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Corkscrew - Sweeten your halloween

Pairing wine with chocolates can be a real treat

"Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands — and then eat just one of the pieces." — Judith Viorst

Although I'm supposed to think about ghosts and goblins during Halloween, I always think about the teeth-rotting candy I collected door-to-door until my parents forced me to stop. I pouted fiercely. Granted, I was 15, but I'm short, so I thought I could avoid discovery.

As an adult, I boycott Halloween, opting for swilling wine with friends rather than facilitating the fattening of today's youth. My fun comes in pairing up different kinds of chocolate — gourmet, of course — with various wines. This turns Halloween into an adult holiday, and I can wallow in sugar highs like the little ones.

The Aztecs of Central America discovered the chocolate delicacy as we know it by mixing their native cocoa bean with water to create a highly coveted beverage. Today, these intensely bitter beans are fermented, roasted and ground up to produce what we call cocoa. Add some fatty components and sugar, and you have chocolate.

The types of chocolate vary according to the percentage of cocoa solids they contain. White chocolate contains no cocoa solids, so many countries don't consider it chocolate at all. Frankly, I don't either. The waxy taste never seemed worth the calories. Milk chocolate, defined by 10 percent to 20 percent cocoa solids and more than 12 percent milk solids, is the sweetest of them, followed by semisweet, which has 40 percent to 62 percent cocoa. Bittersweet can have anywhere from 60 percent to 90 percent and can really make your mouth dry out at those higher levels. I lean toward the bittersweet end of the spectrum. Whether that's a reflection of my temperament, I don't know, but I love the dark stuff.

But to pair or not to pair chocolate with wine? I've determined, over the years, that red wine matches better with chocolate, but I hadn't figured in whites much. In a recent experiment, we tried Scharffen Berger milk, Scharffen Berger 62 percent semisweet, Ghirardelli citrus-flavored 60 percent dark, Scharffen Berger 70 percent and Scharffen Berger 82 percent bittersweet chocolates with a variety of wines, from riesling to zinfandel.

Surprisingly, the milk and the orange semisweet enhanced the fruitiness of the dry riesling, completely changing the flavor profile of the wine. A lively, ripe yet dry merlot from Paso Robles also drank well with the same chocolates. Oregon pinot noir loved the bittersweet treats, as did the California cabernet sauvignon. But the best wine for all of these chocolates? A white dessert moscato from St. Supery. Bar none. The sugars matched each other perfectly, allowing all the flavors to show their strength.

The wines that didn't fly were disappointing, since they are some of my favorites: syrah, zinfandel, petite sirah and brut sparkling wine. But keep in mind that food and wine pairings often depend on the actual wine itself and not on a varietal. Use this as a guide for your Halloween activities and have fun.

Recommended Wines

•Wild Horse 2004 Merlot Paso Robles (California) SW = 2. $20. Roses on the nose, with a perfumey black cherry, chocolate flavor. Goes down way too easily. ****

•2003 Duo Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Maipo Valley (Chile) SW = 1. $14. Deep, dark roasted cherries, with a musty, muddy smell. Also has a bit of the green pepper essence, which prevents me from loving it. ** 1/2

Sweetness (SW) rating is out of 10, 10 being pure sugar. * (star) rating is out of 5, 5 being wine nirvana.




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Article

Wednesday September 2, 2009 04:00 am EDT

This refreshing rosé blend made from grenache, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and dolcetto (an Italian grape) smells like sweet, perfumey fruit. On the tongue, itís soft íní elegant, with cranberry, sweet cherry, ripe strawberries and fresh, lively acidity. Quite perfect, really. Perfect for any occasion, even happy ones. Sw= 2. $17 retail. 5 stars.  

Available by the bottle at 4th and Swift in...

| more...
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  string(3878) "This week, life threw a massive curve ball at Creative Loafing Media. Taken over by the NYC-based hedge fund to whom we owed a ton of money, each employee processed the news in a different way: sadness, optimism, relief. Me? I got shit-faced. On great wine. I figured if my family’s legacy is going down, I should consume voluminous amounts of quality juice. Fast. However, the questioned remained … which ones? So many choices, so little time to race and get to the promised land.

Obviously, I needed something high in alcohol. These sorts of wines emerge from hot areas, where the grapes grow fat with sugar and the resulting wine has more punch (sugar converts to alcohol in fermentation). Napa, Sonoma, Barossa Valley (Australia), Washington State (yes, there are areas where it isn’t miserably rainy), and a host of other delicious choices for the perfect Zen state of non-thought.
  
For this life-changing bender, I choice Barossa. And rosé. Turkey Flat Rosé, that is. I found it for $34 by the bottle at Mise en Place, one of my favorite restaurants in Tampa Bay, poured by one of my favorite sommeliers, Dave Madera. You see, it helps to be surrounded by your faves when the universe launches piles of steamy dogpoop at you.
  
No, I didn’t reach for the older vintages in my cellar (aged French Burgundies, Bordeaux, Italian reds), since I wasn’t celebrating, simply trying to ease the last 11 months out of my memory. I wanted comfy, casual friends around me in my time of need, not an austere, thought-provoking conversation. Rosé fit my bill — and Turkey Flat doesn’t send me to evil hangover land.

After Dave twisted the screwcap, the soft, fuzzy sensation descended within moments. Sipping wine is like shimmying into a warm, soft sleeping bag on a chilly, open sky night — the sweet buzz warms you from the feet up. Halfway down the glass, the shoulders relax, the vision gets a bit blurred, and I transition to an intensely mellow, floaty, smiley attitude. My belly warms to the occasion.

I’m at peace.  

An Interesting Tidbit … 

I’m announcing the beta launch of my new personal website, tayloreason.com. Within its wine-soaked webpages, you’ll find archives of all my columns, wine reviews from the last three years (any older than that you probably won’t find on the shelves, so why tease?), random trivia, local wine event listings, my Ramblings blog, and plenty more wine stuff like my consulting business. Coming soon: downloadable-to-cell-phone wine reviews so you can take them to the store with you, vinopedia (wine FAQ), and wine travel suggestions. 

Hell, and anything else I dream up — it’s a process. Check it out! The first five people to register for tayloreason.com win two glasses of personally selected wines on me at their favorite wine bar or restaurant. 

Recommended Wines 

Turkey Flat 2007 Rosé Barossa Valley (Australia) This refreshing rosé blend made from grenache, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and dolcetto (an Italian grape) smells like sweet, perfumey fruit. On the tongue, it’s soft ’n’ elegant, with cranberry, sweet cherry, ripe strawberries and fresh, lively acidity. Quite perfect, really. Perfect for any occasion, even happy ones. Sw= 2. $17 retail. 5 stars. 
 
Tormaresca 2007 Neprica Puglia (Italy) A tasty, unique wine made by the esteemed Antinori family in Puglia, the heel of the boot. It’s a blend of unfamiliar grapes negroamaro and primitivo (a cousin of zinfandel) with a strong dose of cabernet sauvignon. One word describes it: robust. Dark fruit like blackberries and plum rub up against earthy leather and bittersweet chocolate. Relatively supple tannins and bright acidity make it a great value food wine. Sw=1. $9. 3.5 stars. 

Sweetness (Sw) rating: 1-10. Star rating: 1-5. Reach Taylor at taylor.eason at cln.com, on Twitter @tayloreason, and on Facebook."
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Obviously, I needed something high in alcohol. These sorts of wines emerge from hot areas, where the grapes grow fat with sugar and the resulting wine has more punch (sugar converts to alcohol in fermentation). Napa, Sonoma, Barossa Valley (Australia), Washington State (yes, there are areas where it isn’t miserably rainy), and a host of other delicious choices for the perfect Zen state of non-thought.
  
For this life-changing bender, I choice Barossa. And rosé. Turkey Flat Rosé, that is. I found it for $34 by the bottle at Mise en Place, one of my favorite restaurants in Tampa Bay, poured by one of my favorite sommeliers, Dave Madera. You see, it helps to be surrounded by your faves when the universe launches piles of steamy dogpoop at you.
  
No, I didn’t reach for the older vintages in my cellar (aged French Burgundies, Bordeaux, Italian reds), since I wasn’t celebrating, simply trying to ease the last 11 months out of my memory. I wanted comfy, casual friends around me in my time of need, not an austere, thought-provoking conversation. Rosé fit my bill — and Turkey Flat doesn’t send me to evil hangover land.

After Dave twisted the screwcap, the soft, fuzzy sensation descended within moments. Sipping wine is like shimmying into a warm, soft sleeping bag on a chilly, open sky night — the sweet buzz warms you from the feet up. Halfway down the glass, the shoulders relax, the vision gets a bit blurred, and I transition to an intensely mellow, floaty, smiley attitude. My belly warms to the occasion.

I’m at peace.  

__An Interesting Tidbit … __

I’m announcing the beta launch of my new personal website, tayloreason.com. Within its wine-soaked webpages, you’ll find archives of all my columns, wine reviews from the last three years (any older than that you probably won’t find on the shelves, so why tease?), random trivia, local wine event listings, my Ramblings blog, and plenty more wine stuff like my consulting business. Coming soon: downloadable-to-cell-phone wine reviews so you can take them to the store with you, vinopedia (wine FAQ), and wine travel suggestions. 

Hell, and anything else I dream up — it’s a process. Check it out! The first five people to register for tayloreason.com win two glasses of personally selected wines on me at their favorite wine bar or restaurant. 

__Recommended Wines __

__Turkey Flat 2007 Rosé Barossa Valley__ (Australia) This refreshing rosé blend made from grenache, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and dolcetto (an Italian grape) smells like sweet, perfumey fruit. On the tongue, it’s soft ’n’ elegant, with cranberry, sweet cherry, ripe strawberries and fresh, lively acidity. Quite perfect, really. Perfect for any occasion, even happy ones. Sw= 2. $17 retail. ''__5 stars__''. 
 
__Tormaresca 2007 Neprica Puglia__ (Italy) A tasty, unique wine made by the esteemed Antinori family in Puglia, the heel of the boot. It’s a blend of unfamiliar grapes negroamaro and primitivo (a cousin of zinfandel) with a strong dose of cabernet sauvignon. One word describes it: robust. Dark fruit like blackberries and plum rub up against earthy leather and bittersweet chocolate. Relatively supple tannins and bright acidity make it a great value food wine. Sw=1. $9. ''__3.5 stars__''. 

''Sweetness (Sw) rating: 1-10. Star rating: 1-5. Reach Taylor at taylor.eason@cln.com, on Twitter @tayloreason, and on Facebook.''"
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Obviously, I needed something high in alcohol. These sorts of wines emerge from hot areas, where the grapes grow fat with sugar and the resulting wine has more punch (sugar converts to alcohol in fermentation). Napa, Sonoma, Barossa Valley (Australia), Washington State (yes, there are areas where it isn’t miserably rainy), and a host of other delicious choices for the perfect Zen state of non-thought.
  
For this life-changing bender, I choice Barossa. And rosé. Turkey Flat Rosé, that is. I found it for $34 by the bottle at Mise en Place, one of my favorite restaurants in Tampa Bay, poured by one of my favorite sommeliers, Dave Madera. You see, it helps to be surrounded by your faves when the universe launches piles of steamy dogpoop at you.
  
No, I didn’t reach for the older vintages in my cellar (aged French Burgundies, Bordeaux, Italian reds), since I wasn’t celebrating, simply trying to ease the last 11 months out of my memory. I wanted comfy, casual friends around me in my time of need, not an austere, thought-provoking conversation. Rosé fit my bill — and Turkey Flat doesn’t send me to evil hangover land.

After Dave twisted the screwcap, the soft, fuzzy sensation descended within moments. Sipping wine is like shimmying into a warm, soft sleeping bag on a chilly, open sky night — the sweet buzz warms you from the feet up. Halfway down the glass, the shoulders relax, the vision gets a bit blurred, and I transition to an intensely mellow, floaty, smiley attitude. My belly warms to the occasion.

I’m at peace.  

An Interesting Tidbit … 

I’m announcing the beta launch of my new personal website, tayloreason.com. Within its wine-soaked webpages, you’ll find archives of all my columns, wine reviews from the last three years (any older than that you probably won’t find on the shelves, so why tease?), random trivia, local wine event listings, my Ramblings blog, and plenty more wine stuff like my consulting business. Coming soon: downloadable-to-cell-phone wine reviews so you can take them to the store with you, vinopedia (wine FAQ), and wine travel suggestions. 

Hell, and anything else I dream up — it’s a process. Check it out! The first five people to register for tayloreason.com win two glasses of personally selected wines on me at their favorite wine bar or restaurant. 

Recommended Wines 

Turkey Flat 2007 Rosé Barossa Valley (Australia) This refreshing rosé blend made from grenache, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and dolcetto (an Italian grape) smells like sweet, perfumey fruit. On the tongue, it’s soft ’n’ elegant, with cranberry, sweet cherry, ripe strawberries and fresh, lively acidity. Quite perfect, really. Perfect for any occasion, even happy ones. Sw= 2. $17 retail. 5 stars. 
 
Tormaresca 2007 Neprica Puglia (Italy) A tasty, unique wine made by the esteemed Antinori family in Puglia, the heel of the boot. It’s a blend of unfamiliar grapes negroamaro and primitivo (a cousin of zinfandel) with a strong dose of cabernet sauvignon. One word describes it: robust. Dark fruit like blackberries and plum rub up against earthy leather and bittersweet chocolate. Relatively supple tannins and bright acidity make it a great value food wine. Sw=1. $9. 3.5 stars. 

Sweetness (Sw) rating: 1-10. Star rating: 1-5. Reach Taylor at taylor.eason at cln.com, on Twitter @tayloreason, and on Facebook.             13030460 1283053                          Corkscrew - Get your drunk on "
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Wednesday September 2, 2009 04:00 am EDT
What to do during life transitions | more...
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Wednesday August 26, 2009 04:00 am EDT
My first Wineries that Wow entry is Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery, a family-run business that has finally turned a corner. I haven't been impressed with them in years, until I tried this fantastic pinot noir from their estate vineyards. Elegant with lush, dark cherry earthiness, excellent tart acidity and ripe plum with a flirty, sweet raspberry and strawberry finish. Luscious and worth the... | more...
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  string(3905) "When I was a kid, I compared myself to everyone. One teacher called me “other-directed” and it wasn’t until my twenties that I realized that wasn’t a glowing compliment. I carried a bit of this into adulthood, and perhaps it shows up in my voyeuristic sneak peeks at what wine drinkers are sipping. As a wine writer, it’s good to have my sights on the scene, so I ask bars, restaurants and wine retail shops from time to time to reveal what you’re drinking. 

It appears that you guys, after an anything-but-chardonnay run, are migrating back to this classic white. Rathbun’s in Atlanta sees plenty of action in its Edna Valley Chardonnay. But co-owner Cliff Bramble reports an educated price variance in what people are choosing — in the under-$40-per-bottle category, people order a “chardonnay,” whereas in the upper price tier, customers request selections from specific wine regions — aka AVAs — like Carneros or Russian River. Same goes for other varietals like pinot noir or malbec, as in the delicious Terrazas Malbec from Argentina they pour by the glass. 

Vinocity Wine Bar in Atlanta constantly scours for quality, underpriced wines. Owner Ian Smith’s best sellers are Poppy Pinot Noir, Plungerhead Zin, Bloom Gewurztraminer and one of my favorites, Quivira Sauvignon Blanc. Looking pretty good there. 


In Tampa, Fla., Bern’s Fine Wines and Spirits and Mise en Place Restaurant echo the chardonnay boon but also report an upsurge in rosé wine love. Kevin Pelley from Bern’s Fine Wines hopes, “Maybe Tampa is only 3 years behind other markets, not five.” Couldn’t come soon enough for this girl — regular readers of this column know my passion for the pink. 

The trends bode well, folks — keep drinking. 


Wineries That Wow

I’d like to introduce a new, semi-regular addition to my weekly Corkscrew column: Wineries That Wow. In this short segment, I’ll take an impressive/interesting/ground-breaking/cool winery and give you the lowdown on why you should like them too. This episode features Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery, operated by the Cuneo Family for over 100 years in Sonoma County, Calif. I wanted to give these guys some props since I think they’ve finally turned a corner. For as long as I’ve been a wine writer (8 years) their wine has wallowed in mediocrity, but a couple recent sips of chardonnay and a pinot noir turned my frown upside down. 

The Cuneos recently completed construction of a new winery and maybe that has made the difference for Mark Lyon, Sebastiani’s winemaker for 30 years. He works with grapes sourced from all over Sonoma — one locale is the impressive and expansive Dutton Ranch — as well as 250 estate-owned acres in the cool-climate Carneros region where pinot noir and chardonnay love life. It’s from that delicious fruit that Mark crafts the eye-opening pinot I tasted. Hopefully all their wines will continue to improve, especially after a recent cash infusion from new owners, Foley Family Wines. Two families making wine together — I like the sound of that.  

Recommended Wines

Sebastiani 2007 Pinot Noir Carneros (California) Elegant with lush, dark cherry earthiness, excellent tart acidity and ripe plum with a flirty, sweet raspberry and strawberry finish. Luscious and worth the price. Sw=1. $28. 4.5 stars. 

Sebastiani 2006 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast (California) Creamy and buttery but no overwhelming oak found in inexpensive chardonnays. Instead, tangerine, honeyed almonds, earthy vanilla and apricot rule the sip. Good value. Sw=2. $15. 4 stars. 

Sebastiani 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay Russian River (California) I was initially repelled by the funky opening whiff. But once it warmed in my glass, the true fruity and buttery notes emerged. Less crisp than most unoaked chards, it’s slightly sweet like a lemon bar baked with golden delicious apples. Sw=3. $17. 3 stars."
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It appears that you guys, after an anything-but-chardonnay run, are migrating back to this classic white. Rathbun’s in Atlanta sees plenty of action in its Edna Valley Chardonnay. But co-owner Cliff Bramble reports an educated price variance in what people are choosing — in the under-$40-per-bottle category, people order a “chardonnay,” whereas in the upper price tier, customers request selections from specific wine regions — aka AVAs — like Carneros or Russian River. Same goes for other varietals like pinot noir or malbec, as in the delicious Terrazas Malbec from Argentina they pour by the glass. 

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In Tampa, Fla., Bern’s Fine Wines and Spirits and Mise en Place Restaurant echo the chardonnay boon but also report an upsurge in rosé wine love. Kevin Pelley from Bern’s Fine Wines hopes, “Maybe Tampa is only 3 years behind other markets, not five.” Couldn’t come soon enough for this girl — regular readers of this column know my passion for the pink. 

The trends bode well, folks — keep drinking. 


__Wineries That Wow__

I’d like to introduce a new, semi-regular addition to my weekly ''Corkscrew'' column: Wineries That Wow. In this short segment, I’ll take an impressive/interesting/ground-breaking/cool winery and give you the lowdown on why you should like them too. This episode features Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery, operated by the Cuneo Family for over 100 years in Sonoma County, Calif. I wanted to give these guys some props since I think they’ve finally turned a corner. For as long as I’ve been a wine writer (8 years) their wine has wallowed in mediocrity, but a couple recent sips of chardonnay and a pinot noir turned my frown upside down. 

The Cuneos recently completed construction of a new winery and maybe that has made the difference for Mark Lyon, Sebastiani’s winemaker for 30 years. He works with grapes sourced from all over Sonoma — one locale is the impressive and expansive Dutton Ranch — as well as 250 estate-owned acres in the cool-climate Carneros region where pinot noir and chardonnay love life. It’s from that delicious fruit that Mark crafts the eye-opening pinot I tasted. Hopefully all their wines will continue to improve, especially after a recent cash infusion from new owners, Foley Family Wines. Two families making wine together — I like the sound of that.  

__Recommended Wines__

__Sebastiani 2007 Pinot Noir Carneros__ (California) Elegant with lush, dark cherry earthiness, excellent tart acidity and ripe plum with a flirty, sweet raspberry and strawberry finish. Luscious and worth the price. Sw=1. $28. ''__4.5 stars__''. 

__Sebastiani 2006 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast__ (California) Creamy and buttery but no overwhelming oak found in inexpensive chardonnays. Instead, tangerine, honeyed almonds, earthy vanilla and apricot rule the sip. Good value. Sw=2. $15. __''4 stars''__. 

__Sebastiani 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay Russian River__ (California) I was initially repelled by the funky opening whiff. But once it warmed in my glass, the true fruity and buttery notes emerged. Less crisp than most unoaked chards, it’s slightly sweet like a lemon bar baked with golden delicious apples. Sw=3. $17. ''__3 stars__''."
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It appears that you guys, after an anything-but-chardonnay run, are migrating back to this classic white. Rathbun’s in Atlanta sees plenty of action in its Edna Valley Chardonnay. But co-owner Cliff Bramble reports an educated price variance in what people are choosing — in the under-$40-per-bottle category, people order a “chardonnay,” whereas in the upper price tier, customers request selections from specific wine regions — aka AVAs — like Carneros or Russian River. Same goes for other varietals like pinot noir or malbec, as in the delicious Terrazas Malbec from Argentina they pour by the glass. 

Vinocity Wine Bar in Atlanta constantly scours for quality, underpriced wines. Owner Ian Smith’s best sellers are Poppy Pinot Noir, Plungerhead Zin, Bloom Gewurztraminer and one of my favorites, Quivira Sauvignon Blanc. Looking pretty good there. 


In Tampa, Fla., Bern’s Fine Wines and Spirits and Mise en Place Restaurant echo the chardonnay boon but also report an upsurge in rosé wine love. Kevin Pelley from Bern’s Fine Wines hopes, “Maybe Tampa is only 3 years behind other markets, not five.” Couldn’t come soon enough for this girl — regular readers of this column know my passion for the pink. 

The trends bode well, folks — keep drinking. 


Wineries That Wow

I’d like to introduce a new, semi-regular addition to my weekly Corkscrew column: Wineries That Wow. In this short segment, I’ll take an impressive/interesting/ground-breaking/cool winery and give you the lowdown on why you should like them too. This episode features Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery, operated by the Cuneo Family for over 100 years in Sonoma County, Calif. I wanted to give these guys some props since I think they’ve finally turned a corner. For as long as I’ve been a wine writer (8 years) their wine has wallowed in mediocrity, but a couple recent sips of chardonnay and a pinot noir turned my frown upside down. 

The Cuneos recently completed construction of a new winery and maybe that has made the difference for Mark Lyon, Sebastiani’s winemaker for 30 years. He works with grapes sourced from all over Sonoma — one locale is the impressive and expansive Dutton Ranch — as well as 250 estate-owned acres in the cool-climate Carneros region where pinot noir and chardonnay love life. It’s from that delicious fruit that Mark crafts the eye-opening pinot I tasted. Hopefully all their wines will continue to improve, especially after a recent cash infusion from new owners, Foley Family Wines. Two families making wine together — I like the sound of that.  

Recommended Wines

Sebastiani 2007 Pinot Noir Carneros (California) Elegant with lush, dark cherry earthiness, excellent tart acidity and ripe plum with a flirty, sweet raspberry and strawberry finish. Luscious and worth the price. Sw=1. $28. 4.5 stars. 

Sebastiani 2006 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast (California) Creamy and buttery but no overwhelming oak found in inexpensive chardonnays. Instead, tangerine, honeyed almonds, earthy vanilla and apricot rule the sip. Good value. Sw=2. $15. 4 stars. 

Sebastiani 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay Russian River (California) I was initially repelled by the funky opening whiff. But once it warmed in my glass, the true fruity and buttery notes emerged. Less crisp than most unoaked chards, it’s slightly sweet like a lemon bar baked with golden delicious apples. Sw=3. $17. 3 stars.             13030376 1282765                          Corkscrew - Peeking behind the curtains "
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Wednesday August 19, 2009 04:00 am EDT
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Thursday August 13, 2009 09:40 pm EDT
image-1I walk in the door with sweat still dewing my face, having just transitioned from goosebumpy temps at the office, walking through roasting heat, then into a baking sauna doubling as my dark-blue vehicle. In 95 degrees, the air conditioning has little hope of keeping up and it groans under the stress. I refocus on positive thoughts, the contents of my fridge: ribeye steaks, homemade... | more...
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