Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Faces for Fall

We just brought in a ton of new champagne to get everyone in
gear for the holidays. Most of these bottles we're from the
Terry Theise Grower's tasting that we attended last week.
What a fantastic event!

Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut Champagne
Score:90 Points, The Wine Spectator, October 2008.

Aubry Premier Cru Brut Champagne
This champagne shows off tightly focused, steely fruit with a
little bit of pepper. It's citrusy and bright on the palate,
with a leafy, fresh herb character to it. Very nice and quite complex.

Chartogne - Taillet Sainte Anne Brut Champagne
Score: 89 Points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

H. Billiot Fils Brut Reserve Champagne
Big bold flavors, lots of richness with great red berry intensity
that lasts till the finish.

Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 1er Cru Blanc de Blanc Brut Champagne
Score: 92 Points Stephen Tanzer's, International Wine Cellar.

Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs Cuvee de Reserve Champagne
Creamy and toasty with berries and melons on the palate.
Very pretty and delicate champagne.

Vintage Goodies

A.Margaine 2002 Blanc de Blanc Special Club Champagne
A mouth full of berries riding on a medium toasty and yeasty body.

Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 2000 Special Club Brut Champagne
Score:92 Points Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar.

Pierre Gimonnet 2004 Fleuron Brut Champagne
Score: 91 Points Stephen Tanzer, The International Wine Cellar.

Pierre Peters 2000 Les Chetillons Cuvee Speciale Brut Champagne
Creamy and biscuity with hazelnuts and a key lime pie note towards the finish.

Vilmart et Cie 1997 Coeur de Cuvee Brut, 1.5 Liter (Magnum)
The nose is welcomed with scents of flowers, fresh herbs and a touch
of earth and yeast. In the mouth the wine is creamy and oppulent,
there is juicy citrus with hazelnuts throughout.
A real treat especially from a magnum.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Visiting Kentucky

Kyle's visiting Kentucky right now, here's some pics from Maker's Mark Distillery:
Stay tuned we have more infos to come, I think he might have found a new barrel for the American Whiskey Club!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our Favorite Champagnes Are Back!!!

The boat landed last week and in it were some tasty treats.
Now these aren't your well known Grand Marques but they are
very dear to us. We really would rather keep all of this to
our selves but our boss was against the idea.

Michel Loriot Blanc De Noirs Reserve Brut Champagne $33.99
The nose offers a nice, pretty light herb note. Steely and sleek
on the palate, the Champagne shows off spicy fruit dusted with
black pepper. All in all, it shows off a lot of power.

R.Renaudin Brut Reserve Champagne $32.99
The nose is big, toasty and bold and so is the palate.
This is a rich, hazelnut laced champagne, with lots of
juicy fruit. It comes across as very sexy in the Bollinger style.

R.Renaudin L'Espiegle Brut Rose Champagne $33.99
Light and delicate at first, opening to power, it shows off
floral fruit and a handful of nuts. There's great vibrancy
here and great finesse. It's creamy, with hints at pomegranate and lemon. Wow!

Voirin-Jumel Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru $48.99
The nose shows a bushel of fresh Bartlett pear fruit with flowers,
and a hint of green leaves. This is just alive in the mouth, the
mousse is so enthusiastic it wants to jump out of the glass.
Lush on the palate, with pear fruit and undertones of brioche.
It finishes up with the lightest, prettiest kiss of apple butter.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tasting Notes from Last Friday the 7th

Just a few things we that we really enjoyed at our tasting

Alpha Omega 06 Napa, Proprietary Red $61.00
A nose that shows caramel, tobacco, dry smoke and cedar.
On the palate, it's soft and integrated, with
dense black currant fruit and black pepper. There's a nice,
lacy tannic structure holding all together.
This is a serious and elegant red.

Grgich Hills 05 Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon $60
Tarry black wine with red fruit and a hint of fresh
green leaves to the nose. Rich and silky on the palate,
with currants and cassis and dark chocolate on the palate.
The finish hints at macadam. It holds your attention.

Tori Mor 07 Oregon/Washington Chardonnay $20
Bright straw colored wine with a lightly smoky nose. Light
bodied on entry, going creamier as it goes along.
This wine shows off some real Chardonnay fruit and isn't
afraid to show it naked, without a lot of oak to get in the way.
There's a nice snap to the finish. Well balanced
Chardonnay. Well done!

Uvaggio 08 Lodi, Vermentino $13
Green straw colored wine with fresh cut wood on the nose,
rather enticing, really. Tart on the palate, with lemon
and melon fruit that runs all the way through, leading
to a clean, snappy finish.

Wertzberger 06 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $18
A rich, red violet glass of wine showing eucalyptus and smoky
currants on the nose. Soft tannins on the palate hold tart
currant and berry fruit with a twist of the peppermill.
On the lighter end of Cabernet, but user friendly.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Champagnes from Gonet-Medeville

We just passed these tasty bubblies:

Gonet-Medeville Blanc des Noirs Champagne $47.99

Silvery golden bubbly with a spicy, toasty nose.
It comes across the palate with serious power--big, rich,
layered champagne with a steely focus.

Gonet-Medeville Brut Tradition Champagne $41.99

Very pale gold with very fine beads, the nose wafts
leafy and herbaceous from the glass. Light and
lively on the palate, with red fruit flavors on a
very soft mousse, showing nice length.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tasting Notes from Last Week

Alois Lageder 07 Pinot Grigio, Italy
Lemony gold colored wine with fresh hay and fruit wafting
from the nose. Very pleasantly creamy in texture while
remaining light. It has pretty, delicate fruit with a
lightly spicy note at the end.
Crisp at the end, showing good acidity.

Baileyana 06 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley
Red velvet colored wine with a nose composed of perfume
and lavender. Silky and soft on the palate, the wine
offers up red cherry fruit with real length and complexity.

Beaumont des Crayeres NV Brut, France (Champagne)
Pale gold with a fine bead. Cream, lemon and apples to
the nose. Sharp, tart fruit, lots of green apple and lemon.
Fresh, lively and zippy.

Ciacci Piccolomini 06 Toscana Rosso, Italy
Dense, black wine with a violet rim. The nose is composed
of smoke and salumi. On the palate it's velvety, with a
real depth of black fruit and some pleasant dust. Very well put together.

Duckhorn Decoy 07 Red Blend, Napa Valley
Rich, red garnet colored wine with a big, forward nose that
offers red fruit and graphite. Big and juicy on the palate,
with lots of cassis that calls to mind Bordeaux.
There are little hints of anise, cedar and even violets.
Lush, pretty wine.

Lombard NV Brut Champagne, France
Tawny gold color with a spicy, herbaceous nose showing
off some butter. Fat and rich, with creamy fruit and some
nice toast to the finish.

Macduff 90 Single Malt Scotch
Golden nut colored whisky with quick thick legs.
There's a coastal quality to the nose, a hint of
salted almonds. Full and soft on the palate it
starts out with sweet malt opening into smoke and a
nice hint of the sea. Real complexity to this whisky,
with a light touch of bacon to the finish.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Glowing Review From John Hansell

So we sent Malt Advocate's John Hansell a sample of one of our favorite Aficionado's bottling a few weeks ago and this is what he had to say:

Scapa, 19 year old, 1989 Vintage, 52.7%, $150

This single cask bottling of Scapa is a beauty! Brilliant gold color. Clean and fresh on the nose and palate, with complex bright fruit (peach, tangerine, Golden Delicious apple, honeydew melon, pineapple), spice (cinnamon, vanilla, subtle cocoa), appetizing brine, and beach pebbles, all on a bed of creamy, squeaky clean honeyed malt. Dynamic, appetizing, briny, dried spice finish. A delicious, superbly balanced whisky that makes a great aperitif, but I could drink this any time. (Bottled exclusively for D&M Aficionado’s Club.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 92

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Arrivals!

We're ecstatic about all these champagnes that just came in. You folks better get some before we run out.

Billecart - Salmon 1997 Cuvee Nicholas Francois Brut Champagne

Outpointing its middling reputation, this vintage of the Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart bubbly hits the mark smartly with yeasty, rich and ripe aromas that are this producer's hallmark. Except for an extra note of chalk in its aromas and flavors, the smells of vanilla, ripe cherries and sweet lemons could easily pass for something grown here in California. It is balanced, rich, creamy and well-bubbled.
Score: 2 Puffs, Connoisseurs' Guide

Bollinger 1985 RD Extra Brut Champagne

Disgorged in 1997. Founded in 1829, Champagne Bollinger introduced the world to an instantly recognizable, dry, toasty style that connoisseurs around the globe covet. Six generations of the Bollinger family have maintained the trademark style of their namesake Champagne and it is one of a few remaining Grande Marque houses owned, controlled and managed by the same family since its founding. Bollinger relies on its own estate for more than 60 percent of its grape requirements, including the Pinot Noir that gives its Champagne much of its distinctive strength and structure. Bollinger is one of a select few houses that can control the quality of its grape supply so carefully. Bollinger is renowned for its use of traditional methods that include extensive use of Pinot Noir, individual vinification of each marc and cru, barrel fermentation and extra-aging of all of its Champagnes on the lees prior to disgorgement.

Bollinger 1990 RD Extra Brut Champagne
Disgorged in 2002. A full-bodied, powerful Champagne featuring biscuit and ginger aromas and flavors, picking up a grilled nut character on the finish. Very firmly structured and dry, yet with the flavor intensity and fine texture to match, this is a tour de force. Endless finish. Drink now through 2020.
Score: 97 Points, Collectibles. The Wine Spectator.

Pierre Gimonnet et Fils 1998 Vieilles Vignes De Chardonnay 1.5 Liters - Magnum

This is dry and brisk, yet with fine intensity to its lemon, bread dough and hazelnut notes. Balanced overall, it ends with a nice richness and length. An ideal food Champagne.
Score: 90 Points The Wine Spectator

Green-gold. Spicy, vibrant citrus zest aromas, with nervy mineral accents and a hint of white flowers. Pure and energetic, with wonderful lift and great clarity to the flavors of lime, Meyer lemon and ruby-red grapefruit. A brisk mineral note of talc dominates the finish, which is impressively long.
Score: 91 Points Stephen Tanzer's, International Wine Cellar,

Monday, May 25, 2009

June's American Whiskey Club

Alright, y'all can move forward to the edge of your seats. The next American Whiskey Club bottling is going to be a 7 year old single barrel from Willett! Here's an advance of the insert that'll be going out with the bottle (minus the tasting notes as I've yet to locate where I stashed them).

Willett is a brand, albeit one whose name retains historical significance. It begins with the story of John David Willett who formed Moore, Willett & Frenke Distilling shortly after the Civil War (Mr. Moore being John David’s brother-in-law and Mr. Frenke being an interested party from Louisville). In 1876, John David Willett fell ill and sold his interests to Moore and Frenke. Lambert Willett, John David’s son, started working at the distillery at the age of 15. After learning the ropes in his family’s distillery, Lambert moved over to Max Selliger & Co. Distillery eventually becoming one-third owner and superintendent of the plant. A.L. “Thompson” Willett, Lambert’s son, joined him at the plant as assistant superintendent. Thompson eventually left to establish the Willett Distilling Company and in 1935 construction began on their distillery. Five years after the founding of Willett Distilling Company, Lambert too left Max Selliger & Co. Distillery and joined his son to oversee the distilling process at Willett Distillery. Distribution remained fairly localized. During the gasoline crisis of the 1970s, the Willett Distillery switched production from alcohol to gasohol fuel. However, they never got the chance to capitalize on this as the U.S. soon recovered from the crisis. The distillery closed down and the bourbon distilling equipment and machinery was sold off and scrapped, with only the gasohol equipment remaining within the distillery.

Fortunately the Willett’s story does not end here. Thompson Willett’s daughter married a man by the name of Even G. Kulsveen of Hamar, Norway. In 1984, Even purchased the property and has ever since strived towards bringing the Willett Distillery back to life. He began by bottling whiskey that remained from the distillery’s production and remarketing it, primarily to the Japanese and (secondarily) the European markets. The old Willett stock has since run dry, and Even has turned to buying whiskey from other distilleries and bottling it under his brands’ names. This is not as sinister as it might sound. Even Kulsveen is one of many people who do this and his ability to select and blend whiskey from other distilleries in order to attain the profile he is looking for is evidence of his skills. The original Willett Distillery is under construction in an attempt to restore it to its former state of whiskey production; they are in the final stages and we expect nothing less than great whiskey from them as they move to operating out of their own distillery. The Willett label is part of the line up from parent company Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, responsible for such whiskeys as Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Vintage, Pure Kentucky, Johnny Drum and Old Bardstown among others.

Recently we have been seeing a fair amount independent single barrel bottlings under the Willett name. We’ve been impressed with every one that we’ve tried, all of them showing a distinctive profile that is at once recognizable as Willett but each with their own characteristics and nuances that set them apart. This selection is a 7 year old, barrel number 1572. The nose is ripe with orange blossoms, honey, lemon and brown sugar. The palate is light and lively, citrus driven with dough and nougat. This is a cask strength bottling and we recommend water (not just because of the proof). Water really opens up the palate on this whiskey. We got a lot fuller flavors and much more rye spice with just a couple drops of water. We’ve chosen this barrel in conference with a few bars and restaurants that will be splitting it with us.


Friday, May 22, 2009

The White Bowmore

It came in just last Tuesday and only 3 retail stores in
Northern California have this legendary bottle.
John Hansell from Malt Advocate gave it 94 Points.
For all you wealthy Islaphiles we're offering a package deal,
$10,000 for the Black and the White Bowmore!

Here are some detailed infos about this bottle:

Distilld: 1964 New Limited Edition. 42.8% ABV. Northern California only received 3 Bottles.

On the 5th of November 1964 the Bowmore spirit was filled into six bourbon casks and left to quietly mature in the deep, dark Bowmore vaults. After more than forty three years, the bourbon oak wood has infused the Bowmore spirit with light luscious vanilla tones. The color is golden syrup, with amazing aromas of Gallia melon, mango and papaya.

Only 732 bottles were obtained from the casks, but the result is outstanding. It is rare indeed to find a single malt scotch whisky of this quality and calibre.

Monday, May 11, 2009

An Old Favorite is Back.

Last Friday's tasting was just plain awful we tried 19 bottles and passed one.
The good news is the passer was a bottle of Champagne, Ruelle Pertois Premier Cru Blanc De Blancs.. We have been big fans of this bubbly for quite some time now and have been eagerly anticipating its return. We're just happy that this current blend is just as good as the previous bottles. Made with pure Chardonnay and is made mostly with the 2000 and 2001 vintages. Citrus, brioche and hazelnuts on the nose. Creamy and toasty brioche flavors, the mousse is very pretty.

This is a small, family run champagne producer located in the town of Moussy. Their various vineyard parcels total just under 15 acres, from which just over 4,000 cases of champagne are made a year.

Their CĂ´tes de Blancs vineyards (comprising 50% of their holdings) are located in Cramant, Chouilly and Oiry, all considered 100% Grand Cru for Chardonnay. The other 50% of their vineyards are located in the Cote d'Epernay villages of Moussy, Pierry and Vinay. All three champagne varietals (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay) are planted there, with the majority being Pinot Meunier.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tasting Notes Update.

Here are the things that we liked from our staff tasting on Friday the 24th.

Aberlour Single Malt Scotch 11 year old, Duncan Taylor Bottling
Pale gold with a typical Aberlour nose composed of malt, fruit and
a hint of sherry. Light bodied, grassy and slightly sweet with some nice

Bernard Lonclas NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
White golden colored wine with very fine beads. The nose is
composed of flowers, pepper and toast. Soft and pretty on
the palate, it offers delicate toast along with cream and
flowers. Nice length to the toastiness of the finish.
Tres elegant bubbly.

Bowmore Single Malt Scotch 25 year old, Duncan Taylor Bottling
Red gold in color with a nose that says Bowmore--ozone, peat
and the sea. Spicy and rich on the palate, there's a perfume
element laced all through the smoke. The sea salt is there and
the ozone comes up for a bow on the finish.

Domaine des Cassagnoles 08 Cotes de Gascogne $9
White gold color with some spices and a hint of petrol to
the nose. Light with bright melon fruit.
Snappy and refreshing on the finish.

Glenesk 20 YO Single Malt Scotch, Duncan Taylor
Pale gold with a salty, Oceanic nose. Light body with
white pepper and lots of flavor and depth to it.
Dangerously easy to drink, especially at this proof.
There's interesting tequila like tang to the center of this one.

JAQK 2006 Merlot CA $ $27.00
Black velvet colored wine with rich blueberry fruit
dancing on the nose. This is exactly what it should
be in the glass--Silky and soft, with
chocolate covered cherry fruit. It's rich,
with complexity under the silk.

Johnny Drum Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Red walnut color with an enticing nose.
Soft and complex in the palate, this bourbon
just holds you attention with sweet molasses
teased by a peppery spiciness.
A very nicely built whiskey

Johnny Drum Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Greenish gold color with a lightly smoky nose that
shows off a little earth as well. Light bodied,
but offering chewy, cookie-dough like flavors,
with a little bit of spiciness to the finish.

Kentucky Vintage Bourbon,Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Nut brown whiskey with a honey, molasses and horehound
candy nose. Crisp and snappy on the palate, with a nice
sweetness, but never cloying. There’s an intriguing
note of rhubarb fruit hiding the center.

Lieff 08 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc $20
Very pale lemon in the color, the nose shows off grass
on a bed of minerals. Light and spicy on the palate,
with gooseberry fruit and some nice
white pepper notes before a snappy finish.

Macrostie 07 Carneros Chardonnay $14
Rich gold color with a nose of smoke wrapped in vanilla
and cream. On the palate it's classic Macrostie--dried
apple slices simmered in cream, finished up with just
a touch of butter and vanilla.

Tamdhu Single Malt Scotch 34 year old
Pale gold with a nose composed of fresh mint and thyme.
Soft on the palate and on the lighter side, showing pretty
malt and great gentleness. This might be too gentle for some,
but it will have its fans. Very easy to like.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More American Whiskey

It has almost become a mission to stock the store as so it has one of the best American Whiskey selections. Getting started is the easy part as their is plenty of good and well known whiskeys being made in the states. It starts getting a little bit more difficult when you reach the point that we're at now. We can always use suggestions. So, what would you like to see in the shop? Here are a few that we're thinking about; give us your thoughts on them.

Elijah Craig 12 Year Old
Vintage 23 Year Old Rye
Ezra Brooks
Hancock's Reserve
Pritchard's Double Barrel
Old Fitzgerald Very Special 12 Year Old

and some economically sensitive whiskey:
Ancient Age
Old Grand Dad
Fighting Cock
Old Crow 3 Year Old
Jim Beam Rye

Also, we're coming to a decision on our next bottle for the American Whiskey Club. It'll be a single barrel from Willett. I'll have more details for y'all soon. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Good bubbly doesn't have to be expensive.

These passed few days have been quite warm to say the least. To stay cool we've been on a bubbly sampling binge. We just passed 2 awesome sparkling wines both for under $12. Talk about recession wine, well here you have it and they're both from Charles Lafite. For those faithful to only Champagne we also passed Montaudon's Brut Rose we got a great deal on it. So, we're selling it for $29.99.

Charles Lafite NV Sparkling Rose Gulf of Lyon
Peachy pink color with candied rhubarb to the nose. Light,
with citrus and strawberry fruit notes all the way through
with a light touch of pepper to the finish.

Charles Lafite NV Sparkling Wine Gulf of Lyon
White gold color with fine beads, the nose is floral with hints
of orange zest. Juicy on the palate, with lots of citrus fruit,
along with minerals.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tasting Notes from Thursday

Lots of exciting things....

Cune 2005 Rioja, Crianza $21
Red robed garnet colored wine with a nose composed
of earth and tar. Definitely Old World in style, with a
velvety texture and restrained dark fruit along with a touch
of leather to the finish. Well built,
with everything kept in balance.

Cune Monopole 2007 Rioja Blanco $20
Lemony straw colored wine with a pretty, floral nose.
Citrusy, floral, soft, with light herbs laced through this
fascinating wine. Finish with a nice snap of citrus. Speaking of
snap, red snapper, anyone?

Londer 2007 Late Harvest Anderson Valley Gewurztraminer $23
Platinum colored wine with lychee, white pepper and flowers to
the enticing nose. Medium weight, with honeysuckle fruit and perfume
notes, along with limes and peaches. Quite complex, quite well made
and amazingly crisp for all its sweetness.

Montaudon Brut Rose, Champagne $30
Dusty rose color with fine beads in abundance. The nose shows
off toast, vanilla and strawberries. Soft and juicy on the
palate with lots of cherry fruit and a delicate, dry finish.

Temple Family Vineyard 05 Cabernet Sauvignon $52
Rich, garnet color with a nose composed of earth and cocoa.
Big and chewy on the palate, with dark cassis and currants
and a very firm tannic structure. There are hints of tobacco
and a dark minerality to the finish.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Friday's tasting was much better than Thursday's. We found 2 bottles for our Champagne Club members.

D. Henriet-Bazin NV Brut Rose Champagne
Very pale pink with fine beads. The nose is very fresh, alive with
berry fruit. Light, delicate and pretty on the palate, with
strawberries embedded in a pinpoint mousse. There's just the
lightest kiss of smoke to the finish.

Eric Rodez NV Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Golden colored bubbly with a fine, the nose is quite spicy.
The palate follows through with a fistful of cinnamon spice
supporting lots of red fruit leading into a toasty center.
It finishes with a note of drying spices.

Honig 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $36.99
Black velvet with a violet rim, the nose is smoky and spicy.
Big and rich on the palate, with lots of cassis and real weight
to it. There's a little bit of pepper to it. Very well built classic,
California cabernet.

Melipal 2006 Argentina Malbec $20.99
A rich velvety garnet wine with dark fruit to the nose.
Big, thick, bold wine-smoky and dense. There's pepper, granite,
graphite and dark, dark, dark, dark fruit. It goes into a big,
bold spicy finish. Gigantic malbec, just find us a steak, please.

Stone House 2006 North Coast Zinfandel $13.99
Red velvet color with a minty berry nose.
Rich and pretty, with slightly sweet brambles and jam and just a little pepper.
A Charming little Zin.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tasting Notes from Thursday

The tasting was not as exciting as last week but we did find a few gems.

39 Degrees 2005 Lake County Petite Sirah $16.99
This is a dead black wine showing off a nose composed of dark berry fruit and iron shavings. Big, bold, teeth-staining wine of a high order. It coats the tongue with black fruit, dusted with black pepper. The finish is iron laced and spicy. A big, bold, manly wine that will have you scheduling a teeth-cleaning in no time.

D. Henriet-Bazin Grand Cru Villiers-Marmery Grand Cru Champagne $34.99
Silvery straw with a fine bead. The nose offers yeast, toast and Meyer lemon fruit. Racy on entry, the champagne shows off Meyer lemon fruit on a mineral laced backbone, and a big, yeasty finish. Not for the faint of heart, but tasty champagne.

Lyeth 06 Sonoma Pinot Noir $19.99
This is a ruby-tinged garnet wine with a spicy nose. On the palate it shows off its presence with dark, spicy fruit and just a hint of nettles to it. Big pinot, with nice complexity, some unsweetened chocolate notes and a long, pepper-laced finish.

Tyrconnell Irish Whiskey Port Cask Finish
Light reddish pine color with a sweet, floral nose. Viscous and rich on
the palate, with malt and spicy red wine notes. The whiskey has a nice, firm grip and a long, nutty finish.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The American Whiskey Club's First Selection Is Here!

Our first selection for the American Whiskey Club landed this week past and we've been busying ourselves with getting them out to you. For those of you yet to pick it up, here's the scoop. It is a special bottling done by Stranahan's -- part of their Snowflake Series, in which they've been experimenting with different cask finishes. For the most part, the Snowflake Series has only been available at the distillery - or how we and I'm sure several other industry folks have tasted it, as a gift from the folks at Stranahan's. This particular batch was coined Grand Mesa, the significance of which immediately came apparent upon tasting.

We originally sat down with three different bottles from the Snowflake Series: a Cab Franc finish, a Port Finish and the mysteriously titled "Grand Mesa." We had no other details about these bottles at the time. We started out with the Cab Franc finish which showed a great amount of spice and berry fruit. The Port finish was really rich and almost dessert-like with its berry jam and rummed rainsin characteristics. Finally, we came to the mystery bottle. The nose gave us dusty, dry hay on top of cherry jam. The palate exploded with spices, riding alongside brandied cherries and cocoa powder. The finish was long and dry with the spice still persisting and ending with Braeburn apples. It immediately brought to mind the vast open outdoors; it tasted like the Grand Mesa. Our decision was easy. The other whiskies were great, but this was fantastic.

Jake Norris, the head distiller at Stranahan's gave us some details once we had picked out the Grand Mesa cask.
The Grand Mesa Cask Finished Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey is made from 100% malted barley, distilled twice and aged in new heavily charred white oak barrels for no less than 2 years. This whiskey was distilled on 6/10/06- there was a fruity odor to the mash. The second distillation ran longer than normal due to the presence of higher esters. I cut heads accordingly. The barrel rested in rackhouse B-level 2, row 2. As I tested the barrel I noted a deep and complex flavor. After careful consideration I decided that this barrel had such a strong foundation that it could handle another layer of flavor. I worked with a used barrel dealer and located a French White Oak barrel made by Siguin Moreau that had housed red table wine made from grapes grown facing the Grand Mesa in remote western Colorado. The combination of the light sweet fruit flavors conjured from the used wine cask matched perfectly with the vanilla, spice and caramel flavors of the new American oak. The whiskey was transferred to the Mesa barrel on 8/13/08. It was matured in the Mesa barrel for 3 months and 23 days until sampled and deemed ready for bottling- the whiskey is 100% Colorado and has the freshness of the Rockies. We hope to be able to provide whiskies of this quality in the future.
This bottle is available now for members of the American Whiskey Club. For those of you who would rather not sign up for the club, it'll be available at the beginning of April. Club members have the added incentive of getting the bottle at a discounted price. For those of you out there still wary but interested, head over to The Alembic -- a great whisk(e)y bar and restaurant at 1752 Haight Street. The cask has been split with them so feel free to have a taste or more over there before you decide to pick up a bottle of your own.

Those of you who would like to sign up can do so a number of different ways. Give us a call at (415)346-1325 or (800)637-0292. Sign up on our website: http://tinyurl.com/c2q9wl. Or, my favorite, write yourself a prescription.

Hope to hear from y'all soon.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Catalog craziness and some Burgundies

We're working on our Spring 24 pager at the moment but had some time to take a little break to sample some Burgundies and a white Rhone. Here's what we passed:

Bachelot Monnot 06 Maranges 1er Cru $36
Dark garnet wine with a clear rim. The nose is definitely Burgundy,
with earth and smoke, just a hint of a barnyard and red berry fruit.
On the palate, it's middleweight with a silky texture with lots
of red fruit. There's a brace of spices amidst the fruit and
excellent structure.

Bachelot Monnot 06 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru La $97
This is polished gold wine with a smoky, oaky nose. On the palate
it is very tightly wound, with firm tart fruit on a bed of flint.
This one can
grow for decades.

Bachelot Monnot 06 Bourgogne Blanc (Declassified Puligny Montrachet)$24
Bright straw color with a spicy, smoky nose, red apples, a hint
of oak and a hint of clove. This is Puligny Montrachet made
from vines too young to make the classification. It's a lovely,
middleweight white, with steely fruit on a firm structure.
There's lovely fruit here, set in a grown-up

Muzard 06 Santenay Clos des Mouches $48
Dense garnet wine with a hint of mint along with other spices
on the nose. There's also berry fruit and a touch of earth there.
Absolutely huge on the palate, with dense, chewy fruit. There's a
lot of earth here, in balance with the fruit, lots of density
and serious structure. This one could age forever.

Saint Cosme 07 Cotes du Rhone Blanc $24
This bright gold wine has a nose that speaks of peaches and stones.
On the palate it's steely and sleek, with white peach fruit and spices
set into a mineral-laced bed. The texture is what grabs you here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Its Napa Premier Week-end!

We just arrived in Napa and tasting wine at Shafer.
The 2005 Hillside Select has rich velvety fruit.
Lush texture with a solid backbone and still drinking well now.
The 2007 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay has flavors of papaya, mango and cream.
There is a kiss of oak but not overwhelming with good acidity.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Staff Tasting Favorites

Our Thursday tasting was fantastic! Here are the bottles we passed.

Antano 07 Rioja
Thick and chewy, with black fruit, leather and serious minerality.
Big shouldered for Rioja, but darned tasty.

Lioco 07 "Charles Heintz" Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast)
Beautifully balanced, silky wine, with pear and apricot fruit set
into a creamy texture and a finish of astonishing length.

Il Follo NV Proseco Extra Dry
This is juicy bubbly, with a lovely texture, loaded with bright fruit.
It's just off dry enough to remind you that it's prosecco, not champagne.
There's a nice flinty note adding a dimension to the finish.

Lioco 07 Sonoma Coast, Carneros
Soft, silky and sexy wine, with cherry fruit and real delicacy.
This is classy wine.

Lioco 07 Sonoma, Chardonnay
Middleweight, with crisp apple fruit and a light kiss of cream at the end.
Lovely and balanced.

Mas de Daumas Gassac 07, White Wine Blend, Languedoc
White straw color with peaches and herbs, rosemary in particular, wafting
from the nose. Rich and spicy, laced with herbs and lovely fruit and
steely minerality. The wine shows amazing complexity and length.

Tandem 03 Red Blend, Navarre Spain
Supple and juicy, with lots of spice and black fruit,
along with black pepper. Complex and lovely.

Tuthilltown Distillery, Hudson, Manhattan Rye Whiskey
Red pine color with a very lively, very spicy nose. Crisp and snappy
on the palate, with a nice texture. The rye really gets to strut
its stuff in this beautiful whiskey.

Tuthilltown Distillery, Hudson, Four Grain Whiskey
Rich and soft, with creamy corn and a bit of spiciness laced through it.

Tuthilltown Distillery, Hudson, Baby Bourbon
Redwood color with a fresh, forward nose. Dry and soft on the palate, showing baked corn and just a twist of the peppermill. Tasty.

Voss 07, Napa Valley, Sauvignon Blanc
Crisp and light on the palate, with juicy fruit and some spiciness leading
into a crisp snappy finish.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

American Whiskey Club Update

With much anticipation -- on our part, at least -- the American Whiskey Club is falling into place and just about ready for launch. We've slowly been cultivating enthusiasts familiar with our discerning tastes. Others have understandably waited to sign up until they knew, at least, what our first offering would be. Well, we now have something more to tell you than the vague but truthful response of "We're searching out whiskeys that are going to be a bit more unusual, whether they be from smaller distilleries that might not be readily available due to distribution issues or they be unusual bottlings (like older offerings, additional cask enhancements, marriages, atypical mash bills, et cetera)." The idea was that we wanted to be able to offer you things that you couldn't just go your local spirits shop and pick up, but we were unsure how difficult finding these kinds of bottlings was going to be. Sometimes the choice is obvious.

Back at WhiskyFest 2008, the folks at Stranahan's sent a "thank-you" bottle in our direction. It was part of what they refer to as their Snowflake Batch - this particular one, was their Colorado Whiskey finished in Port pipes. Intrigued by the unusual and delicious flavors, we set out to see if they'd be interested in providing us with something of this nature for the American Whiskey Club that we were putting together. As it was the holidays and Stranahan's was receiving more and more press, they merely asked that we wait until after the holiday season so they could keep up with demand and get their whiskey out. So we waited with hope and anticipation for the holidays to end.

In the meantime, we busied ourselves with searching for additional and future options for the club. But as of the Monday, all that got put on the back burner: samples of multiple Stranahan's Snowflake Batch bottlings showed up! It was a tough choice choosing between them, but there was one in particular that stood out. And so, we can now tell you definitively our first American Whiskey Club offering. All the extensive details will be up soon, but be ready for Stranahan's Snowflake Batch. And sign up for the club to ensure yourself a bottle.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ardbeg Supernova

We’ve been hearing from a lot of customers lately asking about the new Ardbeg Supernova. This is a super heavily peated Islay whisky, 100 parts per million. It’s being released to Ardbeg Committee members in Europe this month. There will be some 600 bottles released to the US later in the year, probably March or April. If you visit the Ardbeg website you will see that we are one of fourteen retailers in the US who will get some of this whisky, that promises to be amazing.

That said; let us say that’s all we know. We don’t know how many bottles we will get. We don’t know what the price is going to be. We don’t know how it’s going to be allotted. We are honored to be included among the Ardbeg Outposts, and we’re looking forward to getting the whisky. When we get it, we’ll let the world know. All we can suggest is that you keep checking back here. Of course, you might decide to pick up a bottle of the Ardbeg Uigeadail just to tide you over.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tasting Some Scotch on a Lazy Sunday

Robin from Glenrothes dropped off some samples and just made our day today! Here are the bottles we tried:

Glenrothes 1975 31 Year Old, Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($500):
Rich, amber colored whisky with ozone, red fruit, light spices and some citrus, almost tropical fruit notes, to the nose. Very luxurious in texture with lashings of malt, rich sherried nuttiness lots of butterscotch and some toasted almonds on the end.

Glenrothes 1979 26 Year Old Single Cask, Single Malt Scotch Whisky (1,500):
Dark varnished redwood color with malt, nuts, seabreeze and oloroso sherry to the nose (water opens up the maritime element). Very full bodied nutty and very sherried--probably Oloroso. Still big, fresh and rich with lots of power. Water softens the heat and lifts all the flavors.

Another bottle we tried dropped off by another rep was the Bowmore 1991 16 Year Old, Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($100):
Redwood colored whiky with a classic Bowmore nose--ozone, smoke and driftwood fires. Pretty and feisty at the same time on the palate. Spices, pepper, smoke, along with serious wine notes and fresh cut peat. Another winner in this series.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Staff Tasting Favorites

Our staff tasting was a bit of a let down except for the super amazing 1999 Blanc de Blancs from Vranken Diamant Blanc (it was Heidsieck-Monopole Diamant Bleu in the past but they've changed labels)the Champagne was ripe golden colored with toast, coconut and smoke on the nose. Sleek, steely, big shouldered Champagne with lots of toast. A lovely mouth feel and real richness and great length to the finish.
We're going to try to work on pricing with them and see if they are willing to lower the price from $144 per bottle to maybe $120.

We also tried "The Season's of Pommery" (4 bottles representing each season) in the hopes of possibly finding a gem for our Champagne Club, but was disappointed with the bottles. We did however like the Extra Dry Pommery Fall Time.

Here's a list of what we passed this week:

Domaine des Lises Crozes Hermitage 2006 $32
Deep red garnet colored wine with smoky wood, maple and a peppery charcuterie note to the nose. Light in body but big in flavor, with raspberry fruit, wood smoke, iron and spices. Firmly structured with a lovely dry, long finish.

Saddleback Napa Merlot 2004 $36
Thick garnet colored wine with a loamy nose, along with some pretty berry fruit/ Rich, with soft blueberry fruit in a restrained structure, finishing up with silk and blueberries.

Tschida 2005 Austria Eiswein $36
Rich golden color with a pretty floral nose. Richly textured on the palate, laced through with flowers and pear fruit, opening into a wonderful complexity.

Yves Boyer Martenot 2006 Meursault "En l'Ormeau" $55
Greeny golden wine with a nose composed of river-washed stones, stone fruit and crisp apples. Rich and complex on the palate, the wine shows off firm fruit and an amazing structure, pretty fruit wrapped around a beam of steel.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Staff Tasting Favorites

The staff tasting went very well this week. Here is the list of the bottles we passed:

Rocket Science 2005 Meritage $46.99
Red velvet color with a pretty perfumed nose. The wine is silky, with lots of chocolate and red fruit. This is a well built, flavorful wine decidedly in the California style.

Ch. Grand Village 2005 Bordeaux Superieur $24.99
Garnet colored wine with gravel, currants and oak on the nose. Strict and structured red wine-there's no mistaking where this one is from-it delivers firm currant fruit, dust and cedar on a strict tannic backbone.

Domaine Martin Sevre et Maine Muscadet $13.99
Shiny straw colored wine with honeysuckle and spices on the nose. Light and lemony on the palate, with a touch of oak at the very end and a lively spiciness. Well built.

La Fiorita Tuscan Red $24.99
Dark garnet wine with a clear rim. The nose speaks of Tuscan dustiness
along with anise and violets. Medium bodied red with a satiny texture carrying soft red fruit. The wine shows good grip and nice complexity and seems like it's calling out for a pasta with a red sauce.

Unti 2005 Dry Creek Grenache $37.99
Murky garnet color with fresh cut redwood and spices on the nose. Silky, with lots of plummy fruit and a real flesh-iness. The acids are firm, the wine is complex and there's a dusting of pepper to the finish.

Two Hands Australian Moscato (500ml) $19.99
This pure white colored wine offers pretty apricot fruit and flowers on the nose. Light and pretty on the palate, with true frizzante spritziness and lots of flavor. There's a wonderful grace note of pepper to the finish. This is a wine that will just make you smile.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A beautiful day for wine tasting...

So I was at the North Berkeley wine tasting yesterday and found some really tasty wines. I started with the Andre Beaufort 1996 Champagne it had a beautiful creamy citrus note and still quite firm for its age, however at the price point ($262/per bottle) I wanted more wow factor and I did not get that. So here are some of the wines that really stood out for me and hopefully we can order some for the store as soon as possible:

Domaine- Boyer Martenot 2006 Meursault 1er Cru 'Les Charmes' Cuvee Unique
Ripe green apples,lemons, pears, minerals with a good acidity to it. The French does this so well!

Domaine Latour Penedesses- Faugeres 2007 Faugeres Montagne Noir (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre)
Rich, dark berries with great complexity, you can tell it gets warm here and it shows.

Domaine Latour Penedesses- Faugeres 2005 Clos de Magrignan Montee des Schistes (Syrah)The aromas of this wine is spectacular lots of lavender and vanilla. The flavors are astonishing dark chocolate, plums and vanilla. I love the texture.

Josetta Saffirio- Monforte d'Alba- 2004 Barolo 'Persiera'
I almost passed up this table because of the label which I had a hard time taking seriously, I'm so glad I didn't, this Barolo was exquisite and after speaking to the owners daughter I found my self liking the label because of the story behind it.

Domaine Arlaud Pere et Fils- Morey- St Denis (organic)
2007 Morey-St. Denis 1er Cru 'Les Ruchots' Vielle Vignes
Silky texture, earth, cherries, bold flavors of fruit but with the right amount of restraint.
Domaine Arlaud Pere et Fils- Morey- St Denis (organic)
2006 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
Earthy, herbs, raspberries the finish lasts forever. I love this wine!

and now for California...
I'm so excited to have discovered this producer Lioco I want to order everything he was pouring.
His Chardonnays and Pinots were fantastic and I can't wait to bring the wines into our store.