Review: 2015 Rocca di Montemassi Le Focaie Maremma Toscana DOC

Want all the power of great Chianti without the price tag? Check out this 100% sangiovese bottling from Rocca di Montemassi called Le Focaie (“flint” in Italian), which will barely set you back a ten-spot. A nose of pencil lead and dried cherries leads to an effusive body. It starts of sweet but with a…

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Review: Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut

Jim Beam never seems to get tired of putting out new products. Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut (not to be confused with Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece, Jim Beam Distillers Series, or Jim Beam Devil’s Cut) is a new, limited-edition bourbon that actually does carry an age statement of “5-6 years” and, while it’s not bonded, it’s bottled at…

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Review: 2015 Bear Flag Zinfandel Sonoma County

Here’s proof that zinfandel needn’t be an over-jammed fruit bomb. The possible secret is that Bear Flag, which draws its name from California’s iconic 1846 flag and is part of the Gallo group, uses Sonoma fruit instead of grapes from the more typical Lodi, giving them access to a territory that is slightly cooler and…

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Review: Auchentoshan The Bartender’s Malt

Lowlands whisky producer Auchentoshan recently came up with a weird idea: to produce a single malt curated not by its own master blender buy by a group of bartenders (who presumably know nothing about the task). Anyhoo. Auchentoshan’s The Bartender’s Malt is “a bespoke innovation comprised of a blend of whiskies selected by the New Malt…

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Review: 2015 Stave & Steel Cabernet Sauvignon Bourbon Barrel Aged

Hey kids, another bourbon barrel-aged red wine! This one carries a California designation but, per the company, is Paso Robles-sourced cabernet sauvignon that spends four months in Kentucky bourbon barrels. Let’s see how this one fares. At first I was slightly optimistic: The nose evokes both black pepper and blackberry fruit — interesting and engaging…

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Review: Samuel Adams Utopias (2017 Release)

The thing about Samuel Adams’ Utopias — the extreme barrel-aged beer that drinks more like a Port or sherry than a can of Boston Lager — is that although they constantly tweak the recipe, the beer itself never seems to change that much. Variations on a theme, really. 2017 marks the 10th release of Utopias…

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Review: NV Dark Horse Double Down Red Blend

A ten-dollar, nonvintage red wine made from who-knows-what that’s called Double Down… Perhaps you can forgive my skepticism going into this one. Truth be told, Dark Horse’s lighter wines are not as terrible as their name, and this expression — technically a “limited release” — is far better than I was expecting. According to the…

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Tasting Report: 2015 St. Emilion Bordeaux Wines

In 2014 we covered the wines of Bordeaux’s St. Emilion region, diving into the 2009 and 2010 vintages in earnest. Recently, Grand Cru producers from the area visited San Francisco to pour their 2015 bottlings, and each was invited to offer an older bottling by way of comparison. These ranged from 2010 to 2014 (though…

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