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Cucina Enoteca

Found a great new place to drink wine. It’s a  restaurant in Irvine called Cucina Enoteca. It’s not exactly a wine bar but it’s got some wine bar qualities, like Ben Kephart, a clued-in sommelier, and a boutique selection of bottles. You can buy one to go, or choose one to take to your table. The drink-it-now price is only $8 higher than its retail—a fair corkage fee especially when you consider that most wine lists mark bottles up two or three times. Read more...

Top six wines of the year

It’s not just the tastiest wines I’m talking about. It’s the ones that made the biggest impression on me. Many times it’s because they surprised me as atypical: a huge viognier, a cab with power and elegance, an Italian wine I’ve never tried before. These are the bottles that made the grade this year. Get your hands on any of them and see if you agree.—Anne Valdespino  Read more...

Closet Cliquot Fan?

I’m always saying Veuve Cliquot yellow label is overpriced. So who would have guessed that at last night’s blind tasting of seven bubblies at Main Street Wine Company in Huntington Beach I picked two Cliquots among my three favorites? Read more...

Trilux vs Vinturi

What to get for the wino who has everything? How about a new aerator? I love the Vinturi but there’s a new kid on the block. It’s called the Epicureanist Trilux Wine Aerator ($39) and while I’m not convinced it floods wine with air as quickly as the Vinturi, there are a couple things I really like about it. Read more...

Hotel Hanford's Wine Salon

She was born with a silver tastevin in her hand. Yup, Cyrille Helen Hanson’s father was one of the founders of Hi-Time Wine Cellars, arguably the best wine shop in the county. By the time Cyrille, right, turned 20 she had probably tasted more great wines than you and I will taste in a lifetime. So you’ve got to sit up and listen when she gives her tips. And she’ll have plenty of chances to do so at the Hotel Hanford, where she has just taken over the wine program. Read more...

A taste for Rhones

Fourteen incredible Rhone and Rhone-style wines, sumptuous appetizers, and a chic Newport Beach country club setting.  “Keep The Promise,” a tasting to benefit The Wooden Floor, the Santa Ana dance studio that helps underprivileged youth complete high school and continue on to college, never disappoints. If you missed this year’s event on Oct. 6 be sure to check the website so you can mark your calendar for next year. I tasted the wines twice and my very favorites continue to be 2006 Guigal Condrieu La Doriane, Rhone, France, Wine Advocate: 96 points, $110; 2007 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape,  Rhone France, Wine Advocate: 96 + points, $75; and 2007 Le Vieux Donjon Chateaufneuf du Pape, Rhone, France, Wine Advocate: 95+ points, $82. Read more...

Last chance

Tonight is the last night to drink it up at Orange County Wine Week events. If you can't make it out tonight OC Beer Week starts immediately after. Many local restaurants are offering prix fixe menus with wine pairings and other specials. Check this link for a searchable list and comment here with the deal you thought was best. Cheers!—Anne Valdespino Read more...

Vote for Paso Wine Man!

You‘ve only got two days left to vote for Paso Wine Man. Remember his hilarious sendups of the old-fashioned snooty wine commercials? Well he’s a finalist in Wine Spectator’s video contest. We’ve got to let him know this is his moment! Click this link and then click on his image. Winners will be announced Sept. 20.  May the best Paso Wine Man win!—Anne Valdespino    Read more...

A don't-miss tasting event

 It’s one of the most anticipated wine events of the year in Orange County so you don’t want to miss “Keep The Promise,” a tasting to benefit The Wooden Floor, the Santa Ana dance studio that helps underprivileged youth complete high school and continue on to college. It’s a great cause, but it’s also a great opportunity to taste rare wines. This is the event’s fifth anniversary and John Markley and his wife Janice, who always roll out an incredible group of wines, have outdone themselves this year, enlisting the help of Master Sommelier Steven Poe, right. Read more...

Only five wines?

Driving by Mozza in Newport last night (Sept. 1) and I already had dinner but it looked happening so we pulled in. Guess they didn't announce their opening night. Wasn't full at 9:30 so we could have gotten a table but saw a sommelier friend at the bar and joined him. He was already sitting with another sommelier he had just met. Of course we asked about what they were drinking.   So far Mozza only o Read more...

Scouting South County

You lucky ducks in South County. You’ve got loads of great wine bars: Amazing Grapes in Rancho, Bacchus in Irvine, The Reserve in Ladera Ranch—if you missed my blog on owner Ed Manetta’s classes at UCI extension here’s a link. Was just in SoCo on a reconnaissance mission and found a couple more watering holes for winos. Check out The Cellar in San Clemente. It’s got great flights and wine by the glass. I found a French chard that I really liked. The cheese case is amazing and the Spanish appetizer tray had cheeses, chorizo, stuffed pappadews, Serrano ham, Marcona almonds, and accoutrement that we fought over including jam, quince paste, and pressed figs. The décor is industrial chic with concrete table tops. The restrooms are really beautiful with surprising lighting. Read more...

The best Oakville cab you've never heard of

No mysteries. No hype. No games. No great big marketing staff. That’s Liparita/Hoopes winery. And that’s why you probably don’t know about them. The three-person operation was started by Spencer Hoopes, right, a former lawyer, who wanted to restore the winery, started in 1880, to its former glory: its red wine won a gold and bronze medal at the Paris Exposition in 1900. The rest of the troika consists of winemaker Jason Fisher (Grace, Paradigm, and Cosentino), and John Healy, their one-man sales force and a goodtime guy—be sure you sit next to him at their wine dinners. Read more...
READ NOW: Serial Killer Seduction

Our "Center of the Universe" story is being read all over the world right now. Click here for the story.

 

Who Did Randy Kraft Seduce?

Current photos of author Jay Roberts.

 

A Fact-Checker's Journey to a 1980 Afternoon

Our intrepid intern tracks down the details in Roberts' story.

 

Why Isn't Randy Kraft Dead?

Our original piece on one of California's deadliest and most depraved serial killers. 

 

Editor's Letter, October 2013

Our editor considers "Center of the Universe" to be compelling—and incredibly frightening. Click above to find out why. 

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