Rated B+

Reviews of spirits, wine, and beer (and various errata like mixers and garnishes) comprise more than 80% of the content at Drinkhacker, and the B+ rating is used for solid products that we don’t exactly love, but which we still heartily recommend. On a five-star scale, these products would score 3.5 stars. On the traditional 100-point scale popular with many wine and spirits graders, these products would merit scores of 87 to 89 points.

2009 JUSTIN Cabernet sauvignon

Review: 2009 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles

By Christopher Null | December 17, 2011 |

This Paso Robles winemaker is a staple of wine lists and most wine markets, and Justin now commands a huge footprint, boasting sales in 23 countries. The lion’s share of its production is still this Cabernet Sauvignon, which comprises nearly half of its bottle count. The wine itself is on the lighter side for a…

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Review: Wines of Banfi Centine, 2011 Releases

By Christopher Null | December 10, 2011 |

Banfi’s Centine line (pronounced CHEN-tee-nay, or so the label says), are Italian blends designed to be sustainable, but more importantly, affordable. Retailing for all of 11 bucks, you should find them widely available everywhere. 2010 Banfi Centine Toscana Bianco White Wine – A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio. Surprisingly refreshing, it’s got…

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Review: Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Rare Rye Selection – New Cask Rye and Aged Cask Rye

By Christopher Null | December 5, 2011 |

Every year Woodford Reserve releases a limited-release Bourbon, usually with a special finish or mashbill. This year it’s not releasing a Bourbon. It’s releasing a rye. Or rather, two of them. I caught a sneak peek of this being prepared for bottling when I visited Woodford this summer. Now here it is, on my kitchen…

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Review: Natural Merchants Organic Lorenz “Symphony” Wines, 2010 Vintage

By Christopher Null | November 30, 2011 |

Natural Merchants Selections imports over 100 wines from all over Europe, all of which are organic. We tried the importer’s Symphony wines from Germany, a white and a red. Thoughts follow. 2010 Lorenz Symphony Riesling is a blend of 85% Riesling and 15% Rivaner, all organic, from Germany’s Rheinhessen. A bit on the lightly sweet…

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Review: 2007 Stoller SV Estate Pinot Noir

By Christopher Null | November 23, 2011 |

Stoller Vineyards is an organic and eco-friendly winery in Oregon’s Dundee Hills region of the Willamette Valley, specializing in Chardonnay and (of course) Pinot Noir. With this 2007 SV Estate Pinot Noir, Stoller pumps out a textbook Oregon Pinot, stuffed with dried herbs, licorice, and dark berries. It’s almost unripe, really, as if the grapes…

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Review: Firefly Mint Tea Vodka

By Christopher Null | November 21, 2011 |

“Messing with a classic” is always a danger, and Firefly‘s mint-flavored version of its classic Sweet Tea Vodka is indeed a bit of a distraction from what makes this vodka stand out. The tea character is certainly there, as is a healthy slug of mint. But while that tea remains authentic and smooth, the mint…

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Review: Smirnoff Whipped Cream and Fluffed Marshmallow Vodkas

By Christopher Null | November 19, 2011 |

OK, we’re fully into goofball territory now. Smirnoff’s latest flavors are full-on panty peeler, no bones about it, loaded with sugar, certainly full of artificial flavors, and dialed back to 60 proof so you can’t taste the alcohol. At all. Smirnoff Whipped Cream Vodka – Sure, I’ll buy that. It’s more caramelized sugar than whipped…

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Review: Forefront Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 Releases

By Christopher Null | November 17, 2011 |

Forefront, the second label from Napa Valley producer Pine Ridge, continues to produce affordable blends using grapes from all over California. We tried the latest release of Pinot Noir and Cabernet. Of special note: This holiday season, the winery is giving $1 per bottle sold to a local food bank. 2010 Forefront Pinot Noir –…

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Review: 2007 Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Lineup

By Christopher Null | November 11, 2011 |

Conn Creek is a Napa-based winery founded in the 1970s that makes wines almost exclusively from Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux grapes. Today it produces dozens of wines, including many single-vineyard wines from all over Napa Valley (called the AVA series). We checked out four of these wines, plus the less expensive, blended “Napa Valley”…

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Review: Wines of Bodegas Farina, 2011 Releases

By Christopher Null | November 5, 2011 |

Bodegas Farina is one of the oldest family wineries in Toro, a poorly-known wine region in Spain that’s northwest of Madrid, near Salamanca and the northeast corner of Portugal. (Ribera del Duero is the best-known nearby region, off to the east.) The bodega makes seven wines, most coming in at relatively low (13-14 percent) alcohol…

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