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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Wine Each Week ~ ZD 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

A Sauv is born. Yep, ZD Wines never had a Sauvignon Blanc in their portfolio, but they do now. This inaugural offering is a far cry from the grassy, herbaceous iterations out there, something ZD wanted to keep away from. Instead, this is light, refreshing and crisp - a bit of cut grass but mainly lemon zest, lime Kiefer, green apple, a bit of honeysuckle, white peach and nectarine. That’s balanced against a light minerality and pleasant viscosity. It really reflects what Napa does well with Sauvignon Blanc, which is bright clean fruit. The grapes were hand harvested at night to keep the grapes cool, and aging was a combo of stainless steel, American oak barrels and concrete tanks, and no ML. The result is a wine to be proud of. ORIGIN: Napa Valley ALCOHOL: 13.5% PRICE: $27 /750 ml SCORE: 90 POINTS ZD WINES

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Spirits of the Cervin Chalet ~ Fullbar: A Bar In A Can


In the movies, all the really cool people have tremendous cocktail bars hidden inside their wall, or inside some massive globe. Well, most of us don’t have space nor the inclination to spend wads of cash to set up a full bar, let alone stash it inside our wall.

New to the market is Fullbar, a ready-to-drink set of mixers and alcohol. Normally most ready-to-drink products are pretty weak, and Fullbar’s concept of adding a pre-formulated mixer to a spirit is not new. What is new is the quality of their products. I tasted Fullbar’s offerings and can support what they are doing. I sampled the Island Punch and rum, for example, merely pouring the mixer and rum together. I added a squeeze of orange, but the mix of 2-to-1 made a fine simple cocktail, the punch not being overly sweet and the white rum was very pleasant. The result, a very nice easy cocktail that is fresh and enjoyable. With Fullbar you can portion out what you want, more booze, less, mixer, or the other way around.

The gin and tonic (I used less tonic, which balanced it out better for my tastes) is also simple but nicely done and doesn’t need garnishes, though the beauty is that you can add in whatever is on hand. So, perhaps you don’t have a home bar that’s stocked with the essentials and weird accouterments like candied fennel, star anise or orange bitters (I do recommend these, of course), but Fullbar can get you close to making consistent cocktails which are quite satisfying considering that, at the very least, all you’re doing is mixing two cans together.

Their cocktail kit consists of 10 spirits (American whiskey, gin, blanco tequila, Caribbean rum, vodka) and 10 mixers (margarita, ginger mule, island punch, tonic, and soda water), which yields 20 single cocktails or 10 doubles. All spirits are 80 proof and come in 3.4 oz. cans, and
all non-alcoholic mixers come in 6.8 oz. cans. Simple, effective, no hassle and pretty darn good.

The complete Cocktail kit runs $54.99, but you can also mix and match and get 6-packs ($18.99 - $23.99) or even just the mixers by themselves (mixer only four packs - $5.99) if you prefer using your own booze. Since they just launched you can get 10% off the cost with this discount code for the time being: ReadyToMake

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Wine Each Week ~ Domaine de Cala 2019 Rosé


In the restaurant world, Master Chef Joachim Splichal is an icon. Splichal runs a restaurant empire, The Patina Group, comprised of 65 restaurants across the US (mainly New York, Florida and California) and even a location in Tokyo. It’s no surprise then that he wanted to make his own wines, and more importantly, make them from where he grew up – Provence. His 2019 rosé, is light in style and approach, and this wine subtly fills the palate with notes of strawberry, plum, rhubarb, with back notes of lime and sandalwood. Comprised of mainly Grenache and Cinsault, there are smaller amounts of Rolle, Syrah, Carignan and Grenache Blanc. The beauty of most wines from this region and certainly de Cala is that they are young, light and fresh wines, not manipulated and forced. This 2019 has the acidity and minerality to work with foods (something Splichal knows a lot about) or is light enough to enjoy on its own.
ORIGIN: Provence, France
ALCOHOL: 12.5%
PRICE: $17.50 /750 ml
SCORE: 90 POINTS 

Monday, July 13, 2020

Wine Each Week ~ Chemistry Rose’ of Pinot Noir Bubbles


Chemistry best describes interaction between two properties, as in this wine which was a collaborative effort between two Oregon wineries, Chehalem Winery and Stoller Family Estate, both of which produce estate wines in the Willamette Valley. This light, effervescent bubbly non-vintage Pinot Noir rose’ celebrates the beauty of a summer morning in the Willamette Valley. It offers light strawberry, watermelon and lemon lime citrus notes. The carbonation is nicely balanced, not aggressive so you still get some of that beautiful Pinot noir fruit.  Simple yet effective.
3,800 cases
ORIGIN: Willamette Valley, Oregon
ALCOHOL: 12.5%
PRICE: $20 (750ML)
SCORE: 90 POINTS

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Wine Each Week ~ Folded Hills 2017 Grant Grenache


Though the Folded Hills Ranch has been around in Santa Barbara County for over a century, grapes were not planed until 2014. This makes the 2017 the first vintage and it is impressive. This Grenache offers slight bright fruit spicy character plum, pomegranate, cranberry, strawberry, Bing cherry, and pink peppercorn. There’s a touch of sweet oak and vanilla-infused tobacco and a nice mild acidity running through the length of the wine. Comprised of Grenache with 8% Syrah folded in, this is a delightfully balanced wine, made to accompany a diversity of food.
ORIGIN: Santa Ynez - Santa Barbara, California
ALCOHOL: 13.6%
PRICE: $38 /750 ml
SCORE: 91 POINTS

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Spirits at The Cervin Chalet ~ Humboldt’s Finest, Hemp Infused Vodka



Humboldt’s Finest was the very first hemp vodka produced in the U.S. and is infused with locally grown (Humboldt County in Northern California) hemp and legal for sale in all 50 states. If you need more cannabis in your life, this actually isn’t it. The amount is so small it won’t impact you, but the 40% alcohol might. My first question is always…why? What is the need for this? To be sure infused spirits have been popular for years now, so it made sense someone would use hemp. And, considering that Humboldt is known for lots and lots of pot farms, well, why not?

As a professional spirits judge, and the Chief Spirits Judge for the Critics Challenge Wine & Spirits Competition, I’ve tasted my share of hemp vodkas – most of them downright terrible. But distiller Abe Stevens, who started his distillery in 2012, gets it right. Whereas this is more ideal for mixing cocktails, (one of their recipes from their website is included below) it can stand on its own, though I highly suggest a single pure cube of ice. The nose is menthol, green tea and citrus, floral and bright. Once on the palette the herbal notes take over, along with menthol, fresh cut grass, celery, and a spicy finish. In one sense, it almost seems like a hearty botanical gin. Is it something of a novelty? Yes, but it’s also well made and delivers for the price, and is something unique to add to your home bar.

ORIGIN: Humboldt, California
ALCOHOL: 40%
PRICE: $25.99 /750 ml
SCORE: 91 POINTS

(PHOTO, Humboldt's Finest)
High Thyme
1.5 oz Humboldt’s Finest
.75 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
.5 oz honey syrup
2 hearty sprigs of fresh thyme
To prepare honey syrup, dissolve 2 parts honey in 1 part hot water, allow to cool. At bottom of cocktail shaker, add 1 sprig thyme, give a quick muddle, add Humboldt’s Finest, lime juice and honey syrup. Shake vigorously, strain into double old fashioned glass with ice, garnish with a hearty thyme sprig.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Wine Each Week ~ Eberle 2018 Syrah


If you are Gary Eberle, you have a lot of firsts next to your name. One of those was that he was one the first to plant the Syrah grape in Paso Robles, even though grapes have been in the ground in Paso since the 1880s. And he was the very first to produce a 100% Syrah. For many years Gary has sourced his Syrah from the Steinbeck Vineyard. This Syrah straddles that warm climate, cool climate where you get a little bit of both vibrant dark black and red fruits blackberry blueberry boysenberry red raspberry, but also some of those dark earthy notes saddle, leather, slight bacon smokiness. Just under 2% Viognier is co-fermented then aged for 15 months in both French and American oak. There is also plentiful acidity making this a fine red wine for a diversity of foods.
1,418 cases.
ORIGIN: Paso Robles, California
ALCOHOL: 14.6%
PRICE: $32 (750ML)
SCORE: 91 POINTS