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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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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Wine Of The Week

Conventional wisdom is that Primitivo was brought to California around 1968, and scientists at UC Davis declared it the same grape and wine we call Zinfandel in the US. But as far as I can tell--and there are at least a half-dozen versions of the "truth"--this "Italian" grape's origins are actually from the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, the grape's true name is Crljenak Kaštelanski, and it came to both the US and to California much earlier. The UC Davis website says "Although the origin of the Zinfandel in California remains uncertain, the most plausible source seems to be the Austrian Imperial Nursery collection in Vienna, from where an amateur horticulturist named George Gibbs brought the grape to Long Island, New…

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I walked onto a mediocre liquor store in New Brunswick, New Jersey the other day. Staring me in the face was a rather poorly-configured display of Cupcake "LightHearted" wines which, according to Travel + Leisure Magazine, "locks in at less than 80 calories...eight percent alcohol by volume, and less than one gram of sugar...It’s also gluten-free and vegan." I was intrigued. And it was a "ghastly" nine bucks. So let's look at low-alcohol, low-calorie versus "traditional" wine. Well, I bought a bottle of the Cupcake (I wine I've never written about and about which I'm not terribly fond, in full disclosure) 2019 Rosé, took it home, and pitted it against a $14-$16 Ferrari-Carano 2019 Rosé...I label I know, and a…

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I couldn't say goodbye to a month characterized by miserable heat waves (Or were they really? Maybe we just did too much testing with too many thermometers?) without mentioning these two amazingly refreshing white wines. Assyrtiko is one of my favorite brisk, citrus-y whites and the Zacharias 2019 doesn't disappoint...at under $15 no less. The Zacharias winery is a young but growing producer in the Nemea region of the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, and put out its first vintage of Assyrtiko only in 2002. For a white, it has a noticeable body and brisk acidity, but is nicely balanced and has a very long finish. Bone dry, it loses nothing from its youth, ready to drink right now. And I did.…

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Wine and food pairing is more an art than a science. So VIEW OR DOWNLOAD the Wine-Flair Wine & Food Pairing Chart 2020.  Pairing is one of the most frequent questions I get and if you want to really immerse yourself, there are lots of books available--I have one called What to Drink with What to Eat--but if you're putting together a dinner party or at a restaurant and you need a quick and handy guide (just email the PDF to yourself) you'll get some tried and true ideas here. You may or may not agree with them, and you'll find pairings you like from friends and family, but mostly from your own experience.  This is just a starting place,…

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