What’s the first thing that comes to mind when the word tequila enters the conversation? For a lot of people it conjures the image of crowds downing shots in a college bar or at a frat party. That’s a shame because genuine tequila isn’t produced for that purpose. Instead, it’s meant to be sipped and savored over a relaxing evening or afternoon; perhaps surrounded by friends or family, with good food and lively banter to go around. That’s the crux of what I experienced when I visited Mexico last week to visit Casa Noble Tequila as their guest. Head over to The Daily Meal to read all about my Mexican Adventure.
Posted by Gabe on November 17, 2014
Benziger Family Winery – 2012 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc / 2012 Sonoma County Merlot / 2012 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Posted by Gabe on November 11, 2014
Benziger Family Winery located in the heart of Sonoma County has been at the forefront of sustainable farming for years. They’re certified as such; they also employ Biodynamic practices. They make a wide range of wines in varying quantities and styles. One common denominator is their quest to allow the grapes to shine. Here’s a look at three current releases.
Benziger Family Winery 2012 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc – Suggested Retail Price $15. The fruit for this wine came from several vineyards within the North Coast appellation. It was aged completely in stainless steel drums on its lees. Big lemon zest aromas light up the nose of this Sauvignon Blanc. Tropical fruit underlies tons of citrus, green apple and a hint of grass on the substantially flavorful palate along with wisps of sage and thyme. The clean, crisp and refreshing finish is studded with racy acidity, spices such as cardamom and a gentle hint of salinity. Benziger’s North Coast Sauvignon Blanc is a killer value for the money. This is a wine loaded with varietal typicity which will complement light foods or work well as an aperitif. Increasingly the North Coast appellation is a great source for appealing Sauvignon Blanc. This example is certainly proof of that.
Benziger Family Winery 2012 Sonoma County Merlot – Suggested Retail Price $19. The fruit for this wine was sourced from several areas within Sonoma County. After cold soaking, various fermentation lengths and temperatures, barrel aging took place over 16 months in a combination of French and American oak. Red cherry blossoms and Mexican Vanilla Bean aromas are both heavily in evidence on the agreeable nose of this Merlot. A ton of round, juicy, red fruit flavors fill the palate here. Bits of kirsch are present as well. The finish is velvety with black cherry, dark chocolate and earth in droves. The problem with a lot of Merlot under $20 is that it’s hard to peg as Merlot. Too much if it simply tastes like generic red wine. That’s far from an issue here. This is very much a Merlot, one that Cabernet lovers will appreciate too. It’s going to be hard to beat at this price point.
Benziger Family Winery 2012 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon – Suggested Retail Price $20. The Cabernet was sourced from both mountain and benchland vineyards throughout Sonoma County. After fermentation it was aged in barrel for 16 months. A bevy of spices, earth and toast aromas present on the nose of this Cabernet. Blackberry and cherry flavors dominate the full bodied palate. Espresso, black tea, and earth are all present on the finish which has solid length. Medium tannins and firm acid provide a nice backbone. For $20 this Cabernet Sauvignon is perfectly suited, and fairly priced for everyday consumption.
This trio of wines from Benziger Family Winery is well priced. More importantly though these wines reflect both a sense of place respective to their appellations and lots of typical varietal character. Whether in this price range or if you’re looking for premium offerings, wines with the Benziger name provide genuine character and relative value. Trust them with your wine dollars.
Posted by Gabe on November 4, 2014
San Luis Obispo is almost exactly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s close to the ocean and near another Central Coast region, Paso Robles. I recently sat down and tasted through a diverse package of wines that hail from there, and in addition to the excellent quality, what really stood out was the diversity. Not only are they making some terrific wines in San Luis Obispo, they’re also utilizing varietals that you don’t see very much of in California that fit in perfectly alongside excellent bottles of California’s usual suspects. To read the rest, head over to The Daily Meal.
Posted by Gabe on November 3, 2014
For me personally, when it comes to spirits I look for something I can sip neat. The purity of each style’s expression appeals to me. While I take the time and make the effort to mix cocktails when the mood, I’m far more likely to drink them neat or simply sip the on the rocks. By filling a bar with spirits I enjoy solo, I know that the cocktails I mix with them will have a delicious result–t’s a lot like the axiom about not cooking with wine you wouldn’t want to drink. After recently tasting through a bunch of spirits that came across my desk, here are my 6 current favorites that will keep you warm with the nip of fall in the air. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Posted by Gabe on November 2, 2014
For more than 30 years the Trione Family has been growing and selling grapes in Sonoma County from their own property, as well as vineyards they manage. Almost a decade ago they launched Trione Vineyards & Winery to bottle their own wines. Scot Covington, their founding winemaker, brought winemaking experience in Sonoma County and elsewhere to the table as well as winery building and design knowledge. Over the last few years, I’ve been impressed with the quality and value their releases represent. They make Estate wines that represent two distinct appellations within Sonoma County: Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley. Here’s a look at the most recent releases from their 115-acre property located in the heart of the Russian River Valley. All three wines are 100 percent varietal. Head over to Bullz-Eye.com to read the rest.
Posted by Gabe on October 29, 2014
Agustin Huneeus the man behind Faust is also the force behind Napa Valley’s Quintessa and Veramonte, one of the leading producers in Chile, to name a couple from his portfolio. Much like with Qunitessa the focus at Faust is on a single wine, in this case Cabernet Sauvignon. Here’s a look at the current vintage.
Faust 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – Suggested Retail Price $50. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (78%), Merlot (17%), Petit Verdot (3%), Malbec (1%) and Cabernet Franc (1%). The fruit for this Cabernet came from seven distinct Napa Valley appellations. Some was from Estate fruit and some from grower relationships. Barrel aging was accomplished over 19 months in entirely French oak; 30% of the barrels utilized were new.
Violet and blackberry aromas light up the nose of this three year old Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate is peppered with a ton of dark berry fruit flavors. Black Raspberry and blackberry are dominant. Bits of cocoa and dark cherry are in play as well. Espresso and kirsch liqueur emerge on the finish which has above average length. Tannins here are firm but yield with some air. If you’re going to drink it now decant it for about 90 minutes. Alternately hold it for a couple of years and drink it in the 4 or 5 years after that.
There is a ton of Cabernet coming out of Napa Valley of course. Much of it is priced well north of this example. For around $50, a bit less if you shop around, this is a fine example of Napa Cabernet. It shows off good varietal typicity, has excellent structure, good length and most importantly it’s a pleasure to drink
Posted by Gabe on October 28, 2014
Scotch has numerous varieties with many designations that set them apart. One, of course, is whether it’s a single-malt or a blended Scotch. Another, equally important factor is where the Scotch is from. There are significant regional influences that affect the quality and flavor of Scotch. So, much like with wine, a sense of place can be quite indicative and important. I recently tasted through a half dozen examples all from the Highlands of Scotland. Several things made this grouping of Scotches noteworthy. First off each expression is distinct in its own right. Secondly, they’re all well-made and incredibly delicious and enjoyable to drink. Tasting them side by side was a real window into the diversity of quality scotch coming from the Highlands. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the entire roundup…
Posted by Gabe on October 16, 2014
When you take all the different grapes and styles into account, the diversity coming out of Italy can make your head spin with delight. Despite the variety, Barolo and Barbera remain among the most recognizable. Attilio Ghisolfi features both of those, and more, in their portfolio. The original nine acres of land that Attilio Ghisolfi farms for their wines have been in the family since 1895. However, it wasn’t until 1988 when they added another 21 acres that they began to make wine under their own label. I sat down recently over lunch at Arno in Manhattan and tasted through both their current offerings and a handful of older Library releases. Here’s a look at a few of my favorites. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Posted by Gabe on October 1, 2014
Agricole Vallone, which is comprised of 420 acres, was founded almost 80 years ago. It sits in Brindisi, which is part of the Salento Peninsula. The estate is comprised of three distinct vineyards, within which are both newly planted vines and blocks of plantings that date back as far as the winery’s beginnings in the 1930s. Here’s a peek at the current vintage of their most prized and sought-after wine.
The Agricole Vallone 2009 Graticciaia was produced from fruit sourced in Brindisi on the Salento Peninsula (IGP). This wine was made entirely from negroamaro. The fruit came from a 10-hectare parcel that features vines 70 to 80 years old. After being hand-harvested and selected, the grapes are dried on racks. Once they have… Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Posted by Gabe on September 30, 2014
It occurs to me that $20 might be the ultimate sweet spot in the wine world. There are all sorts of benchmarks and barometers, but for most people taking a leap over the $20 barrier is done cautiously and with consideration. So when I find wines under that threshold that provide significant value and taste way more expensive than the price the cash register will ring up, I make a note of it. Here are three wines made from fruit sourced in various parts of California that offers tons of drinking pleasure and tremendous bang for the buck. One of them even has the necessary elements to lay down for a couple of years, should you so choose. That’s not something often in play in this price range. Whether you’re looking for a wine to bring to a dinner party or something to keep you warm all winter long, these selections will get it done for a minimal price. Head over to Bullz-Eye.com to read the rest.