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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The Wines Of Summer: Zin, Syrah, Malbec And More

July 22, 2009

Dry Creek zinfandel

Some summer red wine recommendations.

Red wines most suitable for summer have assertive fruit flavors integrated with pepper or spice that complement the smokiness of grilled foods. Classically Zinfandel, Syrah and Malbec are excellent choices. The complexity resulting from combining multiple varietals makes blended wines also work well with summer fare.

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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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Local Wineries Deserve More Respect

October 14, 2008

Black Ankle Crumbling Rock

A look at some Maryland wineries.

Many regionally produced wines are as good as their West Coast cousins, although consumers often overlook them. With wine being made in all 50 states, it is fitting that attention be paid to the accomplishments of these small wineries.

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ZAP Shows Off California’s Best Zinfandels

July 16, 2008

Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel

A look at some recently released Zinfandels.

The Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, ZAP, were recently in D.C. to showcase examples of California’s quintessential wine. Genetically identical to the Croatian grape Crljenak, and related to the Italian Primitivo, Zinfandel was brought to West Coast during the 1850s Gold Rush; by the end of the 1900s, it was the most common varietal planted in California. Prohibition led to the destruction of many of the vineyards, but the 1970s saw a renewed interest in the grape by winemakers and consumers. Zinfandel’s popularity has rebounded with new plantings and efforts to preserve any of the remaining older vines prized for their intense flavors. Zin is now the second most planted red wine varietal in California, behind only Cabernet Sauvignon.

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California Winemaker Hails From Maryland

June 18, 2008

JC Cellars Zinfandel

A look at some of Jeff Cohn’s wines.

Jeff Cohn did not expect to become a winemaker, although he started in the food industry at age 16. After earning a degree in hospitality management, the Maryland native took a series of jobs including a stint on a Caribbean cruise ship. He ‘‘learned to appreciate wine” at a friend’s wine store on the island of Martinique. Upon returning to Maryland, he worked at Sutton Place, ‘‘which also had a great wine department,” as well as at the Boordy Vineyards outside Baltimore while completing the prerequisites to study oenology at Fresno State.

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A Night To Remember: Fine Food And Fabulous Wines

March 19, 2008

Chateau Calon-Segur

Great food and spectacular wines make for a wonderful charity dinner.

The format is simple: Invite some generous friends to a great restaurant that will include the corkage in the price of the meal. Send out the menu beforehand so everyone can select appropriate wines to bring. The guests not only pay for their meal, but also make a donation to a charity the organizer selects. The inevitable result is a nearly guilt-free evening of excellent food, wine and conversation – followed quickly by plans for the next one.

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Shuffling Around At California Wineries

February 20, 2008

Sbragia Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon

Lots of changes underway in California.

The winds of change are blowing through California’s vineyards. After more than 30 years at Beringer, winemaker Ed Sbragia has left the Napa winery to focus his efforts on his family’s project in Sonoma. The Sbragia Family Vineyards have been producing quality wines since 2004 and release 6,000 cases a year. Sbragia will get to work more closely with his son Adam, and their goal is to increase production to 10,000 cases annually.

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The Antidote To Boring Wines

November 27, 2007

Martinelli Pinot Noir

A look at the wines of the Martinelli Winery.

Inside a red barn along Sonoma’s River Road is the Martinelli Winery tasting room. The Martinelli family planted their first vineyard in 1899 on a site known as ‘‘Jackass Hill,” a location reportedly so steep that only a fool would harvest there. During the ensuing century, the family has acquired several other prime vineyards and now their portfolio includes excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Syrah, many of which are available only through their mailing list.

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