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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More
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…

Read More

Thanksgiving will soon be here, and you're probably starting to put together your menu. Well, if you're not...get on it!  No matter what you're having, you'll want some great wines to go with the big meal. And this year, think about ditching the "standard" stuff -- Cabernet and Chardonnay -- to expand your horizons. Your guests will love it! Vouvray/Chenin Blanc:  This is 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 to off-dry, semi-sweet and sweet.  South Africa makes great Chenin Blancs, too, which they call "Steen": try Raats Family, Indaba or Cederberg.  And Napa's Pine Ridge makes a wonderful mixture of Chenin…

Read More

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…

Read More

Spain grows great wines—Grenache and Carignane from Priorat, Tempranillo from Rioja and Ribero del Duero, and Albarino from Rias Biaxas to name a few. But Mencia is a grape you've probably never tasted and maybe never even heard of.  This 100% Mencia is from the large Castilla y Leon region, but you can find other excellent ones from the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras Denominación de Origen appellations. Aroma of violets and flavors of black cherry and black raspberry; a little smoky and peppery, fresh, bright and crisp, with a long finish.  There's tannin there, but this is a fruit wine with just enough oak influence. Although the Mencia grape is native to Spain, and Mencia wines have been around a…

Read More

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)…

Read More

Spanish whites seem to be so often defined by Albarino, which admittedly makes a wonderful wine, especially those from Rias Baixas in Galicia in northwestern Spain. But the Godello grape-and this "other" Spanish wine is 100% Godello-delivers up something completely different and something you should try, especially now that warmer weather is here. This one has a very pale straw color but don't mistake it for a wine with no character. It has a really lovely floral aroma, with real body, and lots of lime flavors and maybe some pineapple with strong mineral notes.  Crisp and refreshing.  Some compare it to a Sauvignon Blanc but I think the difference is striking. It's also a great value, depending on where you…

Read More