The Pour Man: Transitional Weather Needs a Transitional Wine
Apr03

The Pour Man: Transitional Weather Needs a Transitional Wine

Les Hauts de Lagarde, Rouge Bordeaux, France; 2015. $12.99This is a period of transition on many fronts.    There still may be snow on the ground and temperatures in the teens, but the warm spring sun is a clear signal that it’s time to start trimming down, putting away rich food, and switching from heavy, higher-alcohol red wines to something lighter and brighter. Oh, there are still days left to finish off those thick Cabs, Shirazes...

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The Pour Man: Prosecco Has it Over Cava
Mar13

The Pour Man: Prosecco Has it Over Cava

Lunetta Prosecco is one of the hottest sparkling wine brands on the American market, and there’s a good reasonta why — it’s well-made, inexpensive and widely available, an excellent wine to celebrate. It also is lower than many wines in alcohol, about 11.5 percent, so it’s a pleasant companion to take to a party and, unless you over indulge, it won’t give you a headache in the morning. In the past, sparkling wines weren’t my go-to...

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The Pour Man: Blown Away by this Cabernet
Feb27

The Pour Man: Blown Away by this Cabernet

Part of the fun of writing this column is that I often need to look for largely undiscovered, good affordable wines. It’s a quest that I enjoy and that can be rewarding when I do find something that’s new and exciting in the sea of wines on the market. I recently tried Fortant Cabernet Sauvignon, and I was blown away. The finely crafted wine is light, dry and refreshing with layers of bright flavors. It is relatively low in alcohol...

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The Pour Man: What a Character, Estancia Chardonnay
Feb13

The Pour Man: What a Character, Estancia Chardonnay

Legendary winemaker Agustin Huneeus started Estancia Estates at the old Paul Masson winery near Soledad, California, in 1986 with the idea of producing top quality wines at reasonable prices.And since Huneeus is a pretty smart guy with a sophisticated palate and a keen sense for business, it didn’t take him long to turn Estancia into a respected and successful label.Although the Chilean-born Huneeus, who also rescued Concha y Toro and...

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The Pour Man: Get Into a Dry Cab for Winter
Jan30

The Pour Man: Get Into a Dry Cab for Winter

Broadside Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon; $12.99 Although it might be hard to tell from our contradictory weather these days, we’re in the dead of winter, a season that cries out for deep, rich red wines full of dark berry and plum flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of my favorite red wine varietals, and the one I most often turn to when the temperatures drop below freezing. And I’m not alone in my admiration; Cabernet Sauvignon ranks...

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The Pour Man: Kim Crawford and Nobilo Keep it Real — and Deliciously Dry
Jan16

The Pour Man: Kim Crawford and Nobilo Keep it Real — and Deliciously Dry

For more than three decades, New Zealand winemakers have been known for producing some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world.Until recently, however, the Kiwi producers haven’t been bringing home international accolades for their Pinot Noir. The country’s Burgundy-style wines are only just starting to receive high praise for having the complex qualities of their French cousins with a price tag that’s modest in comparison.The wines...

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The Pour Man: Producers of MD ‘Mad Dog’ 20/20 Make a Surprisingly Good Pinot Noir
Jan03

The Pour Man: Producers of MD ‘Mad Dog’ 20/20 Make a Surprisingly Good Pinot Noir

At first blush, one wouldn’t think that the producer of one of world’s most popular “brown-bag wines” would be making a well-crafted, reasonably priced Pinot Noir, much less any other drinkable wine. But that’s the case with Chloe, which means “green shoot” in ancient Greek, in case you were wondering. Chloe’s parent company, The Wine Group, a privately-held, investment firm, makes MD 20/20, a cheap, fortified wine that comes in a...

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The Pour Man: Cheap Chianti for Sophisticated Adults
Nov28

The Pour Man: Cheap Chianti for Sophisticated Adults

My first recollection of Chianti, as it is for many people, was the iconic straw-wrapped bottle, not the wine.Occasionally, an unopened bottle would show up at our house, usually a gift from a friend coming to dinner, and by the end of the adult evening, it would be empty. The bottle would hang around for a few days. My mother would say she wanted to put a candle in it to decorate the table the next time she served spaghetti and...

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The Pour Man: Wines With Turkey
Nov21

The Pour Man: Wines With Turkey

Finding a wine that goes with every course of the Thanksgiving dinner can be a bit dodgy because the meal is a hodgepodge of dishes with distinctive flavors.Viognier, Cava, Pinot Noir and Cotes du Rhone have been my favorites in the past, but this year I’m trying a couple of very nice California blends with our meal, wines that don’t stray too far from my traditional standbys and that go very well with a variety of foods.Of course,...

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The Pour Man: Edna Valley is Back
Nov14

The Pour Man: Edna Valley is Back

A couple of decades ago, back before the brand hit the skids, Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay was a treat, a wine I couldn’t afford, but would occasionally enjoy at a South Carolina restaurant owned by friends Louis and Marlene Osteen.The Osteens knew their wines, so when they’d offer to buy you a glass, it would always be something special.Their restaurant sold a lot of wine, and they were valued customers for the producers. So when...

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The Pour Man: Stupid Label, Great Wine
Oct31

The Pour Man: Stupid Label, Great Wine

Mionetto Gran Rosé is a very good sparkling wine with lots of rich fruit flavors that reflect the expertise of a master winemaker and the continued quality of one of Italy’s top wine producers.In fact, this widely available wine is an excellent bridge from the bright, refreshing wines of summer to the hearty reds of winter. The Gran Rosé is extra dry like a warm weather wine, with evident fruit flavors that remind me that there will...

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The Pour Man: ’The Little Cursed One’ Makes a Good Wine
Oct17

The Pour Man: ’The Little Cursed One’ Makes a Good Wine

The Spanish native Garnacha is a little grumpy. The grape is thin-skinned and sensitive. It’s hard to cultivate, and its vines are low yielding. At one point in its history, it was even considered a weed, and for the last 30 years or so, many Spanish farmers have given up on it, pulling up vines and branding Garnacha as unprofitable and undesirable.In Rioja Baja — the dry, hot, eastern side of the northern Spain wine district —...

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The Pour Man: California Red, Family Style
Oct03

The Pour Man: California Red, Family Style

Sometimes finding the right name for a child, a pet or even a wine can be difficult. Naming can take long, grueling hours of trotting out candidates only to have them dismissed by others for lacking originality or humor, or being downright dumb. The process can take its toll, so it’s best to have alcohol involved. For example, after days of trying to find a name for our wonderful dog, Pepita, my wife, Sandy, and I resolved the issue...

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Pour Man: Finally, A Sweet Wine That Delights
Sep12

Pour Man: Finally, A Sweet Wine That Delights

When someone suggested that I try MAN Family Wines’ Chenin Blanc, my first reaction was that I don’t like sweet wines.Although Chenin Blanc grapes are often used to make excellent sweet wines in France and elsewhere, I was assured I’d find this South African offering to be well-made, crisp, and refreshing — a dry white wine perfect for drinking in the warmer months. And I was told it’s a great buy.I respected the recommendation,...

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The Pour Man: Grand Cru Challenge Accepted; Lucky Us
Aug29

The Pour Man: Grand Cru Challenge Accepted; Lucky Us

In the early 1970s when I was first widening my wine experience beyond the California jugs and the Portuguese roses, I discovered a French wine in a 2-liter plastic bottle.It cost about $1.50. It wasn’t very good. It had lots of strange residue in the bottom of the bottle that made me worry the plastic might be breaking down, transforming the wine into something cancer-causing. However, being of Scots’ heritage, I persevered. I...

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The Pour Man: Special Night? Try an Oregon Noir
Aug15

The Pour Man: Special Night? Try an Oregon Noir

Erath Oregon Pinot Noir is priced above my usual comfort level, but so are most exceptional Pinot Noirs from Oregon.So, without hesitation, I recommend Erath as an excellent choice for those special occasions when you don’t want to break the bank on a fine wine or when you’re buying an under-$20-gift for friends who fancy dry, well-made, Burgundy-style red wines.Winemaker Gary Horner, who has been with Erath since 2003, produces...

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The Pour Man: Rock Star Wine From France
Aug01

The Pour Man: Rock Star Wine From France

The Perrins, who own Chateau de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, are the rock stars of southern France’s winemaking world. At least they are to me.Not only does the family make award-winning, top-shelf wines in the $100 to $500 a bottle range, but they also make a couple of lines of inexpensive wines that are my favorites, including the Cotes du Rhone Reserve and my top cheap wine pick, w, which I’ve written about and often find for...

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The Pour Man: Graduate to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Jul19

The Pour Man: Graduate to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Nobilo, Sauvignon Blanc, 2015; Marlborough, New Zealand; $13.99During the last couple of decades, some of the world’s top wine critics have declared that the best Sauvignon Blanc comes from New Zealand, and I would agree with them. However, I also realize, as with most things, that it’s a matter of taste. For example, if you are a fan of the syrup that canned peaches or pears swim in, then you might prefer Sauvignon Blanc from France...

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The Pour Man: Champagne Chuck; inexpensive bubbly
Jul11

The Pour Man: Champagne Chuck; inexpensive bubbly

Dibon Brut Reserve Cava, of Penedes, Spain; $12.99I’ve been thinking about sparkling wine lately because it’s well suited for steamy summer nights; just one glass will go a long way to ease the heat.Sparkling wine also came to mind because someone gave me a bottle of Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne, which my wife, Sandy, and I savored during a recent special occasion.The wine is made by one of the most respected Champagne...

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‘Second’ Wine Tastes First Rate to Me
May31

‘Second’ Wine Tastes First Rate to Me

All the stars have aligned for 2015 Bordeaux wines, which are coming out now, and are being heralded by international wine experts as the best vintage in at least five years. That’s great news for French winemakers and for anyone who can afford to buy wine futures or has the money for the grand estate wines and wants to cellar them for rewards down the road. But for those of us who shop in the $10 range and drink wine in the moment,...

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The Pour Man: It’s Okay to Drink Cali Chardonnay
May16

The Pour Man: It’s Okay to Drink Cali Chardonnay

Dark Horse Chardonnay, 2014; California, $10.99When I see a wine suddenly pop up on the shelves of almost every store in the area that sells alcoholic beverages, I’m not inclined to take a bottle home. That was the case with Dark Horse. Recently, I saw the name for the first time in one store, and I thought it looked interesting, but I didn’t buy it. The same day, I saw it again in a grocery store, and then at a third place. It seemed...

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The Pour Man: Bogle Old Vine Zin’
Feb08

The Pour Man: Bogle Old Vine Zin’

During a recent visit to the North Carolina mountains, my wife and I were lucky enough to be part of a small dinner party with friends who make their living in the food and wine industry. It was one of those evenings, full of laughter and great stories, with a wonderful meal accompanied by terrific wines that were way beyond my pay grade. Such a gathering of experts in their fields was perhaps common for them, but for us it was rare...

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The Pour Man: Thanks, Bro!
Jan25

The Pour Man: Thanks, Bro!

When I was growing up as the youngest of four boys, I didn’t always get the straight scoop from my older brothers. For example, although I was the smallest of the crowd and about 4 years old, they convinced me to play the big, dumb galoot in our cowboy games, and they’d throw darts at my feet to make me dance, a pageant that was abruptly ended when I turned the tables on the band of outlaws and threw a dart that accidentally stuck up...

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The Pour Man: Wine that Celebrates ‘Crime’ and Springfield’s John Boyle O’Reilly
Jan11

The Pour Man: Wine that Celebrates ‘Crime’ and Springfield’s John Boyle O’Reilly

A wine with a good back story is one thing, but when you find a good wine with a great back story, it makes the drinking all the better. The South Eastern Australian line of wines 19 Crimes — a red blend and a Cabernet Sauvignon — are well crafted and honor the ancestors of 20 percent of the country’s population, the criminals who were transported there from Great Britain over an 80-year period. From 1788 to 1868, it didn’t take much...

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The Pour Man: Good Bubbly for $12?!
Dec28

The Pour Man: Good Bubbly for $12?!

Finding a well-crafted, dry sparkling wine in the $10 range can be difficult. There are plenty of good Italian Prosecco and Lambrusco wines in the range, and I tried a number of them this year in an effort to discover an inexpensive sparkler for the holidays, one that wouldn’t start my new year off with a boiling stomach or a splitting headache. However, I find the affordable Italian sparkling wines to be a little on the sweet side,...

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A Red Wine From a Noble Spanish Grape
Dec14

A Red Wine From a Noble Spanish Grape

In recent weeks, I’ve tried a couple of excellent Spanish wines made from 100 percent Garnacha, a grape with a long, colorful history. The wines are full- bodied, inky red and have a lot of fruit flavor, and they’re affordable. Each comes from a different region of Spain, and the flavors reflect that. La Maldita, a wine made from Garnacha grown in Rioja, a region in north central Spain, draws its name from an expletive that growers...

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The Pour Man: Wine for Holiday Meals
Nov30

The Pour Man: Wine for Holiday Meals

Picking a wine for a holiday feast can be a bit tricky, and many wine experts are reluctant to select one universal wine to go with the meal. The problem is winter celebrations offer a cornucopia overflowing with tastes, flavors and smells that can overwhelm many wines, wasting not only an opportunity to complement the food but also the investment in the bottle. So, a big bold, inky Cabernet Sauvignon might work with some aspects of a...

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The Pour Man: An All-Night Wine
Nov16

The Pour Man: An All-Night Wine

There’s a theory about pairing food and wine that’s pretty simple — just drink wine with food from the region where it is produced. That sort of terroir approach is fine for wines from some other parts of the world, but not so much the United States, where our food is drawn from a melting pot of international cuisines. Here, the pairing of wine with food is less precise and often better left to the teamwork of sommeliers and chefs....

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The Pour Man: Dave Matthews’ Wine
Nov03

The Pour Man: Dave Matthews’ Wine

In addition to wine and news, I try to keep up with what’s going on in the music world. As with wine, I have an eclectic taste in music. I pretty much like anything with a tune. Well, there are a few genres — sea shanties and ISIS campfire songs come to mind — that put me on edge. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I have a few gaps when it comes to mainstream artists. Dave Matthews is a good example. For some reason, I’ve never...

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Jaboulet is Back
Oct19

Jaboulet is Back

Like white shoes, white pants and hats, white wines can go back on the shelf until the days lengthen and warm up. Sure, there will be occasions for a crisp Chardonnay, perhaps with a course or two of a holiday meal, and there are many other whites that are perfect matches with seafood, but generally, it’s time to start thinking about the reds and preparing for winter. You could slip into it gradually, to avoid shocking the system too...

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The Pour Man: Crystal Clear, Green Highlights, Picpoul de Pinet
Oct06

The Pour Man: Crystal Clear, Green Highlights, Picpoul de Pinet

Lately, I have been receiving some recommendations of wines to have with freshly caught seafood, so during a recent trip to Maine, my wife and I decided to try a few of them out. I had a couple of wines in mind, but I had not taken notice of Picpoul de Pinet, a white wine with a distinctive high-neck green bottle, until it went on sale this summer for $10.99. I learned that the bottle was a sign of its compatibility with the fruits of...

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The Pour Man: Getting Lucky With McWilliam
Sep22

The Pour Man: Getting Lucky With McWilliam

Back in the beginning of the summer, someone suggested that I check out a “very nice” petite sirah and because I favor whites and roses during the hotter months, I filed the recommendation to memory without writing it down. However, my mental filing system is a bit of a mess with stacks of items strewn about the brain, not neatly put in their place, and the email reminders always seem to end up consigned to oblivion. A recent stint of...

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The Pour Man: Rip van Drinkle — Discovering Albarino 20 Years After the Craze
Sep08

The Pour Man: Rip van Drinkle — Discovering Albarino 20 Years After the Craze

I think it’s safe to say that many wine drinkers tend to seek out comfort zones — wine brands, varietals, regions — that they return to time and time again. After all, there are so many wines on the market that it can be confusing, and once you know a wine that you like, why not be loyal? You learn a little about the wine, know its flavors and aromas and have the confidence to recommend it to others. That’s a good thing. However,...

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The Pour Man: Oyster Bay Saves the Day
Aug25

The Pour Man: Oyster Bay Saves the Day

In general, I think it’s safe to say that to like New Zealand sauvignon blanc, it doesn’t hurt to have a taste for grapefruit juice. I don’t mean the sweet, pink stuff, but real grapefruit juice, squeezed from tangy, sour white fruit, grown on ancient trees like the one in our backyard in Tampa. It produced gallons of liquid gold, great for salty dogs, a vodka drink designed to slake the heat, served over lots of ice in tall,...

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The Pour Man: Scale Can’t Guarantee Good Wine Unless It’s Concha y Toro
Aug12

The Pour Man: Scale Can’t Guarantee Good Wine Unless It’s Concha y Toro

I don’t often write about what some would derisively call “industrial wine,” but Frontera, the big-batch line from Concha y Toro, is an exception. However, I’m not going to extol the fine qualities of this very drinkable Sauvignon Blanc, but rather suggest that it is excellent on hot summer evenings not only for a second chilled bottle, but also as the base wine for spritzers. It’s been my experience with spritzers that when an...

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