Archive for November, 2008

Nectar of the Gods and other tales from the Navy

November 30, 2008

A couple of Saturdays ago, I decided to head on over to St. George Spirits, home of Hangar 1 vodka and other delights, for their annual Holiday Open House.  For those of you who don’t know, St. George Spirits is housed in the old Alameda Naval Air Station, in, well, Hangar number 1.  The best part of the trip over there, other than the delicious libations, is the unobstructed view over the old airfield, to the cityscape beyond.

When I RSVP’ed for this event, I decided to go for the whole shebang – tasting the traditional offerings of vodka and Eau de Vies, but also included the special bottlings of brandies as well as the mescal and absinthe.  I’m not sure how much I can tell you about the latter, but I have plenty to say about the amazing vodkas and other clear liquors!  It started out with 3 inventive cocktails, made from the offerings we were going to taste.  But first, you should hear the story.

St George Spirits began over twenty years ago, by a German emigrant that found a new home in San Francsico.  Jörg Rupf began educating the American palate as to the virtues and beauty of finely crafted eau de vie., or the Water of Life.  The story of St. George Spirits really starts with the Eu de Vie, which in many cultures is th eonly way to make the fruits of summer last forever.  It all starts with the source fruits, which have to be the best examples.  The examples I tasted at the open house truely were the cream of the crop, and were luscious libations of the first class.

Aqua Perfecta is the name of the fruit brandies that St. George produces.  The word brandy here really does not bear any relationship to the sticky sweet concoctions that many American’s associate iwth the drink.  These are the essence of the fruit, suspende din fire water, which will warm you even on the coldest of days.

The Pear Eau de Vie tastes of deep buttery pears, with just a touch of spice.  It is made with over 15 pounds of pears in each bottle and it really shows!  The fruit itself comes from local sources in Northern California, and the essense tastes of pears that have been poaches and pureed.

The Framboise tastes exactly like the essense of raspberries you would expect it too.  One sniff, and you are transported to the fields of the Northwest, with powerful berry aromas and intense berry flavors.  You would never mistake this for another liquor.  This would be amazing over ice cream, with some fresh berries sprinkled on top.

This is probably the most traditional of the spirits offered, other than the plain vodka.  This Kirsch is one of the most difficult to perfect, since it is a spirit loved the world over.  The cherry flavor is tinged with an almond essense, which is developed from the fermenting pits.  The cherries used to make this spirit are not hte sweet reds that we eat, because they do not ferment well.  Rather, they are Montmorencies, a sour variety grown in Michigan.  This Kirch would be wonderful with Marzipan treats, as well as the traditional uses in fondue both cheese & chocolate.

Grappa is an aquired taste.  It is an intense flavor that can be brutal goign down.  Anyone who has seen My Big Fat Greek Weddign can understand!  Traditional Grappa is distilled from pomace, the remains of grapes after they’ve been pressed for wine, making this a very green beverage as we are using what would normally be put to compost to continue the fermentation process.  I have tasted many a grappa in my travels, but St. George makes it differently.  this grappa is actually used from another urban beverage supplier down the road – Rosenblum’s Rockpile Road Zinfandel.  This grappa is very smooth and I can really pull out the intensity of the zinfandel flavors sipping on it.

The same amazing source fruit that is used ot make the Eau de Vie is used to make the Aqua Perfecta Liquors.  These are fortiified liqueurs, which are terriffic on their own or poured over a big bowl of ice cream.  The brilliant red of the Raspberry Aqua Perfecta is stunning to look at, and even better to taste.  It is like drinking raspberry puree with a kick!  While not sweet, it has all of the fruity goodness of eating a basket of the best raspbreries during the height of summer.

The Kaffir Lime is a funny looking creature from Indonesia.  The leaves often are used in Thai dishes, and provide an intense aromatic to this vodka.  This has a refreshing fresh lime flavor.

The Buddha’s Hand Lemon is a spikey strange object, which doesn’t really look like a lemon at all, but rather some creature from the black lagoon. It has an intense aroma of lemons that really swoops out of the glass,  This is a terrific sipping vodka, but also would make an unbelievable Lemon Drop or Martini.

Mandarin Blosson – Smells like you have an orange in your glass.  The aromatics of this vodka are like the essential oils used in room fresheners, but in a good way!  This is a truely deliciosu sipper, and I went back for several samples, poured through a giant ice sculpture luge to chill the vodka.  Mmmm it would make a delicious cosmo, but it’s really wonderful on it’s own.

One of the special offerings was the Spiced Pear Vodka.  This was a clear vodka, but had the essence of pears, with an added spice flavor that was perfect for the holidays.  I really enjoyed this vodka, and can see it over ice in front of the Christmas tree.

My notes are lacking for the further offerings, as you can imagine, but I look forward to tasting at Hangar 1 again soon!

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Golly Auntie Mame, credibility at last!

November 20, 2008

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “oh no!  Do we have to talk about this AGAIN?” right? But honestly, this is a GOOD post!  For those wineries that understand the power of social media and the new generation of consumers, this is a very powerful tool.

This past July, when I started writing my blog, I wrote about a marathon tasting of Cameron Hughes wines, remarking at the quality for price point.  Shorly thereafter, I wrote a review of a budget friendly wine on Vinquire.com.  Yesterday, my friend and fellow blogger, Taster B of Smells Like Grape, brought to my attention that the review, as well as hers, and several others, was featured on an email campaign by Peterson Winery.  Additionally, a bit of Googling brought forth a reference to my early post of the Cameron Hughes offerings.

Clearly, wineries are starting to understand the power of social media and alternative media outlets.  However, I do have one beef.  If you are quoting a blogger, a review, a website, anything – in a press release or email offering – is it too much to ask that you actually contact the blogger and say:

Hey, thanks for the great post!  We’re going to quote it ok?

Not only does this provide validation for the blogger in question who might think that their efforts are for naught, if not fun, but it provides a valuable connection between industry Goliaths and the little David Wine Bloggers.  Please Mr. Marketing Dude, let us know if you are going to use our quotes!  It’s only polite.

If small wineries can set up alerts and comment on blogs if we mention their wines, can’t you do the courtesy of letting us know you liked our post and want to share it?  Just saying.

Drink Charitably!

November 19, 2008

http://www.humanitaswines.com

It’s that time of year again.  Can you really believe that it’s Thanksgiving NEXT WEEK?  I’m in a bit of a state of panic myself.  That being said, I wanted to call your attention to a wine event on Friday, November 21st.  This special event is hosted by Humanitas Wines, Twitter Taste Live, Twittermoms.com and Lenndevours.com, in an effort to support the local food banks during this needy time.

While it is too late to ship the wine out to anyone not in the Bay Area, you still have 1.5 days to either:

Find a Twitter party or run up to Napa to pick up the wines!  There are a few local stores that carry them, click through to see the locations.

We will be tasting:

Humanitas is dedicated to changing the world, one sip of delicious wine at a time.  They donate the profits made from these wines to charities, which find solutions to hunger, housing, and illiteracy.  For this event, proceeds are going to feed the hungry, something close to my heart at this time of year.

In 1997, founder Judd Wallenbrock, who is the President & General Manager of Michel-Schlumberger as well as running Humanitas, had a driving desire to help those less fortunate than ourselves.  Inspired by companies such as Newman’s Own, he started Humanitas to fulfill two dreams:  Owning his own winery, and giving back

Having been fortunate enough to taste some of the Humanitas wines at the Wine Bloggers Conference, I am really excited about both contributing to the local food bank, and having another opportunity invite my wine community friends over, sip some amazing wines from all over California, and do Twitter Taste Live!  Won’t you join us?

Enjoy Humanitas…Drink Charitably!


http://twittertastelive.com/

WordPress ate my homework…Give them a Hahn!

November 19, 2008

http://www.hahnestates.com

Last Saturday, a group of bloggers and I got together to participate in Twitter Taste Live, Bloggers Take Over.  Twitter Taste Live is an opportunity for Tweeple (or Twits as I prefer to call them) to taste the same wines at the same time, and Tweet (or blog or video) about them communally.  This is a chance for a larger community to taste collectively, regardless of their physical location.

For this TTL, we had the opportunity to pick our own wines.  As most of us had gone to the Wine Bloggers Conference, we were lucky enough to have blogger samples of Hahn Estates wines to taste.  Since this was a Blogger’s Chocie TTL, I thought that it was a great opportunity to pool our samples and get together as a group to taste.  There were four bloggers, a hapless victim, and a lot of wine!  Joining me in our mad adventure were The Brix Chicks, Liza & Xandria, DrXeno of WineLog, and James, a friend who I managed to convince to join Twitter for the occasion.  If you haven’t followed these guys on Twitter, go ahead!  It’s fun!

The Hahn Estates wine company has several brands.  One of my personal favorites is Huntington Wine Cellars, part of the Front Street Five (or is it 6 now?) on the south side of Healdsburg.  For this tasting, we were given blogger samples of the Hahn Estates and Hahn SLH lines, and we were happy to taste through and provided our feedback.  Also participating in our tasting were Russ, the Winehiker

http://www.winelog.net/

, and Matt, who enjoys Babbling about NOthing as well as having A Good Time with Wine.  They weren’t in the room, but they were tasting along, which is the entire purpose of Twitter Taste Live.

  • 2006 Monterey Pinot Noir – Mushrooms, bark, forest floor.  very earthy spice pinot with a lot of evergreen…ceder? Lots of baking spice and cloves on the pinot, but has a finish that is a bit bitter and not very long.  B
  • 2006 Central Coast Meritage – Very nice dusty cabernet nose. Very fruity, a lot of plum & blackberry on the front palate.  Long cab franc finish, but not very deep, with hints of plum tarte. Blend is 33% Merlot, 30% Cab Sav, 19% Pet Verdot, 11% cab franc, 7% malbec. Not very interesting but great value at $10.99. C+
  • 2006 SLH Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah – This is a deep dark brooding man.  Lots of dusy blackberry on the nose. Tons of chocolate on the palate with blackberry pie and ripe plums. Definately a cool climate syrah that tickles my nose with white pepper and numbs my tounge with clove flavors.  It opens up nicely to have big juicy notes of black and blue fruits, black raspberries, loganberries, with a sprinkling of cloves & allspice.  I love this syrah. It’s very spicy, but would go well with red meat. I don’t eat red meat but well you know what I mean.  A-

My overwhelming impressing is that these wines are very spicy. for the most part that is a good thing, but it overwhelms the cabernet, and disguises some of the more subtle flavors.  Is this a central coast / Monterey thing?  I don’t know.  It hink this calls for some more tasting to determine!  My fFavorites of the night were the 2006 Monterey Pinot Noir and the 2006 SLH Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah.

There were of course, special guest stars later in the evening, but that is another story for another time.

Stay tuned, the next Twitter Taste Live is TOMORROW November 21st!  Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to find a wine made as closely to you as possible, drink and tweet.  While many of you may seek out grapes that are sourced nearby, us urban dwellers are lucky enough to find urban wineries nearby.  I am either going to have a Syrah produced at Crushpad, or something from a micro winery in the urban jungles of the East Bay.
Happy Tasting!

Bloggers Choice Awards

November 9, 2008

ttl_banner1

Our next Twitter Taste Live event is upon us!  In this iteration, the bloggers are taking over and tasting anything that they fancy.

This time, on November 15th, my fellow bloggers The Brix Chicks and DrXeno from Wine Log, will be tasting the following selections from Hahn Estates:

Come join us on Twitter Taste Live!  Tweet your wines with a #ttl and we’ll see what you’re saying!

If you’re not a member yet, join us, and tell them I sent you!

Sparkeling…Shiraz?

November 9, 2008

jug-shop

Whodda thunk it!

a couple of weeks ago, I went to The Jug Shop’s annual Sparkling Shiraz Extravaganza. While there, I tasted through 11 examples of sparkling shiraz, a very interesting red quaffer that I’d only tasted once before. In Australia. When I was drunk.

Even though I went in with preconceived notions, I was pleasantly surprised at the variety and flavor these sparking reds provided. They are a great accompaniment for meat dishes, and I think I may even serve one at Thanksgiving!

Here are my results, which you can compare with The Jug Shop’s official notes here. I have used a 5 star scale, to test it out but I have a lot of middle of the road notes so bear with me as I expand my palate here.

I did not review the last two wines, so I apologize! (more…)

I am a bad blogger!

November 7, 2008

Yes it’s true.  I am behind.  But since I was rudely interrupted at my tasting of Titus Vineyard’s delicious wines by a phone call telling me my presense was no longer required at my day job, I have been distracted!

I realize I have to catch up on my tasting notes, so next week please look for:

That being said, I interrupt my wine blogging to remind everyone that this weekend is the

silverado-trailSilver Pass Weekend Cellar Sale

November 8&9 2008

11:00am – 4:00pm

Tickets:

Day of the event $60.00 weekend, $40.00 per day

Passes may be purchased online or at any participating winery the day of the event.

Participating Wineries:

Atalon Winery ♦ Bighorn Cellars ♦ Black Stallion Winery ♦ Calistoga Cellars

Conn Creek ♦ Hagafen Cellars ♦ Judd’s Hill Winery ♦ Midsummer Cellars

Monticello Vineyards ♦ Piña Cellars ♦ Robinson Family Winery ♦ RustRidge Winery Signorello Vineyards ♦ Summit Lake Vineyards ♦ Titus Vineyards ♦William Hill Winery

♦Zahtila Vineyards

Proceeds from all Silver Pass sales will be donated to the

Child Development Centers of the Napa County School District

Wine Bloggers Conference Day 3 1/2 Recap!

November 6, 2008

Wine Bloggers ConferenceOn the last day of the Wine Bloggers Conference, several bloggers were invited to a private party hosted by The Wine Spies and Cruvee in honor of Levendi Winery.

While there, we tasted some lovely wines, all of which were offered in a half bottle format. This is a great way to pour wine, as it allows Levendi to open fresh bottles every day, with minimal waste. It is also a great way to buy wines for people who may not be able to consume an entire bottle in one night, or are single (umm me!) and don’t want to use one of the alternative closure options available to recork their wines.

levendi1

The Cruvee Crew

The Cruvee Crew

I really enjoyed the 2006 Red Hen Chardonnay, which while being a rich Napa Valley Chardonnay was not overpoweringly buttery and creamy – something I dislike. It had distinct notes of tropical fruit, and was very refreshing on a warm afternoon by the pool.cruvee1

Alas, by this point my brain was a bit fuzzy after 3 days of WBC, and so my notetaking ends here.

Unfortunately, that precludes me from participating in The Wine Spies’ contest to review this wine, but c’est la vie! That said, I had a wonderful afternoon with my fellow wine bloggers!

Megan the Wannabe Wino, me, and Randy Hall of Wine Biz Radio!

Megan the Wannabe Wino, me, and Randy Hall of Wine Biz Radio!

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