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: 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.