Review: 3 Wines from Santorini, 2010 Releases

Whatever you do, do not ask me how to pronounce any of these wines. Santorini is a tiny Greek island in the Aegean Sea, 120 miles from the mainland. Turns out they grow a lot of grapes there, and naturally they make wine from them. Assyrtiko is the main grape here, and it is found…

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Review: Effen Vodka

A staple of the high-end bar scene (and even available at most dives), Effen is distilled from wheat in Holland and bottled at 80 proof. All pretty standard stuff, and Effen is indeed a fairly straightforward vodka. Grainy and a bit medicinal on the nose and on the tongue, it offers a moderately long finish…

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Review: 2007 Tenuta Rapitala Nuar Sicilia

An interesting blend from Sicily, Tenuta Rapitala’s Nuar is 70 percent Nero d’Avola and 30 percent Pinot Noir (aka Pinot Nero). There’s a distinct coffee nose, with wood and smoky hints. The body is moderate but flavorful, with intense blueberry/blackberry character and chocolate notes. Another touch of coffee on the finish. It’s almost criminal that…

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Review: Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheated Bourbon (2010)

The good folks at Heaven Hill’s Parker’s continue their annual bourbon blowout with this 4th edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection, a 10-year-old wheated mashbill whiskey, bottled at cask strength. (That strength will vary, but in the case of my sample, that’s 127.8 proof.) Last year’s Golden Anniversary bourbon was hot but full of gorgeous fruit…

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Review: NV Valdo Prosecco Brut and Nerello Mascalese Brut Rose

Two new non-vintage Proseccos from Valdo — both extremely different in design — arrived today. The brand that dates back to 1926 and was once part of the Bolla family. Now it’s a budget label that exists for your enjoyment. NV Valdo Prosecco Brut – Quite sweet, with a tart edge. A bit grassy in…

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Review: Calisaya Liqueur

A bittersweet amaro-style liqueur, Calisaya is made in an Italian style, but not in Italy — rather, in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Not nearly as dark as most amaros, Calisaya is a deep orange, in keeping with its orange-inflected flavor. But the base of Calisaya is not distinctly orange but rather cinchona bark, a tree which…

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Review: McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon

Benchmark Old No. 8 (from our friends at Buffalo Trace) has been winning awards right and left of late — and it’s easy to see why. At about $14 a bottle, it offers outstanding quality for a pittance. Benchmark, made with a fair amount of rye, has a deep amber color, and the nose is…

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Tasting Report: Ministry of Rum Festival 2010

With the popularity (and quality) of rum rising, the Ministry of Rum continues its mission of exposing the world to great rums and rum cocktails. Recently I had the opportunity to sample numerous hard-to-find, new, and very old rums at the Ministry’s event in Alameda. Ratings and some brief thoughts on everything tasted follow. Bear…

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