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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Science Geek Winemaker Aspires To Mouth-Feel

January 23, 2008

Tandem Pinot Noir

A look at the wines created by Greg La Follette.

In a temporary looking office of a converted apple processing plant, a beaming Greg La Follette holds an elongated glass tube in purple-stained hands. ‘I just finished tasting the lees,” says the noted winemaker while offering the tube for further examination. ‘‘Andre Tchelistcheff taught that it was the way to know what was going on in the barrels. Not many people do it though,” he adds. That is not surprising since the lees are comprised of dead yeast, grape skins, seeds and other fermentation detritus.

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The Land Down Under Produces Wonderful Wines

December 19, 2007

tait

A review of some recently released Australian wines.

Look to Australia when choosing a wine to complement a winter meal or for snuggling beside a cozy fire. Many of the latest Australian releases have a remarkable complexity along with their characteristic bold fruit profile. While some (like the 2006 Craneford Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2006 Oliverhill Petite Sirah) require several years of cellaring to achieve their peak, all the wines listed here are drinking perfectly now.

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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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Portuguese Winemakers Offer A Mix Of Old And New

October 17, 2007

Quinta do Monte D'Oiro

A look at some Portuguese table wines.

Known for centuries as the home of exceptional Port and Madeira, Portuguese winemakers are making some very good table wines now. Mirroring their Spanish counterparts, Portuguese wine producers have made major investments to modernize their facilities and to plant new varietals. ‘‘We needed to show the world that we could make quality table wines,” Jose Bento dos Santos, owner of Quinta do Monte D’Oiro explained at a recent tasting. ‘‘So we made wines from grapes people already know. Now that they see what we can do, they are more willing to try the wines from native grapes such as Touriga Nacional.”

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Burgundy Available At Less Than Exorbitant Prices

September 30, 2007

Louis Jadot Chambolle-Musigny

A look at some reasonably-priced 2003 Burgundies.

France’s Burgundy region — comprised of the Chablis, Cote ’Or, Cote Chalonnaise, Maconnais and Beaujolais districts — has 400 types of soil and hundreds of small vineyards, and is subject to unpredictable weather. Only a small amount of land along the slopes is used to grow Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Pinot Blanc and Aligote.

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Fine Kosher Red Wines

September 13, 2007

Teperberg Family Estate

A review of some recently released kosher red wines.

Kosher wines can satisfy a discriminating wine drinker and accompany any dish from brisket to blintzes. They continue to gain the approval of wine critics and their growing sales indicate increasing consumer acceptance. Kosher wines are produced all over world, including California, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Israel. In France some of the most prestigious wine producers are making kosher wines. “If the French masters of the art of winemaking have accepted kosher wine into their ranks then Kosher wine has truly arrived,” declares Martin Davidson, spokesman for Royal Wine, a leading importer of kosher wines and owner of California’s Herzog winery. Davidson believes that, “the Jewish community has fortunately graduated up to complex and sophisticated wines…Consequently, a better-educated buyer can now refine their appreciation in viniculture, knowing there is enough fine wine out there to accommodate a demanding and discerning palate.”

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Diverse Areas Now Producing Quality Viognier

August 15, 2007

Chrysalis Viognier

Some Viognier recommendations.

Viognier (vee-own-YAY) was virtually extinct in the 1960s, when it was limited to less than 35 acres in France’s Northern Rhone region. Now quality Viognier is being produced in California, Washington State, Australia, South Africa, Israel, Chile and Virginia. Notoriously difficult to grow, Viognier can be as full-bodied as a Chardonnay and is noted for its low acidity, complex floral aromas and spice. It is the only grape permitted to make white wine in France’s Condrieu region. In the Cote-Rotie and in Australia, Viognier is added to red wines such as Syrah to enhance fragrance and soften flavors. Single varietal white wines are best consumed within a few years after bottling, while those blended into red wines can age longer.

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