From Adversity, Wine

February 2, 2015

Reviews of the Yatir Viognier 2010 and Haig Club Single Grain Scotch Whisky.

Many of the world’s finest wines, counter intuitive though it might seem, are actually created from grapes that grow in surprisingly meager conditions. Conditions that would cause other crops to suffer—like nutrient-poor soil, sparse water and daily temperature fluctuations—can stimulate the vines to concentrate whatever the land and microclimate has to offer on making the grapes more flavorful for wine. Proper viticultural practices, like careful pruning, trellising, keeping away pests, and the like, are obviously crucial components, but nature’s bounty remains the most fundamentally important element. So, all things being equal, winemakers tend to prefer vineyards in locations that will greatly, though beneficially, stress the vines.

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Yeast Is Not Only For Bread

June 2, 2014

A review of the Dalton Wild Yeast Fermentation Reserve Viognier 2012 and Four Roses Kentucky Bourbon.

Among the many factors that determine a wine’s quality, perhaps the least appreciated by most consumers is the role of yeast. It is these microscopic, single-cell organisms that convert the sugars found in grapes (and grains) into alcohol and carbon dioxide via the process of fermentation. There are numerous different yeast strains utilized in winemaking and each subtype has its own specific efficiency and impact upon the wine’s ultimate flavors.

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Is It Worth The Price?

February 27, 2014

A review of the Dalton Alma Chardonnay-Viognier 2011 and the (r?)1 Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey.

One question we are asked fairly frequently about booze is, “Is that worth the money?” While we may sometimes have a ready answer to offer in the moment, it is actually a question that gives us pause as it lends itself to a little deeper contemplation. “Worth,” like “beauty,” is subjective. Indeed, asking the “worth” question is really another way of asking “Is that worth it to you?” In context, however, it is clear that what folks typically mean to ask is, “Do you think this is worth it to me?” Yet, how does one begin to answer that?

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Better Than Chanukah Gelt

December 6, 2012

Four Gates Winery

Our Chanukah wish list including some kosher wines and a bunch of the great spirits we’ve recently enjoyed.

Chanukah gift-giving is really just an American transmogrification mimicking Xmas of the actual Jewish custom of giving Chanukah gelt (money). Still, we have nonetheless given in to modern convention and have compiled a list of a few things that we wouldn’t mind being given.

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Tasting Some Incredible Scotch

April 19, 2012

Tun 1401

Review of the Galil Mountain Viognier 2009 and several Balvinie Single Malt Scotches.

The arrival of spring means it is time to kick back on the deck with a chilled glass of white wine. For many, chardonnay is their white wine of choice. But there are many other wine options for warm weather enjoyment. One of our favorites is viognier, a very aromatic varietal with prominent fruit flavors and floral aromas.

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Wines Suitable For Sipping Under Sun Or Stars

April 27, 2011

d'Arenberg Hermit Crab

Some picnic wine recommendations including some Rosés and Torrontes along with wines from d’Arenberg and Cline.

Picnic wines should be uncomplicated, but still interesting. Here are some that fit the bill.

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A Dramatic Transformation For One California Winery

May 5, 2010

Zaca Mesa Winery

A look at the Zaca Mesa Winery.

Once known only for characterless, cheap and cheerful quaffs, the Zaca Mesa Winery now produces incredibly flavorful wines from varietals like Syrah, Roussanne and Viognier. Located in California’s Santa Barbara County, specifically the Santa Ynez Valley, Zaca Mesa planted its first vines — a mishmash of varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Merlot and Zinfandel — in 1978. In the ensuing years, the number of original investors dwindled, leaving the Cushman family in charge since 1988. With the realization that the location is best suited for the classic “Rhone” varietals — Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsaut, Roussanne and Viognier, new vines and a new winemaking team — the quality of the Zaca Mesa wines has increased significantly.

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Local Wineries Deserve More Respect

October 14, 2008

Black Ankle Crumbling Rock

A look at some Maryland wineries.

Many regionally produced wines are as good as their West Coast cousins, although consumers often overlook them. With wine being made in all 50 states, it is fitting that attention be paid to the accomplishments of these small wineries.

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Portuguese Winemakers Offer A Mix Of Old And New

October 17, 2007

Quinta do Monte D'Oiro

A look at some Portuguese table wines.

Known for centuries as the home of exceptional Port and Madeira, Portuguese winemakers are making some very good table wines now. Mirroring their Spanish counterparts, Portuguese wine producers have made major investments to modernize their facilities and to plant new varietals. ‘‘We needed to show the world that we could make quality table wines,” Jose Bento dos Santos, owner of Quinta do Monte D’Oiro explained at a recent tasting. ‘‘So we made wines from grapes people already know. Now that they see what we can do, they are more willing to try the wines from native grapes such as Touriga Nacional.”

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