Tasting Report: 2016 Burgundy, Part 2

As promised, today we take another look at the 2016 Burgundy vintage, which is now on the cusp of general release. This tasting considers the 2016 wines of Bouchard Pere & Fils and William Fevre (which produces only Chablis), with a couple of older bottlings thrown in for comparison’s sake.

As with our prior Wildman coverage, again we see the appearance of some gems, despite some tough growing conditions that William Fevre winemaker Didier Seguier says led to grape yields running just one third of normal.

Thoughts follow.

Bouchard Pere & Fils reds

2014 Bouchard Pere & Fils Cote de Beaune-Villages – fresh and lively, engaging. A-
2015 Bouchard Pere & Fils Fleurie
 – meathy, anise notes are overwhelming. B
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Santenay – heavy, a little undercooked. B-
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Savigny-les-Beaune – some oxidized notes, a bit green. B
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Pommard
– a licorice kick here, quite dry. B+
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Nuits-Saint-Georges
– quite volatile; fruit is dialed back, a little gamy. B
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Vosne-Romanee
– heavy with earth, very pastoral. B+
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Chambolle-Musigny
– underdeveloped. B
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Gevrey-Chambertin – complex, almost silky; showing well-integrated earth. A
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Savigny-les-Beaune Les Lavieres Premier Cru
– hints of menthol, but some flab on the muddy body. B
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune Clos de la Mousse Premier Cru
– a bright berry note, slight chocolate influence. A
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Volnay Les Caillerets Premier Cru
– peppery, nice bite; lengthy fruit. A
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Pommard Premier Cru
– a little green; bold acidity. B+
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune Greves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus Premier Cru
– licorice notes, dark chocolate, cassis; very Jesusy. B+
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Volnay Taille Pieds Premier Cru
– very jam heavy, almost over extracted. B+
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Le Corton Grand Cru
– soulful, after an initial rush of fruit fades, it resolves into lush chocolate and baking spice notes; epic finish. A
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Cailles Premier Cru
– a boldly spicy character pops on the palate, mint, big strawberry on the chew finish. A+
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru
 – peppery and racy, spices linger with some bbq smoke; complex and rich. A

Bouchard Pere & Fils whites

1990 Bouchard Pere & Fils Montrachet – showing some oxidation and age, notes of lemon curd and spice, a racy finish; still lively. A-
2015 Bouchard Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuisse – lemony, some fig and spice notes. A-
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Meursault Les Clous – bright and briny, with big acid. B+
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Puligny-Montrachet – a touch of meatiness, solid fruit core. A
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 
– bright and fresh, lively. A-
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune Clos Saint-Landry Premier Cru 
– restrained, a little quiet. B+
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Meursault Genevrieres Premier Cru 
– bright melon, spice notes. A-
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Meursault Perrieres Premier Cru 
– similar, but with some white pepper and lemon rind notes. A-
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru 
– bold and almost pushy, gentle meat and nut notes; chewy figs. A-
2016 Bouchard Pere & Fils Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 
– lovely but restrained, with melon rind, and some chewy, almost gamy, meaty notes. B+

William Fevre whites

2016 William Fevre Chablis Montmains Premier Cru – green, grassy. B+
2016 William Fevre Chablis Vaillons Premier Cru – bolder, with some chewier, meaty notes. B+
2016 William Fevre Chablis Montee de Tonnerre Premier Cru – bold, expressive; has a chewiness to it. B+
2016 William Fevre Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru – a distinct tropical note here; brilliant fruit. A-
2016 William Fevre Chablis Bougros Grand Cru – some restraint here; a bit of bacon. B+
2016 William Fevre Chablis Bougros “Cote Bouguerots” Grand Cru – surprisingly different; a taste of brine and mineral, some spice. A
2016 William Fevre Chablis Les Preuses Grand Cru
 – bold body, some meatiness; briny finish. B+
2016 William Fevre Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru
 – classic grand cru Chablis, bold fruit with a lemon kick. A

Review: 2015 Stony Hill Chardonnay Spring Mountain District

This atypical Napa chardonnay is dialed back on the nose (it’s aged only in neutral oak, limiting the wood influence), some savory notes finding a companion in light melon and gentle floral tones. The palate sees a significant acidity (again, unusual for Napa chardonnay) before settling into a fruit-forward character, its melon, lemon, and quince notes slightly tinged with vanilla. The finish is moderate and drying, a brisk squeeze of lemon rind ringing out as the conclusion fades away. All told, it’s a beautiful wine with impressive balance.

A- / $48 / stonyhillvineyard.com

Review: Vinn Distillery Vodka, Baijiu, Whiskey, and Blackberry Liqueur

Vinn Distillery is a family-owned distiller based in Wilsonville, Oregon, where it makes all of its products from non-GMO rice. That includes vodka, whiskey, baijiu, and a blackberry liqueur. How far can a little rice go in today’s distillery universe? Let’s dig in to the full lineup.

Vinn Distillery Vodka – Reportedly the first rice vodka produced and bottled in the USA. The nose is heavy with musty grain notes, a surprise given the base of rice, but the palate shows more promise. Here, a bracing astringency finds balance in just the right amount of marshmallow sweetness and a little lemon. The finish is bright and fairly clean, with only a hint of that grainy note that mars the nose. 80 proof. B / $38

Vinn Distillery Baijiu – Punch up the cereal-meets-mushroom note in the vodka by a factor of 10 and you’ve got this baijiu, which is always a funk-fest in the making. The nose of a tire fire and musty attic don’t do many favors from the start, but the palate is mercifully lighter than that. Here it comes across more like a white whiskey, with a more lightly toasted cereal note that lingers for minutes. Notes of soy sauce and canned green beans give the finish, well, something unique. 80 proof. C- / $54

Vinn Distillery Whiskey – The first rice whiskey produced and bottled in the USA, aged in #4 charred miniature barrels (the first batch was held in mere one liter barrels; no telling about the current one). It’s on the young side, for sure, but surprising throughout, with a nose of spiced nuts and butterscotch, at play amidst notes of solvent, the whiskey showing its youth here the most stridently. The palate is a bit of a surprise, spicy and quite nutty, with a bold butterscotch sweetness that makes the spirit feel more mature than it otherwise might. In time, some of the more astringent notes burn off, leaving behind a surprisingly rounded and sophisticated finish. An impressive craft whiskey, particularly considering it’s made entirely from rice. 80 proof. B+ / $30 (375ml)

Vinn Distillery Blackberry Liqueur – Finally, this liqueur is made from Vinn vodka, plus Oregon blackberries and cane sugar. It’s also brought down to a more typical abv for liqueurs. Sweet and fruity, there’s no real essence of whiskey here, as the blackberries and sugar do all the talking. The fruit isn’t particularly distinct as blackberry, as the syrupy sugar character really does most of the heavy lifting. That said, as a creme de mure cocktail ingredient goes, it’s a perfectly acceptable expression. 56 proof. B / $NA


Review: Proud Pour 2016 Sauvignon Blanc and 2014 Pinot Noir

Over time, one becomes naturally skeptical when booze brands say they are doing something good for humanity. Whether it is saving tigers or supporting veterans, you get positively exhausted by all the positive things alcohol purveyors are doing for society.

Well, let’s not hold that against Proud Pour, another charity-focused wine producer whose two wines going toward very different initiatives. A sauvignon blanc supports the ocean, restoring oyster beds in various U.S. estuaries. The pinot noir plants wildflowers to support bee habitats. In case you forget the messaging, all the good you’re doing by drinking the wine is made crystal clear on the label.

These wines are vegan and either organic (the sauvignon blanc) or sustainably grown (the pinot noir). Thoughts on both wines follow.

2016 Proud Pour Sauvignon Blanc Mendocino County – Lightly tropical but amply acidic, this is a perfectly workable sauvignon blanc, crisp with citrus but tempered by a slight herbal, lemongrass-like character. The finish is short but cleansing, with grapefruit notes lingering for a few extra seconds. B+ / $18

2014 Proud Pour Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – The wine is light in body, but slightly peppery, with notes of blackberry, tea leaf, and baking spice all leading to a moderately acidic finish that hints, intriguingly, at chocolate. More complicated than it seems at first blush; give it some time in glass to reveal its charms. B+ / $20


Review: Proof Traditional Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup

Proof is a new brand of cocktail syrups, ranging from steadfast (Traditional) to oddball (Maple Bacon), made by a bartender-led crew based in Decatur, Georgia. The collection is designed to go beyond mere sugar and water, and have bitters already in the mix. Per the company:

These high quality cocktail syrups are an “everything but the bourbon” approach to craft cocktails and feature our oleo-saccharum made the traditional way from organic cane sugar, with our added bitters. Simply mix .5 oz of any PROOF Syrup with 2 oz of your favorite bourbon or rye whiskey, to easily create the perfect textbook old fashioned.

We checked out Proof’s “Traditional” expression, both on its own and when mixed as directed.

With its reddish hue, this is clearly something beyond a “traditional” syrup — it’s the color of watered-down Peychaud’s Bitters, indicating from the start a bit about how it’s been doctored. The nose of the plain bitters is spicy, with cinnamon and nutmeg distinctly heavy, and the palate is quite sweet with brown sugar and a bit of a honey character. Cardamom notes become evident as the finish emerges.

With whiskey (I used Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut in a 4:1 ratio as directed), the combo was a hit. Very spicy — there’s clearly plenty of bitters added to the mix here — it follows through on the promise that it makes two-ingredient cocktails completely possible. The whiskey shines, the bitters shine, showcasing a clear clove element. Perhaps the sugar quotient could be elevated a tad, but that’s perhaps splitting hairs.

I’m not sure I need maple bacon syrup but, what the hell, given the strengths of the “Traditional” version, I’m willing to try.

A / $25 per 16 oz bottle / proofsyrup.com

Tasting Report: WhiskyLIVE Washington DC 2018

Whiskey festivals come in all shapes and sizes, but WhiskyLIVE consistently produces a very approachable event for a fan at any stage in their whiskey obsession. There’s a good balance of offerings from industry heavy hitters and smaller craft outfits, as well as the occasional downright weird bottling. This year, I got to taste whiskey the way George Washington made it, but I somehow missed the 28-year-old Czech single malt (which I’m not sure I regret). There were no real standouts from our side of the pond this year (no duds really, either), but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed some of the line-up from Australian distiller Limeburners, as well as one or two other international whiskeys. Abbreviated thoughts on (most) everything tasted follow.


Elijah Craig 18 Years Old / B+ / familiar oak and cinnamon notes; not as balanced as previous releases

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon (Batch A118) / B+ / another fine barrel proof release from Heaven Hill; drinking a little hot

Wathen’s Barrel Proof Bourbon (Jack Rose Private Selection) / A- / extremely approachable at cask strength; full of clove and orange peel

Kentucky Peerless Rye Whiskey / A- / complex and rich for its age with a great balance between the rye spice and sweeter elements

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Private Select (Whisky Magazine & Schneider’s of Capitol Hill) / B+ / bold and complex but a little too sweet

Journeyman Last Feather Rye Whiskey / B / light and grainy with good clove and caramel notes

Journeyman Silver Cross Whiskey / A- / cereal-forward with a minty sweetness and chocolate and cola notes

Widow Jane 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon / A- / baking spice and a little dark chocolate; surprisingly good, if straightforward, (sourced) bourbon

Widow Jane Rye Mash, Oak and Apple Wood Aged / B- / medicinal nose saved by notes of overripe apple and pear, thin and unbalanced

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye “Maple Finished” Cask Proof / A- / syrupy but not too sweet to overpower a complex

Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select / A- / tastes like Jack Daniel’s but better

George Washington’s Rye Whiskey (unaged) / B / baked cereal and creamy with a heavy corn sweetness

George Washington’s Rye Whiskey 2 Years Old / B- / chewy vanilla notes but unbalanced and astringent

George Washington’s Rye Whiskey 4 Years Old / B+ / age has clearly brought balance along with toffee and caramel notes; could be something special in a few more years


Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso / B / jam toast on the nose; light-bodied with a little too much sherry influence

The Glenlivet 21 Years Old / A- / stewed fruit; sweet and earthy with an interesting chocolate covered cherry note

Aberlour 18 Years Old / B+ / a little hot with a good balance of raisin and creamy cola notes

Tamdhu Cask Strength / A- / rich, honeyed body with dried dark fruit and a little lemon zest, easy drinking at this proof (58.5%)

Glenglassaugh Revival / B / sweet, citrusy, meaty, and earthy; a bit all over the place

Benriach 10 Years Old / A- / complex and bold for its youth with great pear and citrus notes

Glendronach 12 Years Old / A / great balance of wood and honeyed dark fruit notes; a gateway single malt if there ever was one

Glendronach 18 Years Old / A- / more of a raisin quality than its younger sibling with a slightly thicker body and just as enjoyable

Bruichladdich Black Art 5.1 / B / a bit flat and woody underneath all the smoke and meat

Deanston 20 Years Old / A- / a great sherry-aged whisky old enough to provide a solid baking spice punch


Limeburners Single Malt Whisky Port Cask / A- / creamy nose, dark fruits on the palate with a great caramelized sugar note

Limeburners Tiger Snake Whiskey / A / big cherry sweetness and mounds of brown sugar; one of my favorites of the evening

Amrut Port Pipe Single Cask Whisky / B+ / honeyed palate with a good balance of smoke and raisin notes

Glendalough 13 Year Old Irish Whiskey Mizunara Finish / A / pecan praline ice cream with a dusting of raw coconut; an already great Irish whiskey elevated

Crown Royal XO Canadian Whisky / B+ / silky body with rich oak and subtle nuttiness; the cognac influence is pronounced on this one

Brenne 10 Year Old French Single Malt Whisky / B / herbal and floral, but almost too much so

Lot 40 Cask Strength Canadian Whisky / A+ / massive palate full of bold, fruity rye spice and rich caramel; one of the better Canadian whiskies I’ve ever tasted

Review: Cotswolds Single Malt Whiskey

Cotswolds is an area in southern England, and while one might think this is gin country, a distillery has popped up (in 2014) that is also producing single malt whisky. Says the distillery, “The first whisky ever distilled in the Cotswolds, it uses 100% locally grown, floor-malted barley and has been aged in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels and reconditioned red wine casks (premium first-fill Kentucky ex-bourbon 200-litre barrels and reconditioned American Oak 225-litre red wine casks that have been shaved, toasted and recharred). We are one of a very small number of British whisky-makers to use 100% floor-malted barley. This comes to us from Britain’s oldest working maltings, in nearby Warminster. It is unpeated.”

We’ve previously reviewed Cotswolds Gin, a fine example of the London Dry style. Now let’s see what the same blokes can do with English whiskey.

While there’s no age statement here, Cotswolds immediately showcases both youth and power on the nose, with a rather green, almost hoppy element leading the way to hints of coal dust, hemp rope, burnt bitter orange peel, and some cloves. The palate takes this very savory beginning and opens up some new doors, introducing flavors of orange blossoms, an allspice note, and dark chocolate bubbling up on the back end. While it’s youthful and quite grainy at times, there’s an imposing power to the whiskey that lets it showcase an impressive range of flavor despite being such a young spirit. The finish is a bit burly, but it’s also cleaner than you’d expect, a clear sign that Cotswolds Single Malt could, in time, grow into something special.

92 proof. Reviewed: Batch 2/2017.

B / $55 / cotswoldsdistillery.com