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Corkscrew

Wednesday June 3, 2009 04:00 am EDT
McLaren Vale's graceful, feminine wines are known for soft tannins, intense berry ripeness, and fruity, perfumey aromatics. This one is dark n' meaty with leathery black cherry, fresh green tobacco, cedar and a gorgeous, silky mouthfeel you sense in your toes. I poured the '04 at my wedding so, yea, I like it. Others to look for: '07 RosÈ, '07 Roussanne, and '06 Shiraz. Sw=2. $22. 4.5 stars.... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday May 27, 2009 04:00 am EDT
Stains are the mundane bane of many red wine drinkers. Inevitably, juice dribbles down the shirt, drips on the carpet, or spills on the clean — mostly likely new — white tablecloth. It’s inevitable and a buzz kill. One of my cream-colored couches, which I bought long before wine controlled my life, is now dotted with pinkish splotches, whispering tales of half-drunken accidents that weren’t... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday May 27, 2009 04:00 am EDT
It's not often you find a really, really good Aussie shiraz for two fivers. Paringa can do it year after year since they own their vineyards and therefore can keep costs low. The 2007 effort tastes like an Australian fruit salad: blueberry and blackberry followed up by a smidge of eucalyptus and a wash of soft leather. Dry and medium bodied with good acidity. Outstanding value. Sw=2. $10. 3.5... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday May 20, 2009 04:00 am EDT

One of the best vintages in years in Spain's Campo de Borja and Calatayud wine regions was 2007, so you owe it to yourself to pick up a few of these. At $10, why not? Itís a big, bold, hefty red not lacking in fruit. Savor the lush raspberry, roasted cherry with plush yet leathery tasting tannins and balanced acidity. Perfect with grilled beef. Sw=2. $10. 4 stars.

This wine is featured in this...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday May 20, 2009 04:00 am EDT

This time of year, states north of Florida lead the good life. Just in time for the Memorial Day holiday, Mother Nature ushers in mild weather up there while she shoves torrid 90 degrees/80 percent humidity down my throat. But it signals the official beginning of grilling season and that’s always a good thing. So grab what you got in the fridge and get cooking.

Which might be chicken sausages...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday May 13, 2009 04:00 am EDT

Western Australia's cool climate Margaret River produces bracing and grassy sauvignon blancs and austere yet spicy shiraz. Leeuwin remains a favorite from this region, offering this zesty, herbaceous, green apple and lemon/lime white blend. The addition of semillon gives it a slightly mineral, white pepper finish. Sw=1. $20. 4 stars.

This wine is featured in this week's Corkscrew column -...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday May 13, 2009 04:00 am EDT

Listening to the pre-trip food-poisoning, bug-eating horror stories, I expected to lose weight. But far from the miracle Dexatrim solution I’d envisioned, my recent vacation in China proved to be an incredible culinary adventure.

China is far more modern, clean and sophisticated than I ever imagined, at least in the cities. Its citizens are warmly hospitable and enthusiastically curious about...

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Corkscrew

Thursday April 30, 2009 04:00 am EDT
Seeing double | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday April 29, 2009 04:00 am EDT
Like other wines from Italy's Tuscany, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano consists mostly of the sangiovese grape — Italian law requires at least 70 percent. The wines tend to have a characteristic tartness and dusty cherry that can be divine when matched with food. This one is full-bodied and meaty with dusty cherry, earthy prunes, sweet vanilla oak tannins and refreshing acidity. Sensual on... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday April 22, 2009 04:00 am EDT
The older I get, the more I realize the details of life matter most. Not the car I drive — although my Mini Cooper is so freakin’ cute it’s sinful — or the life- and time-saving gadgets that organize my scattered brain. What matters is appreciating the gushing sweetness of the season’s first strawberry, the soft touch of my cat’s fur or the first sip of a perfect white wine on a warm spring... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday April 22, 2009 04:00 am EDT

Spring presents perfect weather for sauvignon blanc. From the king of New Zealand comes another reliably charming wine ñ capped with a screwtop, no less. Its green grass aromas give way to dry, crisp acidity, ripe Granny Smith apples, zingy lime and plenty of refreshing grapefruit. The 2008 trumps previous vintages. Sw=1. $13. 5 stars.

This wine is featured in this week's Corkscrew column -...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday April 15, 2009 02:47 pm EDT

Cool climate Carneros delivers up some great pinots and chards, and this refined Artesa beauty delivers value too. Soft, elegant tannins and subtle acidity break into bright, luscious red cherry, raspberry, apple pie spice and a long, dusty finish. Surprising price on a pinot of this quality. Sw=2. $22. 4.5 stars.  

This wine is featured in this week's Corkscrew column - Craft Projects for...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday April 15, 2009 04:00 am EDT
I’m a consummate, almost rabid, recycler. Every plastic or paper bag, aluminum and paper scrap gets either reused, recycled or both. It hacks me off to see bottles in the trash, as I envision a massive garbage heap bloated with items rejected by Mother Nature. People have declared with disdain that it costs more to recycle wine bottles than to dispose of them, but generating an avoidable giant... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday April 8, 2009 04:00 am EDT
This wine was formerly labeled Vinetta and they transitioned to Meritage for the '06. Although I've largely ignored Mondavi in years past since the quality wavered, I came across this softie in a blind tasting and was impressed. It's a low tannin cabernet sauvignon blend oozing blackberry, black cherry, sweet vanilla, bittersweet chocolate and earthy tobacco. Complex enough to please the snobs... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday April 8, 2009 04:00 am EDT
Although many foodies deny it, we all eat at chains, occasionally ... in dark times ... perhaps forced when the in-laws visit. I confess an occasional hankering for the divine Saucy Shrimp at Bonefish Grill or the crack-laced lettuce wraps at PF Chang's. I need a drink to drown my guilty pleasures, but one thing lacking at most chains is a palatable wine selection. Most bulk-buying chains craft... | more...

Corkscrew

Thursday March 26, 2009 04:00 pm EDT
Stocking up for nearly every occasion | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday March 25, 2009 04:19 pm EDT
Also labeled Fume Blanc, it denotes the same grape. More elegant and supple than many of its brethren, this sauvignon blanc refreshingly lacks the grassy, saliva-producing tartness of others. I could drink this smooth, melon and soft citrus sipper all day long. And have. Mouth-filling gulps of kiwi fruit, lime and nectarine flow into a long-lasting, mellow finish. Good value. Sw=1. $14. 4 Ω... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday March 25, 2009 04:00 am EDT
Lately, and I have no idea why, all things Italian intrigue me. It’s a passionate country with rich history and a population who adores food. What’s not to like? But their complicated — and archaic — wine laws confound me. Grape varieties number in the thousands. Wine can be labeled by region or grape variety, making it confusing for the uninitiated. Tuscany in particular deserves some love,... | more...

Corkscrew

Tuesday March 17, 2009 04:00 am EDT
The founder of this stalwart, family-operated winery, Louis M. Martini, weathered Prohibition in the 1930's by producing sacramental wine and selling "home winemaking kits." In 2002, facing tons of crushing, well-funded competition in Napa cab land, the family sold to Gallo Family Vineyards. Now with access to more fruit and resources, they've crafted this gorgeous, well-balanced cabernet with... | more...

Corkscrew

Tuesday March 17, 2009 04:00 am EDT
Gina Gallo talks about the success of her family's business | more...

Corkscrew

Tuesday March 10, 2009 04:00 am EDT

Navigating the wine world's vernacular can be tricky. Here's a glossary to help you survive among the latest linguistic landmines.

Malolactic Fermentation. Even Microsoft Word swiggly-lines "malolactic," a scientific word previously confined to a winemaker's lab. Malolactic fermentation, or "Em El" (get it, M-L?) in wine circles, got released to the wild when Americans fell in love with...

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Corkscrew

Tuesday March 10, 2009 04:00 am EDT

Sauvignon blanc is a bit of a chameleon. In a cool region, it's green and grapefruity, but grow it in a warmer climate and blend in a bit of softer, creamy sauvignon musque and you get this wine. Soft, elegant and honeyed, with a green herby follow up. Lovely and lively with a tart finish. Sw=2. $22. 4 stars.

This wine is featured in this week's Corkscrew column - Traversing Wine Geekdom.

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Corkscrew

Wednesday March 4, 2009 04:00 am EST
Bouchaine is the oldest continually operated winery in the Carneros region, an AVA spanning both southern Napa and Sonoma Counties. They make dense, rich pinots and chardonnays. This pinot is bold and assertive. Loaded with sweet black cherry, blackberry jam, fragrant violets and velvety tannins. A smidge of black pepper on the finish. Good price for a wine of this quality but mostly sold at... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday February 25, 2009 12:04 am EST
Supply and demand is a beautiful thing. Guarding the secret of a juicy wine discovery allows you to skip to the store and snatch it up for practically nothing. It worked this way pre-Sideways, when you could practically steal domestic pinot noir. But then people, mesmerized by the movie's romance, flocked to the wine and moved it promptly to the overpriced shelf. But, shhhh — like an... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday February 25, 2009 12:04 am EST
The Cigales region is better known for its rosÈ wines, also made primarily from tempranillo, but the climate and soil are apparently perfectly suited for robust reds like this one. Made from old, gnarly vines, its aromas of sweet, smoky cherry follow on to the tongue that adds in toasted vanilla, subtle tobacco, soft couch leather, mild tannins and, oddly enough, ripe strawberries. S, T . $18.... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday February 18, 2009 12:04 am EST
Mmm... white wine in the winter. Might seem counter-intuitive but a crisp tongue tingle can revive a dull day. Albarino, a grape from a cold, rainy region in northwest Spain called Rias Baixas, delivers the energy. This version is similar to sauvignon blanc in texture, light-hearted with tart lime and grapefruit but toasted almond flavor washes over the palate. Easy on the wallet too. S, T .... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday February 18, 2009 12:04 am EST
I stand accused of being a New World oenophile. Translated from winespeak, that means I primarily write about and drink wines from the younger, less established wine regions around the globe — U.S., Australia, South America and South Africa. It is, of course, highhanded Old World enthusiasts who denigrate my choices. Intrigued as to why, I rummaged the inebriated corners of my brain to... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday February 11, 2009 12:04 am EST
Valentine's Day: Romance, flowers, wine, and best of all ... the world's tastiest, creamiest aphrodisiac: chocolate. I'm not talking about the leftover Halloween stash cached in the PMS/diet crash/sin drawer. I'm talking about the rich, pure, adult flavor of well-made milk, semi or bittersweet chocolate. Adult chocolate, savored nakedly without the distraction of cookies or cakes, deserves a... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday February 11, 2009 12:04 am EST
From an Australian and American family partnership emerges a 5-year-old tawny port infused with melted chocolate. This drink will suffice for both dessert and wine. Tastes like a liquid tootsie roll laced with dark roasted coffee and caramel. Delicious, even for non-port-lovers. SW, HS, S. $35 (750-ml). 4 1/2 stars (chicks really dig this wine). Buy online or locate the wines here. This wine is... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday February 4, 2009 12:04 am EST
Monterey is a cooler climate area south of San Francisco, where grapes enjoy basking in the chilly air of Monterey Bay. It's a perfect region for growing pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, producing austere, citrus and tropical fruit flavors like in this La Crema example. Creamy texture, grilled pineapple and ripe brie round out the taste orgasm. SW, HS, S. $24. Find where to buy it here. This... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday February 4, 2009 12:04 am EST
Wine bars are sprouting up like fungi after a rain. It's as if everyone read the same glowing press release declaring an onslaught of wine consumers and feverishly birthed a business plan. Each bar owner seems to have an original idea of what the masses need in order to get more comfortable in their grape skins: cutesy, amateurish names for wine types and tastes of grossly overpriced juice spit... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday January 28, 2009 12:04 am EST
An esoteric grape from a prolific producer, alicante bouchet is a throwback to Prohibition days when people clandestinely crafted wine in their bathtubs. One of the only grapes that yields actual red juice, the wine can be rich and lush when made right. This one, made from 85-year-old vines, is light-hearted but has a serious side: Blackberry, black cherry, cinnamon and vanilla with a slap of... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday January 28, 2009 12:04 am EST
Perhaps it's my tiny universe, but wine seems to be crossing a crucial threshold. Parties whose alcoholic lineup formerly included only beer (in kegs) and vile vodka from Idaho now mingle with white and reds. This highly anecdotal evidence is backed up with stats from the Wine Institute, a trade group based in California that reports American wine consumption rose 3.8 percent from 2006 to 2007.... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday January 21, 2009 12:04 am EST
Wine websites suck up hours of time. Joyfully traipsing from one click to the next, each page ticks off another five or 10 minutes. Next thing I know, it's midnight and the entire night is wasted. Well, not wasted, per se, since I did absorb tidbits along the way, but my patient pile of laundry in the closet remains undisturbed. My favorite wine sites encourage interaction — with a database or... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday January 14, 2009 12:04 am EST

To oak, or not to oak: that is the question
Whether 'tis nobler to let wine languish in the belly of a barrel or soak in stainless steel.
The slings and arrows of the outrageous cost of oak
And take arms against a vast forest of trees. And by opposing end them? To let the grape run free;
No more, say winemakers; and by boredom we say nay
The cream and butter of chardonnay oft shocks
Their...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday January 7, 2009 12:04 am EST
There's a method to the madness. | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday December 31, 2008 12:04 am EST
At this moment, I'm struggling with a massive hangover, tasked with writing about my current nemesis — alcohol. My stomach gurgles, my head flounders, and I was 2 pounds lighter this morning due to dehydration. And it's a Monday. In one of those sleepless "what was I thinking" moments at 4 a.m., I rolled over, chugged a tall glass of water waiting next to the bed and attempted to... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday December 24, 2008 12:04 am EST
Taste the passion | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday December 17, 2008 12:04 am EST
It doesn't have to be Champagne to be good | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday December 10, 2008 12:04 am EST

Most wine geeks are also foodies (a term I loathe, but it's pervasive) who own a decent corkscrew, a set of sharp knives and upgraded-from-college pots. But we can never have enough gadgets or tasty ingredients to fan our foodie fire. Satisfy insatiable yearnings with these gift ideas:

Food Gifts

Bacon of the Month Club
Not vegetarian-friendly, this club sends a new shipment of artisanal...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday December 3, 2008 12:04 am EST

Holiday parties present a plethora of "impress people" possibilities. Wine knowledge delivered with confidence can bring out your "inner coolness," as well as shut down that verbose braggadocio trying to abscond with your date. Armed with a wine label, take over the scene with these urbane tidbits, both useful and trivial.

Vintage
Most wines carry a vintage date, meaning at least 95 percent of...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday November 19, 2008 12:04 am EST

As a kid, Thanksgiving was always – and remains – my favorite holiday. It's the pinnacle of gluttony, a gustatory bacchanal, an excuse to eat 20 pounds of poultry and not gain a perceived pound. And it's the perfect pretext for opening numerous bottles of wine without being labeled the family drunk.

Consider the "walking around wine" technique. Cooking duties can be tolerable if blended with a...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday November 12, 2008 12:04 am EST
Spain, the oft-ridiculed kid in the wine schoolyard, is experiencing a Cinderella moment. For centuries, embarrassingly outdated winemaking processes and crappy quality reflected its lackadaisical attention to detail – with the strong exception of cash-cow areas Rioja and Ribera del Duero – and thus made "quality Spanish wine" an oxymoron. But about 10 years ago, after watching the boom in... | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday November 5, 2008 12:04 am EST

Dear California winemaker,

I've been kinda broke lately, and since (insert name here) has won the White House, who knows what's going to happen with my bank account? I wondered if you might be able to produce some tasty wine I can afford? Most in my price range ($10 and under) are mega-fruit bombs with no depth, or whites that wrestle in a tub of Jell-O vanilla pudding. What's a thirsty girl...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday October 29, 2008 12:04 am EDT
What's that warm feeling worth to you? | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday October 15, 2008 12:04 am EDT
Learning a thing or two about making brew | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday October 8, 2008 12:04 am EDT
Soldiering on through wine-tasting fatigue | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday October 1, 2008 12:04 am EDT
Can a glass a day keep you fit as a fiddle? | more...

Corkscrew

Wednesday September 24, 2008 12:04 am EDT

I receive plenty of spirited mail deriding my use of "foul" or "salty" language, mostly from conservatives who'd like to control the world. Naturally, it stings when an e-mailed Corkscrew column bounces back from business addresses at staid corporations, but it also bemuses me.

When I lived in Europe, censorship rarely reared itself, and the words "shit" and "fuck" (actually, "merde" and...

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Corkscrew

Wednesday September 17, 2008 12:04 am EDT
Sauvignon blanc takes a leading role | more...