Category Archives: Rated B-

Review: Mina Real Mezcal Silver

mezcal mina real bot high 141x300 Review: Mina Real Mezcal SilverOaxaca-based Mina Real is 100% agave mezcal that is made with a hybrid modern and historical technique. Per the company: it is “made from agave that has been steam-roasted in low pressure brick kilns in order to highlight the plants’ bright highland flavor and floral bouquet without the layers of smoke traditionally found with wood-roasted mezcal agave.”

And yet Mina Real is still smoky. The nose offers an aroma of barbeque pits, sweetened up with a touch of honey. On the tongue, this sweetness is even stronger than you’d expect, with a mouth-coating viscosity that layers your tongue and throat with jammy liquid. It’s got a deep flavor of blood oranges, strawberries, and some green pepper/green bean notes — all laced with lightly smoky touches. I’m not sure it comes together the way the distillery may have hoped, but it’s definitely a mezcal for newcomers who aren’t thrilled by smoke to try — though that uncharacteristic sugariness may be ultimately misleading.

A reposado bottling (pictured) also exists, but we have not seen it for review.

84 proof.

B- / $30 / haas-brothers.com

Review: Dry Sodas

DRY Soda 5 can lockup 300x185 Review: Dry SodasDry Soda is a company making a business out of soda with no high fructose corn syrup, less sweetness, lower carbonation, and an overall healthier approach to drinking the stuff. Its products all famously have just four ingredients — water sugar, natural flavors, and phosphoric acid. A 12 oz. can typically hits between 45 and 65 calories. Nine versions are available. We tasted five for review.

All take a little getting used to, but damn if you don’t feel like a better person for drinking on instead of popping open a Mountain Dew.

Thoughts follow.

Dry Vanilla Bean Soda – Mild, not really flavorful enough. Vanilla tastes authentic, but there’s just not enough of it. The overall impact is a slight cream soda character, though not nearly as mouth-filling. B-

Dry Blood Orange Soda – There’s enough fruit flavor here to give it a little more oomph over the comparably dulled Vanilla Bean Soda. It comes off a bit like an upscale orange crush that’s been left with ice to melt, but that’s not an entirely bad thing. B

Dry Apple Soda – A success. Solid apple on the nose and on the palate. Good carbonation level, which balances the apple, offering just a touch of vanilla on the back end. B+

Dry Ginger Soda – My favorite, a simpler spin on ginger ale, with a modest bite but clear ginger notes, touched with a little citrus character. I’d have no trouble mixing with this or drinking it straight. A-

Dry Cucumber Soda – An oddity, just as it sounds. Mild cuke notes, with a kind of lime kick to it. Relatively refreshing, but just not as enjoyable as some of the others in the series. B-

$15 per 12-pack of 12 oz. cans / drysoda.com

Review: Aga Vie Esprit D’Agave

aga vie 143x300 Review: Aga Vie Esprit DAgaveWhat is it about the French and tequila? First Given blends tequila with lime juice and grape juice in Cognac, France, and now there’s Aga Vie, a commingling of blanco tequila and Cognac that have been (re-)distilled together into one oddball spirit. (This distillation removes whatever color is left behind, namely from the Cognac.)

Describing Aga Vie leads terms that are exactly as you’d expect: The nose is sweet like tequila, and the body offers an agave punch plus some of that brandied sweetness. To dig into the details, when you first get a whiff of Aga Vie, imagine not blanco but reposado tequila (there’s some wood in there), with a little honey thrown into the mix. On the palate, things get weird. The tequila’s there — though it’s not particularly definable beyond indistinct agave notes — but it’s considerably overpowered by the sweetness of the Cognac. Aga Vie doesn’t delineate the proportions of tequila to brandy in this spirit, and it’s hard to tell whether a little expensive Cognac goes a long way in a lot of cheaper tequila or whether it’s the other way around, but either way the mixture will be confusing to anyone who’s accustomed to drinking either of the two. The vanilla notes from the Cognac make you feel like you’re drinking an older tequila stock at first, but the impression soon fades as a hefty sweetness takes hold on your throat. The spirit ends with a mouth-coating candy-like character that is hard to shake and which, all things considered, is the only part of the experience that isn’t particularly satisfying.

The natural question you might ask next is: But why? Why would you take perfectly good tequila and Cognac and blend them together? The official story on the Aga Vie website evokes the French occupation of Mexico (a brief period in the country’s history), but I doubt anyone was mixing up tequila and Cognac during those years. Whether we should be doing that now is left as an exercise for the reader.

B- / $45 / agavie.com

Review: Wines of Domaines Paul Mas, 2011 Vintage

Paul Mas Estate Malbec without hills 200x300 Review: Wines of Domaines Paul Mas, 2011 VintageDomaines Paul Mas hails from France’s Languedoc region, the largest winemaking region in the world, where a nearly infinite variety of wines can be found. Languedoc wines are also often very inexpensive, as the price tags on the three wines tasted below will confirm.

2011 Paul Mas Estate Pinot Noir Saint Hilaire Vineyard – The nose offers roasted meats and overripe plum notes. The body is similar, but quite earthy, a little musty even. The finish tries to come back with some jamminess, but never quite pulls it all together. B- / $12

2011 Paul Mas Estate Coteaux du Languedoc Clos des Mures – A dusty, undercooked wine (mostly Syrah), something you’d get as the “house red” at your local bistro. Ultimately harmless, but so unmemorable with its brambly undertones and chunky, unrefined finish. C- / $15

2011 Paul Mas Estate Malbec Gardemiel Vineyard – Easily the best of the lot, though this surprisingly easygoing Malbec doesn’t exactly make a statement on the palate. Pleasant and fruity with muted cherry and light tobacco notes, the body comes on late and leaves early. A simple, gulp-it-back wine to go with everyday food, it’s hard not to like but far from loveable. B+ / $13

paulmas.com

Review: Magic Hat deVEILed and Seance

Yes, even more new beers from Magic Hat, these two mercifully devoid of flowers and odd vegetables being used as flavoring agents. Alas, neither of them really floated our proverbial boat.MHT DEVEILED 12oz3D 2013 106x300 Review: Magic Hat deVEILed and Seance

Magic Hat deVEILed - An amber ale. Muddy and indistinct, with loads upon loads of malt that drown out the hops. Twigs and earth are the primary characteristics here, with a bit of tobacco and ash. Not much under the veil, alas. Not my style. 5.2% abv. C-

Magic Hat Seance – A dark saison. Slightly smoky up front, with a rich, bittersweet chocolate note that comes on after. Malt and hops are more in balance here, but it’s still skewed heavily toward the former. The promised fruit doesn’t really materialize except for a whiff of dates in the end. 4.4% abv. B-

$NA / magichat.net

Review: Wines of Balverne, 2013 Releases

balverne pinot noir 279x300 Review: Wines of Balverne, 2013 ReleasesBalverne was a well-known wine brand in the 1980s, making estate wines on its Russian River Valley property since 1972. The vineyard changed hands in 1992 and winemaking stopped, the grapes instead being sold to other winemakers. Now Balverne is back, beginning again in 2005 under the name Windsor Oaks — and now as its original moniker, Balverne.

How do the new Balverne wines stack up? Here’s a look at the new lineup.

2012 Balverne Rose of Sangiovese Chalk Hill – I never find much love in Sangiovese roses. A little green and brambly, which is a shame considering the otherwise intriguing strawberry notes that are hinted at on the nose. Short finish. B- / $20

2012 Balverne Chardonnay Unoaked Russian River Valley – Light grapefruit on the nose, more apple on the body. Lightly brambly, particularly on the finish, which feels a little gritty. A relatively easy Chardonnay, but not an earth-shaker. B / $25

2012 Balverne Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley – Very tart, lots of very fresh grapefruit character, with a touch of lemon. For lovers of heavily acidic wines, this one does the job, even throwing in a touch of salted caramel when the finish comes ’round. A- / $25

2010 Balverne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – Modest Pinot Noir, with notes of black tea and raspberry jam. Good overall character, but a little flabby on the body, which could use a bump of extra tartness. B / $35

balverne.com

Review: Alibi American Whiskey

alibi 120x300 Review: Alibi American WhiskeyHere’s something you don’t see much of any more: blended whiskey. This isn’t bourbon, or artisanal rye, or anything micro. It’s a budget whiskey, blended from who knows what (including, in this case, both aged corn whiskey and neutral grain spirit) and bottled on the cheap.

There’s no standing on ceremony here. If you like very sweet, uncomplicated whiskey, Alibi does the trick. The nose doesn’t have too much to say, just brown sugar, and maybe a bit of wood. On the tongue, the sweetness doesn’t work too hard to keep itself under wraps. Here it’s not so much a brown sugar character as it is a big butterscotch and Bit O Honey experience. That sweetness goes a long way toward masking the alcohol — which is often the idea with blended whiskeys — leaving behind a finish that is mostly sweet tea, some marshmallow, and a little bit of grain on the back end.

I expect this isn’t the kind of whiskey that most Drinkhacker readers are typically interested in, but for what it aspires to be (an affordable mixer), it manages to get the job done reasonably well.

90 proof.

B- / $24 / alibiwhiskey.com

Review: Winemaker Judit Llop’s New Wines from Priorat and Monsant

mas de subira 79x300 Review: Winemaker Judit Llops New Wines from Priorat and MonsantOne of the new guard winemakers of Spain, Judit Llop is in charge of a variety of wines from the Priorat and Monsant region, both in the northeasternmost region of Spain. I didn’t get to meet Llop on her most recent visit here, but she was kind enough to send along her newest wines, which includes two new labels: Mas de Subirà from Priorat and Garbó from Montsant.

Thoughts follow.

2012 Garbó Rosat Montsant – The first Priorat rose I’ve ever had, this is a racy rose with a lot going on. It starts with big strawberry notes, then quickly segues into floral character. A few vegetal notes on the back end mar an otherwise racy little wine. B / $16

2009 Morlanda Crianca Priorat – Fragrant and floral, with modest fruit notes. This is a wine that’s all about balance, a well structured sipper with a complex mess of flavors that work really well together. After the more flowery notes fade, I get light balsamic vinegar notes, fresh cedar, rosemary, all wrapped around a plum and cherry core. Really lovely wine. 60% Garnacha, 30% Cariñena, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. A- / $44

2010 Mas de Subira Priorat – Initially a little off-putting, overwhelming with violet, seaweed, and roasted meat notes. Things settle down a bit with time, but not much. The rough-hewn, charcoal-infused body is no match for some delicate floral notes that come across, almost, on the back end, but which are drowned out by licorice and wood notes. B- / $22

2011 Garbó Negre Montsant – Fresh, plenty of bright cherry fruit on this wine, fresh but not overpowering thanks to plenty of acidity up front. Not a terrible amount of nuance — some floral notes — but difficult not to enjoy. 50% Syrah, 30% Tempranillo, 20% Merlot. B+ / $18

heredadcollection.com

Review: Skyy Infusions Moscato Vodka

SKYY INFUSIONS MOSCATO GRAPE Hi Res 74x300 Review: Skyy Infusions Moscato VodkaDriven by the club crowd, Moscato is the hottest wine grape on the planet, with sales of Moscato wine up 73% in 2012. Naturally, now it’s making its way into other products in the industry, and perhaps the splashiest arrival is in Skyy’s new Moscato-flavored vodka.

As a flavoring agent goes, Moscato’s a pretty easy one: Just squeeze some grape juice into the vodka and you should be good to go.

Sure enough, Skyy Moscato comes across like the real deal. The nose is tropical and ultra-fruity, a cross between pineapple and tangerine in character. On the tongue, more of the same. Here the vodka character is more pronounced, with a somewhat tough back-end that’s common in flavored vodkas, a kind of rough, charcoal-like character. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s not like drinking a glass of Moscato, either.

As flavored vodkas go, Skyy Moscato is a serviceable product but also one that could do double duty in cocktail recipes that call for orange-flavored or pineapple-flavored vodka (or any number of other citrus vodkas, too, now that I think of it). Hard to tell if this is going to be a hit with the club crowd — as sweet as it is, it’s nowhere near as sweet as actual Moscato is — but kudos to Skyy for hopping on a trend whole hog like this.

70 proof.

B- / $18 / skyy.com

Review: 2010 Pina Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons

pina napa valley 142x300 Review: 2010 Pina Napa Valley Cabernet SauvignonsWe’ve long been fans of Pina, one of Napa’s undersung wineries. This year, the winery has again provided a solid slate of four single-vineyard Cabernets for our tasting pleasure. While the 2010 crop initially appears uneven (at least at this point), you will find some tasty gems in store for you.

2010 Pina Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley D’Adamo Vineyard – A very mild wine for Pina. Some tobacco on the nose, slightly green on the body. Light body. Clear Cabernet character in the form of strong blackcurrant, but not enough power to back it up. B / $75

2010 Pina Cabernet Sauvignon Yountville Wolff Vineyard – Big wood on this, pencil shavings and coal dust on the nose. Restrained fruit and some greenery follow. Again, a lighter body, though more tart and less jammy than the D’Adamo bottling. B+ / $85

2010 Pina Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Buckeye Vineyard – A bit sweaty on the nose. As you drink it reveals very tough, almost unripe plums, green pepper, and heavy tobacco on the finish. Never really comes together. B- / $85

2010 Pina Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Firehouse Vineyard – Easily the big hit in this collection, a huge and plum-filled Cabernet that brings it all home. Wood is modest, the currants of ripe, and the silky tannins mingle with light chocolate notes on the finish to really build to a powerful finale. Total redemption for some wines that otherwise don’t quite get there this vintage. This was a barrel tasting highlight a few years ago… Pina knew it already! A / $85

pinanapavalley.com

Review: Whiskeys of Fog’s End Distillery

Fogs End White Dog 300 2 128x300 Review: Whiskeys of Fogs End DistilleryDown in Gonzales, California — where, based on my travels, there’s plenty of fog — Fog’s End Distillery makes unique craft whiskeys, of a sort. These are all made, as the company’s owner Craig Pakish explains, with the “no cook, sour mash” method. But there’s a twist: While corn and rye are both used in various products, all of Fog’s End’s whiskeys include sugar in the mash. In fact, all of these spirits are half sugar, half grain.

What does that make these products? To its credit, Fog’s End does not call any of them “whiskey,” but I’m at a loss as to how to describe them as well. Only one of the products is aged. Most of them are straight off the still.

Anyway, arguments over semantics and monikers aside, here’s what you’ll find if you crack into one of Fog’s End’s inimitable spirits.

Fog’s End Distillery California MoonShine – “Made right on the left coast,” this 50% corn/50% sugar whiskey is moonshine through and through. And how. Intense popcorn notes on the nose lead to a pure, overpowering white lightning. Notes of coal, honeycomb, and fresh linens can be found on the back end, but getting there is a hell of a ride. 100 proof. B- / $30

Fog’s End White Dog – Made from a mash of 50% rye and 50% sugar, its much, much softer than the MoonShine, almost innocuous with a very mild body. The sugar is more than evident, with a sort of maple syrup character in the way it all comes together. Notes of apples and cherries add nuance. Altogether it interesting stuff for a white whiskey (of sorts). Use as an alternative to vodka. 80 proof. B / $34

Fog’s End Monterey Rye – Quite a misleading name, this is actually the white dog (50% rye, 50% sugar), aged for an unstated time and then bottled at a higher 90 proof. Definitely a step up from the white dog in complexity, the wood influence adds a significant caramel character and the extra alcohol gives it some heft. Still very sweet, but with more of a sense of balance. Some notes of cloves and cinnamon on the back end, but like the white dog, it leaves quite the sugary finish. B+ / $43

Fog’s End Primo Agua Ardiente – Literally “cousin’s fire water.” 50% corn and 50% sugar-based white whiskey, spiked with chili peppers, unaged but with a light yellow tint to it. Very spicy, but not overpowering the way some pepper-spiked spirits can be. The heat sticks in the back of throat, which has the secondary effect of drowning out pretty much everything else in the spirit. Fun for parties. 80 proof. B- / $34

fogsenddistillery.com

Review: Summer White Wines from Chile, 2013 Releases

Meli Riesling Bottleshot 2 73x300 Review: Summer White Wines from Chile, 2013 ReleasesChile isn’t just a solid spot for Cabernet, it also makes some affordable and interesting white wines — which are almost unilaterally very inexpensive. Here’s a look at three white wines from the country, all designed with summer in mind. (The results are hit and miss.)

2012 Echeverria Classic Collection Unwooded Chardonnay - Maybe should have stuck with some wood. Some greenness here, and a little muddiness there. Beyond that… not a whole lot to report. Modest, tart apple notes make of the middle of the wine before heading into unripe territory. Not overwhelmingly satisfying. C- / $12

2012 Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier Colchagua – Initially approaches with big peach and apricot notes, but it settles down with just a few minutes in the glass. From here the wine takes on a distinctly pineapple character, backed with marshmallows and vanilla. A little more like a New Zealand Chardonnay than anything else, which isn’t necessarily bad, but may not be what you’re expecting. B+ / $10

2011 Meli Riesling – Initially skunky and a little off-putting, this Riesling eventually settles down to reveal thick honey and floral characteristics, alongside a healthy dose of olive and greenery. Not a typical region for Riesling and it shows. B- / $13

Review: The English Whisky Co. Classic and Peated Single Malts

The English Whisky Co Classic Bottle 104x300 Review: The English Whisky Co. Classic and Peated Single MaltsSingle malt whisky: It’s not just for Scotland any more. The English Whisky Company makes Scotch-style whisky in Norfolk County in good old England. And why not? Located further south, the company says it’s warmer and drier there, which means these single malts mature more quickly.

The English Whisky Co. — aka St. George’s Distillery, no relation to California’s St. George Spirits — is the first English distillery to sell its products publicly in 100 years. In addition to these “Classic” bottlings, you might encounter various “Chapters,” special whisky releases with different finishes or other aging protocols. Those might be ones to snap up, but these new, more basic bottlings are likely to be the ones you encounter.

Both are 92 proof. Thoughts follow.

The English Whisky Co. Classic Single Malt Whisky – A young whisky, lots of grain here. Some citrus, almonds, and toasted marshmallow. The finish brings out a marine element, quite salty and drying, with a substantial grain influence. More grain, fresh cut barley, hits you again on the back end. Overall: A very pleasant, but modest and simple, little whisky. B- / $NA

The English Whisky Co. Peated Single Malt Whisky – A peated version of the above. This actually works quite well. The peat is very mild and restrained, a lightly salty/briny experience with a dusting of coal embers behind it. The finish is simple and a bit green, those nutty elements of the Classic bottling coming more to the forefront. On the whole, however, fans of more modestly peated whisky will find plenty to like here. B / $NA

englishwhisky.co.uk

Review: Long Island Spirits Vodka and Liqueurs Complete Lineup

LiV espresso vodka 77x300 Review: Long Island Spirits Vodka and Liqueurs Complete LineupWe’ve covered Long Island Spirits’ straight vodka before. But recently we received a fresh bottle… along with everything else Long Island makes. Yowza.

That primarily includes a long line of liqueurs bottled under the Sorbetta brand. These are simple, natural liqueurs available only in 375ml bottles. They’re all crafted from LiV Vodka (of course), fresh fruit, and sugar.

We’re also taking a look at Long Island’s coffee-flavored vodka.

To complicate things further, Long Island also makes three whiskies, which are in our queue to be reviewed separately. Stay tuned.

Thoughts follow.

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Review: O Wines Chardonnay and Red Blend

o wines red 162x300 Review: O Wines Chardonnay and Red BlendThis Columbia Valley (Washington) winery recently changed ownership (it’s now part of the Ste. Michelle empire) and is now making a bigger push into the market. Only two wines are offered; the latest releases of both are reviewed below.

Also of note: O also has a huge scholarship program that any wine-friendly families with looking for college support should look into. (Only for female highschool seniors.) Bonus points for doing something good for our students!

2011 O Wines Chardonnay Columbia Valley – Lemony, with some herbal character, atypical of Chardonnay. A light body winds toward an odd cookie (Fig Newtons?) character on the back end, which is fine until an ultimately somewhat weedy finish. B- / $14

2010 O Wines Red Wine – A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah. Chewy, with lots going on. Dark fruit, some bittersweet chocolate, even cherry character in there. Mellows quickly as it’s exposed to air, leaving behind a relatively straightforward and somewhat bland wine which is perfectly harmless, yet not entirely inspired. Tasted twice; first bottle was clearly off. B- / $16

owines.com

Review: Few Spirits American Gin and Rye Whiskey

Evanston, Illinois-based Few Spirits makes old-timey spirits and even bottles them in old-timey decanters. Today we take a crack at two of the company’s bottlings — the “American” gin and an aged rye whiskey.

Thoughts follow.

few gin 249x300 Review: Few Spirits American Gin and Rye WhiskeyFew Spirits American Gin – Big and malty, this is a far different experience than most dry gins you’ve likely encountered. Many call Few’s gin closer to a genever, and that’s a fair descriptor. I think it’s more like a flavored white whiskey, intensely grain-focused and a little funky. Atop that, you get some gin-like character. Clear lemon oil from the second you crack open the bottle, for starters. Hints of vanilla on the finish. But by and large this offers beer-like malt and hops character throughout the body, overpowering the more subtle botanical elements in the whisk… er, gin. If you told me there was no juniper in this at all (you can catch it if you hunt for it, but then you start to wonder if it’s your imagination), I wouldn’t be surprised one bit. 80 proof. Reviewed: Batch #2-2-13, bottle #91. B- / $40

few rye whiskey 277x300 Review: Few Spirits American Gin and Rye Whiskey
Few Spirits Rye Whiskey
– A rye/corn blend (actual mashbill unstated) that spends “less than four years” in new oak barrels, Few’s rye offers a plethora of youthful flavors and chutzpah, a punchy whiskey with intense elements of cornmeal, fresh bread, and malt. As with many very young whiskeys, it is a little brash and angry, a brooding spirit overflowing with grain. Oddly, it doesn’t come across as particularly hot, though it’s bottled at 93 proof. Instead, it gets its fire in the form of toasted grains, and the ultra-long finish speaks more of gentle smokiness than heat. What I don’t get is a lot of fruit — just touches of applesauce. The cereal notes are simply overpowering of everything else. Reviewed: Batch #11-85, bottle #77. B / $60 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

fewspirits.com

Review: MacMurray Ranch 2013 Releases

MacMurray Ranch 2011 R. River Valley Sonoma County Pinot Noir 750ml 88x300 Review: MacMurray Ranch 2013 ReleasesTwo new releases from Russian River-based MacMurray Ranch. Some thoughts:

2010 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir Reserve Russian River Valley – Juicy, with tons of strawberry character. Overly jammy, actually bursting with character closer to Jolly Ranchers than anything else. Surprising in its lack of restraint, this is the kind of approach I expect from Zinfandel, not a Russian River Pinot. Drinkable, but not entirely fulfilling. B- / $37

2011 MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay Russian River Valley – A restrained Chardonnay that’s done a tour in oak, but not an overly long one. Modest lemon and apple notes play with a bit of vanilla. Sizable body, with a chewy, apple pie-like finish. Fine, but somewhat flabby on the finish. B / $20

Review: Wines for Dummies

wines for dummies 282x300 Review: Wines for DummiesSurely you’ve known there was Wine for Dummies. Now there are Wines for Dummies. Actual wines, made for dummies to drink.

Don’t act so shocked. You knew this was coming. In fact it’s a pretty good idea: Package up cheap wine in a familiar package so utter novices can get their feet wet with the stuff. At $10 a bottle, it’s a harmless — if inelegant (and, well, far from “discriminating”) — way to explore the world of vino.

To even consider drinking these wines you really do need to be an utter, rank novice. None of them are particularly good, and the iconic black+yellow+red/green labels (complete with pronunciation guides — “kee-yahn-tee“) are not something you’re going to bring to Easter brunch. Instead, they are purely for investigative purposes. Try the wines, then hide the bottles at the bottom of the recycling bin so the garbage guys don’t judge you.

That said, from a business standpoint, how great an idea is this! It’s genius, really… but why stop at wines? Where’s my Microwave for Dummies? My TV for Dummies? My Car for Dummies? If nothing else, the Dummies people should be dominating the entire grocery store. Who needs to think about what to put on their salad when they could be using Dressing for Dummies!?

Ah, progress. Thoughts on the wines follow.

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Review: White and Rose Wines of Cline, 2013 Releases

cline 300x231 Review: White and Rose Wines of Cline, 2013 ReleasesIf you’re driving to Sonoma, Cline is always worth a stop, not just because it’s one of the first wineries you encounter as you drive into the area. We got our hands on four affordable, summer-friendly whites (one’s a rose). Thoughts follow.

2012 Cline Cool Climate Pinot Gris Sonoma Coast – Crisp and refreshing, with lots of fruit. Very slightly pink, something you see in a few Pinot Gris wines, particularly those produced in Alsace. Lovely pear notes here, plus a little peach, with a bit of a creamy, nougaty back end. Think marshmallows. Very nice. A / $13

2011 Cline Marsanne Roussanne Sonoma Coast - This Rhone blend is classically structured with both peach and apricot notes, backed with an aromatic perfume character. The backbone hints at tree bark and rhubarb. Nice complexity and a fresh, easy complexion. A- / $22

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Review: That Boutique-y Whisky Company Arran, Tobermory, and Tormore

tobermory that boutique y whisky company whisky 136x300 Review: That Boutique y Whisky Company Arran, Tobermory, and TormoreToday we look at a few more independently-bottled malts from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, courtesy of Master of Malt. All three of these are recent arrivals from Batch 1. Again, all are limited edition single malts bottled without age statements in 500ml bottles (and wacky labels). Thoughts follow.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company Arran Batch 1 – Beautiful nose on this Island whisky, fresh with toasted cereals and touches of heather. A much heavier grain influence than the typical single malt, but that’s not a slight. This Arran offers a richness and depth that’s common to Arran, with a touch of saltwater and seaweed on the quite lasting finish. Fresh and with a good balance of sweet and savory, it’s a solid whisky at a fairly reasonable price. 98.2 proof. A- / $62 (500ml) (Batch 1 sold out)

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