Monday, December 14, 2009

A half-dozen reasons to enjoy living in 2009

It's that time of year when the "Best of 2009" lists will be appearing faster than Santa Clauses at the malls. By popular demand, I present my "Six Best Wines For My Palate in 2009" list -- in other words, the juice that made me stand up and salute in a year awash in wine around the planet.

From the bottom up:

#6 - 2006 Stelzner Claret (California, Napa Valley). A Bordeaux-style blend that is very food friendly and that keeps fruit, tannin, oak and alcohol in good balance. Surprisingly elegant. They can still do it on the Silverado Trail. Great value at just under $20.

#5 - 2006 CanBlau (Spain, Montsant) This Spanish beauty blends 40 percent Manzuelo, 40 percent Syrah and 20 percent Garnacha is a great blend in a rich, fruit forward style that is a not-too-big tasting pleaser for both geeks and casual drinkers. Around $16.

#4 - 2006 Antinori Tignanello (Italy, Tuscany) I had a whole two-ounces at a wine tasting but found myself glowing in the Tuscan night. Incredible balance, subtle nuance and a finish that lasts until next Thursday. Mostly sangiovese with a splash of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Find someone who can share the $110 price tag.

#3 - 2005 deSegris Lirac (France, southern Rhone) Great sunny flavors and a food-friendliness that gives some of the same rushes as a Chateauneuf-du-Pape at a value price-point. Grenache takes the starring role with support from Syrah and Mouvedre. Around $18.

#2 - 2005 Jade Mountain La Provencale (California, Rutherford) - A Rhone-ranger that delivers the goods with great raspberry-like fruit, a steady finish and a friendly disposition. Mouvedre dominates with assists from Syrah, Granache, Carignane and Vigonier. It's a Californian that knows how to deliver a French kiss. Price around $16.

And, ladies and gentlemen, the Hab-kudos goes to...

#1 - 2005 Domaine du Colombier Crozes-Hermitage (France, northern Rhone) A perfect marriage of fruit, fragrance, tannin, balance, and alcohol. All elements balanced in wonderful proportion that can make any meal. Blackberry, peppery flavors coat the palate and make tastebuds jump at food. Incredible elegance for a syrah at about $21.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Character in paradise

Curtis Granderson's star power will burn brighter as he heats up the Big Apple in 2010.

Granderson, the Detroit Tigers' center fielder, is expected to be traded to the New York Yankees as early as today in a complex multi-player, multi-league deal. Besides baseball talent combining speed, power and defense, Granderson offers something even more tangible than stolen bases, home runs and circus catches.

He offers strong personal character, self-assurance and community compassion that has been lacking in the past several weeks in the national athletic arena.

To this point, New York media has chewed up a steroid-juiced Yankee lineup and the carefully crafted family image of a wayward professional golfer. Granderson gives them a view from the other side, a view that is part of an innocent baseball past that honored and revered positive role models instead of indiscretions and opportunism.

The critics will say that Granderson couldn't hit left-handed pitching and struck out a little too often. A change of scenery -- and a sweet spot in a Yankee lineup where he doesn't have to be the "go-to" guy all the time -- may be the tonic to boost his career to a new level.

He just may bake The Apple.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Driver sees red over yellow lights

It makes even the most cautious, careful driver accelerate faster than a NASCAR racer lurching toward a win at the finish line.

A yellow traffic light is no longer a signal to slow down, yield or prepare to stop. It's an invitation to fly ahead and through faster and meaner than a bull running and snorting through a scarlet cape.

In the process, it has made everyday driving a dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. In the last two days, I've witnessed frantic left turns on yellow and run-like-hell-through-the-intersection on yellow that would drive even a rookie driver education teacher nuts.

OK, now, take the pledge. Slow down, relax, wait out the 30 seconds it'll take the light to turn. You'd want someone else to do likewise.