McPherson MWC Pinot Noir ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Released for the first time in 2014, the MWC wines are made with food in mind. Soft, savoury, earthy styles with a European influence, they are a rustic style full of interesting, complex characters made for those who love great, honest wines. Best Consumed 2019 – 2029
JO’S WINEMAKING / VITICULTURE The grapes for this Pinot Noir were picked from single vineyards located in North Eastern Victoria. Crushed during the cool of night to retain their varietal character, while modern winemaking techniques were employed throughout the winemaking process. Fermentation took place in sweeping arm red fermenters, giving the wine a dense, rich colour and allowing for gentle and maximum flavour extraction.
JO’S HARVEST NOTES Vintage 2017 is best described as a waiting game. The season was very long with fruit slow to ripen and although the urge just to pick it all was there, we had to bide our time until we had optimal flavours and ripeness. Once I made the decision to pick the grapes came in at an orderly pace, although increased yields due to the rain in spring made the juggling game in the winery even more challenging, with tank space at a premium. We made it through our marathon 2017 vintage and are thrilled with the exceptional quality including a number of really extraordinary parcels.
JO’S WINE DESCRIPTION The aroma is enticing with intense plum, cherry and strawberry fruit with a hint of spicy oak. The fresh fruit momentum continues on the palate with vibrant plum and dark stone fruits finishing with some firm acid, beautiful tannins and integrated oak.
JO’S FOOD MATCHES A great match with roast duck, rabbit and other game meats or medium intensity dishes like porcini mushroom risotto or fine cheese.
"Jo" is the winemaker, and she crafts a French style Pinot Noir here, with an earthiness that asks to be paired with a meal--or just some good bread and cheese! The wine is light in body, but the flavor is robust and satisfying. This wine is an excellent value. Organic farming practices.
Tre Monti Campo di Mezzo Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Azienda Agrícola Tre Monti traces its origins back to the early 1960s with the inspiration of Sergio Navacchia and of his wife Thea, who for years was the real driving force behind the winery until her death in 1989. A turning-point came in the 1980s, the result of a revolution that began in the vineyards and carried over into the cellar. Close relationships were established with the best talent in the Italian wine world: a youthful Francesco Spagnolli in the early 1980s, followed by Vittorio Fiore, and afterwards Donato Lanati. The fruit of their expertise underpinned the steady growth of the winery, directed by Vittorio and David and with the help of their father Sergio.
The heart of the winery lies in the center of the farm estate in Imola, where only estate-grown grapes are vinified. All of the vineyards are managed according to the principles of sustainable viticulture, which mandate inter-row cover-cropping and the lowest possible use of unnatural products. The winemaking operations too, watched over thoroughly by the experienced and talented Vittorio Navacchia, are animated by a philosophy of minimal intervention. Every step is carried out with full respect not only for the integrity of the fruit, but for the unique character of each growing year as well. All of this so that the final wine is the perfect expression of everything around its environment. Tre Monti became certified organic in 2014.
Harvest period: Mid september, manual picking
Vinification: 12-day maceration at 28° - 30° C, followed by malolactic fermentation
Maturation: In stainless steel and glass-lined cement vats
Average annual production: 60,000 bottles
Appearance: Ruby red
Bouquet: Crisp dark fruit, with hints of sweets violets
Palate: Well balanced and succulently fruity, with prominent notes of wild and sour cherry
Serving suggestion: Baked pasta with mushrooms or meat sauce, recipes featuring chicken livers, charcuterie"
I had this wine in the shop last fall/winter, and it sold very well, so here we have it again. It's from Emilia-Romagna, which sits northeast of Tuscany, on the other side of the Apennines. This is currently the only wine in the shop from that region, so I'm especially happy to welcome it back. If, like me, you find Tuscan Sangiovese a little too acidic and tannic, do try this as an alternative.
Hedges Family Estate CMS Red Blend ($16.99)
Columbia Valley, Washington
From the producer:
"Led by a passion for authenticity and a deep connection to the land they call home, the Hedges Family epitomizes the modern wine estate. A blend of rich cultural upbringings and a shared love for creating beautiful wine converge at the heart of bucolic Red Mountain, fostering a true homegrown approach to farming and viticulture. Hedges Family Estate unites past and present, evolving tradition for generations to come.
Grapes come from the Columbia Valley vineyards, Wooded Island, Bacchus, Sagemoor, Weinbau and Dionysus (all part of Sagemoor Farms), and the Red Mountain Vineyards of Hedges, Bel’ Villa, Jolet, Les Gosses and Magdalena. Most of the wines were pumped over during alcoholic fermentation for 6 to 10 days while on American Oak. About 40% of the wine was racked to barrel where it completed malo-lactic fermentation and then aged for an additional 15-18 months. The other 60% completed M-L in tank, at the end of which it was racked onto French Oak and had SO2 added. About 60% French oak /40% American oak.
30% Cabernet Sauvignon 58% Merlot 12% Syrah
Such a fun mix of Strawberry and raspberry fruit, cocoa, earthy spices and a bit of red licorice. There is hints of dried sage, cocoa nibs and some pomegranate on the finish. The palate shines with bright acidity followed by a full and rich mid-palate showing flavors of red fruits, and rich, earthy spices. A tinge of vanilla balances out the rustic finish. This a sip and enjoy wine, it’s interesting without being complicated and is a perfect compliment to a variety of foods and situations."
CMS--Cab, Merlot, Syrah--is a medium-bodied wine with a robust flavor profile. The grapes that come from the Red Mountain estate are grown biodynamically, while the grapes that some from the Colombia Valley are farmed sustainably. The overall impression I get is French style, but with riper fruit, smooth, but not overly oaked, and a modest alcohol content of 13.5%. Good for drinking and good for pairing!
Botanica Big Flower Merlot ($19.99)
Stellenbosch, South Africa
From the producer:
"Botanica Wines was founded in 2009 by owner and self-taught winemaker Ginny Povall, an intrepid American who fell in love with the beautiful Cape winelands, purchased Protea Heights farm in Stellenbosch’s Devon Valley and relocated to the southern tip of Africa in 2008. Established in the late 1940s, Protea Heights was the first farm in South Africa to cultivate indigenous protea flowers commercially. Inspired by this horticultural history, it was only natural that Ginny would choose to develop her wine brands and labels with a botanical flair.
On Protea Heights Farm, home of Botanica Wines, we are committed to the principles of regenerative agriculture, a next generation system of organic farming that increases soil fertility, builds biodiversity, improves soil’s water holding capacity and enhances our ecosystem to support healthy vineyards and fields. Key to this agroecological approach is no-till farming, a practice which aims to capture carbon in the soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current trends of atmospheric accumulation in an effort to slow climate change. At the same time, it offers increased yields, reduced disease pressure, greater resilience to drought and climate instability, and higher health and vitality for soils.
The hand-harvested grapes were destemmed, crushed and fermented in stainless steel tanks, with pumpovers performed twice daily. The wine was gently pressed and racked to barrel for malolactic fermentation. It was aged for 11 months in 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill 300L French oak barrels.
Intricate aromas and flavors of plum and dark berry fruit, with a rich, plush mouthfeel and soft, refined tannins. It’s juicy enough for solo sipping yet has enough grip to pair with a nice steak. Vegan friendly
Production: 9176 bottles"
Over a year I taste hundreds of wines, but I don't always have a place for some that I really like, so I put them in my "Maybe +++ when I have room" file. That happened with this Merlot. I tasted it in 2018 and again this spring, and without knowing until now, I had the exact same notes on it both times: the fruit is bold and ripe, with a lovely underlying earthiness and much more tannic structure than I'd expected. It's both surprising and pleasing on the palate. I'm pleased to add this to my little collection of "unexpected Merlots."
Inverroche Gin Verdant ($41.99)
Western Cape, South Africa
From the producer:
"As the pioneers of South African craft gin, Inverroche Distillery was founded by Lorna Scott and her family. Growing from strength to strength in the local community of Still Bay in the Western Cape of Southern Africa. In just 6 years, the distillery has grown from a small home industry to a flourishing and pioneering craft distillery. A distillery that is invested in its community and producing world class gins and spirits.
Infused with fynbos from the mountainous terrain of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Inverroche Gin Verdant is floral and soft with a translucent golden-green hue. Delicate aromas reminiscent of elderflower and chamomile, lead to summer blooms, a touch of spice, subtle juniper, waxy lemon rind and alluring liquorice on the palate."
Fynbos is the name of the shrubland vegetation in the Western Cape. It is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, an area of rich biodiversity, and one of only 6 of its kind in the world. The richness of the botanical life there comes through in the complexity of this Gin. Very different than other botanical Gins, it's absolutely expressive of its terroir.
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? They aren't just slapping a rainbow on the bottle for a month, either: all year they put their money where their mouth is.
Etsu Japanese Gin ($38.99)
From the distributor:
"It is with great pride that Asahikawa distillery made this unique gin on the Northern island of Hokkaido in Japan. The main botanicals – green bitter orange peel, coriander, licorice and angelica root – macerate for more than 24h in neutral cane spirit distilled thanks to a copper still with a swan neck to 83% vol. It is then diluted down to 43% vol with water sourced from the Taisetsu Mountains and filtered through charcoal for optimal purity.
NOSE : Floral & vegetal, notes of citrus fruits with yuzu persistent
PALATE : Fresh and well-balanced, peppers with hints of green teas and berries
FINISH : Sansho pepper ending on yuzu aromas"
The minute I tasted this, it became one of my top three gins ever (#1 is Ki No Bi, also from Japan). The flavor is complex, but approachable. While I could drink this from the bottle with a straw, social grace and my liver dictate that I don't. This is perfect for sipping or a very dry Martini. I'd only add tonic if it were something like Q Original--neutral flavor and low sweetness. This gin might make you swoon, so be warned.
Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin ($34.99)
From the producer:
"Paying respect to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, in which our beloved Catoctin Creek does flow, this gin is a bit of a watershed itself.
Distilled from rye grain, with a secret recipe of herbs and spices, Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin® is unlike any gin you've tried. Amazingly complex, with a rye base that shines through subtle citrus and cinnamon notes, essences of fresh cut hay, and of course a crisp juniper character. Together, they make Watershed Gin a fine cocktail mixer.
Try it with the traditional tonic and a slice of lime (or a Meyer Lemon, for a real treat!). Or mix it into your favorite summertime refreshers."
I love this distillery, so I'm happy to have a second product from them. This gin is a great example of how the base spirit (and the grain from which it's made) can influence the flavor and texture of the finished product. Rye imparts a little earthiness and roundness, while the botanicals give the gin a nice lift. I really like this with almost any tonic, and I think it would also make a great Martini. If you like to "vote with your dollar," for progress, this distillery is solar-powered, uses organic grain, is LGBTQ-supportive, and the master distiller is a woman.
Oola Waitsburg Barrel-Finished Gin ($35.99)
From the producer:
"We’ve woven together thirteen Gin botanicals with 2 months and 28 days of oak aging in freshly emptied Waitsburg Bourbon casks. The result is a complex yet delicate spirit with layered aromas of warm baking spices, honey and herbaceous juniper. On the palate, soft maple sugar, toasted brioche and cream evolve into a vanilla finish. No sugar is added to this spirit, but a natural, pleasant sweetness comes from the mash of soft white organic Washington winter wheat. It is a nuanced, lyrical spirit with beautiful floral elements and a deep, rich wood influence."
If you are not usually a gin drinker, this might be for you. If you like brown spirits, this might be for you. If you like to flip the script on gin cocktails, this is definitely for you! The aging adds smoothness and a rounder flavor profile than typical gins, making this good for sipping as well
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.
Glendalough Wild Irish Gin ($34.99)
From the producer:
"To make this extraordinary gin, we forage wild plants in the mountains around the distillery. What we pick goes fresh into the still within hours of foraging.
All the plants are sustainably picked by our full time forager, every day we distill. We take a lot of care that we don't adversely effect the areas we find them in. That means sometimes using scissors rather than picking to make sure roots aren't pulled, or maybe skipping a few before picking the next one, or finding different patches of the same plant, to make sure an area isn't over-foraged.
Our aim is to leave no trace that we were ever there. It's harder work but worth it to keep the mountains beautiful and wild.
Then these wild botanicals are painstakingly slow-distilled to tease out delicate flavours, in very small batches of less than 250 liters. Some go in the pot, and some are hung in a basket to let vapors extract their essential oils. The cut-points are decided batch by batch, by smell and taste (never timed or automated) as if each batch is the first.
This brings the flavour of our Wild Gin to a whole other level. The knowledge, experience and man-hours in each bottle are what make this liquid so special."
The first time I tried this Gin, I fell in love. It's one of my top three of all time, and it's also my house go-to. I love that the botanicals are hand harvested from the wild, and that they go into the still fresh, rather than dried. I think that informs the delicacy of the flavor. Do watch the video found here.
Writers' Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey ($40.99)
From the producer:
"Writers’ Tears is a unique vatting of Aged Single Pot Still and Single Malt whiskey. Distilled entirely from Pot Still and Malt, without Grain, this is a truly special Irish whiskey. Writers’ Tears is triple distilled, non-peated and matured and aged in American Oak bourbon casks. A gold Medal winner at the International Spirits Challenge in London and one of the highest rated Irish Whiskeys in Jim Murray’s Iconic 'Whiskey Bible' 'Altogether a very unusual Irish Whiskey, a throwback to the last century where spiced Pure Pot Still whiskey was married with Floral Single Malt' – Jim Murray . It has also been added to Ian Buxton’s publication '101 Whiskeys to try before you die.'
Flashes of apple with hints of vanilla and honey over a distinctively pot still base.
Gently spiced with a burst of ginger and butterscotch with background notes of toasted oak.
Long Elegant finish with subtle notes of milk chocolate and almonds."
This is the first Irish Whiskey that really made me take note. It's easy and mellow with a depth of flavor that will leave you satisfied. I like that it's a family-owned business, and that they are committed to maintaining the integrity of their product. Put down the Jameson and pick up the Writers' Tears!
Prizefight Irish Whiskey ($43.99)
From the producer:
"When Flor Prendergast decided to create a whiskey, he brought in his American friend and spirits maverick, Steven Grasse, who had an idea that required a transatlantic collaboration: whiskey from Ireland, finished in rye barrels from America. They formed Pugilist Spirits to bring this idea to life, with whiskey distilled and aged in West Cork, Ireland and rye barrels sourced by Grasse’s own Tamworth Distilling in the U.S.
Inspired by the Irish-American connection, Grasse had the idea to call the whiskey Prizefight. The brand tells the incredible stories of the Irish who came to America and became the greatest fighters of their day. Each bottle commemorates the boxing legends who came with nothing and fought for everything.
Prizefight is a collaborative Irish whiskey, distilled and aged in Ireland, and finished in American rye casks. The result is incredibly complex whiskey, a smooth and mellow spirit that packs a punch but never burns.
Prizefight is a blend of 10-year-old malt and 4-year-old grain, finished in rye barrels for 6 months.
Tasting Notes: Fresh and clean with fruit, floral, and spice notes. Sweet and refreshing up front, followed by a subtle hint of bitterness and a spicy finish."
I like the transatlantic approach that the producers use for this Whiskey, and as a lover of Rye, I definitely appreciate the spicy note on the finish. The prizefight to which the name refers was between Yankee Sullivan and John Morrissey, which is notable for our area because Morrissey was one of the founders of Saratoga race track. Pour a glass and drink a toast to Ireland, to scrappy fighters, and to the legacy of John Morrissey!
West Cork Distillers Glengarriff Bog Oak Cask Whiskey ($39.99)
From the producer:
"West Cork Distillers’ Glengarriff Collection of Irish whiskeys are single malts aged for 4 years in sherry casks before being finished in barrels that have been charred using natural fuel sources obtained from the iconic Glengarriff Forest in Southern Ireland. Each barrel is prepared using a proprietary charring device that was hand-built by West Cork Distillers with the guidance of a local fifth-generation blacksmith. Each of these special release whiskeys delivers a unique flavor profile that embodies the innovative spirit of West Cork Distillers.
Bog Oak Charred Cask:
Aroma - Spice, dried leather with a sweet dried fruit undertone
Taste - Intense spice, malt and cracked pepper
Finish - Spice, nutmeg and long lasting malt"
This will be the most unusual Irish Whiskey you'll taste. There's an earthy undertone to the flavor that I find really compelling, and there's more smoke than you might be used to from Ireland. I would call this the wine drinker's/Scotch lover's/cigar smoker's Irish Whiskey. The method for imparting this flavor profile is also unique: rather than smoking the malt, the barrels used at the end of the aging process are charred using a bog oak fire. The result is both light and earthy.