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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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Wine Each Week ~ Priest Ranch 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon


In the years I have been reviewing Cabernet Sauvignon this particular wine has the most cocoa/mocha elements I have ever tasted. To be clear, this is not a sweet wine, nor does it taste like chocolate, but the quiet innuendo of these notes suggests something compelling and interesting for Priest Ranch, which started farming in the 1860s.
Of course there is also what you want in Cabernet - blackberry boysenberry, lingonberry, plum and blueberry, but this underlying dark deep mocha is intriguing. And this is all Cab. The acidity is in check, the tannins are in check, but these dark brooding elements are so noticeable and unlike most other wines you have ever had. Aged in new and used French oak barrels for 20 months. This is a unique one.
5,889 cases
ORIGIN: Napa Valley, California
ALCOHOL: 14.8%
PRICE: $50 /750 ml
SCORE: 91 POINTS

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Wine Each Week ~ Shafer 2018 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay


For a quarter of a century one of the quintessential Chardonnays of the Napa Valley has been Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch, located on 68 prime acres near San Pablo Bay and named for the red shouldered hawks that claim the spot as home. The area here is cool, sometimes downright cold, and often breezy, at times utterly windy. Perfect for Chardonnay. Like other vintages before this one, the 2018 shows a beautiful viscosity, with notes of lemon verbena, lime kefir, vanilla, papaya, butterscotch, hints of sandalwood and a mild acidity. The creaminess comes from lees aging, since there is no malo-lactic fermentation. It was then aged in both French Oak and stainless steel. In the early 1990s when Shafer was first making Chardonnay, they used American oak, and they also grew the Chard in the Stag’s Leap District, way too hot for Chardonnay. They have perfected their Carneros Chardonnay and what’s in the bottle is truly an ideal wine, one that celebrates the clarity of California Chardonnay.
ORIGIN: Carneros, California.
ALCOHOL: 14.9%
PRICE: $52 (750ML)
SCORE: 91 POINTS

Friday, June 12, 2020

Wine Each Week ~ Siduri 2018 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir


The marvelous thing about Pinot Noir is that it has the most diverse expressions of any other grape. What this 2018 Siduri represents is what the Willamette Valley in Oregon does so well – the earthy tobacco-ish, old leather sort of vibe. It shuns the typical bright red fruits of California Pinot in favor of something dramatically different, darker and earthier. There are also notes of black cherry, mild cola, blackberry, lingonberry, boysenberry and sweet earth. A mix of six vineyard sites, eight Pinot Noir clones, and 10 months of aging (with just 30% new French oak) really allows this fruit to express itself.
ORIGIN: Willamette Valley, Oregon
ALCOHOL: 14.2%
PRICE: $35 (750ML)
SCORE: 91 POINTS

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Wine Each Week – Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade


Southwest Michigan is not known for its wine industry, though there are a handful of wineries there. The best known of these is Round Barn, named for, you guessed it, a large round barn that has become a top tourist destination in the town of Baroda. Round Barn Winery recently added raspberry lemonade to their line-up of sparkling canned wines.
The base wine is from their own vineyards and there is the addition of natural fruit concentrates, and a touch of beet sugar. The result
Is a light, crisp, and balanced carbonated wine with mild acidity and notes of the lemon and light sweet tasting raspberry. The carbonation is also mild which is helpful as it doesn’t detract from the overall flavor profile. The minimal alcohol is hardly noticeable, and frankly that’s a good thing if you’re hanging out by the pool or the beach this summer. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and refreshing canned wine and a great change of pace.
ORIGIN: Baroda, Michigan
ALCOHOL: 5%
PRICE: $19.99 four-pack (12 OZ Cans)
SCORE: 90 POINTS