Review: Zinfandels of Edmeades, 2013 Vintage

 

EDMEADES

Edmeades is a Mendocino-based part of the Jackson Family Vineyards empire, with a heavy focus on zinfandel. (Nay, an almost exclusive focus on zinfandel.)

Today we look at three of Edmeades’ single-vineyard expressions of the grape, all from the 2013 vintage.

2013 Edmeades Zinfandel Mendocino Ridge Perli Vineyards – Heavily fruit forward, this is a traditional zin with all the trimmings. Raisiny fruit? Yes. Notes of chocolate? Yes. Somewhat flabby body with a lengthy finish that shows off some vegetal overtones? That too. Overtones of caramel and blackberries add a little to the experience, but not enough to elevate this out of the rank and file. B / $31

2013 Edmeades Zinfandel Mendocino County Shamrock Vineyard – The raw and jammy fruit notes find some balance in the form of slightly sour balsamic notes, which really kick up as the lengthy, slightly chalky finish emerges. Old World in structure, this wine still suffers from a somewhat flabby body, but it’s engaging and intriguing enough to merit some exploration. B- / $31

2013 Edmeades Zinfandel Mendocino County Gianoli Vineyard – Sizable chocolate notes, along with notes of licorice and cloves, given this zin some character, but it doesn’t always fit perfectly with the densely fruity core, which is lush with berries and plum jam. Again, a rather unctuous and flabby body makes this less refreshing than one might like, though its complexities are interesting enough to merit a glass or two. B+ / $35

edmeades.com

Review: 2015 VieVite Cotes de Provence Rose

vievite

Another Provence-sourced rose, in quite a distinctive bottle.

There’s not a lot to write home about with this bottling, which muddies its floral aromas with notes of canned vegetables and chlorine. The palate is thin, almost watery at times, offering very mild strawberry notes alongside some notes of perfumed orange blossoms. Again though, the finish is weak and short, though ultimately quite harmless.

Aka Vie Vite.

B- / $17 / vievite.com

Review: 2015 Hahn Pinot Gris Monterey County

Hahn-PG15-Bottle-Image

2015’s pinot gris from Hahn has arrived. It’s a fresh and lively but straightforward white, with notes of mango backed up by a core of apples and pears. A touch of sweet baking spice adds complexity but keeps things from falling into the overly sweet side of the fence — despite a few marshmallow notes on the finish.

B+ / $14 / hahnwines.com

Review: Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky

Bains bottles white US

We’ve seen a number of products from South Africa lately — lots of wine, and even liqueurs and brandy — but this is our first South African whisky review.

The bottle won’t tell you much, but Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is single grain whisky made from 100% South African yellow maize (we call it corn!). It is column distilled and matured in first-fill, ex-bourbon casks for three years, then transferred to a second set of casks for 18 to 30 months, making this roughly a 4 to 6 year old spirit.

The nose is fairly harmless, restrained but showing some early notes of butterscotch, salted caramel, and ample but not overwhelming popcorn character. The body tends to mash these all together into a hearty caramel corn element — you would be easily forgiven for assuming this was a young American bourbon. That’s a statement that comes with a lot of baggage, but Bain’s doesn’t come across as overly grainy or vegetal. Give it a little time at least and the palate settles into a groove that offers notes of vanilla custard and caramel sauce, layered atop that heavier popcorn base. Initially a bit disjointed, things get quite integrated and soothing as the whisky opens up with time exposed to air, the way things can often happen with younger, but well-made, bourbon.

If you love bourbon, you’ll at least like Bain’s Cape Mountain — and you might even find a real soft spot for its charms.

86 proof.

B / $30 / bainswhisky.com

Review: Jim Beam Bourbon (White Label) and Black Extra-Aged Bourbon (2016)

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It’s hard to believe but we’ve never formally reviewed good old “White Label,” the bottom shelf of Jim Beam but, to be sure, one of the great values in the world of Kentucky whiskeymaking.

Beam recently revamped its bottle and label design — and in some cases the names of its products have been tweaked — which makes 2016 the perfect opportunity to give Beam a fresh review. Also on tap in this review is another look at Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged. Only last year Beam tweaked this bottling, which had previously been an age-stated 8 year old known as “Double Aged,” changing it up to call it XA Extra Aged. With the new bottle refresh, the name has been tweaked again — now it’s just Extra-Aged, losing the “XA” but gaining a hyphen. Let’s call that an even trade. Normally I wouldn’t re-review something we covered so recently, but given the pace of change in the bourbon business, a fresh taste couldn’t hurt. Who knows where it stands now.

Oddly enough, you’ll notice that different bottlings in the line have somewhat different designs. The squared-off shoulders of the Extra-Aged evoke the new Jack Daniel’s bottle (though there’s no risk of confusing the two), while White Label’s bottle sticks much more closely to the original Beam design (the new bottle is on the right in the above photo). Why not consolidate the design across the line? Eh, just drink your bourbon and ponder it quietly.

Thoughts for 2016 follow, as always.

Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (White Label) – No sleight of hand here; the fine print still has the same age statement as ever: 4 years old. Made with a low-rye mashbill — the standard Beam mash. It’s distinctly corny on the nose, its youth worn on its sleeve, but that’s not an altogether bad thing. That caramel corn nose heads into a body that isn’t exactly rich, but which shows off modest vanilla and moderate barrel char. The finish finds some minor secondary tones — nuts and even a hint of coffee — nothing outrageously complex, but enough to give the whiskey a bit of nuance until the corn chip notes make their inevitable return. To be sure, this is a bourbon that’s all about the price point, but, hey, what a price point. 80 proof. B / $13

Jim_Beam_CorePlus_Dynamic_Black_int_F39_0Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged Bourbon – Same mashbill as White Label but, you know, “extra aged.” Extra-aged, got it. This is a clear step up from White Label, with a woody nose that’s intense with vanilla, gingerbread, and cocoa powder. The slightly higher-proof body is rounder and more intense, less complex than the nose might suggest due to a surfeit of popcorn notes, but balanced by caramel, charcoal, and some apple notes. The finish is clean and longer than White Label’s, with more of a warming influence. All told my notes are much in line with last year’s review. While spirits are always evolving in production, I don’t believe anything has changed significantly here in the last year. 86 proof. B+ / $21

jimbeam.com

Review: Mulberry Club Fruit Brandies

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Regions like Albania and Azerbaijan are known primarily for their brandies — though few of these bottles ever make it to our shores. Two that did come from Mulberry Club, and Azerbaijani producer of fruit brandies. The company sent us two to sample, one made from local cherries and another, of course, from mulberries.

Both are 100 proof. Thoughts follow.

Mulberry Club Mulberry Brandy – Intense and funky on the nose, with notes of raw alcohol, fruit pits, and petrol. Give it some time to let the more astringent elements blow off — think pisco — and gentle fruit notes emerge. It’s slightly citrusy, with heavy herbal overtones, featuring notes of black tea, nutmeg, and cloves. The finish remains a bit rubbery, with hospital overtones. Heavy stuff. C-

Mulberry Club Cornelian Cherry Brandy – Similar aromas as described above — with young brandy there’s not much way around it — but the body offers significantly more fruit and less funk, right from the start. It isn’t particularly identifiable as cherry, but more as a vague berry salad by way of some hot, hot heat. Relatively clean on the finish with just a touch of cereal notes, though quite warming. B

prices $NA / website NA

Review: 2015 AIX Rose Saint Aix Coteaux d’Aix en Provence

AIX ROSE 2015 1,5L

AIX — aka Saint Aix — is a Provence rose, likely a busy blend of grapes (though no specific grape varietals are stated).

As you’d expect, the wine exudes light strawberry, with notes of peaches that fade quickly to a moderately acidic body and a fresh, breezy finish that evokes light floral notes alongside tropical elements. Exceptionally light on the tongue, it’s one of the most easygoing roses of the season.

B+ / $16 / aixrose.com