Cure The Winter Blues With A Glass Of Red Wine

February 21, 2007

Mazzocco Zinfandel

Red wine recommendations for this winter.

A glass of red wine may be the best antidote for the winter blues. Even the coldest night is made more comfortable by a full- to medium-bodied wine served either with a hearty meal or sipped by the fire. And these long evenings are a perfect time to check out the bottles guests brought you during the holiday season.

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Washington State Wines Yield Pleasant Surprises

January 17, 2007

Alexandria Nicole Cabernet Sauvignon

A review of recent releases from Washington State.

Every year a fellow wine writer begs me to join him for his annual Washington State wine tasting. In the past these have been dreadful affairs, with the amount of swill we had to wade through completely overwhelming the occasional stars. I have learned to strategically place myself on the far end of the table and watch the faces of the other people he has coerced to join him. If they look like they have a mouthful of paint, I let that bottle pass me by.

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California Dreamin’: Wines Enhance the Holidays

December 20, 2006

Ferrari-Carano Siena

California wines for the holiday season.

With the holidays around the corner, it is time to choose the wines that will be served with the festive meals. Since the menu and head count often vary, it is best to generalize the wine choices rather than try to match them perfectly to the food and guests. Ideally, the wines should have solid fruit flavors that are true to the grape varietal. Balanced acidity is important to allow the wine to hold up to rich fare, and so is a good finish that will keep things interesting. For this year’s celebrations, I recommend wines from the Napa and Sonoma valleys.

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Gifts For Wine Lovers

December 7, 2006

Mike Grgich

Gift suggestions for this year’s holiday season.

By now your mailbox is overflowing with catalogs urging you to buy everything from a waxed-fruit subscription to a glow-in-the-dark menorah. While it is sometimes difficult to select appropriate holiday gifts, each year it gets easier to buy something for the wine-lovers on your list. Here are some suggestions:

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Wine And Cheese Perfect Together Forevermore

November 15, 2006

Lustau Sherry

Suggestions for pairing wine and cheese.

Wine and cheese have been enjoyed together for centuries. Served either side-by-side or, like the ancient Greeks, mixed together in goblets, it remains a classic combination. There are no fixed rules regarding the pairing of cheese and wine; however, being careful is necessary to avoid gastronomic conflict. With some combinations, the flavors of one can overwhelm the other. And other pairings dramatically change the flavors from enjoyable to offending. A few guidelines to consider are pairing soft cheeses with white wines and trying to match the flavor intensity of the cheese with the wine to avoid conflict.

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Flavorful Wines Arise From Inhospitable Conditions

October 18, 2006

Rosenblum Rockpile Road

A review of several Rosenblum wines.

Lovers of big, flavorful wines should make a pilgrimage to northern Sonoma County. There, the Rockpile AVA, a recently designated American Viticulture Area, includes more than 15,000 acres extending from Dry Creek Valley to the Mendocino County line above Lake Sonoma. The name fits perfectly since the shallow soil is studded with rocks and water is scarce. Only a few hundred acres within the Rockpile region can support grapevines, and the farms are located miles apart. These remarkably inhospitable conditions are the source of amazingly complex and well-structured wines — including the award-winning Rosenblum Rockpile Road Zinfandel 2003.

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Valley Whirl: Napa Winery Worth Long Day’s Journey

September 20, 2006

Terra Valentine

A visit and tasting at Terra Valentine.

The road from St. Helena that ascends Spring Mountain twists and turns past ancient trees and sheer drop-offs. About four-and-a-half miles up, a gated lane leads to the Terra Valentine Winery. Eccentric engineer Fred Aves, the previous owner, designed the winery and guesthouse, located on a bluff overlooking the Napa Valley. He did most of the work by himself. Each structure features massive handmade wooden doors with gargoyles carved into the ceiling beams, stone archways, spiral staircases and stained-glass windows. The balcony affords a magnificent view of the valley’s vineyards, framed by tree-lined mountains and accented by birds swooping around the property. At night, the numerous stars seem close enough to touch.

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Ceja Vineyards Are A Family Affair

August 16, 2006

Ceja Vineyards

A visit and tasting at the Ceja Vineyards.

Amelia Ceja does everything with passion, style and a smile. The second-generation American met her husband Pedro while picking grapes when they were 9 years old and they shared a dream of having their own vineyards. In 1999, they established the Ceja Vineyards along with Pedro’s brother Armando (a University of California-Davis grad who is their winemaker) and his wife Martha. Amelia, who studied literature and history at UC-San Diego, is the first Mexican-American woman to serve as president of a wine producing company, and the entire family is involved in all aspects of the business.

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Grapes From Cool Climes Produce Subtle Wines

July 19, 2006

Omrah Shiraz

A review of some cool-climate grown wines.

Grapes grown in cooler climates have significantly different flavor profiles than those from warmer areas.‘‘Cooler-climate wines are not fruit driven,” says importer Robert Whale. ‘‘They are more subtle. While still expressing the essence of the varietal, these wines have elegant flavors and are more food-friendly.” Whale, a tireless advocate of cooler-climate wines, insists that ‘‘there is more to Australian wine than big fruit bomb Shiraz from the Barossa.”

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