Category Archives: Rated C+

Review: Four SakeOne Sakes

We’ve got a sake primer, courtesy of SakeOne and Momokawa, for you right here — and this week the Oregon-based sake empire sent us four samples for our consideration, particularly as cocktail ingredients. There’s a whole bunch of recipes involving these sakes available here. We won’t reprint them all but encourage you to pick up a bottle of one of the below — they’re very affordable — and experiment all you’d like. Just remember: Sake is at its best when it’s very fresh.

Comments below are based on the unadulterated stuff.

Momokawa Organic Medium Rich Junmai Ginjo Sake (re-reviewed) – A sake with a moderate body, quite a tart and sweet little number, rich with malty notes, melons, pears, and an easy earthiness. Quite drinkable, but the finish fades too quickly. 14.5% abv. A- / $13

SakeOne G “joy” Junmai Ginjo Genshu Sake – As much as I like the Organic, this sake is immediately bigger and bolder, which creates a stronger and rather immediate impression. Filled with big, stewed fruit character, it comes with a powerfully sour finish that is almost overwhelming. Likeable, but less easy-drinking than the Organic. 18% abv. B+ / $20

Moonstone Asian Pear Sake – The pear is right there on the nose, almost candy-like. That continues into the body, where you’ll find a Starburst-like sweetness that plays, not entirely harmoniously, with the melon tones of the sake underneath. 12% abv. C+ / $12

Moonstone Plum Sake – Lightly pink, very bright fruit on the nose. Drinking this you’d have no idea this was sake at all. The sweetness is reminiscent of a white zinfandel or a fruit-based wine, with a thick, syrupy finish reminiscent of an (admittedly better-tasting) cough syrup. Not my favorite of this bunch. 7% abv. C- / $10

sakeone.com

Review: Stolichnaya Stoli Hot and Stoli Sticki Vodkas

Stoli says it created the flavored vodka category 50 years ago, and I’ve got no way to argue with that. Stoli Pertsovka (Pepper) and Okhotnichya (Honey and Herb) came out in 1962, and to celebrate 50 years of flavored vodkas, the company is reintroducing these two flavors under new names. We tried them both.

It is unclear where the flavorings are derived from; neither indicates it is natural or otherwise on the label. Both are 75 proof.

Stoli Hot Jalapeno Flavored Vodka – Stoli Pertsovka is being reintroduced with a more Western-friendly name, “Hot.” As pepper vodkas go, it is distinctly different than, say, Absolut Peppar, with which I put it head to head. Initially light on the palate, the pepper notes grow along with the kind of bitterness you get from an Amaro, almost like a root beer character along with some heavy vegetal notes, like a Thai Basil. Not too spicy, I think it is more subtle with the pepper than the 80-proof Absolute Peppar (B+), which offers more sweetness up front and a longer burn, plus some flavors of onions and tomato salsa. Absolut is less exotic, but arguably hotter. You be the judge as to which you prefer. B+

Stoli Sticki Honey Flavored Vodka – After sipping pepper vodkas, this is a great antidote, a straightforward honey vodka that’s smoothly sweet. What then to make of the intense rose petal nose, a character that’s downright perfumy. And not good perfumy, old-lady perfumy. Get past that and the honey character isn’t bad: Lightly earthy, dusty, and more mildly sweet than many honey whiskeys come across as. The finish is clean and clear, almost refreshing. But I have immense trouble with that rose petal nose. C+

each $24 / stoli.com

Review: VnC Pre-Mixed Cocktails

Pre-mixed cocktails continue to grow in popularity. VnC, which is based in New Zealand, takes it to the ultimate conclusion: The cocktails not only have the alcohol already in them (in addition to natural juices), they’re packaged both in party size bottlings and in single serve versions, which we reviewed.

Each 200ml cocktail comes in at 14% alcohol and includes a built-in cup so you look more sophisticated than drinking out of the bottle. Woo hoo! We tasted four of the six available varieties. All are 150 calories or less per serving. Thoughts follow.

VnC Pomegranate Cosmo – Vodka, triple sec, natural flavors, pomegranate, cranberry, and lime juices. Distinctly vodka-inflected, which lends this Cosmo a bit of a cough syrup character and makes it taste boozier than it really is. A decent amount of fruit helps salvage the mix, and you can actually taste the lime juice, a nice touch. (For what it’s worth, the lady thought this was far and away her favorite.) B

VnC Margarita – Tequila, triple sec, “natural margarita flavors,” lemon, and lime juices. Tastes authentic, and unlike the Cosmo it’s very easygoing on the booziness. Sweet, with a bit of tequila kick to it, a light and credible version of a classic margie. B+

VnC Vodka Mojito – Vodka with “natural mojito flavor” and lime juice. Why would you not use rum in a mojito? White rum is one of the cheapest spirits available. Not, perhaps, cheaper than vodka, I guess. Smells better than it tastes, full of minty promise on the nose… but chalky and a bit artificial on the tongue. Leaves a lingering aftertaste. C+

VnC Pacific Breeze – Vodka with “natural MaiTai flavor,” coconut, pineapple, and lime juices. This would be far better blended with ice than a simple liquid, but as it stands it’s got that tropical flavor that you really only want when you’re sitting on the beach. Again, this would be a much better drink with rum in it, but it’s credible enough for poolside consumption in a pinch. B

each $4 per 200ml bottle / vnccocktails.com

vnc cocktails Review: VnC Pre Mixed Cocktails

New Malbec Roundup – Trivento and Concha y Toro

These new Argentinean Malbecs come from Trivento and Concha y Toro, the latter of which is best known for its Chilean wines. Here’s how a bumper crop of the fruit of Mendoza shakes out.

2011 Concha y Toro Frontera Malbec Cuyo – Surprisingly tart and slightly sweet, jammy, with strawberry/raspberry jelly character muted by some lightly dusty notes. Finish heads into saccharine territory. C+ / $6

2011 Concha y Toro Xplorador Malbec Mendoza – Deeper and a bit richer, but still a simple wine. Thin body, with heavy and jammy plum/prune on the finish. B- / $8

2010 Trivento Amado Sur Malbec Mendoza – A blend: 80% Malbec, 10% Bonarda, 10% Syrah. A fairly innocuous blend, this is a simple wine with dominant black cherry character, licorice on the finish, and a fairly thin profile. Unassuming but easy to drink. B- / $15

2008 Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec Lujan de Cuyo Mendoza – A clear cut above the rest, something with heft and gravitas. Lush, Cabernet-like currants in the body, with a light touch of herbs gracing the palate. Moderate and pleasant finish. A winner. A- / $22

Review: Tequila Clase Azul

I’m never quite sure what to make of the ornate tequila bottles like this. They’re striking to look at, but I always feel like they’re trying to hide something behind a lot of glass, metal, and ceramic.

Perhaps my fears are founded in the case of Clase Azul, a very expensive and unique but ham-fisted tequila that stretched the boundaries of my tequila taste glossary. This brand is beloved by many a tequila fan, but the sweetness of the house style is just too overwhelming for me. This 100% agave Highlands tequila is made with 9 to 10 year old organic agave plants, double distilled in copper alembic stills.

We tasted both the Plata and Reposado. Both expressions are 80 proof.

Tequila Clase Azul Plata is a striking blanco, unlike any other I’ve tried. On the nose: Agave and peppers, a mere hint at what’s in the glass. Take a sip and Clase Azul’s Plata goes nuts: There is so much going on here I scarcely know where to start. First off: It’s bracingly sweet, not sugary, but like Nutrasweet. Powerful and palate-jarring. If you can push past that, you get some of that agave character, plenty of nutty notes, a bit of spice, and a finish that tastes like a candy bar. It’s long and lasting, more like a liqueur than a tequila. If any 100% agave tequila could use lime and salt to balance it out — not because it’s alcoholically heavy in the slightest, mind you — this is it. C+ / $75

Tequila Clase Azul Reposado is mellowed in deep char oak for at least 8 months, which gives this tequila more character, but it retains that funky sweetness that the Plata is imbued with. Here the sweetness veers into a vanilla character, more like a creme brulee than the candy bar of the Plata. That offers more nuance to play with the slight pepper notes, but not much: The sugary notes remain overwhelming — and I am normally a huge fan of sweeter tequilas — again leaving you with a finish that coats the mouth, making you reach for the salty bar mix. B- / $90

claseazul.com

Review: Twist Essence Water

Is bottled water less heinous if it’s flavored? Twist is lightly sweetened with agave nectar and stevia, and flavored with natural extracts, yet still claims just 0 calories. We tasted two varieties.

Twist Pomegranate Blueberry is vague in its berry allegiance, almost strawberry-like in the way it comes across. Blueberries are a bit in the distance. It’s sweeter than you’d think, but neither cloying nor gummy, the way agave-infused stuff can be. B

Twist West Indies Lime sounds awfully exotic, but the flavor is more reminiscent of Rose’s Lime Juice, a bit saccharine and lightly bitter and herbal on the finish. The lime aroma is nice, but the flavor here doesn’t come across as fully authentic, the way a margarita mix can often be. Harmless enough. C+

about $1.25 per 19 oz. bottle / drinktwist.com

 

Tasting the Wines of DiamAndes de Uco

Argentina’s Bodega DiamAndes is a project born of the Pessac-Leognan based Chateau Malartic Lagraviere. The winery is now releasing three new affordable varietals, which we looked at alongside its even less expensive Perlita bottling.

2010 DiamAndes de Uco Viognier Mendoza – Smells legit with peach and apricot notes, but there’s an overwhelming, vegetal bitterness in the body. Better with food. C / $19

2010 DiamAndes de Uco Chardonnay Mendoza – More body, with a solid buttery character, and some exotic, tropical fruit character in the finish. Avoids woodiness and weediness, mercifully. B+ / $19

2010 DiamAndes de Uco Malbec Mendoza – Thin and a bit weedy, not at all hearty like great Malbecs should be. A little more balance — along with some interesting chocolate and cinnamon notes — comes along with time in the glass, but I am unconvinced it’s worth the wait. C+ / $19

2010 Perlita by DiamAndes Malbec-Syrah Mendoza - A considerable improvement over the Malbec, surprisingly, with bright, jammy flavors and plenty of strawberry fruit. Simple, but easygoing. A fun alternative to Zinfandel. B / $15

diamandes.com

Tasting Four Pinot Noirs from Benziger’s de Coelo and Signaterra Labels

Today’s live tasting with Benziger’s Rodrigo Soto covered two of the winery’s alternate labels, showcasing Pinot Noir from two very different areas: The Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast. All wines are from the 2009 vintage. Thoughts follow.

2009 Signaterra Pinot Noir Russian River Valley San Remo Vineyard – Classic Russian River Pinot, with more of a jamminess than the coastal Pinots in this roundup offer. Definitely vibrant and easy-drinking, but not terribly complex. This is a Pinot that wears its fruit on its wine-stained sleeve. The long, juicy finish reveals little else in its playbook. B+ / $34

2009 Signaterra Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Bella Luna Vineyard – More tannin gives this Pinot more depth than the San Remo, but also more of a vegetal note, particularly on the front of the wine. Some tough bramble notes play well with the big cranberry-like character, but it’s more challenging, more interesting, somewhat less “fun” than its neighbor. B+ / $34

2009 de Coelho Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Terra Neuma Vineyard – While the nose is solid with cherry notes, the body is surprisingly — almost shockingly — thin. Sure, restraint is great, but this is way too pulled back. The finish turns green, unripe and unready. C+ / $69

2009 de Coelho Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Quintas Vineyard – Still a bit restrained, but it offers more pepper on the nose than the Terra Neuma, and represents a solid improvement. Fruit and body could be deeper, but the herbal notes on the finish give this one depth. In the end, it was my favorite of the bunch. A- / $69

benziger.com

Review: Van Gogh Vodka Cool Peach and Rich Dark Chocolate

Two new flavored vodkas from Van Gogh, both fully in the realm of sanity when it comes to exotic inspirations. Both are naturally infused and are bottled at 70 proof.

Van Gogh Cool Peach Vodka speaks for itself, evidently desiring to challenge Southern Comfort’s place in the peach-flavored pantheon. The nose is authentic and bright, promising great things within, but the body is sharp and biting. The peach character struggles to get through the raw alcohol notes, and the finish is hard and flat. Van Gogh has much more interesting flavors up its sleeve than this one. C+

Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka is intensely dark in color (thanks in part to caramel coloring added) and again the nose is promising and curious. Chocolate, yes, but lots of coffee character, too. This continues on to the palate. If I didn’t know any better I’d have thought this was a coffee liqueur, not a chocolate one, the flavors are that strong. Yes, chocolate appears here too, and it is clearly bittersweet in comparison to, say, a milk chocolate spirit, with a little wood char coming through in the end. More intense than most chocolate vodkas, for sure. B+

each $30 / vangoghvodka.com

van gogh Rich Dark Chocolate and Cool Peach Review: Van Gogh Vodka Cool Peach and Rich Dark Chocolate

Review: Two New Albarinos

Here’s a quick look at a couple of new, relatively inexpensive Albarinos from the Rias Baixas region of Spain.

2010 Serra da Estrela Albarino Rias Baixas – Crisp and tropical, but with a distinct undertone of vegetation. The light body, moderate acid, and lemongrass notes on the finish make it worthwhile. B / $18

2009 Mar de Frades Albarino Rias Baixes – Less enthralling. Again, tropical (think mangoes), but sweeter and more forward. The finish is again sugary, and it clashes a bit with food. C+ / $22

Review: 2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

I don’t know where the rule is written that Beaujolais Nouveau labels have to be more garish each year, but Duboeuf is doing its best to follow that rule to the letter. 2011’s labels aren’t quite horrific, but they’re getting there. The good news, of course, is that they’ll be gone by the time New Year’s rolls around.

We tasted both of the 2011 releases, which are officially hitting the market tonight.

2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau – Exceptionally pruny, with a thin body. The finish is underwhelming, funky. Very similar to the candy-coated 2010. C+ / $10

2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau – A modest improvement, with a (very welcome) bigger body and more of a sense of balance. Still, it’s overwhelming in the jammy fruit department. This year it’s more cherry than strawberry, but it still has a ways to go toward hitting true drinkability. That said, it’s fun to try once a year, though. B- / $12

duboeuf.com

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 Bottle Shot Review: 2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

Review: Lights Out Relaxation Products

Relaxation mania continues with Lights Out, a whole series of products designed to help you sleep more evenly, fight stress, anxiety, jet lag, and all that other bad stuff.

Lights Out contains chamomile, skullcap, rose hips, valerian root, L-theanine, and GABA, but it’s probably the 5mg of melatonin that really does the trick.

The 2-oz. shot comes in two sucralose-sweetened flavors — tropical and, oddly, cloud berry — and both tastes are fair enough. The cloud berry version is largely innocuous and vaguely citrus and apple in character. The tropical is stronger, primarily redolent of coconut.

Strangely, the product is unique in that it also comes in a solid form: a chocolate brownie and a chocolate chip cookie. Both were exceedingly dry and crumbly, and hardly the delicious dessert confection you might be expecting.

As for the effects, with both the shot and the dessert products, I found myself falling asleep relatively quickly, with vivid and rather intrusive dreams to follow. Both times I woke up around six in the morning and had difficulty getting back to sleep — though the six-hour release time of Lights Out may have something to do with that. Still not sure how effective these are, though I felt fine and productive the following day. That said, I’m not exactly clamoring for another brownie.

C+ / about $4 per product / lightsoutshot.com

lights out Review: Lights Out Relaxation Products

Tasting Report: White Wines of Australia’s Old Bridge Cellars

Previously we found Australia’s Old Bridge Cellars red wines to be hit and miss, so we turned our attention to its whites, a wide variety of varietals representing white wine’s greatest hits. Still hit and miss, but on the whole a solid improvement over the reds. Thoughts on each — reasonably affordable, every one of them — follow.

2011 d’Arenberg Riesling The Dry Dam McLaren Vale – A tart and easy Riesling, with distinct grapefruit notes. Good balance, some minerals, and a lightly (and lightly pleasant) sour finish. B+ / $15

2010 Plantagenet Hazard Hill Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Western Australia – Also quite tart, with good tropical (pineapple) notes and a very long, lasting, lemon-flecked finish. B+ / $13

2010 Brokenwood Cricket Pitch Sauvignon Blanc Semillon – As simple as this wine looks — both in the bottle and the glass — it unsurprisingly follows through on the palate: refreshing and clean. Lemony, lightly grassy, and with good acid, it isn’t a challenge but it’s quite delightful. A- / $19

2009 d’Arenberg Viognier Last Ditch – Very easy for a Viognier, including lighter nectarine and lightly sour gooseberry character. Unusual. A slightly meaty nose is the only failing here. B / $23

2010 Leeuwin Estate Riesling Art Series Margaret River – Lots of lemon, big mineral character, moderate body, and a good balance. Nice for a Riesling, but nothing fancy. A- / $25

2009 Plantagenet Chardonnay Mount Barker – The sole bomb in this group, a sour and unripe Chardonnay that tries to cover up its grape problems with oak. C+ / $16

oldbridgecellars.com

 

Review: Haras Wines

Haras de Pirque, or just “Haras,” hails from Chile’s Maipo Valley, where it produces a series of very affordable wines, inspired by the winery’s love of horses.

Tasted twice. The first round of wines were clearly damaged by heat in shipping.

2010 Haras Sauvignon Blanc Maipo Valley – Tropical nose, with a touch of lemon character. Slight vegetal finish, but otherwise quite drinkable, particularly at this price. B / $10

2010 Haras Chardonnay Maipo Valley – Simple and inoffensive, with a mild body compared to most Chilean Chardonnays. A bit buttery, and a bit of lemon, but not a lot of nuance or, surprisingly, fruit character beyond that. B / $12

2009 Haras Carmenere Maipo Valley – A big licorice thing, funky on the nose with raisin and prune notes. Incredibly over-jammy, with some black pepper, but not really in balance. C- / $12

2008 Haras Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley –  Similar character, but with a slightly better balance than the Carmenere. Just too much fruit.C / $12

2007 Haras Character Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenere Maipo Valley (pictured) – A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Carmenere, 10% Syrah, and 13% Cabernet Franc. Easily the best red in this crowd, but still intense with prune and cooked fruit character. Mildly better balance than either of the prior two wines, but still has room for improvement. C+ / $20

harasdepirque.com

haras character Review: Haras Wines

Review: 2010 Budget White Wines from McManis

McManis Family Vineyards is a budget outfit with vast vineyard holdings in inland California. A step above ultra-cheap wines, McManis aims to offer quality while keeping prices as low as possible. We sampled three whites from the 2010 vintage, with generally acceptable results.

2010 McManis Pinot Grigio California – Extremely tart but overall fairly pleasant. Intense lemon/lime notes. A bit sour on the finish, and better on its own than with food. B / $11

2010 McManis Chardonnay River Junction California – Simplistic, with overly buttery texture and that meat-like finish that mars so many inexpensive Chardonnays. A touch of peaches and lemons somewhere in the mix. Hints of cinnamon on the finish. Basically drinkable. C+ / $11

2010 McManis Viognier California – I love Viognier, but this might as well be Chardonnay, it’s so lacking the peach/apricot character that solid Viognier should have. That said, the more balanced body actually makes it an improvement on the Chardonnay. A good Viognier if you’re not usually a fan of this style. B- / $12

mcmanisfamilyvineyards.com

Review: Baileys Mudslide

Few cocktails in the panopticon of chain restaurant beverages imbue the spirit — the very heart — of panty peeler so thoroughly as the Mudslide. A chocolate, creamy, boozy frozen concoction, this is dessert — and usually drunkenness — in a glass.

Now Baileys brings the Mudslide to ready-made status, or as near as is humanly possible. Just take this 1.75-liter jug of “vodka, chocolate, coffee, and cream liqueurs,” pour into a blender with an equal amount of ice, and pulverize until it’s smooth. You can make it as thick or as thin as you’d like. The more ice you add, the more you cut down the (admittedly weak) 25 proof alcohol level.

When complete (I didn’t even try to taste this unblended and sans ice), it’s a credible beach beverage, but hardly a knockout. The booziness comes off as much harsher than the alcohol level would indicate — more rum-like than vodka-like — and the sweetness is cloying. Chocolate and coffee are almost afterthoughts to the raw sugar notes, and the mass — which separates after about 10 minutes into a creamy tan-and-foam cocktail — is tasty enough in a sorority sister way, but it just doesn’t come together as a composed whole.

Frankly, I think you’d get better results from putting regular Baileys, a squirt of chocolate syrup, and some ice into a blender, and you wouldn’t spend much more, either.

C+ / $16 per 1.75-liter bottle / the-baileys-lounge.baileys.com

Baileys Mudslide Review: Baileys Mudslide

Review: Hpnotiq Harmonie Liqueur

You can put “A refreshing blend of premium French vodka, infused natural fruits, flowers, and a touch of Cognac” on the label, but Hpno is always gonna be Hpno.

An icon of the hip-hop crowd, the electric blue Hpnotiq is an icon of da club. It was only a matter of time before it spawned a sibling… or rather a “stylish BFF,” as the company terms it. Hpnotiq Harmonie, put simply, is a pinkish purple, and if you’re looking for the girliest drink on earth, you have arrived.

The flavor is equally pinkish purple. While Hpnotiq insists that lavender, violets, and berries set it apart from standard Hpno, it’s as overwhelmingly sweet as the original… just, different. Lavender is actually noticeable if you push past the sugar. There’s a sort of floral earthiness on the nose that is intriguing and promising. But a sip reveals Harmonie’s true intentions: To mask a moderate amount of alcohol in a candy-coated glaze. Harmonie is even sweeter than (my memory of, anyway) regular Hpnotiq, which is a shame, because there is some curious flower character under the surface here. It’s just too bad that with that mountain of sweetness what comes across is a thickened version of grape Kool-Aid.

34 proof.

C+ / $25 / hpnotiq.com

Hpnotiq Harmonie Review: Hpnotiq Harmonie Liqueur

Review: Hardy Vanille Cognac & Vanilla

Flavored cognac is not exactly a big market, but let’s run with it (particularly since a reader requested coverage of this very spirit): A. Hardy blends authentic, French, 8-year old Hardy VSOP Cognac with natural vanilla (plus caramel color) to come up with, well, a vanilla-flavored Cognac. Bottled at 80 proof, if nothing else it sure does look enticing in its frosted glass.

Initially mild, as the cognac character is at the forefront of the spirit. But give it just a couple of minutes and, wham, the vanilla takes hold. It’s hugely sweet and dessert-like, almost like a big vanilla milkshake. While reasonably authentic in flavor, it’s ultimately just too much. As any baker knows, a little vanilla goes a very long way in a dish, especially in liquid form. Here it completely overpowers the cognac character, especially on the finish, where the vanilla becomes cloying and uninviting. One is not encouraged to take sip after sip but rather to switch to a straight, unflavored brandy in short order. Likely better as a mixer or, come to think of it, as a substitute for vanilla in your favorite baking recipes.

C+ / $22 / ahardyusa.com

hardy vanille Review: Hardy Vanille Cognac & Vanilla

Tasting the Shiraz Wines of Australia’s Old Bridge Cellars

Old Bridge Cellars, “The Face of Australian Wine,” is a consortium of sorts spanning more than 20 wineries sprawling across the entire continent of Australia. The focus, of course, is Shiraz, and recently the company sent a range of its offerings — in TastingRoom.com sample bottles — to experience how Shiraz varies from the eastern shores of Oz to the west. Some notes follow.

2007 Brokenwood Shiraz Hunter Valley / $36 / C+ / (Hunter Valley, on the east coast near Sydney) overwhelming, pruny, and a bit astringent; difficult despite a light (13.5%) alcohol level

2007 Innocent Bystander Shiraz Viognier / $20 / B+ / (Victoria region, near Melbourne) a blend of 94% shiraz and 6% viognier; easier and full of life, good acid level, with a touch of herbs on the finish

2007 Plantaganet Great Southern Shiraz / $29 / B / (Western Australia region, near the southern coast) from the far west of Australia, this is a brash and hefty, traditional shiraz; good fruit but a bit like being hit with a 2×4

2006 Kilikanoon Covenant Shiraz / $40 / B- / (Clare Valley, South Australia, inland from Adelaide) 15% alcohol, big and extracted, showing some premature age

2007 d’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier / $29 / B+ / (McLaren Vale, in South-Central Australia) another “big” wine, with lots of fruit and some pepper notes

2007 John Duval Entity Shiraz / $40 / B / (South Australia, near Adelaide, perhaps Oz’s most reknowned wine region) again a very extracted wine but one with some guts; could use some bottle aging

oldbridgecellars.com

 

Review: Tres Agaves Tequila

The spawn of some old-school tequila execs (and a spinoff of the Tres Agaves restaurant, now just called Tres), Tres Agaves burst on the scene last year as another producer of high-quality, 100% agave tequilas. The company also makes a very good agave nectar and naturally-flavored margarita mix, with key lime and agave nectar as main ingredients.

We tasted both the blanco and reposado tequilas. Both are 80 proof.

Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila - A very archetypal blanco, with a big agave nose, punchy agave on the palate, then a finish that soothes that beast with a touch of sweet vanilla and lemon. Some lingering bitterness follows. I was a bit curious that this might have actually seen a week or two of barrel time before release as a way to rest the spirit, but that seems not to be the case? All in all, a solid margarita tequila. B / $28

Tres Agaves Reposado Tequila - Aged in ex-Bourbon barrels (a variety of companies’ barrels are used) for 6 to 9 months. This tequila is a total surprise. Very green in character, perhaps more so even than the blanco. Big agave notes remain surprisingly prominent, punctuated with black pepper, lemongrass, and wood. But the sweetness of the blanco is inexplicably gone here, leaving you with a punchy and quite bitter finish. C+ / $33

tresagaves.com

tres agaves tequila Review: Tres Agaves Tequila