Yes, New Year’s day is more than a week behind us, and in any event, the dawn of 2021 wasn’t a terribly celebratory event. But I have a bottle of something very special in front of me, and I have to announce it as my wine of the week, month, and year, all: Champagne J.M Labruyère Prologue Extra Brut. This is, without exception, one of the five finest Champagnes I’ve ever tasted. The winemaker Edouard Labruyère is heir to a fine wine empire, and this label is 100% Grand Cru and 100% from vines of Verzenay, a notable village in the Grande Montagne de Reims region. In fact, the fruit from these vines previously went into Dom Perignon wines. This…

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My 2020 wines of the year—a white, a red, a Champagne, and a rosé—are a slam dunk. Without further ado, here they are: WHITE: Gundlach-Bundschu Estate Vineyard Gewurztraminer 2019: This hits it out of the ballpark. Aromatic, balanced, crisp and rich, it’s dry unlike many Gewurztraminers. It’s a great food wine in the tradition of dry Riesling. But with spicy and Asian food you'll want to try a sweeter style. RED: Lingua Franca Avni Pinot Noir 2016. This surprisingly affordable medium-body Pinot is a standout, with raspberry and black cherry flavors, crisp with a slightly tart and spicy finish. From the domestic kingdom of Pinot Noir, Oregon’s Willamette Valley. If it’s sold out the 2017 is also outstanding. SPARKLING: Champagne…

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Thanksgiving will soon be here, and you're probably starting to put together your menu. And as it looks like most of the country will be in what amounts to another Covid19 lockdown, wine and family sound like just the ticket.  So, I politely suggest that you get on it!  No matter what you're having, you'll want some great wines to go with the big meal. You might want to think about ditching the "standard" stuff -- Cabernet Sauvignon and oaky Chardonnay -- to expand your horizons. Your guests will love it! Vouvray/Chenin Blanc:  These are among the best wines in the world for Turkey. Vouvrays are Chenin Blanc-based wines from France, and come in a variety of styles, from dry…

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Wine Flair's Wine of the Week,  an Australian number called Beyond Broke Road Pinot Gris 2018, is probably one that creates a little confusion.  That's because Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape, genetically. So why the name difference? And what's the difference between the wines? Well, and I'm going to generalize here: the main differences are where the grapes are grown--typically Italy and France but also in USA and obviously, Australia among other places--when they're harvested, and the styles of the wine. Pinot Grigio grapes are often harvested earlier and fermented differently, rendering the wine more acidic, more austere, with less fruit, and lighter-bodied. Wines designated Pinot Gris (the grape originated in Burgundy, France and was then…

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Wine-Flair Wine of the Week is Don Zoilo Williams & Humbert Oloroso Sherry, 12 Years Old. Many Americans have heard of Sherry but relatively few have ever tasted it, and I’ll wager that most of those few have only as “cooking Sherry,” found on a grocery store shelf for $3.99, and something that ends up in their Coq Au Vin, if they’re had that.  Which is too bad.  Not the Coq au Vin, I mean. Sherry, authentically in Spanish “Jerez,” (or Xérès) isn’t like any other wine you’ve tasted. Although Sherries are a fortified wine like Port, which means grape spirits are added that up the alcohol content, most aren’t sweet, except for Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel. Sherries are made…

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Ok, an unusual name for this Wine Flair Wine of the Week! A play on prohibition, evidently (I was not there) in the '20s you could get access to booze in a Speakeasy through a strong-willed woman, a "Whisper Sister." In this case, it was a real person, Bertha Beringer, through whose efforts Beringer outlived our country's ill-advised dry decade+, from 1920 to 1933.  Beringer, one of the few to survive, is Napa's longest continually-operating winery, back to 1876. And, this is one of the best, high-value Cabs you're gonna find. It's got that Napa boldness and richness, but it's nicely balanced, with tannins that give it structure but don't grind your gums. You can get it from Wine Chateau…

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Welcome to the Wine-Flair Wine of the Week!  Yes, I know it sounds like a disgusting cheese. Or maybe a quiche from Germany. It's actually a delicious red wine made from a grape that's originally from upper Styria, now Slovenia, once part of Yugoslavia. The grape itself is also called Lemberger, but it's also known as Blaufränkisch, meaning blue Frankish. The wine's mix is 85% Lemberger, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Carmenère, and 5% Mourvèdre. It's obviously an almost-unheard of grape and wine, with very little made and not easy to find unless you're in Austria. But I wanted to mention it because it's a great wine, and one to try if you can. The best producer I know of is…

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I know you can get this at Wine.com, but I think (and hope) you can find it at many more outlets. If you do, buy some. Especially if you haven't tried French wine, and specifically Bordeaux, but would like to...out of curiosity, if nothing else. So try this Wine-Flair Wine of the Week! Bordeaux wines come in two broad categories: left bank, based on Cabernet Sauvignon, and right bank, based on Merlot. "Bank" refers to the rivers Garonne and Dordogne, which meet northwest of the city of Bordeaux and flow into the Gironde estuary, which extends for about 75 miles into the Atlantic. There's more to it, and if you want to know more, go here. Anyway, every classified Bordeaux…

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OK so this Wine-Flair Wine of the Week is about a 50-buck wine. And it's a classic Napa ballsy Cab: rich and concentrated dark fruit, balanced, lovely tannins and a long finish. Some (including me) may detect a little residual sweetness right out of the bottle, but after I decanted it became more subtle, and I recommend doing that. Plus it's always more fun pouring a great wine out of a crystal-clear decanter. So it is indeed rich but not crazy over-the-top, though it does have over 15% alcohol. While it might overpower some foods, it will match with any beef dish and went great with steak frites. But it's still very young, and could stand some cellaring. Probably quite…

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This wonderful white wine is the product of Randall (Randy) Graham, the quirky and unique founder of Bonny Doon, an enterprise that he created to produce American versions of the best Rhône wines. He's run into some tough times in the last few years, a visionary winemaker but self-described not-so-good businessman, and in January sold the brand to WarRoom Ventures LLC after 35 years at the helm. Thankfully, he'll remain as winemaker and on the board of WarRoom. Other labels he relinquished earlier include favorites Big House Red and Cardinal Zin. Picpoul, or in the French way, "Piquepoul" (sometimes Piquepou de Pinet) means "lip stinger" on account of its bracing acidity. It's typically grown in the south of France, but…

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