Review: Casa Noble Tequila, Complete Lineup (2009)

If nothing else, Casa Noble wins a prize for its gorgeous bottle design. Good thing for us: The company’s tequila — 100% blue agave, triple distilled to 80 proof, and (save the blanco) aged in French oak barrels. All are worth your consideration — all equally good in their own ways. Casa Noble Crystal (Blanco)…

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Review: 2006 Bonny Doon Cardinal Zin

Straight outta Livermore, the quirky wine nuts at Bonny Doon have turned their eyes to zinfandel, with this “Cardinal Zin” (get it? GET IT!?) now hitting the market. Grapes are sourced from “Beastly Old Vines” in the Oakley area (the far outer suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area; the wine bears only a “California”…

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Review: Señor Sangria Classic Red

Pre-mixed, bottled sangria can be a dicey proposition. I mean, is it that hard to make good sangria yourself? Well, yes, yes it is. That’s why you never make it at home, lardo — you’re too lazy. And you’ve got to have lots of fresh fruit handy. And a knife. Screw that and pop open…

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Review: Thatcher’s Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Liqueurs

Previously we’ve raved about three of Thatcher’s Organic Liqueurs, and now we’re about to rave about two more, so put on your happy hats. Thatcher’s Blueberry Liqueur is as simple as they come: Organic blueberry smashed into 30-proof oblivion. The flavor is clean and authentic, a berry bomb that is clearly sweet, unadulterated blueberry. It’s…

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Review: Brugal Extra Viejo Rum (2009)

The Dominican Republic’s biggest-selling rum arrives in a new incarnation (well, new to the U.S. anyway): “Extra Viejo,” or “Extra Old.” This bottling is a blend of older rums — no age statement is given — but age is certainly in mind when one sips this spirit. Deep brown in color, the nose is immediately…

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Review: The Diamond Standard Vodka

The world is awash in $30 vodkas. It takes serious cojones to price what is supposed to be a flavorless, clear spirit at more than twice that. At $73 and up, The Diamond Standard Vodka is one of the most expensive vodkas on the market (though there are pricier ones). Calling itself “fashion you can…

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Review: Mathilde Orange XO Liqueur

The Cognac Ferrand brand doesn’t just sell its cognac on its own, it also mixes the spirit with fruit infusions to create cognac-based liqueurs. We tried the company’s Orange XO, one of five liqueurs the company sells. For starters, this is a dark, 80-proof spirit that’s in the Grand Marnier family (not the Cointreau/triple sec…

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Tasting Report: 4 Upcoming French Wineries, 2009 Releases

Had the chance to meet and lunch with representatives of four French wine properties this week at San Francisco’s Boulevard restaurant. The properties are from all over France — Alsace, Loire, Bordeaux, and the Rhone Valley (what, no Burgundy?) — which gave us a chance to explore, in case we’d forgotten, how widely variable styles…

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