabernet Sauvignons.

Australian Cabernets have more finesse than many of their California cousins and closely resemble Bordeaux in balance and structure. This reflects local climate variations and the longer hang time before harvest in California. While these differences are best appreciated with the higher priced Australian Cabernets, like Parker Terra Rossa and the single vineyard Clarendon Hills wines, many fine examples from Down Under cost much less.

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With Wines, Old Is New Again

February 26, 2009

Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

The pleasures of older wines.

I prefer “Chinatown” to the “The DaVinci Code,” “On The Waterfront” over “Gladiator” and will drop everything to watch “Casablanca.” Angelina Jolie certainly has her attributes but Ingrid Bergman has a vulnerable sadness. Older movies have a captivating elegance and charm that is often lacking in the more recent Hollywood blockbusters. A similar satisfaction can be found in various older wines.

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Wines To ‘Steak’ A Claim With

January 29, 2009

Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon

Wines perfect to pair with a grilled rib-eye.

One of the ways we coax our son to visit us from college is to prepare his favorite meal: a grilled rib-eye steak prepared with CharCrust Hickory rub. And now that he is 21 years old, we also have to find the perfect wine to match the steak. Rather than figuring this out for myself, I solicited expert advice from the folks responsible for the wines at several of Washington, D.C.’s finest steak restaurants.

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