About UsWine ReviewsArchivesAdvertiseContact Us
Bella, Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma County, California) Zinfandel "Barrel 32" 2016 ($58)
 A barrel select Zinfandel, and a blend of many vineyard sources.  It shows great structure, briary fruit with soft pepper, a hint of leaf and a long finish that pushes the dark fruit aspect.  This joins a select group of classic age-worthy Zinfandels that will turn elegant as it ages long.  Beautifully blended. 
95 Rich Cook


Posted by Robert Whitley on December 14, 2018 at 10:58 AM

After Dinner

If you're one of the millions in the planning stages of an over-the-top holiday feast, allow me to throw another log on an already roaring fire. What comes after dinner?

At my holiday table, there is almost always a dessert that's too good to pass up, and often an assortment of cheeses, too. Many hosts will take the path of least resistance and muddle through the dessert and/or cheese course sipping the leftover dinner wines.

There is a better way. Over the years, I've discovered a number of sure-fire after-dinner pairings that have served me well at holiday feasts past. These are but a few.

With rich chocolate desserts I favor late-bottled vintage (LBV) ports. LBV port is reasonably priced. All the top port houses, such as Sandeman, Dow's, Graham's, et al., make them. I wouldn't waste a vintage port on dessert.

Heavily spiced pies and cakes call for tawny port, preferably 10 years old. Older tawnies are best sipped on their own while curled up in front of a fire. Off-dry aromatic whites, such as pinot gris, riesling, muscat or gewurztraminer, also show well with this pairing. One of my current favorites of this genre is Navarro's 2017 Late Harvest muscat blanc.

Salty blue-veined cheeses sing when paired with Sauternes or Barsac. Chateau Rieussec Sauternes, and the Barsac from Chateau Climens and Chateau Coutet are three of my go-to wines from this unique area of Bordeaux. A little bit goes a long way, so buy the half bottle unless you have a big crowd to please. The finest domestic wine in this style is the Napa Valley's Dolce.

Aromatic, savory cheeses make me long for vintage port — the older the better. I currently have the 1963, 1977 and 2000 vintages in my cellar. Oh, what a feast that will be!

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Excellence on a Big Frame: Primitivo di Manduria
Jim Clarke

In my last column for Wine Review Online, I addressed an effort by producers in the Languedoc to keep up with the apparent trend toward fresher, lower-alcohol wines by adjusting their blends, exploring different appellations, and so forth. Overall, I think this is a good thing, but we should never forget that fresher, etc., is not the only way to make wine. When your grape variety and growing conditions demand richness and power, sometimes it's advisable to let them go for it. Such is the case with Primitivo in Puglia.
Millions of Years in the Making: Appreciating the Geology that Underlies our Favorite Wines
Wayne Belding

Wine aficionados love to talk about geologic aspects of vineyard sites that produce their favorite wines. Whether it's the Jurassic limestone of Burgundy, the granite of Beaujolais or the schist of the Douro Valley, the geology is approached with reverence. The study of geology revolves around understanding how the rocks we observe on the surface of the earth are formed. By understanding their genesis, we can develop far-reaching theories on the earth's formative processes.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Smoked Salmon Rillettes

This is the time of year when we're all happy to have a couple of reliable, delicious, relatively simple and wine-friendly recipes on hand. Whether a simple snack or more substantial fare, we ideally want the dish to be something that can be made a day or two ahead and whipped out of the fridge just as the guests begin to arrive. Enter Smoked Salmon Rillettes, a pâté-like preparation usually spread on bread, toast, or crackers. Although customarily made from chopped pork that has been simmered in fat a long time until it is very tender, this deliciously rustic fare may also be made from goose, duck, or game birds, as well as salmon or, as we recently discovered, smoked salmon. This version tastes somewhat more elegant than most others, and so is an excellent choice for holiday entertaining. And make plenty. If your guests are anything like ours were, they'll eat every morsel!
On My Table
Unpacking a New Terroir in Argentina
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

This wine is a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Franc produced by the Dominio del Plata winery, which is the winery of notable Argentine enologist, Susana Balbo. The winery produces several different tiers of wines, of which BenMarco is among the finest. The BenMarco wines focus on terroir as their defining concept, and that focus roused my curiosity to taste the wines. After visiting Argentina in February, I came to understand the exciting terroir movement that is occurring there - particularly within the Valle de Uco -- and I witnessed the distinctiveness that Malbec wines can derive from their different terroirs. This wine hails from what I consider one of the most exciting of Argentina's new Geographical Indications (GIs), Gualtallary.