Review: Wines of Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve, 2016 Releases

Four new wines in the KJ stable have recently been released, all in the Vintner’s Reserve line, the second (from the bottom) level in the five tiers that Kendall-Jackson produces. Thoughts on these wines, all reds, follow. 2013 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Merlot Sonoma County – As inoffensive a wine as anyone could hope for, this…

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Tasting Affordable Bordeaux, 2016 Releases

Bordeaux means money, pure and simple. Or is it? There’s plenty of affordable Bordeaux out there, and while quality can be hit and miss, if you take the time to sift through the market, you can find some gems. Here’s a sampling of five affordable Bordeaux wines — two whites and three reds. Affordabordeaux? No?…

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Tasting 2016’s Octomore 7 with New Bruichladdich Master Distiller Adam Hannett

When Jim McEwan left Bruichladdich last year after 50 years in the business, many wondered how a legend like McEwan could be replaced. The answer: You can’t, really, but the Islay distillery’s Adam Hannett is on his way to filling some mighty big shoes. Hannett recently visited San Francisco as part of a U.S. “get…

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Review: Writers’ Tears Irish Whiskey

American visitors to Ireland often ask “what whiskey should I try that I can’t get in the U.S.” That’s been a fairly short list of late, and the top of it always includes one name: Writers’ Tears. Writers’ Tears is a product introduced only in 2009 by Walsh Whiskey, the company that’s best known stateside…

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Highlights from the California Artisan Cheese Festival 2016

Recently I had the good fortune to attend one of the most entertaining events in this business: Petaluma’s annual “California Cheesin’” event, part of the annual California Artisan Cheese Festival, now in its 10th year. This highlight offers regional (northern California) restaurants plus purveyors of wine, beer, and cider — and let’s you go to town on…

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Review: Mt. Brave 2012 Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa’s Mt. Brave is back with two big 2012 releases: A malbec and a cabernet sauvignon, the winery’s signature release. Thoughts on both wines follow. 2012 Mt. Brave Malbec Mt. Veeder – 98% malbec, 2% cabernet sauvignon. It may be a little thin around the edges, but the notes of black pepper, currants, and rhubarb…

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Review: Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Dry-Hopped with Pekko Hops 2016

This special edition version of Stone’s Old Guardian Barley Wine — part of its “classic” release collection — dry-hops this already intense barleywine with Pekko hops, a new variety out of Washington. (Warrior, Cascade, and Chinook are also represented.) The results are punchy, juicy, almost chewy — intense raisin and Port-like notes kick things off…

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Review: Wahaka Mezcal Complete Lineup

Mezcal is always fun, but it gets really fun when you can compare different styles and species of agave that are used to create this unique spirit. Wahaka, based in the Tlacolula Central Valley region of Oaxaca, offers five different Mezcals — four joven (silver) varieties, and one reposado. We tasted them all. Thoughts follow.…

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