Review: 2005 Willowbrook Pinot Noir Kastania Vineyard

Willowbrook is a relatively new producer of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, and if this bottling is any judge, it’s certainly one to watch. Right out of the gate this Pinot comes on strong. If you’re looking for a lighter, Beaujolais-style Pinot, you’ve come to the wrong place. This Kastania Vineyard (in the southern part…

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Review: 2003 Owl Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Brigden Vineyard

Owl Ridge was so kind to send a bottle of their 2003 Cabernet, following a redesign of their label to give it a little more sophistication and upscale appeal. The label looks good, I think, and the wine isn’t bad either. This Sonoma cab is characteristic of the region, though I am not specifically familiar…

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Review: Abita Amber

I’m on a beer kick right now. I have no choice: The stairs going down to my wine cellar are being sealed. “Wet paint” for the rest of the week. With some pad thai tonight I broke out an Abita Amber, which I bought a sixer of a couple of weeks back. It went well…

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Original Recipe: Chocolate Rain

By now you know the saga of Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain.” Well, the best way to listen to “Chocolate Rain” is to have at least two of these under your belt beforehand. This recipe didn’t take much experimentation and it came out great. Plus, it’s appropriate for either an aperitif or a dessert drink. The…

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Sleeper Cocktail: The Casino

Long one of my favorite drinks, you’ll be lucky if you visit a bar that can make a proper Casino. A full three of the ingredients are uncommon to rare in all but the swankiest of establishments… but if you find one on the specialty menu of that fancy restaurant you’re dining at, try one.…

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Review: 2003 Ty Caton Merlot

Sideways made Merlot unpopular, and it’s still fashionable to bash the grape and the wine it makes. And you know what? The bashers have a point. Merlot is one of the least interesting wines around. It’s the red wine equivalent of chenin blanc. And in fact, I have more chenin in my wine cellar than…

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Review: Pacifico Clara

Why would anyone drink a Corona when Pacifico is readily available? The reason you put a lime in Corona (and I’m not above drinking one in a pinch) is to mask the faint taste of muskiness. The reason you put a lime in Pacifico is to improve on what’s already just about perfect. Now I’m…

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Review: 2005 Caymus Conundrum

It’s been years since I’ve tried Caymus’s flagship white wine, Conundrum. But when I encountered on the short wine list at San Francisco’s Ducca ($50, about double retail), I thought it might be perfect to go with our northern Italian meal. It was an excellent decision indeed. My last encounters with Conundrum were the 1995…

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