Tasting Report: 2011 California Cabernet Sauvignon

This year’s California Cabernet Society barrel tasting event was considerably smaller than in previous years (many producers are probably skipping it outright), though this at least gave me a little more time to spend with each winery on hand, all pouring barrel samples of their 2011 vintage bottlings (plus a number of older wines on…

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Review: Col. E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof Bourbon

This fourth entry into Buffalo Trace’s Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr., Bourbon series is notable primarily because it is an uncut and unfiltered Bourbon, weighing in at a whopping 134.5 proof. At seven years old, it’s a youthful bruiser in comparison to its senior brethren in this line up. It tastes young: Quite sweet, it has…

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Review: Purus Vodka

Organic vodka from Piedmont, Italy? An oddity, for sure, but this wheat-based vodka is expanding into its eighth state in the U.S. this year, so growth is in the works. Made in Lagnasco, Italy, Purus (also written in all caps) is quintuple distilled in column stills and bottled in a decanter that “pays tribute to…

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Review: 2010 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Premier Cuvee Wilamette Valley

A classic Oregon Pinot, with bright cherry fruit, a hint of fizziness when freshly poured, and the suggestion of damp earth on the nose as it opens up in the glass. As Pinot Noir goes, this is a truly lovely expression of the grape: Lush, fruity, with a dash of herbs and a crisp and…

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Review: Cardinal American Dry Gin

Cardinal Gin. Get it? Sure ya do. This American gin hails from Kings Mountain, North Carolina. The 11 (organic and wild) botanicals used in this gin don’t get enumerated, so we have to guess at them instead. Modestly juniper-infused and intensely floral, this is a gin with a different and unique style to it. Let’s…

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Review: Mickey Finn Irish Apple Whiskey

I’ve never quite understood the idea behind the Mickey Finn name. Yeah, it sounds Irish, but it really means a drink served to someone to knock them out (typically to take advantage of them in some way). Why you’d name your Irish whiskey brand after such a thing, I have no idea. Mickey Finn makes…

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Review: Wines of Matchbook, 2012 Releases

Based in Zamora, California, JL Giguiere’s Matchbook (not to be confused with Matchless, which also features a scorched label design and will likely soon be embroiled in a trademark lawsuit with this wine) can be found in the Dunnigan Hills AVA, in Yolo County north of Sacramento. Why “Matchbook?” Because, Giguiere says, he was a…

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Review: 2009 Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ve been reviewing Affinity since the 2005 vintage, and it’s fun to look back over my notes to see how this Napa-based wine has evolved. For starters, it’s now being produced from fruit from the “foothills of Mt. George” south of the Stag’s Leap district, it’s still a Cab-heavy (86%) wine blended with Merlot (5%),…

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