Stellenbosch Vineyards: South Africa Comes Out to Play

South Africa is one of those wine regions that a lot of people have heard about, but few people–too few, anyway—have taken the time to discover and explore its wines.  I’m a little bit in that category; I’ve tasted some of its stuff from time to time, particularly Chenin Blanc, which they sometimes call “Steen” locally, and of course Pinotage, a cross of Cinsault and Pinot Noir that was literally invented in South Africa in 1925.  But I've never really spent much time thinking about South Africa except at an occasional tasting.  And for a lot of people, SA is really just off their wine map, and that's unfortunate. Wine has been produced in South Africa probably since the mid-1600s,…

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Cava…is Cool

Sparkling wine is viewed all too often as a luxury, a “wedding wine,” or something to be saved for a special occasion.  What’s wrong with Friday night?  Or after work on Tuesday?  After all, sparkling wine, including Champagne, is just "still" wine, (literally) that has just been fermented twice. And while my friends in the wine business tell me that New Yorkers have really jumped into sparkling wines and Champagnes and drink them all the time these days, even if that's true I don't think it's the case for the rest of the country.  There's a mystique about these wines that's both good and bad for the people who work hard to produce them from around the world—Champagne and Crémant…

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Last Wine of Summer: Banfi Tuscany Centine Rose 2012

There's a chill in the air and it's probably time for many if not most people to break out some reds. But maybe one last bottle of Rose will go down nicely, sitting on the deck after a football game this weekend.  Just got a bottle of Banfi's Centine (Chen-teen-eh) Rose 2012 and snapped open the (yes) screwcap last night. This pale salmon-colored wine delivers strawberry and melon flavors, a nice balance and a long finish, and I don't really find that real hint of sweetness that others do, which suits me just fine. Maybe there's a skosh. A great fall wine with appetizers and wings before the game, too. For some food and Rose wine pairing ideas, go here…

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A Trip to Chile…in Manhattan

At a lunch last week hosted by Cooking by the Book , I was reminded why I like Chilean wine so much.  Or at least I was reminded that I like Chilean wine so much.  And I was also reminded that wine and food "matching"  (as wine writer Randy Caparoso likes to say instead of "pairing") really can make a fun meal even more fun, interesting and delicious with just a little thought and effort. Our host at at "Cooking's" loft space in Lower Manhattan was  Ruth Van Waerebeek, born in the medieval city of Ghent and originally known for her cookbook "Everybody Eats Well in Belgium."  Maybe, but Ruth has made her reputation with wine people in another place, 73oo miles to the…

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Wine of the Week: Banfi Chianti Superiore DOCG 2012

This Chianti, mostly from the Sangiovese grape, is a classified wine, and the DOCG means Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.  That ought to mean something but it doesn't mean all that much. Still, this is a very nice bottle of wine, especially for 11 bucks, which is about what you'll pay of for it in most wine stores, though you can find it in places for as little as $9.  A great value either way. A nice ruby red color, this is a medium-bodied, easy-drinking wine that won't bowl you over.  But it's got some tannin for structure, a little leathery, and fresh black cherry and plum flavors. What I noticed above everything else is that it's nicely acidic…

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Wine of the Week: Covey Run Gewürztraminer 2010

This off-dry, which naturally means slightly sweet, white wine is the perfect pairing for spicy food and Asian food. And of course spicy Asian food (not all of it is).  It goes great with Indian and Thai food, and lo and behold, they're Asian. It's pronounced "guh-vertz-trah-meen-er" by the way. It's got enough acidity to balance the sweetness, despite being known as a grape that lacks acidity.  It's got honey, melon, and pear flavors and a really lovely floral nose.  Two glasses made an OK meal at P.F. Chang into an absolutely wonderful lunch.  Need I say more? Covey Run is in Washington State's Columbia Valley, but there are many excellent wines (Trimbach, and Hugel & Fils to name two)…

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Rose Wine Food Pairing

Rosé wine—mostly dry wine, that is—pairs great with a wide range of food. In fact it’s one of the best pairing wines there is.  Rosé wine is a “bridge” between red and white wine, and don’t think “plonk” or White Zinfandel; Rosés can be sophisticated and fairly expensive, frankly, such as Domaines Ott, which Sherry-Lehmann in Manhattan calls the “gold standard” and sells for about forty bucks a bottle.  Wines with just a hint of sweetness can be great pairs, because let’s face it, a lot of the food we eat has a little sweetness to it: BBQ sauce on ribs, tomato sauce on pasta, and glaze for Asian foods.  Rosés are great for all these. BTW, Rosés from Spain…

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Carlos Moro: Wine Ambassador of the Duero

Things are pretty tough right now in Spain.  Twenty-five percent unemployment. “Indignados” pitching tents in public parks like the “Occupy” movement did in the US a year ago, and recent massive public demonstrations in Madrid, Barcelona and other large cities.  Looming bank bailouts and public sector spending cuts. Happily, things are a whole lot better on the Spanish winemaking front. Spain, in fact, in just the last 20 years or so has really upped its wine game, and if I’m not mistaken—and I don’t think I am—Spain has more land under vine than any other country on the planet.  And much of it is at relatively high altitudes, so the cool night air gives the grapes a respite from the…

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