Welcome back everyone and raise a glass to 2012! Ok, now that I have all the exclamation points out-of-the-way, I would like to apologize for my unannounced hiatus (last post in Mid Movember). I suppose I underestimated how busy I could be throughout that most hectic and stressful time of year. I hope you had a wonderful round of holidays and are completely refreshed to dive headlong into the new year. I am going to use this post to float a few topics out there, some related to what I have been up to (read: drinking) and a few tidbits about the current world of wine as well as some potential additions to the realm of possibilities here at GrapesRGreat.com.
So a quick summary of recent quaff worth talking about is probably due. For thanksgiving my wife and I opened a bottle of 2007 Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir that was purchased through Lot18, which is a quickly growing website that does a fantastic job of presenting customers from little tucked away corners of the US (Ohio) access small production wines that may not be available via direct shipping or through local distribution. I highly recommend you check it out, and no I am not paid for the endorsement. The Pinot was absolutely fantastic but would certainly benefit from a year or 2 more of cellaring (Visit Chronicle Wines Here). We also had a bottle of 2005 Saddleback Cellars Napa Cabernet, also a real blockbuster. Nils Venge is the Owner and Winemaker at Saddleback and started the winery in 1985, the same year he produced the first ever 100 point score from Robert Parker for a Californian wine with the 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet. Other highlights include snagging a bottle 1990 Veuve Cliquot Grand Reserve Champagne from a local retailer when I asked about vintage Champagnes. The wine was actually from his private home cellar and I got it for a more than reasonable price given the incredible pedigree. The bottle was a gift for a close family friend who adores Champagne I am forever indebted to Chris and Urmila at Rumbleseat Wine in Dayton, Ohio for their continued hospitality and over the top customer service.
After Christmas my wife and I went to St. Louis to visit my family and picked up a bottle of Boulevard Brewing’s Saison-Brett limited edition brew (Boulevard is a Kansas City based brewery and is not distributed in Ohio :*( ). The beer is a Saison style farmhouse ale inoculated with “Brett” or the brettanomyces yeast strain responsible (controversially so) for much of the barnyard-y and earthy qualities found in many a French wine. Although it is considered a spoilage yeast, many wineries (and now breweries) use it in a controlled fashion to add character and complexities to their wines and beers. When we got back from our trip we poured it around to our friends at Rumbleseat Wine and it was really yummy and wonderful. The hoppy character plays off the earthiness of the Brett very well and the whole become more than the sum of the parts.
Along the way, we also drank a 2006 Coturri Freiberg Zinfandel, a perennial favorite with dark stewed plums on the nose but tons of big fruit on the palate; and a 2001 Gundlach Bunschu Cabernet Sauvignon which developed into a monster of complex layers with toast and smoke, I actually guessed that it had some Syrah in it before I knew what I was drinking. All in all, I have no complaints about the wines during this holiday season.
In other news, the 2009 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was named wine of the year by Wine Spectator, so don’t count on ever finding any and 2009 was declared possibly the best vintage ever for California Pinot, so grab it while you can! Especially since you will not likely be having any Bordeaux First-Growths as the 2010 futures broke pricing records when the cheapest of these were set to release at 600 Euros ($765 US). 2 things, 1) that is a futures price, so folks are betting the price will go up by the time the wines are actually released and 2) that is a per bottle price. . . amazing.
Thirdly, and finally, if you have read this far, I want you all to look at the right side of this page and sign up for the email updates to ensure you never miss a beat and are getting all of the wine tasting reviews and any other exciting news here at GrapesRGreat.com. I am currently toying around with a few different things I may be adding to the blog including entries covering breaking news in the wine industry and legislation affecting how you buy wine, hot deals I see and where to find them, and possibly most exciting I may be doing a raffle with a real prize in the near future. So stay tuned!
This weekend was held the 12th edition of the AleFest here in my hometown. This is our local annual celebration of “craft” beers from the US and around the World. As this was my first appearance at this event, I thought I would share with you some of the highlights and lowlights of the beers on offer. With over 300 beers to choose from, I only managed to sample the following during the 4 hour event:
Goose Island Sofie, Nut Brown Ale, and Demolition; Staropramen Lager; Blue Dawg Wild Blue; Beck’s Oktoberfest; 21st Amendment Back in Black; Smuttynose Porter; John John Juniper Ale; Victory Storm King; Brooklyn Brewery Local 1 and Black Chocolate Stout; Boston Beer Co. Imperial Double Bock and Blackberry Wit; Hofbrau Maibock; Ithaca Apricot Wheat; Stone Bashah and Sublimely Self-Righteous (draught); Dogfish Head 90 min. IPA poured through a tube of fresh hops; Heavy Seas Below Decks Cabernet Barrel Aged (the only mention of wine at this event) and Smoke on the Water; Unibroue Blanche de Chambly; Alltech Bourbon Barrel; Shipyard Pugsely’s Barleywine and XXXX IPA; Boulder Cold Hop; Bell’s Rye Stout (draught) and Oktoberfest; Dark Horse Sapient Tripel (draught); Southern Tier Harvest; New Holland Dragon’s Milk (have had this one multiple time before but its just so good!); Scaldis Belgian Special Ale; Lagunitas Hop Stoopid; and Petrus Old Bruin (draught).
I didn’t bother to count how many that is but I will tell you that there are a few real stars in this bunch. I’m not prepared to give a full review on each of these but I will list the best (and the worst) from my perspective. First of all, the two beers which gave me the most pause and I would give the top awards would the Brooklyn’s Local 1, a wheat beer with just the perfect balance of what makes wheat beer so good; and Shipyard’s XXXX IPA which has a good strong hop quality but not the searing bitterness of some overblown hop style beers. The hop quality in this is more along the lines of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale if you’ve had that, sort of floral and spicy rather than bitter. Like comparing the flavorful Poblano pepper with mild spice to the sun-like heat of a Habanero that overwhelms the flavor. Other beers that I would like to revisit include Heavy Seas Smoke on the Water which was slightly smoked but balanced, dark and rich, and Victory’s Storm King; a dark, intense beer that remains smooth throughout. Worst beer of the day? Canadian brewery Unibroue’s Blanche de Chambly; it should be called “Bland and Shambly.” Reminded me of a flat Miller Chill, kinda lemony in a flabby, diluted sort of way.
All in all, the event was a ton of fun and I spent an afternoon in the park drinking good beers with good friends. I would recommend that activity to anyone.