Review: Murrieta’s Well The Whip 2009 and The Spur 2008

This Livermore Valley vineyard has been growing grapes since the 1800s, and while it has labored in obscurity in recent years, recent investments have revitalized the land and the estate wines made there. These two blends are now hitting the market. We tasted both. 2009 Murrieta’s Well The Whip – A nutty white blend: 43%…

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Review: Bulleit Rye

Tom Bulleit‘s “frontier” Bourbon has near-cult status among his admirers, and at long last the man has decided to branch out into a second product. That product is Bulleit Rye, “the worst kept secret” in the whiskey world and a smashing way for Bulleit to double its shelf space. Now this isn’t as big a…

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Book Review: The Ultimate Wine Companion

For a book purporting to be the “ultimate” wine companion, this tome is awfully slim. No judgments, really, but anything claiming “ultimate” status always makes me wonder about where a writer’s bar of excellence may lie. Like the previously reviewed Whiskypedia, The Ultimate Wine Companion is not the work of one writer but rather a…

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Review: 2008 Foppiano Estate Petite Sirah Russian River Valley

A notoriously tricky grape that makes often unpalatable wines, Foppiano proves it has the chops for handling Petite Sirah with aplomb. Aplomb to spare, even. The nose says plum and violets, but the body takes us to the woodshop: Fresh cut lumber, sawdust, and steel, plus underbrush, chocolate, more plums, and a tightly wound core…

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Review: HelloCello Limoncello and BelloCello

Limoncello is a staple — literally, like bread — in Italy, and every tourist who visits seems to come back with an artisanal bottle or two. HelloCello is a new company based not in Firenze but here in the U.S., in Sonoma’s wine country, actually, where they make, technically, flavored brandies. We tried both the…

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Tasting Report: Wines of the Santa Rita Hills 2011

Made famous by its appearance in the film Sideways, the Santa Rita Hills area near Santa Barbara is still riding high, thanks to a continued focus on quality winemaking, particularly in the realm of its storied Pinot Noirs. Recently a dozen or so wineries from the Sta. Rita AVA trekked up to San Francisco to…

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Review: Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka

I’ve never met a tea-flavored vodka I didn’t like, because I don’t think it’s possible to make a bad tea-flavored vodka. At popular request I sought out a bottle of Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, which is distinguished by its all natural ingredients, 10-times distillation, and sweetening that uses clover honey instead of high fructose…

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Tasting Report: Tre Bicchieri Italian Wines – Chicago 2011

This year I bypassed the San Francisco Tre Bicchieri event — a celebration of the best in Italian wines, many of which aren’t available for sale in the U.S., hosted by Gambero Rosso — and took a quick trip to Chicago to experience Italian vino amidst the bitter cold and hospitable people of the midwestern…

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