Gothic Telltale Pinot Noir Rosé ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Named after the thrilling Edgar Allan Poe story, The Tell-Tale Heart, this wine is an assemblage of fruit from vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley. Telltale owes its pale pink hue to a brief saignée of Pinot Noir. Flavors of fresh, wild berries and cherry blossoms are joined by refreshing acidity."
A lot of people tell me, sheepishly, that they often choose wine by the label. I freely admit that I did just the same when bringing this wine into the store. Since my area of literary expertise is in Gothic literature, I suppose it's more accurate to say that I brought it in for the name. It turns out to be a gorgeous, luscious, elegant rosé. The wine exhibits nearly prefect balance between fruit and acidity, with a little bit of body and a delightful floral note.
Montinore Gewurztraminer ($17.99)
From the producer:
"This is a wonderfully forward, floral wine in our traditional dry style, making for a crisp wine that pairs beautifully with food. Straw gold color introduces an intense aroma of pomelo and rose water with hints of kaffir lime leaf and a palate bursting with tropical notes and powdered ginger. The finish is dry and bright, leaving the impression of fresh citrus."
This Gewurztraminer has a nice bright freshness compared to some of its Alsatian cousins, which tend to be a little heavier on the palate. The acidity balances out the fruit, and the floral notes give the wine a fine complexity. This is a dry wine that will pair nicely with white meat, salads, roasted vegetables, and ham.
Michel Gassier Nostre Païs Blanc Costières de Nîmes ($19.99)
From the producer:
"Appearance: the pale yellow color tinted in green announces a wine with a great deal of freshness and purity
Nose: the complex nose reveals floral and mineral notes with accents of fresh citrus fruits
Taste: lively and fresh, the aromas of flowers and white fruits, blends with flint. The very soft finish evinces a great deal of minerality."
52% Grenache blanc, 22% Roussanne, 17% Viognier, 7% Clairette & 2% Bourboulenc
Gassier makes outstanding wines with organically farmed grapes, and the Nostre Païs line (white and red) is no exception. This white has body and depth of flavor balanced by mineral undertones. It is soft and smooth on the palate, but has complexity and character. This can be enjoyed now or aged for up to three years. It pairs well with chicken, game fowl, rabbit, strong cheeses, pumpkin, and leeks.
Underwood Pinot Noir Can ($7.50)
From the producer:
"The craft beer movement took a lot from wine packaging as it came of age and continued to take it to whole new places. We think we can shift some of our focus back to something that has more fun, rooted in craft but less stuffy. #Pinkiesdown is how we communicate that big idea, simply. We feel like drinking wine doesn’t have to come with all of the pretension that it often does. We know a lot of people are turned off by that and want something less pretentious. Having a glass of wine with friends ought to be fun, not make you feel inferior, in our view. We think we’re not alone.
It’s hard to keep your pinky up when you’re drinking wine from a 375 mL can. These are the most approachable and ready-to-travel anywhere wines we produce. Whether you’re sitting in a hot tub after a good day of riding or heading where other wines dare not travel, we have you covered without sacrificing the craft taste Union is known for.
Pinot Noir tasting notes: Cherries, raspberries, and chocolate"
I was skeptical about wine in a can, and there are certainly canned wines that aren't so great. This one is very good. It's got nice fruit on the palate, but it is also very light and dry--perfect for a summer red. The cans are lined, so there's no impact on the flavor, but if you have a glass or plastic cup handy, I always suggest using it. I also like to open the can and let it breathe for 10 minutes or so. My best piece of advice, though, is to remember that this can contains half a bottle of wine, so be careful how fast you drink it!
Kipu Malbec ($10.99)
From the producer:
"From our best vineyards in Altamira (at 1,150 meters [almost 3,773 ft] above sea level) and Gualtallary (at 1,350 meters [almost 4,430 ft] above sea level), KIPU Malbec displays the unique characteristics of the Uco Valley, a terroir with cold climate, mineral and rocky soils. The trellis system used is espalier and the grapevines are head trained. The average yield is 8 t/ha (approximately
3.24 t/acre). Drip irrigation is used. Our vineyards have always been managed using sustainable agriculture practices.
Manual harvest takes place in the first week of April. Destemming is gentle,
without breaking the grains. A cold pre-fermentation maceration is carried out, following KIPU style, to preserve primary aromas. Then, fermentation at low temperatures and a short post-fermentation maceration are performed. The wine is aged in first, second, and third-use French oak barriques for 10 months.
Intense violet color. In the nose, aromas of black fruits, violets and spices. Mineral and graphite notes. Great balance and freshness in the mouth, with good concentration and medium structure. Soft tannins and persistent finish."
Kipu is a little more my speed when it comes to Malbecs: it has a little more body and the spicy notes are apparent. This is a full-bodied, smooth wine with a nice round mouth feel. You can pair this with red meats or hearty vegetable dishes, as well as charcuterie and bolder cheeses.
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.
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.
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.
123 Organic Reposado Tequila "Dos" ($52.99)
From the producer:
"When tequilero David Ravandi envisioned 123 Organic Tequila, he was inspired to design a brand specifically with wine enthusiasts in mind. The delicate floral aromas and complex mineral flavors found in 123 Organic Tequila are the result of artisanal, small-batch distillation and estate hand bottling.
As the sun and moon meet in the sky above the agave plantation, two stealthy jaguars (miztli) roam the fields in search of their elusive prey. During their silent hunts, Reposado (Dos) tequila rests in white oak barrels for six months before its timely release. This complex spirit reveals aromatic raw and cooked agave tempered by the warmth of oak aging with spicy notes of vanilla, anise and hint of citrus; a combination equally at home in cocktails and as a sipping tequila making it the most versatile of the 123 Organic Tequila styles."
Jose Cuervo and I had a pretty bad break-up in college. I'm sure some of you can relate. As a result, I spent nearly 20 years avoiding even the smell of Tequila, and I was not eager to taste any in preparation of opening this shop. Then I discovered that really good Tequila is REALLY GOOD. The owner of Blue Agave in Saratoga introduced me to Dos, and I was not exaggerating when I told him he changed my life in regard to Tequila. It's delicious, well-made, elegant, and worth every penny. Don't waste this in a mixed drink: sip it neat or chilled.
Naked Flock Cider 4-pack ($11.99)
From the producer:
"The Naked Flock Story is an old folk tale from the town of Warwick. There was a Pastor who was great friends with Moby Dick Author Herman Melville. Melville brought the Pastor a gift from a trip to the Orient. Seeds that the Pastor planted in his garden and grew into the most beautiful Poppies that anyone in the town had seen. One day the geese broke into the garden and ate the Poppies, and yes, they were those kind of Poppies. The geese fell into a sleep so deep that they were thought dead and plucked by the pastors children for their feathers. To everyones shock, hours later the geese awoke and staggered around naked.
The Pastor's own congregation was horrified by the sight and demanded the geese be slaughtered. But listeneing to the pleas of his children he decided to take a stand and defend the Naked Flock.
Naked Flock is a true Hudson Valley Hard Cider, crafted for people who crave unique flavor and are on the hunt for quality. Cidermaker Jonathan Hull doesn't add water or grape spirits, flavorings or colorants to the ciders, which results in pure apple flavors true to the Hudson Valley orchard of origin. This is hard cider without compromise."
This cider is semi-dry, fermented with Belgian Trappist Ale yeast, and slightly sweetened with maple syrup. It is wonderfully apple-y and light, and it reflects the agriculture of New York State. Pure and crisp, this cider is delicious. And yes, I picked it for the label (but it's really, really good cider!)
Clos de l'Amandaie Chat Pitre ($14.50)
"Stephanie and Phillippe Peytavy created Clos de l'Amandaie in 2002, taking over vines from Phillippe's family. They focused on making wine from Estate grown grapes and follow the Organic Farming guidelines. The name comes from the almond tree field that once was on the vineyard before grapes were planted. Today, the wines are featured in all French wine magazines and can be found on many higher-end restaurants' wine lists.
Chat Pitre is a pun that in French both means 'chapter' and 'clown cat.' It is a blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 30% Cinsault. The vineyard is located near the village of Aumelas, a terroir benefiting from a cooler micro climate. The grapes are fully destemmed. The end of the maceration is thermo-regulated to soften the tannins and features pump over and load treading to enhance aromas. The wine is aged for 6 months in tanks. Chat Pitre develops aromas of red berries (wild strawberries and currant) with a white pepper finish."
This wine is both well-crafted and approachable, combining the easy drinking table wine style with a finer complexity. This is a wonderful go-to red that will easily pair with a variety of foods, but that is also nice to sip on its own. The cat on the label is pretty cute, too!
Vignoble Charmet Beaujolais Moulin La Blanche 2015 ($19.50)
"The Charmet Family is iconic in the South Beaujolais region. They have been producing Beaujolais wines since 1650 and been a leader for innovation and quality in the region. They, among other, invented the 'Charmet Cut' that is particularly adapted to prune the Gamay grape. Quality is the main driver behind every step of the wine making process: from the field to the cellar. Based 100% on the famous Beaujolais region grape, Gamay, this cuvee comes from a small plot in the southern part of the Beaujolais appellation. The vines grow on a soil with a dominance of shale and are over 50 years old. The low yield (40hl/ha) contributes to give this wine intense aromas and flavors as well as a deep length in the mouth. Only 5,000 bottles are produced on a yearly basis."
Beaujolais is a wonderful summer red, as it is lighter in body and quite easy to drink. This Beaujolais, though sharing those qualities is a bit more complex than one might expect from the style. It has a longer finish and is a bit bolder than other Beaujolais that I have had. It pairs well with deli and cured meats. It also pairs well with an empty glass. The winery practices sustainable agriculture and uses minimal chemical intervention.
Jerome Godon Sancerre ($23.99)
"Every few years the Sancerre area delivers a new upcoming star or young vintner. In 2012 and 2013, it was Jerome! But Jerome is not entirely a newcomer; he is actually the 10th generation of a family that has been strongly involved in the Sancerre region.
Heading the 20 acres estate, he is focusing on transmitting the true expression of the 3 terroir characteristics he cultivates:
Clay and gun flint
White stone and chalk gravel
White clay and shell
Jerome Godon’s Sancerre is a true testimony from what we know from the Sancerre wines: finesse and elegance in the wine with a touch of white peach. The consistency is pure and has just enough boldness to balance the minerality.
This Sancerre reveals great finesse, intensity and much complexity. Aromas of white fruits, citrus, blackcurrant bud and a touch of minerality make up a beautiful bouquet. In the mouth, the powerful aromas settle in with assurance, evoking exotic fruits, before a finish of superb freshness."
Sancerre of this quality at this price is a rare find. What makes this one stand out is the balance; the citrus is perfectly softened, but uplifted by the minerality. There is an elegance to the wine, but it is also fresh and approachable. This is a great introduction to Sancerre, but it might ruin you for others.
Clos des Cazaux Vacqueyras "Les Clefs d'Or" ($26.99)
"The Clos des Cazaux domaine was founded in 1905 by Gabriel Archimbaud. The Archimbaud and Vache families are among the oldest ones in Vacqueyras, dating back to 1635. The 98 acre estate is currently run by Jean Michel and Frederic Vache.
The vines are cultivated with utmost respect to the environment. Only Bordeaux mixture (antifungal agent consisting of a solution of copper sulfate and quicklime) and sulfur are used in the phytosanitary (pertaining to the health of plant) and vineyard treatment. At all times, the vineyards are manually tended, including manual harvest. To ensure optimal quality, only the best grapes are selected during a green harvest in Summer which eliminates at least 20% of the production.
Vacqueyras is also a 'cru' since 1990. The appellation rules are very similar to those of Gigondas, and thus to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, although only half the grapes in a red Vacqueyras haf to be Grenache. The rest are usually Syrah. Mourvedre, and Cinsault. Vacqueyras may be red, white, or rose, although only a miniscule proportion of its dramatically expanded vinyard total of 1,000 ha/2,500 acres is planted with white grape varieties.
50% Clairette, 30% Rousanne, 20% Grenache Blanc
10,000 bottles produced annually
The juice ferments naturally and its temperature is maintained at 16 C all through fermentation. This allows to obtain a pure white wine with a lively acidity. It features flavours of fennel and white flowers. The c
Clairette brings a refreshing acidity. The mouth is long and soft."
This wine is one that you really won't see often. Not only is the production quite limited, but in general white Vacqueyras is a rare find. In the U.S. we have finally embraced red blends, but white blends are still elusive, and that's a shame. White Rhone blends are particularly lovely, and can be enjoyed year-round. This wine is a fine example: it has a full, round mouthfeel, and is soft on the palate, but with just enough acidity to give it structure and character. This is something special.
Etienne Oudart Champagne--Brut Référence ($50.99)
"Jacques Oudart belongs without any doubt to the upcoming stars of the Champagne area. The Oudart Family has been involved in Champagne making since the late 1950’s. They own 22 acres spread mainly over 2 regions: Vallee de la Marne and the Epernay area. This is definitively a major asset as it gives Jacques the possibility to blend all 3 grape varietals and still have the influence of all the various terroirs.
Jacques Oudart is very meticulous about winemaking and insists on extending his Champagne aging in order to hit the perfect ripeness when the bottle reaches the consumer.
Champagne Oudart’s trademark is to create elegant and fine wines. Most of the cuvee blend uses Chardonnay for its strength, Pinot Meunier for the fruit and Pinot Noir to add personality.
Bright gold color with some note of copper. On the tasting aromas of toast, brioche and hazelnuts appear. Long aromatic persistence in the mouth."
This Champagne is produced sustainably with minimal chemical intervention. The production is relatively small at 25,000 bottles per year. I sometimes find Champagne to be too "yeasty" tasting, but this one strikes a nice balance with the fruit and acidity. I find that it is great value for money, and it's nice to be able to support a smaller winemaker. I would much rather drink Oudart than Moët or Veuve.