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Wine That Stands Up to Pesto
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

It's officially summer. Unofficially, it's basil season. Right now, I am overwhelmed with the stuff. Pictured to the left is one of my behemoth basil plants. Having a lot of basil isn't exactly a problem, I admit. Who doesn't love basil? But for wine lovers, basil can make for difficult pairings. This is one assertive herb, and you need a wine that isn't going to clash with it, nor do you want your wine to disappear on the palate.















My usual go-to wine when strong green, herbal notes are part of a dish is Sauvignon Blanc. But New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are often quite citrusy, and US Sauvignon Blancs can be too melony and soft for basil. So I opened a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc--and it was perfect with my linguine tossed with homemade pesto and topped with some heirloom cherry tomatoes.


The 2011 ViA+-a Carmen Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva (available for $13-$15 in the market) is made from grapes grown in the Leyda Valley. It has vibrant aromas of grass, gooseberry, and that uniquely weird smell of boxwood that I often smell in Sauvignon Blancs from the southern hemisphere. This wine was green and leafy rather than citrusy, with a backbone of acidity that was neutral in flavor but kept your mouth watering for more. The midpalate was herbal, making me think 'this is what Cabernet Franc would taste like if it were white and not red.' Cool and refreshing, this stood up to the basil. If you have the wine with something less resolutely green, you may find that its assertiveness is a problem but if you have basil, this is a good wine to go with it--and it represents very good QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Fish Eye Pinot Grigio: A Genuine Bargain in White Wine
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

I first enjoyed the Fish Eye Pinot Grigio in 2009 with my fellow wine bloggers at our annual conference (and wrote about that experience here). It was a humbling moment for many of us, who were a bit sniffy about the wine based on the cute label, its availability in large-format bottles and boxes, and because it was Pinot Grigio. There is a lot (and I do mean a lot) of terrible, cheap Pinot Grigio out there. So much of it, in fact, that I've stopped ordering it in restaurants.

So it is with great pleasure that I report that the 2011 Fish Eye Pinot Grigio still has a suggested retail price of $7 (though you can find it in the market for prices between $5 and $10), it is still delicious, it is still widely available throughout the country, and it is still excellent QPR. Expect zesty, pure lemon and lime aromas and to have those scents echo through the flavors. You might detect a nice peachy note as you sip, which takes off some of the bitterness that can be associated with Pinot Grigio.

This is a versatile, food-friendly wine that is light enough to pair with vegetables and salads at a weekend lunch, will be a great companion to asparagus and lemon pasta as you work your way into your spring recipes, and will be welcome at summer barbeques so if you see some on the shelf give it a try.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Miracles Happen: Three Worthy Pinot Noirs for $25 or Less
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Pinot Noir is a budgetary nightmare for most of us. Pinot is a finicky grape, which makes it difficult to grow, which translates into expensive bottles on the shelves. And that was before the movie that put Pinot Noir in everybody's glass, displacing Merlot.

Recently, I had not one, not two, but THREE bottles of Pinot Noir that were impressive--and none cost more than $25, which is quite reasonable by Pinot Noir standards. If $25 is too much for you--or you like more traditional tasting wines--scroll down to the final recommendation. At $12, it's a steal.

2010 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir (suggested retail $25; available in the market for $20-24) This excellent QPR example of Russian River Valley Pinor Noir has full-bore raspberry aromas and flavors with a burnt sugar edge. The mouthfeel is silky, with lots of toast and spice. The finish is long, with cinnamon and clove notes.

2010 Echelon Pinot Noir Russian River Valley (suggested retail $24.99; use the winery's "where to buy" feature to find a bottle near you) For around the same price as the Davis Bynum, and from grapes grown in the same place, this very good QPR example has intense raspberry fruit with a slightly candied edge to the flavors. The aftertaste is spicy, but less complex and dominated by clove notes.

2010 Casa Silva Pinot Noir Reserva (suggested retail $12) You might not expect to find Pinot Noir in Chile, but think again. This wine was much lighter in style, which some prefer, with pure raspberry aromas and flavors. You can't beat it for the price, this is a simple and delicious expression of the grape. Excellent QPR for a wine that will appeal to fans of more traditional Pinot Noir.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

Sauvignon Blanc...from Slovenia
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Wine is an adventure. At least that's what I've always thought. So many grapes. So many styles. So many countries to visit--even if it's only through the liquid in your glass.

So when one of my favorite addictions--er, on-line retailers--Garagiste up in Seattle offered a three-pack of Slovenian whites to try, I jumped at the opportunity. The three-pack cost around $45, which meant there was a $15 investment per bottle for a Riesling, a Chardonnay, and a Sauvignon Blanc. Recently, I opened up the Sauvignon Blanc and was extremely pleased at my first foray into Slovenian wine.

You might not think "Slovenia" and "Sauvignon Blanc" in the same breath, but there's no reason why you shouldn't do so. Most parts of the globe have a history of wine-making, and that includes central Europe. I had some amazing Merlot when I visited Prague, and have enjoyed some wonderful Romanian wine here on the blog, and one of my all-time-favorite wines from Trader Joe's comes from Hungary. As for Slovenia, they have a venerable viticultural tradition that goes back to pre-Roman times (check this site for more information). So don't be afraid to try wine from regions you may be unfamiliar with, as they often represent very good value, as in this very good QPR example.

2008 Marof Sauvignon Blanc ( purchased in a three-pack from Garagiste; available in the market for around $11) This terrific Sauvignon Blanc had tart lemon pith, gooseberry, and lemongrass aromas and flavors. It was very clean and precise, without being overly herbaceous. A nice balance of fruit and acidity made it an ideal partner for food, and you can't complain about the price! It would be excellent with all kinds of dishes, from salads, to fish, to roasted chicken with lemon. We had it with a soup made with ancient grains and vegetables, and the lively acidity was a lovely counterpoint to the earthiness of the kamut and lentils, and picked out the bright tarragon herbal notes.

Classic Cabernets for $15 or Less
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

There are all kinds of Cabernet Sauvignon out there. Some are too fruity for me. Some are too green. Some are too expensive. Some are too huge, with big alcohol and palate-punishing tannins.

I like my Cabernets to have a classic profile: plum and currant in the fruit department, pepper for spice, and enough acidity that I know I'm not drinking watered-down jam.

Here are three bottles that fit my preferences--and none has a suggested retail of more than $15. If you like your Cabernets big and bold or fruity and sweet, these wines may not appeal to you. But if what you're looking for is a wine that shows the grape's varietal character and an appealing price point, give one of them a try.

2009 Lander Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon Spirit Hawk (suggested retail $15; available in the market for $7-$15) Rich plum aromas characteristic of this grape variety lead into a plummy palate with notes of mocha and eucalyptus. Though the tannins are fine-grained, they have a nice grip that will be appealing to lovers of more brawny wine. Excellent QPR.

2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Private Selection (suggested retail $11; available for $8-$12 in the market) This wine has classic aromas and flavors of cassis, plum, herbs, and green pepper with smooth, well-integrated tannins. This will not necessarily appeal to fans of hugely fruity Cabernets, but if elegance is what you're after, you can't do better than this for $11. Excellent QPR.

2010 Echelon Cabernet Sauvignon (suggested retail $13.99; available for $7-$9 in the market) Another Cabernet built along classic lines, this bottle has some green pepper aromas and flavors among the cassis and cherry. There is good acidity, and tannins that area bit astringent in the mouth--which will make it a great partner for juicy beef dishes. Very good QPR (though if you find it for $7, consider this excellent QPR!)

Classic pairings for Cabernet Sauvignon include burgers, roast beef, grilled steak, and (a personal favorite from my childhood) Pepper Steak. If you're a vegetarian and want something to go with Cabernet, look for a recipe that uses rosemary like this white bean and rosemary soup recipe (sub veggie stock for the chicken stock). Rosemary and Cabernet are a match made in heaven!

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

Aromatic Food Calls for Aromatic Wine
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

If you are fond of aromatic food--including Thai, Moroccan, or Indian dishes--you might find them difficult to pair with wine. All those spices can overwhelm an ordinary white or red, and very tannic or very acidic wines can clash with what's on your plate. Often, I recommend Gewurztraminer or Riesling when there are lots of spices in a recipe (and I mean spicy, not necessarily hot).

There is another good option, however: Viognier. The grape is well-known among Rhone wine lovers, but may not be something you've tasted. Intensely aromatic wines made with Viognier can be wonderful with their floral scents and full-bodied texture, but there are many examples (especially inexpensive bottles) that taste a bit too much like dish detergent and feel waxy in the mouth.

So I'm really pleased to have discovered this excellent QPR option for those of you who would like to try something different in the white wine department. Try it with something like this one-pot chicken and chickpea tagine with bulgur (also from Mark Bittman...I'm on a Bittman kick these days).

2010 Wild Horse Viognier (suggested retail $17; average online price also $17) This wine is an excellent example of what Viognier can be, with lemon pith and honeysuckle aromas and flavors. Its stony core keeps it from getting sweet and sappy, and there is a liveliness in the mouth. Expect a nice interplay between the fruit and flower elements. This bottle would pair well with spicy chicken dishes, anything that uses lemons, Moroccan food, and Indian food.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Warming up Winter with Syrah
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

I'm not sure why Syrah tastes like summer to me--but it does. And by 'tastes like summer' I don't mean it's the kind of wine you reach for in July: cool, fresh, and zingy. I'm talking, instead, about a wine that conjures up images of fruit ripening on the vine, dusty back roads, purple-and-red sunsets, and a garden full of herbs ready for picking.

Now that we're approaching midwinter, a touch of summer might be welcome. If so, why not warm up your evening with a beautiful, affordable bottle of Syrah, like this excellent QPR bottling?

The 2008 Andrew Murray Syrah Tous les Jours (suggested retail, $16; average retail price via online retailers, $17) is an exceptional bottle of wine for the price. There is a beautiful balance between the fruit, herb, and mineral notes in this rich Syrah. Black fruits dominate the aromas and flavors, and I detected black currants and blackberries. The wine has a smoky, spicy edge followed by a clean, crisp aftertaste. The wine's good acidity will make it pair with a wide variety of foods, including roasted and grilled dishes, Moroccan food, and even hamburgers.

To go with your Syrah, try this delicious pan-roasted eggplant and lamb pasta sauce from Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook. If you are vegetarian, it would be easy to leave out the lamb and still be left with a rich, flavorful sauce. The acidity of the tomatoes will not clash with this wine, the eggplant's bitterness will be a nice foil for the fruit, and the oven roasting will bring out the smokiness of the wine.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Spicing Things Up With Zin
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Whether you love them or hate them, the next eight weeks are widely regarded as something of a challenge. Holidays. Family. Bad weather. Trips to the mall. Schlepping kids all over creation. Lots of turkey and mashed potatoes.

To survive, you need to keep some spice in your life. Start with some nice Zinfandel, and throw a pot of chili or pasta on the stove. It will keep you going during the darkening days of winter.

Here are two highly affordable Zinfandels for you to consider:

2009 Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Vine Vintners Blend (suggested retail $10; available in market for $7-$13) This very good QPR Zinfandel has smooth black cherry and blackberry aromas. You'll find the same fruits in the flavors, along with a smoky, spicy aftertaste. The wine has fine tannins, giving it an impression that is fruit-forward, but not too jammy.

2010 McManis Family Vineyards Zinfandel (suggested retail $11.99; available in market for $9-$14) Pure of taste and light on its feet, this is all about the blackberries in the aromas and flavors. There are nice spicy and pepper notes in the aftertaste, too. At 13.5% ABV, this is not a monster of a wine, but a lovely reminder of how Zinfandel can be elegant. Excellent QPR for around $12.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

Exiting the Wine Superhighway with Malvasia Bianca
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

One of the great things about wine is that no matter how much of the stuff you taste, there is always a new adventure to be had on the shelves of your local store or at your local winery (and yes, most of us actually do have a winery somewhere within driving distance!)

Don't get me wrong: I love the taste of wine. But I also love discovering new tastes, and locating wines I like that are off the normal Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc-Cabernet-Pinot route. Today's wine pick is definitely out of the ordinary. Drinking it was a little bit like exiting the familiar wine freeway and taking a back road to your destination.

When I first opened up the 2010 Wild Horse Malvasia Bianca San Bernabe (suggested retail $20; available in the market for $20) from California's Monterey County AVA, I wondered if I had ever had the grape bottled on its own. It often turns up in blends, especially Italian blends. It turns out I have had straight-up Malvasia Bianca before, back in the spring of 2008 when I was looking for a wine to pair with asparagus, and I enjoyed it a great deal. Three and a half years later, I had the opportunity to taste my second example!

And what a nice change it was from the same-old same-old. First off: don't expect to smell lots of fruit when you open this wine. Instead, this delicious white had floral and spicy aromas with an underlying note of litchi. In the mouth, the impression was bone dry, and there was a spicy aftertaste that was unlike anything else I've had before. In some ways, it tasted like a GewA1/4rztraminer without that grape's lush, fruit-forward profile. As the wine was exposed to air and warmed up a bit in the glass, I tasted lean, elegant traces of pear, litchi, and lemon pith. Very good QPR. The 2010 Wild Horse Malvasia Bianca would pair beautifully with delicate fish and shellfish dishes, as well as Pacific Rim cuisine including fish tacos and sushi.

This autumn, make it a point to go wine adventuring. If you're at a restaurant that has a wine-by-the-glass list, try a grape variety you've never had before. If you're at your local wine shop, tell them that you love Pinot Noir but you'd like to try something new. Chances are you'll walk out with a Gamay or a Blaufrankisch--and you may just find a new wine favorite. And kudos to Wild Horse for offering us some unusual varieties like Verdelho, Malvasia and, yes, even Blaufrankisch, to tempt our tastebuds and expand our horizons.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Much-Maligned Merlot
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Once the darling of wine-by-the-glass programs around the country, and purchased by the gallon by people who didn't know what else to buy, Merlot has been relegated to the margins of wine culture. "You drink Merlot?" people have asked me with horrified expressions.

Yes. I drink Merlot. It's a great food wine--far easier to pair with most dishes than its more structured sibling, Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot has a bit of softness, a hint of richness, that make it a good choice for autumn and winter meals.

But Merlot critics do have a point: there was such a high demand for Merlot some people got carried away and began mass-producing wines that lost all of the plummy, peppery, clove, and mocha notes that make wines made with this grape distinctive.

Here are a few affordable bottlings that will get you reacquainted with Merlot. And here's a handy list of foods that go well with them: Mustard, Mushrooms, and Meatloaf (and other dishes made with ground beef). It's an easy list to remember, and will help you out in the store whether you're inspired to make Melissa Clark's Chicken with Mustard Croutons, Jamie Oliver's pappardelle pasta with wild mushrooms, or a classic meatloaf or burger.

2009 Rutherford Ranch Merlot (suggested retail $18; available for $14-$20) With characteristic chocolate, plum, and spice notes that persist from the aromas, through the flavors, and continue on into the aftertaste, this is a very good QPR choice. Nicely balanced between fruit, acidity, and oak, the wine impproves with air, suggesting it is suitable for drinking between 2011 and 2014. Buy a bottle for now--and set one aside for 2012 or later.

2009 Arroba Winery Merlot (suggested retail $19.95; available for around $15) A good QPR choice with plum and baking chocolate aromas and flavors. Good acidity and spice in the aftertaste makes you head back to the glass for another sip.

2009 Bella Sera Merlot (suggested retail $7.99; available for $7-$11) Very good QPR at around $8, this Merlot smells and tastes of plums with hints of chocolate around the edges and pleasingly smooth tannins. It may not convince Merlot skeptics, but those who enjoy the grape should give this Sicilian bottling a try.

2008 Concannon Vineyard Merlot Selected Vineyards (suggested retail $10; available for $7-$11) Another very good QPR Merlot for the price, with more structured rich plum and currant aromas. These fruits are evident in the flavors, too, which are nicely accented with spice. A reminder of the versatility or Merlot, and that the grape can be great if treated well.

If you haven't had Merlot for a while, give it another try. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by what's on offer these days.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

The Pursuit of Chardonnay
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

There are days when I just despair for the future of Chardonnay. All it takes is a string of uninspired, overly manipulated examples with loads of fake oak flavors and it makes me swear off the stuff for weeks.

But it only takes one good bottle to remind you why some of the world's great wines have been made from the grape.

If you're in pursuit of Chardonnay, this bottle should help you remember what Chardonnay can be.

2009 MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay Sonoma Coast (suggested retail, $20; available in market for $12-$20) This is a good example of a California Chardonnay that has seen some time inside a barrel, so there are flavor elements that derive from oak, namely a vanillin note that did not strike me as at all fake or forced. Hurray! The entry for the wine comes from its aromas of dough and apple (a bit like an apple crumble), with a note of honeyed vanilla that is the prelude for tastes to come. The flavors are dominated by cream and apple, with a cantaloupe note that I can't say I've ever tasted in a Chardonnay before, but which added an interesting dimension to the wine. Creamy vanilla notes linger in the mouth after your last swallow. Very good QPR, if you like rich and full-bodied California Chardonnays that remain true to the grape.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Napa Cabernet for Under $20
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Cabernet Sauvignons from California's Napa Valley are among the iconic wines of the USA. They have a cult following, and are in heavy demand, which means that they have hefty price tags, too. Is it possible for those with leaner wallets to see what the fuss is all about.

Absolutely.

If you're looking to try a Napa Valley Cabernet--with all the rich flavors that the appellation promises--try to get your hands on this bottle. It may not have all the complexity and structure of a $100 bottle of Napa Cabernet, but for around $15 it's far more affordable.

The 2008 Irony Cabernet Sauvignon (available in market for $11-$17) is a very good QPR choice in Napa Valley Cabernet, with good varietal character and some distinct Napa pizzazz. High-toned plum, cherry and pomegranate aromas and flavors gain depth with a cedary, spicy aftertaste that reminds me of much more expensive bottlings. Though the tannins pucker the tongue with a nice grip, the wine is never heavy. As a result, it is very food friendly and will pair beautifully with stews, roast meat, and steaks.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Something to Celebrate
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Five years ago, on 7 October 2006, I wrote my first blog post after going wine shopping. Here we are, more than 714, 000 visitors later. As with most things in life there have been ups and downs, some bumps in the road, and some unexpected miracles which led to unexpected hiatuses in posting. Thanks for sticking by me through thick (when I wrote a post a day) and thin (when I wrote no posts for months) and everything in between (like now, when I'm doing my level best to post every Monday and Thursday--or in this case, Sunday and Thursday).

Since a 5th Year Anniversary is something to celebrate, today I've got a round-up of under $20 sparklers for you. They come from Italy, France, and Austria. And because they're affordable you don't need any particular excuse to buy one and open it just because it's Monday!

2009 Weingut Markus Huber Zweigelt Hugo ($18, domaineLA; available in market for $16-$17) A nice choice in sparkling roses under $20, this is made with Zweigelt, and has distinctive strawberry aromas and flavors. Very yeasty (almost beery) in terms of the carbonation, this is a more rustic sparkling wine perfect for charcuterie or a plate of grilled sausages. Very good QPR.

N.V. Clos de La Briderie CrA(c)mant de Loire Brut PuretA(c) de Silex ($15, domaineLA; available in market for $16-$19) Very good for the price, this wine is made with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon under biodynamic growing protocols. The color is rose-gold, and the bubbles are medium-sized and long-lasting. Crisp citrus flavors are paired with richer notes of bread dough and toast. Even Champagne lovers will be impressed with the quality and depth of flavor for $15. Excellent QPR.

N.V. Sorelle Bronca Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Extra Dry (under $20 at domaineLA; available in market for $14-$18) Clean lemon and lemon-blossom aromas and flavors, and the bead is quite small, which makes for a fun, frothy Prosecco that is good enough to be had on its own as opposed to mixing into Bellinis. Very good QPR.

N.V. Voveti Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene (suggested retail, $17; available in market for $12-$15) Greenish in color with small bubbles. this wine is part of a new venture in wine making from a Spanish/Italian team. The partnership really shines in this wine which has the apply/bready notes of Spanish sparklers and the citrusy notes of prosecco without any bitterness or excessive yeastiness. Crisp, but can stand up to food especially vegetables and fish. Very good QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of the Voveti for possible review.

When Life Gives You Lemons...
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

There is something fresh, clean, and bright about the scent of a lemon. No wonder we use the juice to liven up the flavors in food, and put fine ribbons of lemon peel in so many dishes to add just the right crisp, sweet note.

Today I have two recommendations for lemony wines. Like lemon juice or lemon peel, these bottlings will brighten up your table and enhance the flavors in food. And here's something that will put an even bigger smile on your face: they both retail for around $11.

2010 McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio (suggested retail $10.99; available in the market for $8-14) For around $11 this wine impresses with its clean-edged lemon peel aromas, pure lemon flavors, and slightly waxy texture. There's not a false note or a rough edge to be had, and it's not too bitter so it's a perfect wine if you're looking for something citrusy to accompany lemon-roasted chicken or piccata. Excellent QPR.

2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Sauvignon Blanc Private Selection (suggested retail $11; available in the market for $8-11) With loads of lemon and lime zest in the aromas, this wine is reminiscent of the fresh, zippy Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand. The aromas are echoed in the flavors, which take on a nice lemongrass complexity. Clean, zesty, and focused this is another steal for the price. Excellent QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

The Future Looks RosA(c)
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Now that we're into autumn, you may think the future looks decidedly less RosA(c).

Those of us who drink RosA(c) wines--those pale to dark pink bottles of wine made from everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel--tend to think of them as summery offerings, suitable for picnics and barbeques but not for serious food.

Actually, RosA(c) wines are versatile and food friendly. They pair with almost everything. Served with a bit of a chill, they offer refreshment when your table contains spicy dishes. And they are usually very affordable.

Here are two of my favorite RosA(c)s, which I tasted over the summer and early fall and which I have no problem recommending to those of you who are ready to take out your stew pot and turn on your oven. And both of them are dry wines--which means that they will pair with almost everything.

2010 San Giovanni Garda Classico Il Chiaretto ($15.00, domaineLA; available in market for $13-$15) This delicious RosA(c) is made from an Italian blend of Barbera, Groppello, Marzemino, and Sangiovese. You will smell the strawberries, and the aromas carry over into the flavors. There is a pleasant stony edge to the strawberry tones, and a lovely, savory note in the aftertaste. Well-balanced, medium-bodied, and excellent QPR. We had it with a Jamie Oliver dish of grilled tuna with oregano and lemon, grilled zucchini, and some garlicky cannellini beans, and the wine had the right amount of fruit, acidity, and minerality to pair with the dish. It would also be great with creamy pasta dishes, sausage, or roast pork. Note: It comes in a cute, chubby bottle but it does contain the full 750ml that you're used to.

2010 ChAC/teau d'Esclans CA'tes de Provence Whispering Angel ($20.99 from my local independent grocery store; available in market for $13-$27)
This wine is very, very pale pink in color--think ballet-tights pink. The aromas are even drier than those of the Il Chiaretto, with under-ripe strawberries, chalk, and melon rising up from the glass. The flavors echo the aromas, but the chalk becomes more intense. Very dry, very savory, and very good QPR (though if you can get it for under $15, you will find it's excellent QPR) This wine is made mainly from Grenache, with some Rolle, Cinsault, and Syrah blended in to it. A nice pairing for shrimp or other shellfish, salmon, tuna, or roast chicken.

Advanced Topics in White Wine
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

It's that time of year. If you have kids they're back in school with their pencils sharpened and their notebooks already full of doodles. You might be feeling a bit nostalgic about your own schooldays-gone-by, when you were taking courses and learning new subjects.

The best thing about loving wine (ok, one of the best things...) is that there is always more to learn. This fall, why not try some interesting whites that are beyond your normal Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc-Riesling comfort zone? You just may find a new favorite.

2009 M. Chapoutier CA'tes du RhA'ne Blanc Belleruche (suggested retail $12.99; available in market for $8-$15) Red wine fans may be familiar with the rich, affordable red blends from the Southern RhA'ne, but have you ever tasted their whites? This blend contains Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc. It is more "old world" in style, with a fresh, neutral taste dominated by mineral and lemon peel notes. It tastes robust, and stands up well to richer fish (tuna, halibut), vegetable dishes, and chicken pot pie. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, I think you'll enjoy this wine. Very good QPR.

2010 ViA+-a Robles White4 (suggested retail $16; available in market for $13-$16) ) This white blend is from Paso Robles, and gets its name from the four white grape varieties that go into every bottle: Viognier, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vermentino. This year's bottling is a very good QPR, versatile white wine with honeysuckle and citrus aromas and flavors. If you like dry Rieslings but are looking for a wine with more body, give this a try.

2010 Freie WeingA$?rtner Wachau / DomA$?ne Wachau GrA1/4ner Veltliner Federspiel Terrassen (suggested retail $15; available in market for $11-$17) The grapes are grown in Austria's Wachau region, and the wine that results is crisp with pear, stony mineral, and citrus elements. The wine tastes full and delicious, while retaining its bright and lively profile. Excellent QPR. I love Gruner Veltliner with fish, roasted chicken, anything made with lentils, and even Indian food.

2009 Leo Steen Chenin Blanc Saini Farms (purchased in my local grocery store for $19.99; available in market for around $17) Made from grapes grown in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley, this lovely Chenin Blanc is a lovely, dry example. There are apple and honeycomb aromas and flavors, which bring back the tastes of summer. If you like the apple notes in Chardonnay, but are not always fond of the oak that many winemakers use, try this wine and you won't be disappointed. And if you're looking for wines to set aside for Thanksgiving, this would be a great choice. Excellent QPR.

Full Disclosure: With the exception of the Chenin Blanc, I received samples of these wines for possible review.

Autumn's Transitional Red
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

The temperature is up.
The temperature is down.
You want to use your grill once last time before you put it away.
You want to break out your crock pot.

If this sounds like you, then you need to have some Malbec on hand. Many people associate Malbecs with summer barbeques, but this versatile red is just as good with soups or stews as it is with grilled chicken or steak. In other words, it's the perfect transitional red!

A few reminders about Malbec: though today the grape is most associated with Argentina , it was once quite popular in Bordeaux and produces wines that remind me of French Cabernets and Merlots. Expect a rich, full-bodied wine that can hold center stage. And keep in mind that while some Malbecs can be big, fun fruit-bombs, others are far more restrained and can exhibit mineral and herbal characteristics.

Here are three Argentinian Malbecs I'm recommending this autumn:

2010 Colores Del Sol Malbec (suggested retail $12; available in market for $6-$12) This excellent QPR option has lovely, lush blackberry and boysenberry aromas. That fruity aroma profile is found in the flavors, as well, and there are additional notes of leather and spice which linger on after the fruit flavors fade. This Malbec will go well with grilled sausages, meats, chilis, and stews.

2008 Gauchezco Malbec (suggested retail $14.99; available in market for $8-$11) A more restrained example, with typical varietal characteristics, this wine has earthier, raisin, and black cherry aromas and flavors. With air there was a nice spicebox quality to the aftertaste, as well as some tobacco notes. Very good QPR at around $15, if you can find it for around $10 I think it would be excellent QPR for those looking for a more traditional taste.

2009 Argento Malbec Reserva (suggested retail $16; available in market for $14-$16). Don't be worried if the plum aromas are faint when you first open this wine. They develop nicely with some exposure to the air, as do the plum, blackberry, and tobacco leaf flavors. The tannins are drying, and will probably soften a bit with storage time. Also traditional in style, this would be particularly good with grilled or braised meat. Very good QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

To Reserve or Not to Reserve? And What's the Difference Anyway?
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

In your wanderings down supermarket aisles and through wine stores, you may have come across wines labeled "Reserve" or bearing the name of a vineyard and wondered what the designations were all about. What does it mean to be a "reserve" wine? A vineyard wine? And what difference--if any--does it make to the taste? Or the price tag?

If you are confused about what "Reserve" means there is a good reason for it: there is no standard or regulated use of the term. In its purest sense, it was once used by winemakers to specially mark wines they felt were superior. Today, it can be used to indicate the wines have been reserved in the winery for an extra year or two, that they received special oak treatment, that the grapes used in the wine were from a select portion of those harvested, or some combination. It can also be used purely as a marketing term, because who wouldn't want a special wine?

Wines with vineyard designations are regulated, however, and if you see the name of a vineyard on a bottle it means that 95% of the grapes used in the wine must come from that vineyard. Vineyards vary tremendously in terms of soil, climate, and exposure and all of these variables can alter the taste of your wine. Sometimes, a winemaker feels that the grapes grown in a particular patch exhibit special characteristics, and they decide to keep that fruit separate to accentuate the unique qualities of the grapes.

Recently I had a chance to taste three wines made from the same maker, from the same grape, and all from grapes grown in the same county (although different parts of that county). One was the standard bottling, one was a vineyard designate, and one was a reserve bottling. All three were excellent--but had distinctively different taste. Here's my take on them.

2009 Rodney Strong Chardonnay Sonoma County (suggested retail $13.50; available in the market for $8-$15). A clean and crisp Chardonnay, with apple and lemon aromas and flavors accented by richer pineapple and creamy vanilla notes. A portion of the juice was fermented in barrels, the rest in a tank, which helps to explain both the vanilla notes (the oak) and the crispness (from the stainless steel tanks). Flavorful, well-balanced and food friendly. Very good QPR.

2009 Rodney Strong Chardonnay Chalk Hill (suggested retail ; available in the market for $13-$21) This wine was made from grapes grown in an estate vineyard in the Russian River Valley. A distinctive, classy Chardonnay with apple and toasted oak aromas followed by apple flavors. Layers of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg make the wine spicy, but the apple flavors remain strong and keep the wine fresh as do the underlying mineral notes. The aftertaste is nicely spicy, too, in part from the time the juice spent in both new and seasoned French oak barrels. Very good QPR.

2008 Rodney Strong Chardonnay Reserve Russian River Valley (suggested retail $35; available in the market for $24-$35). This wine was one year older than the others I tasted (even though it is a recent release) and tasted and smelled far richer with its apple and toasted coconut aromas. Full, creamy baked apple and sour cream flavors were followed up with a rich, spicy aftertaste. The Rodney Strong website explains that the wine was made in their "small lot winemaking facility," and that the juice was fermented in French oak barrels. Though this wine cost significantly more, it was an excellent value of the rich, oaky style of California Chardonnay. Very good QPR.

When faced with a decision of whether to choose a standard, vineyard designate, or reserve bottling, remember this: it's all about the taste and what you find affordable. In this case, the higher priced wines were richer-tasting, in large part because of their contact time with expensive oak barrels. However, sometimes what you want is a crisp Chardonnay. In that case, you'd be far happier with the Sonoma County bottling! As for me, my palate was most pleased with the Chalk Hill example.

As for food pairings, any of these wines would provide you with a pleasant Chardonnay to pair with your late summer/early fall dinners of grilled or roasted chicken, butternut squash ravioli, or grilled halibut.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

Love Fish? Try Falanghina
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

I don't know why, but recently my largely-chicken diet has turned in the direction of fish. This means my white wine preferences are shifting subtly, too. It's harder and harder for me to find a Chardonnay that doesn't overwhelm fish's delicate flavors. Sauvignon Blancs can be too assertive. Riesling doesn't work for my tastebuds for some reason, unless the fish preparation is quite spicy or I'm having shrimp.

So I kept searching for whites that would pair well with my fish tacos, linguine alle vongole, grilled tuna, halibut, scallops, and shrimp. And I found Falanghina. This wonderful grape is native to the southern Italian region of Campania, and is especially well-known in the vineyards around Naples on the Amalfi Coast.

The wine that knocked my socks off and won a permanent spot on my table is the 2009 VIVI Falanghina Campania IGT. And the suggested retail price? $9.99 (available in the market for $8-$13). You will find that the wine smells fresh and floral, like sitting in a garden by the seaside on a summer's day. As you swirl it in your glass, you may notice some citrus notes, too. Flavors of lemon and honeycomb round out the wine. And while there is plenty of zip and acidity in the juicy aftertaste, it will not overwhelm the delicacy of the seafood or fish you might be serving. Excellent QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Fire Up the Grills--and Buy Cabernet Sauvignon
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

It was 90 degrees in Los Angeles. I know it's snowing in Buffalo, but here it is spring (or maybe even summer). So last night I fired up the grill for the first time, marinaded a skirt steak, threw some sweet potatoes in the oven (note to self: roasting potatoes in oven for an hour heats up the house), and tossed some cherry tomatoes with mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Then I hit the Cabernets.

I love grilled steak with Cabernet Sauvignon, and I have three recommendations for you: one under $10, one under $15, and the other just a hair over $20. Even if you are experiencing snow, these wines would also be good with stews, braised short ribs, or a pot of chili.

Under $10: 2009 Big House Wine Company The Usual Suspect Cabernet Sauvignon (suggested retail $9.99; available for $6-$10). Not the most complex Cabernet, perhaps, but a solid example of the grape with characteristic plum and currant aromas. The palate was dominated with plum notes and accented by a bitter taste reminiscent of coffee grounds. The aftertaste was nicely bitter, too, which kept this fruit-forward wine from becoming too jammy. A touch of Grenache is blended into the Cabernet. Good QPR.

Under $15: 2009 Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon James Oatley TIC TOK (suggested retail $14; available for $12-$16) This is another fruit-forward Cabernet, with currant and blackberry aromas and flowers. A spicy aftertaste is accompanied by nice tannins that have just enough grip. Very good QPR.

Just Over $20: 2008 ViA+-a Robles Cabernet Sauvignon Huerhuero Vineyard (suggested retail $22; this new release currently available at the vineyard; previous releases available elsewhere for $15-$25) This was a wonderful wine, and tasted like something considerably more expensive than the sticker price. Aromas and flavors of currant, pencil lead, and eucalyptus made for an elegant and complex wine. With air, the currant notes turn plummy. The aftertaste is smooth, with spicy, well-integrated tannins. This is a lot of wine for $22, and excellent QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

A Candidate for Your House White: d'Arenberg's The Stump Jump
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Last week I was extolling the virtues of red blends. After I wrote the post, I realized that though there were many red blends in my cellar, there weren't many white blends. I'm not sure why that's the case, because what goes for reds is true of whites as well: the blending can make the wine especially food friendly and versatile. And, just as with red blends, there is often a very attractive price tag on a white blend.

So I looked in the closet to see if I had any white blends and discovered a bottle of the 2009 d'Arenberg The Stump Jump (suggested retail $10; available for $9-$13) This is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Marsanne, and Riesling. As with most good blends, you can identify the individual components in the finished product. In this case, the Sauvignon Blanc is evident in the aroma which is very grassy, and that grassiness is accompanied by touches of honey from the Marsanne. The flavors have notes of pear, grapefruit pith, and a bit of litchi--so there's more Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling influence there. The mouthfeel is heavier than some whites, thanks largely to the Marsanne. The aftertaste reminded me of a dry Riesling, with its acidity and apple notes. I would have liked the wine to be a bit more fruit-forward--which is not something I say often. Even so, this wine is a good candidate for a house white because of its versatility and very good QPR. I looked over my notes from previous vintages, too, and this wine has consistently been good all the way back to 2004, which is another reason to try a bottle if you see one in the store, irrespective of its vintage.

Proof of the wine's versatility can be had by pairing it with something like this Soba Noodle Salad with Salmon and Asparagus from Bon Appetit magazine. With the rich salmon and avocado, the grassy asparagus, and the ginger-soy dressing, it's a bit of a challenge--but this wine handled it beautifully. The Sauvignon Blanc worked well with the asparagus, the Riesling with the Asian flavors, and the Marsanne stood up to the buckwheat and salmon.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for review.

A Red for All Seasons
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Last week I was extolling the virtues of spring. Now it's grey and drizzly again. In some places, it's still snowing. With the variable weather, it's hard to know which way is up. Do you dust off the grill and barbecue chicken? Or do you make a pot of stew? And what do you drink in the wine department, given it can be 86 degrees one day and 59 degrees the next?

Regular readers know that I love red blends because they're food friendly. This time of year, though, I am especially fond of them because their versatility means that they are as welcome next to grilled chicken as they are soup. So when the weather gets this way I make a bit pot of chili, pick out a red blend, and no matter whether if feels like June or January I'm ready to go.

A red blend I enjoyed recently with a pot of beef and black bean chili was the 2006 Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red from Washington state's Columbia Valley. ($19.69 in my local independent grocery store; this vintage available for $20-$25, but more recent vintages can be had for $14-$22) Composed from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Merlot, the result is a juicy, fruit-forward wine with good structure. I've had my bottle for several years, and it's drinking just great now. I detected aromas of blueberry, cinnamon, and baking chocolate, all of which are echoed in the palate. The wine retains a fresh, lively taste through the mouth-watering aftertaste, with some additional herbal and spice notes. What I enjoyed most was the play between the varieties: the Cabernet Sauvignon lending its weight and acidity, the Syrah providing those soft berry flavors and spice, the Cabernet Franc lifting the blend with some acidity and herbs, and the Merlot making it approachable and inviting. Very good QPR.

And if you're looking for some chili recipes, here are a few of my favorites to try:

Fine Cooking's Beef and Black Bean Chili with Chipotle and Avocado

Rachael Ray's Fiery Chicken Chili (warning: makes enough for medium-sized army)

Tyler Florence's Outrageous Texas Chili

Spring/Sprung: Three White Wines Perfect for the Season
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Sorry about the long silence, folks, but I've been--er--busy. And I managed to catch the mother of all winter colds, which lasted three weeks and pretty much made tasting anything (wine included) an impossibility.

Now that I'm sprung from booktours and the 'flu, I'm back home, and having a glass of wine with dinner again, so I've got some tasting notes for you. The first are all about spring. It's definitely in the air here in Los Angeles and if you haven't caught a whiff of it yet, you soon will. Here are some lively white wines to celebrate the freshness of the air and the first flowers:

2009 Graves Monkey Wrench ($17.99, domaineLA; available for $17-$23) This wine is blended from one of my favorite white grapes--Grenache Blanc--and Viognier. The result is a fresh, zesty, and well-balanced with lime and mango aromas and flavors. These fruity notes are kept in check with strong minerality and tangy acidity. You will enjoy this with grilled fish, a chicken salad, or Asian food. Excellent QPR. (NB: label if from 2006--I drank the 2009)

2010 Chasing Venus Sauvignon Blanc (suggested retail $16; available for $10-$23) In the "even zestier" department, this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will appeal to the most die-hard lovers of the fresh wines from the Marlborough region. Abundant gooseberry, lime, and lemongrass aromas and flavors will make it ideal with Thai food, the fresh vegetables of the season (I imagine it would be wonderful with an herb risotto, for example), or citrus-roasted chicken. Very good QPR.

2009 Franciscan Chardonnay (suggested retail $18; available for $12-$22) Finally, if you like a slightly richer wine but are ready to swap your buttery wintery Chardonnays for one that has a bit more zip, try this excellent QPR bottling from Napa. It's one of the best domestic Chardonnays I've had in some time, and is memorable for its liveliness, its excellent balance, and the zesty citrus and apple flavor profile. Elegant and food-friendly, have this one with your richer dishes like a scalloped potato and fennel gratin, your favorite chicken dish, or some grilled chicken-apple sausages and a tossed salad.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of the Chasing Venus and Franciscan wines for review. I purchased the Graves bottling myself.

The Virtues of Simple Perfection: Cep Sauvignon Blanc
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

Simplicity is underrated. Perfection is overrated. But what do you do when you find a wine that is quite simply perfect? Well, you enjoy it first. Then, if you're me, you write about it here and hope that you can still get your hands on some later.

Some readers will find it surprising that the wine that I'm touting is a Sauvignon Blanc. One person I know recently described Sauvignon Blanc as "boring," and while I couldn't disagree more I think I understand why some she might feel this way. There are a lot of generically "citrusy" Sauvignon Blancs out there that, though refreshing, aren't necessarily going to make you run out and buy more. I think this Sauvignon Blanc is different, though. And even though you might pay a smidge over $20 as I did, I think you will still consider it excellent QPR.

The 2009 Cep Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Hopkins Ranch ($20.99 in my local independent grocery store; available in the market for $15-$20) is a wonderful example of Sauvignon Blanc. Instead of a generically "citrusy" mouthful, I detected pure notes of Meyer Lemon in the aromas and flavors. There was a clean note of mint, as well, and some stoniness that added depth and breadth to the wine. It was almost piercing in its intensity, but never overwhelming or assertive, with lots of focus to the flavors and a long, juicy aftertaste. Think of pairing this wine with Asian food that uses citrus elements like orange peel or lemon, a roast chicken, an early spring salad topped with rounds of goat cheese, or seafood.

This stylish, well-made, and satisfying wine was brought to you by the same people who own and operate Peay Vineyards, and are winemakers renowned and respected for their ability to select great fruit and craft great wines from that fruit. Cep is their second label--which means that fruit that doesn't quite make the cut of their high-end wines is bottled under a different name--and was for a time a well-kept secret. Now the secret it out, and it gives more people a chance to taste their winemaking efforts. Cep also bottles a superb rosA(c) and Pinot Noir, so keep your eyes out for these, too.

Your House Red: Boxed and Ready to Go
From goodwineunder20.blogspot

I'm the only wine drinker in my house. And there are times, like now, when things are so crazy that planning menus and opening bottles of wine that will in all likelihood go off before I can finish them up doesn't make sense. Enter the new generation of boxed wines.

I'm particularly partial to the Octavin, which has a fantastic spigot contraption that doesn't leak or drip. There are other options out there, too, and all of them keep air from getting to the wine thereby keeping the wine fresh-tasting for weeks, rather than days. The only downside of the Octavin is that with white wines they take up a certain amount of prime refrigerator real estate. With reds, you just set them in a cool place on the counter and enjoy a glass whenever the mood strikes.

Given the convenience of the packaging, I was particularly pleased to receive this sample of the NV Bodegas Osborne Seven because it is an ideal candidate for a house red--you know, the easy-drinking reds that go with practically everything and are great to have on hand. And the price is right, too: a 3.0 L size Octavin (equivalent to 4 bottles of wine) has a suggested retail of just $22. (available in the market for $16-$21)

The very good QPR NV Bodegas Osborne Seven is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Grenache, and Graciano. With all those grapes in it, it's hard to pin a varietal character on the wine. Instead, this is a "red" wine--which is not a bad thing on a Tuesday night when you're making Mark Bittman's chicken with roasted potatoes and Romesco sauce. I could smell the Grenache in the floral and fruity aromas. The Syrah and Petit Verdot are evident in the flavors which span the plum and blackberry spectrum. There are some darker notes, too: dark chocolate and ground coffee.

This wine will go with pasta, soup, stew, pizza, burgers, steaks--you name it.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for review.

Best Ever Bread Pudding
From https:

The secret to incredible bread pudding with a soft middle and crisp edges starts with leftover dinner rolls. I picked up the rich brown sugar sauce recipe from my friend Kathryn Gartmann. A big drizzle of it takes this dessert over the top and really makes it the best bread pudding ever. —Maria Petrella, Taste of Home Prep Cook

Sweet Potato-Gingerbread Meringue Pie
From https:

This delicious pie showcases gingerbread flavor in the meringue instead of the crust. Baking it on the bottom rack gets the crust nice and crisp without par-baking it. —Shannon Roum, Food Stylist, Taste of Home

Brownie Snack Cake
From https:

"You can have your cake and eat it too with this luscious, easy-to-prepare chocolate dessert," assures Gessica Brown of Rochester, Indiana.

Frozen Fruit Pops
From https:


hello

Keyword Selected: (Napoli)

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Keyword Selected: Italy

Highland Park shooting suspect charged with murder as police reveal past threat against family
From https:

Robert Crimo, 21, faces seven counts of first-degree murder after Fourth of July massacre

The man alleged to have fatally shot seven people and wounded more than 30 others at an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago managed to legally obtain five guns a including the murder weapon a after a suicide attempt and a threat to akill everyonea in 2019, authorities revealed on Tuesday.

The new details came as Robert Crimo III, 21, was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder over the deadly massacre. Announcing the charges in an evening press conference on Tuesday, the Lake County stateas attorney, Eric Rinehart, said that the community of Highland Park would anever be the samea and promised the charges were just athe first of manya.

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Georgia grand jury subpoenas Trump lawyers over effort to overturn election
From https:

Rudy Giuliani and Lindsey Graham among members of legal team to receive subpoenas over ex-presidentas efforts to afinda votes

The special grand jury investigating Donald Trumpas efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia has subpoenaed several of the former US presidentas legal advisers and political allies.

Court documents show the Fulton county special grand jury has issued subpoenas to members of the Trump campaign legal team, including Rudy Giuliani, and Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina.

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Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak quit a throwing Boris Johnsonas future into doubt
From https:

Damning letters from health secretary and chancellor as they resign within minutes of each other

Boris Johnsonas premiership was on the brink of collapse after the chancellor, the health secretary and a string of Conservative aides dramatically quit, dealing a crushing blow to his authority after a slew of self-inflicted scandals.

Publishing damning resignation letters within minutes of each other, Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid pointed to a lack of grip in Downing Street.

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California: explosive wildfire more than doubles in size overnight
From https:

Fast-moving Electra fire forces hundreds to evacuate and threatens crucial power infrastructure east of Sacramento

An explosive wildfire that erupted in California on Fourth of July more than doubled in size overnight, quickly consuming more than 3,000 acres by Tuesday morning.

The fast-moving Electra fire, burning through the dried grasses and steep, rugged terrain east of Sacramento has forced hundreds of evacuations and continues to pose threats to critical power infrastructure according to officials with the California department of forestry and fire protection (CalFire).

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Utahas Great Salt Lake hits new historic low amid drought in western US
From https:

Vast body of water sets second record low water level in less than a year putting birds and $1.3bn lake-based economy at risk

The Great Salt Lake has hit a new historic low for the second time in less than a year, a dire milestone as the US west continues to weather a historic megadrought.

The Utah department of natural resources said in a news release on Monday that the Great Salt Lake dipped over the weekend to 4,190.1ft (1,277.1 meters).

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Ben & Jerryas sues parent company over Israeli deal ato protect social integritya
From https:

Complaint says Unilever sale of Israeli business to local licensee undermines its values to sell its ice-cream in occupied West Bank

Ben & Jerryas has sued its parent Unilever plc to block the sale of its Israeli business to a local licensee, saying it was inconsistent with its values to sell its ice-cream in the occupied West Bank.

The complaint filed in the US district court in Manhattan said the sale announced on 29 June threatened to undermine the integrity of the Ben & Jerryas brand, which Ben & Jerryas board retained independence to protect when Unilever acquired the company in 2000.

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Canada to throw out 13.6m AstraZeneca Covid vaccine doses amid lack of demand
From https:

Government pledged to donate millions of doses to other countries but they were anot accepteda despite fresh rise in coronavirus cases around the world

Canada is to throw out about 13.6m doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine because it couldnat find any takers for it either at home or abroad.

Canada signed a contract with AstraZeneca in 2020 to get 20m doses of its vaccine, and 2.3 million Canadians received at least one dose of it, mostly between March and June 2021.

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Florida restores state abortion ban beyond 15 weeks after temporary halt
From https:

A judge had ruled that the ban violated the privacy protections in the stateas constitution, pausing the restrictive measure

After a judge in Florida temporarily halted a state law banning abortions beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy, a state appeal restored the ban on Tuesday.

Judge John C Cooper of an appellate court in Floridaas capital of Tallahassee ruled that the ban in question a enshrined in a bill that Republican lawmakers approved in April a violates privacy protections in the state constitution.

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Toronto: Sikh guards fired or demoted over ahumiliatinga facial hair policy
From https:

Staff at homeless shelters required to be aclean-shavena to ensure N95 masks fit but for Sikh facial hair is key expression of faith

More than one hundred Sikh security guards in Toronto have lost their jobs or been demoted after refusing to cut their beards in order to wear a face mask, highlighting a city policy that critics describe as discriminatory and ahumiliatinga.

Under Torontoas current rules, staff at homeless shelters and other congregate settings must wear a N95 respirator when exposed to people with Covid-19 or during suspected outbreaks.

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Texas death row inmate asks to delay execution so he can donate kidney
From https:

Lawyers for Ramiro Gonzales, who is set to die by lethal injection on 13 July, requested 30-day reprieve so he can provide donation

A Texas man set to be executed in less than two weeks asked to delay his execution so he can donate a kidney.

Ramiro Gonzales, 39, who is set to die by lethal injection on 13 July, has submitted formal requests to postpone his execution so he can provide a kidney donation for someone urgently needing a transplant.

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Sloviansk mayor urges residents to flee city as Russia steps up shelling
From https:

Vadim Lyakh says 40 houses hit on Monday as Moscow shifts focus to main cities in Donetsk region after fall of Lysychansk

The mayor of Sloviansk has called on its remaining residents to evacuate as the Russian invaders stepped up their shelling of the frontline Ukrainian city after the capture of Lysychansk on Sunday.

Vadim Lyakh said 40 houses had been shelled on Monday a while other officials later said two people were killed and seven injured after Russian forces struck a market and a residential area in the city.

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Turkey seizes Russian ship carrying astolena Ukrainian grain
From https:

Kremlin denies owning the cargo despite boasting of the afirst shipa to leave occupied territory

A Russian-flagged ship carrying thousands of tonnes of grain is being held and investigated by Turkish authorities in the Black Sea port of Karasu over claims its cargo was stolen from Ukraine.

Turkish customs officials acted after Kyiv claimed the Zhibek Zholy was illegally transporting 7,000 tonnes of grain out of Russian-occupied Berdiansk, a Ukrainian port in the south-east of the country.

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How Ukraineas aVenicea has borne the brunt of fight for Snake Island
From https:

The battle for the strategic outcrop has shaken the fishing village of Vylkove, where boats can no longer put out to sea

It is remote, inhospitable, windswept and largely uninhabited, but it has been fought over for centuries. Legend has it that the rocky outcrop in the Black Sea was created by the sea god Poseidon as a home for the greatest of all Greek warriors: Achilles. And just like the demigod, the small, cross-shaped island has seen its share of wars. Today, the tiny piece of land is known as Snake Island (Zmiinyi Island), and on Monday Ukrainian forces raised the countryas flag there once again after seizing the island back from Russian occupiers, driven away after months of heavy bombardment.

The fight for Snake Island has strategic value, but most important it is of national significance for all Ukrainians, especially in their countryas darkest hour, with their back to the wall in Donbas. However, in the tiny fishing village of Vylkove, on the Ukrainian side of the Danube River and the closest inhabited area to the Island, the battle to regain control over this outcrop has upended the lives of inhabitants.

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Switzerland resists Ukrainian plan to seize frozen Russian assets
From https:

President says violating property rights would set dangerous precedent and needed legal justification

Ukrainian plans to seize as much as $500bn (APS418bn) in frozen Russian assets to fund the countryas recovery have met firm resistance from Switzerland, the hosts of an international two-day Ukraine recovery conference.

The Swiss president, Ignazio Cassis, pushed back on the plan, saying protection of property rights was fundamental in a liberal democracy. He underlined at a closing press conference the serious qualms of some leaders that proposals to confiscate Russian assets will set a dangerous precedent and needed specific legal justification.

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New Yorkers will put up with a lot a but donat blaspheme the bodegas
From https:

A midwestern transplant is the latest target of the cityas wrath for daring to criticize the beloved corner stores

A piece of advice for anyone considering a move to New York: donat mess with bodegas.

The celebrated stores a which vary widely but generally function as convenience stores, delis, food markets and coffee shops a have been a city staple for decades, inspiring unwavering loyalty from locals: aIf youare not cool with your corner store guy, youare not from New York,a as one worker told NPR.

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As fireworks lit up the sky, firearms displayed an uglier face of US culture
From https:

Americaas national day became a twisted showcase of another form of US exceptionalism: its exceptionally easy access to guns and the resultant mayhem

The United States marked 246 years of independence with the traditional fireworks, flag-waving and barbecues a but this Fourth of July was also marred by an eruption of gun violence in dozens of cities across the nation.

As America celebrated its declaration of freedom from colonial rule on Monday, its national day became a twisted showcase of another form of US exceptionalism: its exceptionally easy access to guns and the resultant mayhem. While fireworks lit up the night sky, the ugly impact of firearms was also widely on display.

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aGo homea: Honduran islanders fight against crypto colonialists
From https:

The battle over land rights and sovereignty on the island of RoatA!n has galvanized the whole country

Straight ahead of Wilford Websteras hilltop home, waves break over the turquoise waters that surround the reefs offshore.

aLook at this,a he said, his arms framing the panorama. aWho wouldnat want this?a

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Trump 2024 run could upend midterms a and deflect risk of prosecution
From https:

Rumors are swirling that the ex-president could make an announcement soon, as January 6 revelations continue

Speculation is swirling in the US media that Donald Trump is considering announcing a 2024 presidential run as early as this summer and in the face of ever more damaging revelations from a congressional investigation of his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Irrespective of Trumpas chances of winning a second term, another presidential campaign under consideration a as reported by the New York Times, CBS and other US outlets a could give the former president a multi-year shield to deflect the attention of prosecutors.

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Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between review a charming Netflix romance
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The streameras latest YA offering from the producers of To All the Boys Iave Loved Before is a surprising romcom winner

This summer marks four years since Netflix released To All The Boys Iave Loved Before, a smash hit that created in-house stars out of leads Noah Centineo and Lana Condor, near single-handedly cemented Netflixas revival of the romcom, and generated sweet movie magic the platform has been chasing ever since. The two franchise sequels and similar YA entries, such as this Mayas Along for the Ride (written by To All The Boys scribe Sofia Alvarez), have struggled to recapture the charm of the original, in large part because charm by nature cannot be manufactured.

Which makes it surprising, as someone who has viewed many of these attempts, that Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between, the latest Netflix YA summer romance from TATBILB producers and starring TATBLIB veteran Jordan Fisher, mostly delivers where the others have fallen short. The central romance clicks, the alchemy amounts to more than the sum of its parts and the taut narrative clocks in at a breezy 82 minutes. The scriptas reference-heavy banter, from Ben York Jones and Amy Reed based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Jennifer E Smith, is more than halfway believable. There are frustrating limits to the world the film portrays a affluent and aspirational suburbia, a very narrow and overrepresented slice of the American teenage experience. But within the confines of that worldview, it nails the heady delusions and all-consuming neuroses of adolescents on the brink of change, largely due to two very winning performances from Fisher and co-star Talia Ryder.

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Armani Paris show presents go-to label for red carpet crowd
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Crystals, velvet, lamA(c), sequins and statement sparkly earrings feature in high-end couture catwalk

Giorgio Armanias PrivA(c) show in Paris was formed around the core tenets of classic cocktail dressing. The fashion veteran, who celebrates his 88th birthday this month, presented crystals, velvet, lamA(c), sequins and statement sparkly earrings. The colour palette shifted from silver and black to pinks and lilac with Armanias trademark midnight blue dominating.

With over 90 outfits, most of the collection felt familiar, part of the Armani wheelhouse since his heyday in the 1980s. The first four looks featured trousers, something that the designer has made a signature when it comes to after-dark dressing. Tailoring was strong a evening jackets featured in various different silhouettes, from a boxy sequined design to a longline jacquard version with geometric motifs. There were also classic gowns that would no doubt appeal to women with a diary full of black tie events a and a bank balance to fund a new frock. See a strapless black velvet dress with a slash of pink down the bodice or a mid-length dress in midnight blue silk organza, embroidered with tiny crystals.

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Winold Reiss: the aimmigrant modernista who changed American art
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An exhibition at the New-York Historical Society looks back at the German artistas often undervalued influence on early 20th-century art

In 1913, the German artist Winold Reiss arrived on American shores with aspirations common to many immigrants: he was in search of the opportunity to have a better life. But unlike the countless others that reached the United States in the early 20th century, Reiss was bringing an artistic revolution with him. A force for the modernism that was thriving in Germany at the time, Reiss was destined to make a deep and lasting impact on the shape of American art, showcasing his talents in realms as varied as restaurant interiors, advertising, metalwork, portraiture, fashion and furniture.

Reiss is the subject of a new show at the New-York Historical Society that aims to resurrect his legacy and put him back on the map as the force that he was. aI want to show the public the extent of Winoldas life,a said the showas co-curator Marilyn Kushner. aTo make people recognize that heas an important part of the canon.a To that end it has convened a major re-entry for Reiss, with an exhibit of 150 pieces that begins to lay out the full breadth of the manas immense talents and prodigious output.

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Ghislaine Maxwell: The Making of a Monster review a weall never fully know what made her do it
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This documentary follows Maxwell from a toxic upbringing to the poisonous patronage of Jeffrey Epstein. But the lack of loved onesa testimony leaves her a thankfully a unknowable

Now the world knows what Ghislaine Maxwell did, Channel 4as three-part documentary Ghislaine Maxwell: The Making of a Monster has a decent stab at answering a follow-up question that can never fully be answered: what made her do it?

In its hunt for an explanation, the programme identifies phases of Maxwellas early life where conditions that are recognisable as incubators of bad humans had a twist in them, injecting an extra drop of acid. Growing up under an abusive, controlling, multimillionaire patriarch is dangerous enough, but Ghislaine was newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwellas favourite, the youngest of nine, who regularly witnessed her father attacking and humiliating one sibling or another at dinner, while not being subjected to that treatment herself. Even worse than suffering through a toxic environment, young Ghislaine flourished in one, experiencing it as a place in which she was loved.

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Thor: Love and Thunder review a Taika Waititi hammers home franchise fun
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Followup to Thor: Ragnarok repeats some of that masterworkas tongue-in-cheek approach as Natalie Portmanas Jane Foster takes over tool-throwing duties

In 2017 Taika Waititi directed Thor: Ragnarok, which still strikes me as the best MCU movie, and a few years before that the superb and franchise-igniting vampire romp What We Do in the Shadows: both comedy gold, and way better than his misjudged and overrated middlebrow Panzer-crash Nazi satire Jojo Rabbit. Now Waititi has directed, and co-written with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, an entertaining followup to his MCU masterpiece. Like the first film, itas a tongue-in-cheek cosmic spectacular in the tradition of Mike Hodgesa Flash Gordon, with some nice gags, big cameos (though I missed some of the major characters from Thor: Ragnarok) and Chris Hemsworth returning to deliver his easygoing turn as the great flaxen-haired Norse god. And of all the Hollywood movie stars currently taking the MCU shilling, Hemsworth is the most utterly unembarrassed, most visibly enjoying himself, most utterly relaxed in his own skin and in front of his own greenscreen.

In this instalment Thor has to confront evil Gorr the God Butcher, played by Christian Bale, who with his terrifying necro-sword is slaying divinities all over the shop out of a sense of bitterness that the gods once allowed his infant daughter to die. Thor finds himself initially fighting alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy, who are his tonal equivalents in Marvelas now well-established humorous mode, but recruits his own crew to battle Gorr when this supervillain abducts all the children in New Asgard. His new team includes Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (played by Waititi himself), as well as his longtime amour and now ex (their breakup sketched in during a comedy romcom-style flashback). This is Dr Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, suffering from a serious illness which has been put into remission by the mighty cosmic powers of Thoras once shattered hammer MjAPlnir.

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Nigel Slateras recipe for crisp gnocchi and chopped salad
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A cool and hot, crispy and succulent summer salad

Hot, crisp garlic gnocchi, ice-cold cucumber, tomato and radishes.

Cook 500g of gnocchi in deep, generously salted boiling water until the dumplings float to the surface a a matter of 2 or 3 minutes. Drain the gnocchi, tip into a bowl and trickle with a little olive oil.

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Democrats have a month to revive the climate deal our planet needs | Daniel Sherrell
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In the glare of history, failure on climate will overshadow any other fact about their tenure. Letas hope they feel the heat as much as we do

On Thursday, the supreme court of the United States struck down the EPAas Clean Power Plan, sharply limiting the federal governmentas ability to fight climate change.

With Earthas temperature rising steadily, with the scientific community shouting at the top of its lungs for more aggressive action, with fires and hurricanes pushing entire regions beyond the bounds of human habitability, the courtas Republican-appointed supermajority has chosen to actively inhibit our ability to respond to the crisis. The decision was in keeping with the Republican partyas deepening climate nihilism: as the train careens off the rails, they strangle the conductor, destroy the brakes.

Daniel Sherrell is the author of Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World (Penguin Books) and a climate activist

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Could new countries be founded a on the internet? | Sam Venis
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Coinbaseas former chief technology officer wants to use social networks to create states. What doesnat fit into his vision are things like poverty, illness and ageing

In The Network State, a buzzy new book by Balaji Srinivasan, the former chief technology officer of Coinbase, poses a devious question: how do you Larp a country into existence?

Released provocatively this 4 July, the book presents Srinivasanas case for a new model of digital statehood run and managed in the cloud. A network state, as he describes it, is basically a group of people who get together on the internet and decide that theyare going to start a country. With a social network to connect them, a leader to unite them, and a cryptocurrency to protect their assets, Srinivasan says a country can be born with laws, social services and all. A network state is a country that aanyone can start from your computer, beginning by building a followinga a not unlike companies, cryptocurrencies, or decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). In a world where billionaires can run companies larger than countries, Srinivasan asks, could such a state achieve recognition from the United Nations?

Sam Venis is a writer based in New York

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Discovering your child has a food allergy can be a shock. But with the right support you can find a way forward
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Food allergies among children are on the rise, Iam grateful for the medical care and empathy shown by friends, family and community

I was at a trendy cafe when I bought a fancy aASSai bowl with perfectly sliced fruit. I mashed a piece of a banana and fed it to my nine-month-old son.

Within 10 minutes, his face reddened like he had been in the sun for too long. For a microsecond, I thought he was reacting to banana. Then, I remembered the peanut butter on top. Still, I didnat believe it was an allergy. After all, I had given him peanut butter twice before when he was six months old and it was uneventful on both occasions. We also didnat have any family history of food allergies. His three-year-old sister ate everything fearlessly.

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