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.