90+ Cellars Wines:
Dry Rose, Lot 33 ($9.99)
Fruit forward and crisp; especially good for those who are new to dry roses.
Prosecco Brut Lot 50 ($10.99)
Dry and lightly fruity; great on its own or in wine cocktails; this is the go-to for Mimosas.
Pinot Grigio Lot 42 ($9.99/750 $18.99/1.5L)
Crisp, bright, with a slight floral undertone; this is my favorite value Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc Lot 2 ($9.99/750 $18.99/1.5L)
Marlborough, New Zealand
Citrus and herbal notes are nicely balanced with good minerality; not as acidic as some Sauv Blancs from the same region, but very crisp.
Shiraz Lot 37 ($9.99)
McLaren Vale, Australia
Spicy dark fruit with a smooth body; full bodied and round.
*The last of this lot--get it while it's here!*
What 90+ Cellars does:
"It all started in the spring of 2009. Armed with a copy of the latest Wine Spectator, founder Kevin Mehra set out on a mission to bring higher quality wine to the market for a better price. He started calling wineries with a history of high ratings to ask if they had extra wine for sale. Some told him to get lost, but in the end, he found a handful of wineries that liked his concept. The plan was simple: we put their wine in our bottle, and sell it for less.
But why would wineries want to do that?
You may recall that the economy wasn’t in the best shape in 2009. Demand for wines priced more than $20 a bottle had plummeted and inventories were piling up. Rather than discount their wine and erode the value of their brand, we found that wineries were willing to part with a certain percentage of their production for a reduced price.
It was a win/win scenario. Wineries got to sell more wine, and consumers got access to better wine at lower prices.
The landscape has changed quite a bit since we launched; but our mission and our ability to offer great wine for a great price has not. With our Wine Director, Brett Vankoski, at the helm we continue to seek out the best opportunities in the market and turn those into great values in the bottle for you. We do this because we love great wine, and we know you do too."
Anthony Road Devonian White ($11.99)
Seneca Lake, New York
From the producer:
"Our Devonian series is a series of dry table wines crafted from vinifera varietals. It is named after the Devonian Shale, upon which our vineyards are planted. This propietary blend will change from season to season, depending on the fruit available. It is a very approachable, fruit forward white with a crisp finish, fermented and aged in stainless steel."
30% Pinot Gris
This is a dry table wine that while expressing ample fruitiness from the Riesling and Chard, maintains its balance through a level of acidity common in white wines from the region. This is a great introduction to the dry whites of the Finger Lakes.
Bott-Geyl Points Cardinaux Métiss ($15.99)
From the distibutor:
"The Points Cardinaux is a new label for the wine previously known as Pinot d'Alsace. Legally, they can no longer call this wine Pinot d'Alsace, as it's a blend. The new name hints at the four pinots in the wine - P - O - I - N - T - S, could be shuffled to spell P - I - N - O - T - S. And Cardinaux refers to the four directions of the compass, "cardinal points", suggesting the four Pinots in the blend.
This is the same great wine, made from 40% Pinot Blanc, 40% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Gris, and 10% Pinot Noir (vinified white). The fruit comes from 2.5 hectares of vineyards with vines ranging from 20-25 years of age in Béblenheim and Zellenberg. They are planted in clay, marl, and limestone soils. The fermentation starts spontaneously and lasts eight months."
Bott-Geyl uses a 9-point scale for indicating sweetness, and this lands at 2. I would consider this just off-dry with a honeyed tone, but not even close to semi-sweet. The winery uses biodynamic methods of farming and native yeasts, with as little intervention as possible in the winemaking and aging process. This is an elegant wine that expresses its grape blend beautifully.
Innocent Bystander Moscato ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Crafted with Black and Gordo Muscat grapes, with the black grapes giving us that intense watermelon colour.
100% Victorian fruit
Harvested in the cool of night.
Fruit is chilled and crushed with six hours of skin contact to to extract a hint of pink from the Black Muscat.
100% stainless steel ferment.
Natural carbonation is achieved by fermentation
Drink and enjoy now!
Fairy floss, musk, blackcurrant, Turkish delight and mandarin peel
Intense muscat fruit, without relying on the sweetness"
I'm not an avid fan of sweet wines (wines with significant residual sugar), but I can evaluate their quality, and I can say that this Moscato is not only well-made, but is a wine that I will happily drink. It's much more delicate than most big brand Moscatos, in part because the the ripeness of the grapes does the heavy lifting here--there is no sugar added for extra sweetness. It also has a very faint hint of rose, which I think makes it more complex than one might expect from Moscato.
Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin ($30.99)
From the producer:
"Within the realm of New World Gins, Apóstoles differs greatly from the classic winter flavors of London Dry. We present a nuanced profile that is more tropical and indigenous to the Southern Hemisphere incorporating our Argentine botanicals such as Yerba Mate, Pink Grapefruit, Peppermint and Eucalyptus.
When the Jesuits arrived in the Provence of Misiones they quickly found that the Mate leaf would produce a high quality tea and began to plant hundreds of acres. Mate soon became the national beverage of Argentina with Misiones the original plantings. We honor our land by incorporating fresh Mate leaves into our Gin.
Distilled in 200 liters batches in a German copper still, Apostoles is as craft as it gets. We macerate each botanical separately in a wheat alcohol base. The fresh leaves of Yerba Mate, Eucalyptus and Pink Grapefruit skins are macerated for 24 hours in stainless steel containers. Same for the Juniper and Coriander. The peppermint is macerated only for 2 hours. We then blend all the macerations and distill the blend. The result of the distillation is bottled and numbered by batch."
This is the first premium gin to be made in Latin America, and the ingredients reflect the land, the history, and the culture of Argentina. When I tasted this gin, I knew I had to introduce it in my store. A truly unique spirit, its flavor is nuanced and complex, though mint is clearly present. This makes excellent cocktails, though if I'm having it with tonic, I'm leaving out the lime and adding a little muddled mint or even a touch of mint simple syrup.
Gin Mare ($37.99)
From the producer:
"Gin Mare opens the door to a new variety of gins, with a novel pan-Mediterranean concept that unites the different cultures around this sea representing their botanical stars such as:
Arbequina olives, thyme, basil and rosemary
OUR LIQUID GOLD: THE ARBEQUINA OLIVE
The only one in the world with its own Designation of Origin
OUR MEDITERRANEAN BOTANICALS
Basil from Italy
Thyme from Greece
Rosemary from Turkey
Citrus fruits from Spain
OTHER BOTANICALS THAT MAKE UP THE GIN MARE PERSONALITY
Juniper, Coriander, Green Cardamom (harvested on farms)
Gin Mare also elicits the generational evolution of this category via a family with great weight in this work. Gin Mare is born from a pure Mediterranean environment with our distillery located in an ancient fishing village between the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada.
Gin Mare is created using Mediterranean crafts and time, in order to obtain an exceptional gin: from a premium barley base, through delicate maceration and distillation which is independent for each botanical (some, like the citrus carry a harmonization process more than one year) to the authentic blending which expresses all the characteristics of each botanical in the final product.
NAMING GIN MARE
The word “Mare” weighs heavily throughout Mediterranean culture, immediately leading us to “Mar” (“sea”) which is the exact translation in Italian. But further research discovers that its meaning in other languages leads to a more familiar meaning, specifically maternal. At the same time, we must remember a universal concept that would include “Mare Nostrum”, the sea of all the communities living under this magical Mediterranean influence which unites the love of gastronomy, the pleasant climate, a way of life with different values where time runs differently than the rest of the world."
I love gin, and have tried all kinds, but none comes close to this gem from Spain. It truly reflects the Mediterranean in its savory, herbal profile, and it will challenge everything you think you know about gin.
Barr Hill Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin ($48.99)
From the producer:
"Tom Cat Gin is an expedition into uncharted territories. Once distilled, we age the gin in new American oak barrels in search of a bolder expression. The robust character of the new oak barrel mingles with the coniferous quality of the juniper, yielding an enticing aroma. A touch of raw honey leaves this revolutionary spirit remarkably approachable, whether drinking neat or in a cocktail. When the world called for whiskey, we answered resolutely with gin."
From the distributor:
"Barrel aged 4-6 months in new, charred American White Oak, Tom Cat is a completely unique gin with whiskey-like notes of oak, spice and a finish of juniper and raw honey. Tom Cat is the modern day adaption of 18th century England’s most revered spirit, Old Tom gin. After gin was outlawed by the Spirits Act of 1750, rebellious pub owners would hang a wooden plaque shaped like a black cat to inform the passerby of their defiance of the ban. Deposit a few pennies through the cat’s mouth and a bartender would pour a ration of Old Tom to be sipped through a tube between the cat’s paws."
It seems as if everyone is making a barrel-aged gin these days, but Barr Hill was really at the front of that trend with a unique product that reflects Vermont's flora and fauna. The aging softens the spirit and makes it ideal for sipping as well as for cocktails. The touch of honey doesn't sweeten it, but gives it a roundness that you won't find in most other gins. A superior example of the style.
Cardinal Spirits Pride Vodka ($24.99)
From the producer:
"Cardinal Spirits Vodka is fermented and distilled on site in Bloomington, Indiana from white grapes.
This is not your average tasteless, odorless vodka. It has character by design. A very light entry, a full rich body, and a bright floral finish. We distill to 190.5º proof rather than blowing all of the flavor out at 192, leaving some of the grape aroma and flavor in the spirit before its final charcoal filtering.
It's some of the best vodka around, and many people have told us it's the only vodka they'll drink straight.
Here’s the deal with Pride Vodka: 10% of proceeds from each bottle goes to LGBTQ orgs in your community like @lgbtcenternyc and @btown_pride! A bottle of vodka won’t solve the world’s problems, but it will directly support the LGBTQ community, and that’s a damn good start."
This is a special bottling of Cardinal Spirits' signature Vodka, which is distilled from grapes and drinks as smoothly as any I've ever had. It earned 93 points from Wine Enthusiast and Triple Gold at the Micro Liquor Spirits Awards. This vodka is super versatile, and it passes my test: can I sip it neat?
Wild Moon Cucumber Liqueur ($21.99)
From the producer:
"Uniquely flavored, all-natural liqueurs designed for the professional mixologist and home enthusiast alike. Hartford Flavor has revolutionized the traditional liqueur. Wild Moon Liqueurs are flavor forward, have reduced sugars, and no chemicals; there is nothing else like it on the market.
All natural-Gluten Free-GMO Free
Descriptors: Fresh, Clean, Alive, Delicate, Smooth
Uncork and smell the gust of bright green ripeness and sun warmed cucumbers wafting from the bottle. Fresh and sweet aromas of honeydew and Japanese melon candy confront both tongue and nostril simultaneously at the first sip. The mouth-feel is one of diluted honey offering roundness to the clean flavor of cucumber that remains on the palate."
Earlier this year I met the creators/owners of this company, and I was extremely impressed with their dedication to bringing something unique and versatile to the liqueur market. Beyond the incredible flavor profiles, these liqueurs are made in small batches as naturally (and organically) as they can be. The base spirit is made from sugar cane. I am happy to also carry the Cranberry and the Lime, but at this week's tasting we will pour the Cucumber, which is perfect for crisp cocktails. It has just the right amount of sweetness, but is not cloying, and it is great in a vodka drink or a spritz.