Aloha Rioja

ShareWe drank this Rioja, the numero-uno red wine of Spain, at a big celebratory dinner at Picasso in Las Vegas, right before we poured a cult Napa cab that was six times the price. The Vina Ardanza blew it off the table. No contest! On the advice of the wine director — a really nice [...]

Paired up for Valentine’s Day

ShareJust returned from a Valentine’s Day tasting at Viansa in Sonoma, and I’m happy to report that we learned something.
We paired three wines with chocolate desserts, including chocolate-covered strawberries, kiwi, and banana, plus biscotti and a couple of wine-flavored chocolate sauces. While we were especially fond of Viansa’s “Prindelo” 2006 (a blend of red Italian [...]

The Burgundy of Italy

ShareI just read Neal Rosenthal’s Reflections of a Wine Merchant, in which the importer — who is well-known by his fans to be a master of the geographical intricacies of French Burgundy — confesses that he learned from Barolo to appreciate the influence of the land on wine. So it was Barolo, not Burgundy, that [...]

Yes We Cairanne

ShareA recent trip to France convinced me that, ironically, the best place to drink French wine nowadays is in California. Let me give you an example: a red wine from Cairanne in the Southern Rhône, a 2007 Côte du Rhône Villages from Domaine Catherine le Goeuil, which I bought at Kermit Lynch Wines in [...]

Varietal Smack-Down

ShareLast night the Ladies Tasting Society met to blind-taste five red varietals, that is, wines made primarily from, and named after, one grape variety (for example pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon). It was an exciting and highly competitive tasting, since not only did the ladies score ourselves based on how many aspects of the wine [...]

Up Dry Creek, Even Further

ShareDespite the attacks waged by Wine Dictator magazine on poor Dry Creek Valley, after visiting 10 standout Dry Creek producers a couple weeks ago during their Passport party weekend, I remain thoroughly charmed. Although the chief California editor believes Dry Creek lacks a signature varietal, I think it’s clearly zinfandel–in fact, two zins and a [...]

Up Dry Creek

ShareDry Creek Valley just can’t get no respect. Lately James Laube, the chief California taster for the Wine Dictator Spectator magazine, has been pointing thumbs-down on the entire appellation, a bucolic stretch of vineyards and dairy farms tucked into the northwestern corner of Sonoma county. Dry Creek, he laments, has an identity problem: it lacks [...]

To Decant, or Not to Decant

ShareMy wife likes to tease me by saying that I “woefully under-decant.” I don’t think so. But it is true that I rarely decant. And I admit that a few times I’ve been burned by not decanting — take the example of the Glen Carlou 2005 Grand Classique I wrote about recently. In fact, the [...]

Value of the Month: Glen Carlou’s cab blend

Share“Weird.” That’s what I thought when I first tasted Glen Carlou’s 2005 Grand Classique, a Bordeaux-style red blend from South Africa. It displayed such strong notes of game, doused campfire, and rusty iron, it made me think of an old farm. So I had a glass, vacuum-stopped the bottle, then revisted the next day — [...]

Beautiful Cab, Disgusting Label

ShareI’m still scratching my head over the 2005 Orin Swift “Papillon” we ordered at Elway’s Steak House in Denver — and almost rejected because the bottle is so repulsive! It would have been the first time I’d sent a wine back because the label made my stomach turn.
Good thing we tamped down our revulsion, because [...]