Fungus Among Us Produces A Distinctive Dessert Wine

March 17, 2014

Reviews of the Château Guiraud Sauternes 2001 and 2 whiskies from Maker’s Mark.

It has been said that the first person to eat a tomato was the bravest person in culinary history. We’ve heard similar comments about the first person to milk a cow and the first to consume raw fish. While we will never know the veracity of such claims, in the world of wine there is a similar “first” hero myth: the first winemaker to use grapes infected by fungus to make wine. We don’t really know when this started either, though the first clear mention of wine made from fungus infected grapes is from around 1576.

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Hidden Gems Exist In Oregon’s Willamette Valley

March 10, 2014

coeur de terre

Reviews of the wines produced by the Coeur de Terre Vineyard and the Dukes Family Vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

The excellent wines, spectacular views and remarkably friendly people within Oregon’s Willamette Valley make selecting which wineries to visit a difficult challenge. There is comfort in choosing familiar names such as Ken Wright, Soter Vineyards, Domaine Drouhin and Cristom Vineyards, pioneers in the region with stellar reputations for creating outstanding wines. But don’t ignore the smaller, less well-known wineries found scattered throughout the region where you will often have an opportunity to meet the owners, hear their stories and experience first-hand their passion to craft notable wines.

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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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Finicky Pinot Noir Grape Can Produce Profound Wine

February 25, 2014

A review of Yarden Pinot Noir 2009 and the Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

There is some mysterious aspect of Pinot Noir that results in a degree of winemaker madness. It is difficult to grow and vinify, temperamental in the barrel and prone to closing down in the bottle for years before becoming really drinkable again. These very challenges seem to inspire rather than inhibit those winemakers who consider crafting a Pinot Noir the pinnacle of their profession.

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The Desirable Taste Of The Varietal

February 17, 2014

A review of the Barkan Assemblage Tzafit 2010 and The Glenlivet 15 year old, French Oak Reserve, Single-Malt Scotch Whisky.

One of the more difficult aspects of winemaking is creating a blend. It requires the ability to predict how a very young wine will evolve, and then also the ability to choose which additional varietals to add to enhance the finished product. Since the final result may not be ready to drink for years, a finely crafted and enjoyable blended wine is a true testimony to the winemaker’s skill and experience.

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A Fine Whisky From Low Down In The Scottish Highlands

February 12, 2014

A review of several Glengoyne Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

We thought this week we’d revisit a few of the remarkable whiskies of the Glengoyne Distillery from fairly low down in the Scottish Highlands. Glengoyne is sadly not as familiar a name to many as it should be. It was founded in 1833 in a wooded glen on the western edge of the Campsie Fells, not far from Loch Lomond, almost exactly on the demarcation line between the Highlands and Lowlands (about 30 minutes outside of Glasgow). The distillery had a good reputation and in 1984 was issued a royal warrant as supplier of whiskies to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s household.

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Port Helps Beat Winter Blahs

February 4, 2014

A look at Port including a review of Shiloh Fort Dessert Wine along with a review of Booker’s Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Port is an ideal way to offset the winter doldrums. Now authentic Port comes only from Portugal. It is made from various varieties of very foreign-sounding grapes grown in the Douro Valley region of Portugal. Port is a typically heavy, rich, sweet, high-alcohol (usually 18-20 percent abv) wine not only due to the type of grapes used, but also because it is fortified; the winemakers add some measure of distilled grape spirits (a local brandy known as “aguardiente” or fire water) to fortify the wine with an artificially higher alcohol content which, in turn, immediately kills the yeast cells, halting the fermentation process before the grapes’ remaining sugar is converted into alcohol. The wine then gets aged in one of two basic processes, depending on style (and eventual price).

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The Yin And Yang Of Wine Bottles

January 27, 2014

The advantages of a half-bottle of wine along with reviews of the Terra Vega Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 944 2012 and Tullamore Dew “Phoenix” Limited Edition Irish Whiskey.

There are various ways for wine producers to distinguish their wines for consumers. Interesting and unusual varietals and blends can attract attention. Likewise, an attractive or unusual label or marketing campaign can make it stand out. Another great option is to change the size of the bottle

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Shifting From Red To White

January 21, 2014

A look at the growing emphasis on white wines in Israel including a review of the Flam Blanc 2012 along with a look at the purchase of Beam, Inc. by Suntory.

It has been interesting to observe the subtle but steady shift in emphasis from red to white wine occurring in Israeli winemaking. The country certainly produces a number of flavorful, enjoyable, compelling and occasionally even truly outstanding red wines. But now there seems to be a growing appreciation of the potential inherent in white grapes when grown in the Mediterranean climate. In this regard, there are some remarkable similarities to Greek winemaking.

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