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Rethinking Zinfandel

Adam Sbragia was raised in a winemaking family in Healdsburg, in the heart of Sonoma County. His grandfather made wine. His father, Ed Sbragia, is the only winemaker to have twice produced a wine that earned the coveted Wine of the Year award from Wine Spectator. And for the past decade or so, Adam has been making wine at Sbragia Family ...Read more

The Queen of California Pinot Noir

Frequent readers of this column no doubt know I often refer to Merry Edwards as the queen of California pinot noir.

That wasn't always the case, for when Edwards came out of U.C. Davis in the 1970s, she gained her initial fame making stunning cabernet sauvignon at Mount Eden Vineyards in California's Santa Cruz Mountains. She eventually moved...Read more

The Christmas Table

The gathering around the Christmas table is a moment I cherish each year. It is an opportunity for me to rummage through the cellar for special bottles of wine I've been saving for the right occasion. Unlike many other collectors, I don't keep a running inventory of what's in the cellar. I often come across gems from long ago that I'd ...Read more

Name That Chateau

All I ever wanted for Christmas was my own chateau. That's not in the cards this year, so I just opted for the next best thing. I went to the Chateau Souverain website and designed a custom Chateau Whitley label to place on my bottle of Chateau Souverain Chardonnay.

I chose the chardonnay ($13.99 a bottle) because it's my idea of a good white...Read more

10 Value Wines for the Holidays

'Tis the season to party hardy. If you're a wine enthusiast with discriminating taste and an unlimited budget, no problem. Luxury wines abound. For those with less elastic wallets, the good news is that delicious, high-quality wines at value prices are in abundance, too.

This week's tasting notes are dedicated to the proposition that you don'...Read more

The Champagne Challengers

In the hierarchy of sparkling wine, Champagne clearly occupies the top rung by reputation and merits. That said, Champagne producers are hardly lonely up there.

In the quest to make bubbly that compares favorably to Champagne, producers in Italy -- the Franciacorta and Trentino regions, to be precise -- and California have made tremendous ...Read more

The Champagne Difference

Remember that time a friend offered you a glass of Champagne but poured a prosecco instead? It's a common mistake that will often be repeated throughout the holidays.

Champagne is the sparkling wine that is produced in a specific region of France northeast of Paris. There is a huge difference between Champagne and other sparkling wines like ...Read more

The Magnificent Seven

This week's "Wine Talk" recommendations were culled with Thanksgiving in mind. Specifically, I was on the lookout for fun wines. Not every wine you open over the holidays needs to be profound, though the Stony Hill white riesling qualifies on that count.

Usually, a wine that is delicious, goes down easy and doesn't put a crimp in your wallet ...Read more

A Balancing Act

It's no secret many wine enthusiasts consider the traditional Thanksgiving feast a daunting challenge for wine. The combination of savory and sweet aromas would seem to contradict normal assumptions about food and wine pairings.

Truth be told, though it's tricky, the Thanksgiving feast is a rare opportunity to focus on the most important ...Read more

The Cradle of Cabernet

The Napa Valley was a different place when Donn and Molly Chappellet launched their winery on Pritchard Hill a half-century ago. The Judgment of Paris, a blind tasting in Paris where a handful of Napa Valley wineries shocked the world by besting the finest wines France could put forward, was yet to happen. Hillside vineyards were a novelty at ...Read more


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