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High End/Boutique Creme de Cacao WHITE

Does such a thing exist beyond say, Marie Brizard? I realize this is a somewhat strange request but with all the things regional distilleries are doing these days, who knows. The key is that we are looking for it to be white--or clear actually--not the milky white of "white chocolate" liqueurs.

Note: before anyone suggests making it ourselves, we've thought of that but a) we already make a lot of our own stuff and b) if somebody is already making something really cool we can use, we'd just as soon support them before reinventing the wheel.

Thanks for any help.

Aug 16, 2013
ellaystingray in Spirits

The Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) calls for a New Name for English Sparkling Wine


Not every decision by regional "wine advocacy groups" turns out poorly, just usually.

Cava and Prosecco worked to the extent that the naming didn't get in the WAY of the wines being succesful, overall. I would argue that Cava and Prosecco are not benefitting from excellent naming, but excellent pricing. While this benefits the region as a whole I also feel it is at the detriment of the higher end producers. The NAME, gave credibility to lower end producers who took over the segment and "brand" Cava and Proseco suffer from this in my opinion--how hard is it now to sell a >$20 Cava or Prosecco? Morever, Champagne has certainly helped them along by becoming so price disparate with the majority of these two markets as to not really be in the same competitive set. However, American Sparkling or English Sparkling has no such price constraints, more or less.

English Sparkling Wine works great (we'll call our American)I think. Merret...I don't know. It sort of sounds like an elongated furry animal you'd make a coat out of before PETA existed. I am making fun here, but my take is, creating too much differentiation, thereby narrowly defining yourself, can lead to as many problems as benefits and sometimes, unintended consequences. And that's when you get a name that is "brand" neutral.

Jul 27, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

Oh my GAWD! What next???

This is not intended as a thread drift but will take a minute for me to get to my point.

Wine is a risky proposition for the majority of consumers. In a restaurant, staff/sommes often appear to be waiting to judge your selection as if it is your credit score ready to deny you a loan, if not literally, based on your ability to choose the perfect wine (not so subtly in too many cases...better not be the cheapest). And this is before your choice is judged by your table companions who may or may not know anything at all about wine.

In a retail situation, well, most wine is purchased without the help of, well again, anyone. So you peer down the cavernous isle of the mega-mart and try to pick something. On average, this will be the most expensive, or close to, item in your cart. Once you open it, you need to use it comparatively fast. You have no idea if you will like it. And even getting it open may be a challenge. While we all, usually, have the tool, it is one of the few tools that simply does one thing and one thing only in your kitchen, open a bottle of wine with a cork. Sure, it CAN open a bottle of beer and I've used the blade on a corkscrew for things unmentionable, but that is not most peoples experience.

So wine is risky as a purchase and we as an industy have not done a particularly good job of making it much easier despite screwcaps and bag-in-a-box and less stuffy labels and people out there who really want to help you buy wine that suits your budget and your taste, whatever that may be.

Cheaper wine is not necessarily the answer. "Fun" labels and alternative packaging are not necessarily the answer. Gary Vaynerchuck is not necessarily the answer...but none of these thing hurt. And I don't think pee-noh gree-joe hurts either.

If nothing else, a bunch of college students reading "Shakespeare for Dummies" might put wine in the pantheon of things that are important--like knowing something about Shakespeare--and also cower in fear when faced with being "found out" that they learned to pronounce Chianti from a "Wine for Dummies" bottle. Maybe, just maybe, this shows that wine has arrived at another level. That wine is a complicated, intricate, exacting world that to learn properly is, hard. But with a little help, maybe you too can be gently eased into it and realize, it isn't so bad.

There are plenty of commoditized labels that help aspirational wine drinkers consume wine instead of other beverages and if, in only a tiny little way, that bottle actually teaches them something about wine...

I'm not really concerned if the wine is great for the price, it can't hurt.

p.s. If the wine blows at $10, this could be a problem.

Jul 26, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

The Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) calls for a New Name for English Sparkling Wine

I thank various gods on a somewhat regular basis that I am no longer involved with the brand level marketing of wines. I sort of went backwards compared to many in the wine industry, working in distribution and for wineries before becoming a Somme. I guess I am still "marketing" some wines in so much as I sell them and talk about them and tell stories about wineries I like,...but working on "brand strategy" I found to be well, excruciating.

Most painful were times when your wine was part of some association/consortium/cabal that tried to "elevate" the entirety of a region through--almost without exception on this planet--massively idiotic and underfunded campaigns that not even the most patient consumer cared to pay attention to. And this must be the singular terror that rips through the hearts and minds of British sparkling wine producers right now. What will they call it?

Bubble and Yeast
Wrotham's Revenge
Brut de Bruts
Royal Piss

Is there anyone on earth that is going to tricked into thinking sparkling wine from England is any better becuase its got its own name!? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it--the best versions are superior to many Cava's and Proseco's IMO--and in fact think a name decided by a bunch of marketing honks on the 18th floor of some building in London has a higher chance of making the product seem LESS appealing.

Let's use the renaming of Tokaj as exhibit a. Actually, let's not even get into becuase it's boring marketing stuff and who cares if "jakot" is a good idea or not. Point being, get too many marketing types involved and, having been one of them I can confidently say, it's not going to turn out well.

Make good wine and we'll buy it.

Jul 14, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

Chinese hygiene department, not tax, is main concern for fine wine shippers

Are they hiring? >:)

Jun 13, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

Travel Corkscrew Recommendations

Soon, corkscrews shouldn't be a problem.

May 03, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

Petite sirah deserves some love

I think we are getting closer to heated agreement.

1) Agreed. "Gorilla's in the Shist"....

2) Agreed. In the context of judging, you are 100% correct.
Though, I have had a ongoing conversation in my head about typicity and when it matters. But that is a different thread.

3) I agree there is no debate about where is comes from (I know I wrote that but it isn't what I meant...:)). But I do wonder if what Petite Sirah is "supposed" to taste like, is really, precisely, Durif. Meaning, could there be influence from other varieties planted in the formative vineyards of California Petite Sirah. This is a massively nuanced question. And my point was that, I am not sure it really matters if there is 8% Syrah in the vineyard/blend, though it might have a little effect on the wine.

4) I love stories like this. Just when you think you know...

Lastly, Robert, I often confuse grapes I almost never interact with or care that much about. o)

Apr 08, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

Petite sirah deserves some love

FWIW, I love exchanging thoughts with both of you, regardless of how much I might or might not disagree. I'll start with Jason and then Robert and try to stay in order. >:)


--To the point about Turley et al, I totally understand you, and many others, don't care for this wine and others made in that style. I don't feel the need to watch "Gorillas in the Mist" every day, but sometimes I do like to sip an over-the-top wine. I believe there is a place for them.

--Tasting like Petite Sirah. I probably went a little bit overboard here in making a point. Petite Sirah should not taste like Syrah. Though any given Durif may highlight the characteristics of one of its parents over the other depending on the myriad decisions and factors like vine age, vineyard, picking, vinification etc.,. I understand you'd prefer a certain style over another--the one that tastes like Petite Sirah, which is I guess the one that tastes like Durif. So I'll ask the question differently, if the wine tastes like Petite Sirah does it matter exactly what is in that vineyard?

--In regard to asking about other wine specifics--the whole thing about Sauvignon Vert--I was trying to set up a hypotheical where if, there is a serious question about where Petit Sirah comes from, we'd better do a lot more questioning of all grapes and labeling if the goal is true 100% precise scientific accuracy. And I did say there was a thread drift coming. ;/

--Clearly you percieved the comment about labeling was directed at you and it was not. When you realize your vineyard is planted with something that is not Durif/Petite Sirah, you should change the varietal designation to something else. However, what your Durif tastes like shouldn't dictate what you put on the label and it could turn out a lot of different ways. But that is, a matter of taste.


I honestly have no idea what Peloursin tastes like. Seriously. I'd barely heard of this grape aside from studying for exams. I've tasted a fair number of wines and some seriously weird monovarietals and I don't know if I've ever even tasted a wine that claimed to have even some Peloursin in it. Apparently parts of Australia have viable quantities planted.

Your quotes from Dr. Meredith highlight the fact that the wines that are labeled "Pitite Sirah" may have a substantial quantity of grapes that are not Durif. My point was just to say that whatever those other 3, 5, 7 percent are may change how the wine comes out. And you may not get a 100% Petite Sirah (Durif). That is something I don't happen to worry about.

Random thought.

As quoted in Robert's post from Carol Meredith, "You usually find four, or five, or eight, or nine, or ten varieties in there. I’ve been in some of the old Petite Sirah vineyards, and I’ve found all kinds of weird stuff. But the same thing happens if you go in an old Zin vineyard, or even an old Cab vineyard." Post Phylloxera vineyards in Calfornia are probably pretty close to 100% what everyone thinks they are. But the older vineyards, well, they can be have a lot of friends. Your Petite Sirah may or may not be all Durif and what it tastes like, may or not be what "Petite Sirah" is "supposed" to taste like. But does that really matter? What's the percentage where it isn't Durif any longer? Surely not at 75.01%.

Apr 08, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

Petite sirah deserves some love

Petite Sirah does deserve love. Some that I like in addition to the ones mentioned already are the Turley "Hayne," Foley "Muscle Man" and Quixote. To be sure, all wines that seem like they were crafted to invoke thoughts of Bison, Gorillas, Professional Wrestlers...I've been captivated by two of the three more than once in my life.

Interestingly, many of the "Petite's" mentioned here, mine and some others, are made in a ba**s-to-wall style that is could be associated with a popular style of Syrah/Shiraz. However, "that" version also appears in many other variatal cannons, like Zinfandel and some Central Coast whites made from Marsanne, Rousanne etc. Though this could add to some confusion about the various "Pte. Shiyrahzes" amongst those who don't follow this board, comb CASS stats, buy Wine Grapes and then interview vineyard managers, I have a simpler point.

**drift alert**

Exactly which variation of Petite Si(y)rah you are getting doesn't really matter. Is the genetic material closer to Durif or Peloursin or maybe even Syrah?...why do you care unless you are an ampelograhper? Are you grilling your local wine shop as to whether your 100% Sauvignon Blanc has Sauvignon Vert in it? Do you know or care if your 100% Chilean Merlot is Merlot or some/all Carmenere? If so, is it okay if the percentages are a little off on exactly which clones of Pinot Noir are used to make your favorite? "Are you sure this is 79% Pommard? I could have sworn there is at least 25% Martini and/or 777 in here...." By the way, if you ever hear anyone say that, quickly move away from them, permanently.

I suppose in some highly specialized professional wine circles, these things are important but (sometimes excessive precision gets in the way of actually producing a good product--remember the advice to Nuke Laloosh in Bull Durham--and like baseball, winemaking is a blend of science and... something else, where the great wines never come from one end of the spectrum or the other) often I find the wine professionals I work with become exasperated with the unimportant details some trade/consumers/media ask for and focus on--it CAN, not always, represent a focus on details that are the last things useful to making a delicious wine. It's not deception or lack of effort from the winery either.

Concannon and Foppiano, to just take two examples, have been making their Petite's long enough in my mind that, they are their own wines. They are their own Petite Sirah's, regardless of the exact genetic material. It's not like they've been making mutant Gamay's for generations and snickering behind some fermentation tank pawning them off as Petite Sirah. It is close enough. If you want closer, don't drink or trust, the wine that tastes good. Drink the wine that is "lab approved." Whatever that is.

Apr 06, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

open the Cristal?

Anyone who has held on to a bottle of wine too long has a tragic story of waiting to open something "amazing" only to have it taste like the under-carriage of a sumo wrestler when the proper moment came to open it--assuming of course, anyone knows what that tastes like aside from other sumo wrestlers, I suppose.

Related stories often have great bottles being opened too late in the evening to appreciate--" seemed like such a good idea to open the Screagle at sunrise, how did it taste?..." However, almost NEVER, do you hear the story of the bottle that you opened way too early. THAT story, barely exists.

If you care about older vs. younger champagne, of course, take that into consideration. But if you are just waiting until the charts say drink, don't wait that long.

Personally, I suggest "creating" a whim. Open it at the least expected time. Make the wine the experience as opposed to fitting the wine into some other "grand" experience.

Mar 15, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

What are your thoughts of this restaurant corkage fee policy?

Fowler, your first instinct was correct as long as the menu clearly says "$20 per 750 mL bottle." it does on my wine list. We'll charge you $40 for a mag.

However, your second scenario is where the restaurant went in the wrong direction. I waive corkage on a bottle if you buy a bottle from us, including half bottles, or even 4 glasses of wine.

We spend a lot of money putting together a very comprehensive wine list with offerings at all kinds of price points--~450 wines from $27 to $950 with over 175 under $100 and almost 50 at or under $50--and I'd prefer you buy wine from us. But if you've got a special bottle I'll bring you special stemware, professionally decant etc. and you'll pay what I consider a nominal fee to help us recoup the cost of you bringing your own wine instead of buying from us (consider, would you ever bring your own bottled water to a white table cloth restaurant? Coffee? Steak?). However, the second you buy even an inexpensive bottle or a bottles worth by-the-glass, the economics start to turn back around and we'll cover the costs we put into wine service (note: having a full-time dedicated wine staff can cost easily $10, or more, per bottle opened, just in salaries. Though in this case is sounds like you just dealt with a server).

Sadly, I suspect the server was caught in a situation where her training failed her and she was just doing what she'd been told to do without explanation. The person who answered the phone ahead of time is tougher but they should still know to provide the caveat that the corkage applies to a 750 mL and is multiplied for larger formats. We spend a TON of time making sure any customer that calls or arrives with a bottle is aware of the corkage policy and when we'll waive it. We want to put the customer in a situation where it is easy to get all of the economics right for everyone. Especially if the guests are wine lovers who have a great bottle we'd be proud to have them pair with our food.

And for anyone still reading who brings bottles to restaurants sometimes, Wine Directors/Sommes love wine. Give me a couple ounces of your '96 Mouton (happened a couple weeks ago) and I can't get to the computer fast enough to wipe that corkage away.

Mar 15, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

alcohol %

It is my understanding (from some of my compliance friends) that the TTB actually PREFERS the ABV to be small. The reasoning is that making the ABV stand out, particularly, has the appearance of promoting how much alcohol is in the product meaing promoting getting drunk. Now don't get going on the likelihood of people trying just to get hammered buying a $40 bottle of Zinfandel or if this is logical or not. It is similar reasoning that is keeping shipping laws stuck in idiotic limbo--that underage kids will use a parents credit card to order wine by mail...these are oversimplifications but are representitive of why things are the way they are.

Moreover, the wine industry isn't interested in highlighting ABV becuase it can come across as promoting wine being a way to get drunk (quicker than beer!) as opposed to part of a gracious way of living. Again, this is sort of marketing speak but you get the picture. And I can assure you that every single person I know in the business would prefer you taste the wine first, leaving aside making you drink white wine if you only like red and such, and then sort out whatever facts you think you want to know. Sorting out ABV first is kind of like saying you will only buy a car that has under 200 horsepower because speed kills.

And for Robert, instead of complaining to the TTB I suggest you do something a lot more effective--stop buying any wines where you believe the ABV isn't printed clearly enough.

Mar 15, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

Western Australia's first "ice wine"

Jason, do remember this? If I recall, someone in Santa Barbara was doing this in the late 90's/early 2000' their tasting room in Los Olivos? I feel like I went for a tasting and they opened up a freezer and showed you the frozen grapes. I think they were just stunt grapes, with the actual wine made from other grapes but similarly frozen in totally commercial freezers. It seemed so brazenly wrong that at the same time it was kind of cool (so to speak). Though I didn't buy any...

Mar 13, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

alcohol %

It should also be noted that above 14%, the allowable variance is lowered to, 1% in the U.S.

Mar 09, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

What do you know about wine?

Agreed that maybe wasn't the best illustration, particularly for someone in the industry. I think what I meant to say is that I don't worry so much about memorizing certain minutae that are easily looked up--varietal percentages in a certain blend--but am more interested in learning who the vineyard manager is and hearing what their approach is. Nonetheless you are correct that even a casual wine drinker should try to remember that Cabernet is a grape.

Mar 08, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

What do you know about wine?

I actually love this question, nice post jgrad.

1. Not nearly enough. After working at restaurants and distributors and wineries for 20 years (and I suppose I should add posting and reading here for ~7), I have only learned how much I don't know about wine. One thing I know for sure though, no matter what level of knowledge, people who are truly passionate about wine, in the best sense of that word, are the most interesting and most important to talk to, about wine.

2. I think of this question in terms of what could I find in a book vs. what would I like to have answered that has no easy or academic answer. For example, Burgundy is complicated but I can easily look up "Clos de la Barre" and be reminded that both Louis Jadot and Comtes Lafon own vineyards outright (Monopoles) called "Clos de la Barre" but in different regions (though next to each other and in some cases, I did say confusing right, overlapping) and the Volnay (Jadot) is a Premier Cru Red while the Meursault (Lafon) is a Village level white Lieu Dit and yet is more expensive. And if any of this confused you, you could find sources online or in books that could explain it. I had to look it up to remind myself. I don't wish I knew that stuff off the top of my head though I guess I kinda knew enough to know it is confusing. I want to know more of the stuff you have to learn by talking to really people. Like what the actual blend is in any Italian wine. ;)

3. I tipped my hand, it's talking to people and tasting. It's in both my responses to the first two questions. Tasting is great but tasting alone is like trying to solve cold fusion without taking a lot of physics classes--you need at least a little collective wisdom if you are going to get anywhere and maybe there's one wierdo who ends up teaching you the most.

Mar 07, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

When "controlled place-name of origin" isn't enough... when "controlled place-name of origin -- guaranteed!" isn't either...

As if the DOP and IGP changes weren't already enough. It's like a collective unorganized effort to keep Italy as confusing and random (...30 months with at least 3 months bottle Screw Felsina, Rancia is only aged 16-18 months!) as possible. And just when I finally memorized the difference between Antoniolo, Antinori, Arcibaldo, Vigna de Alceo, Accaiolo and Assinaia. It's possible that last one doesn't exist.

Mar 07, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

UK government to auction top wines from official cellar


It wasn't the Concha Y Toro you were after?


Mar 07, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

"For sale in Texas only" (?) lower end Texas wines

The answer to the original post is, possibly both. But, for reasons that only apply to the Texas market. Bear with me.

I lived in Austin for four years as the State Manager for a large winery in California having responsibility across all channels. If you haven't lived in Texas (or worked the market extensively) in the wine business, the reasoning might not make sense.

The reason the label says "For Sale Only In Texas" is regulatory, for the reasons listed above. However, while this may communicate something different in other markets or to a certain level of wine consumer, Texas is a spectactularly proud group of consumers who like to buy things made in Texas or at least made for Texas. Watch truck commercials all day on a Sunday in San Antonio and you'll see they are all written specifically for the Texas market.

And let me be clear on this, this is in no way a knock on Texas wine drinkers or consumers as a whole, they have no corner on the market of consumers who buy things without perfect information and based some, or in large part, on emotional response--unique, local etc. They are just proud of their state and a large enough market to be catered to in this way. But a small winery only has so many ways to speak to a consumer and labeling is a BIG one.

I would bet that the Becker Chardonnay (one of the better Texas producers overall) is labeled that way NOT becuase it couldn't pass Federal regulations but becuase it just wasn't worth it for the 30 cases they'd sell outside of Texas that year. And for this market particularly as I noted, it is as likely to be percieved as a positive selling point off the shelf as it is a negative. That's a little marketing and strategy. Even if this exact example isn't correct, I'd bet there are a number of wineries using this logic for wines that say "FSiTO."

And speaking of Becker, their Viognier is really good.

Mar 07, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

Scotch cocktails

Whoops. That should have just read 1 bsp. Hope you guys try it.

Mar 05, 2013
ellaystingray in Spirits

Scotch cocktails

Though too long a story to tell, I happen to know both Vincenzo Marianella (award winning mixologist) and John Campbell (master distiller at Laphroaig). Together, these two men have made one of the most frightentingly awesome cocktails I've ever tasted. The Smoke of Scotland. Okay, the fact that I'm of Scottish descent MIGHT have something to do with this.

2oz Laphroig cask strength
1/2oz Nolly Prat extra dry vermouth
1/2oz St. Germain
1/2oz barspoon Amaro Averna or Cynar

I am partial to Cynar.

Mar 03, 2013
ellaystingray in Spirits

As good as Chez Jay & The Galley in S M used to be

I grew up in Santa Monica and love the Galley and Chez Jay. I have calibrated myself to the fact that they are not what they once were, just as Gladstone's will never be as good as it was when in was in the canyon on Entrada...but I'll still at least go to the first two.

I like the Billingsley's recco and I've got a few more but it should be noted that if you are going for that feel, the food isn't going to be modern or particuarly fancy though some places I'll suggest can get spendy.

In no particular order.

Golden Bull (SM Canyon)
Dear John's (Culver City)
Buggy Whip (Westchester)
James Beach (Venice) Note: not exactly old timey but then again, it's been there for around 20 years and has a really nice Ceaser and steak.

Jack Daniel's "Unaged" Rye

Anyone tasted it yet?

Mar 02, 2013
ellaystingray in Spirits

Whisky galore... down the drain: Thousands of litres of drink thrown away in bottling plant blunder

Depletions! Mistakenly dump thousands of gallons of whisky and have the insurance company pay for it.

Oh wait, it's the middle of the night in Scotland and somebody made a mistake a distillery? Sounds more like there was extensive "quality control" going on at the time.

Mar 02, 2013
ellaystingray in Spirits

For those wine label snobs ...

Hey Ric. I was being a little cheeky there. I don't really think very many people buy a wine becuase of the person who designed the label. Maybe some people do becuase they like the label itself. I suppose you could argue that some people buy Mouton simply becase of the artist but that is really parsing this out. Cue thread drift.

So I was kind of joking about the wax capsules. I don't really care but I will tell you, it isn't getting them open, especially when you are at home; it's opening those buggers tableside at a white table cloth restaurant that can be rather annoying. The debris field can be large and there is always the question of doing it on the table (proper service, our coasters come no where near catching it all) or standing away from the table and having the stuff get all over the floor (just looks wierd as bits of plastic are flying all over the place that then need to be cleaned up) I do not have space for a service trolly but have actually taken to presenting the bottle, making the customer aware of the explosive nature of the closure and opening the bottle at a side station.

The various versions of wax also have different properties, some of which don't really benefit from the heated towel trick--thinner wax application that is easy to drill right through and pull out the cork but the stuff shatters like safety glass. Then there are the kind that are thicker applications which come off in shards and if you aren't really careful trimming the lip, keeping drips off the table cloth is left to an act of faith, no matter how nimble your wrist. And some was applications crack and fall apart over time leaving me bottles I have to hand sell to people who know enough not to care and/or discount them as I can't really present a wine to a table with a damaged closure. This isn't a massive problem but it is frustrating.

All this to say there just isn't a very elegant way to open them tableside, but no big whoop. I spent enough time on the winery side of things to know no packaging ever goes unscathed, especially from the trade. I actually like the way they look aesthetically, sometimes. And I try to remember that my opinion isn't the only one that matters. ;)

Feb 24, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

For those wine label snobs ...

Ipse, if you could please direct your wine marketing posts towards stopping wineries from contiuning the horrible practice of using wax capsules I'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

Feb 23, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

French study finds pesticide residues in 90% of wines

Since the article says nothing about separating out Bordeaux Mixture--a copper sulfate and lime fungicide APPROVED for Organic Farming--in the study, I don't think it does anything to the Organic numbers. I mean, it's called Bordeaux Mixture, that lab is in Bordeaux and they tested heavily in and around the Aquitaine region. Why wouldn't a fungicide particularly suited to the region where it was developed and approved for Orgainic farming NOT be found all over the place?

And for Sunshine: ironically, natural inorganic elements like copper and sulphur are allowable, in certain amounts, in Biodynamic farming as well as Organic.

I guess I just want a hell of a lot more understanding of what was tested and why? Maybe the Ecophyto Plan has some extra money and wants to put pressure on the wine industry to begin conforming. What better way than going after a fungicide developed right around the 1855 classification (okay like 30 years later but still)of Bordeaux and has been used ever since around the world?

Maria, you seem like the local "all things labs related" expert around here, what am I missing?

Feb 23, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine


As long as we went as far a field as Boomsma "Oude", I'll throw a couple out there that shouldn't be too hard to find in California but may be a pipe dream otherwise unless your state is shippable.

St. George Spirits makes three gins--Botanivore, Dry Rye and Terroir--that I find amazing. I am also a sucker for the apothecary-ish bottles they use.

Another product I love is called Sage, from Art in the Age distillery. It is a "gin" with Sage instead of Juniper as the fingerprint botanical, though there are a bunch of other (oddball?) ones in there too like Sumac and Dandelion. I love it in a Negroni but you have to like the base product to appriciate this twist.

And FWIW, I love Junipero. Anchor Distilling deserves a lot of credit for getting into the craft distilling business long before it was fashionable.

Feb 15, 2013
ellaystingray in Spirits

I always pass by the merlot.

Another for Beringer "Bancroft Ranch." For the other long time fans, I just opened my last bottle of 1995 and it showed incredibly well for an old CA Merlot but I'm glad I did as it only has a year or two left IMO. Otherwise.

Going more or less from more expensive to less expensive depending on where you live and where you are buying and has not been mentioned I like...

Pride Napa/Sonoma
Miner "Stagecoach"
Sterling "Three Palms"
Frog's Leap
Benzinger (Top Value Pick--like people have said about CDB, I was blown away a Merlot under $20 retail could be this complex and balanced)

And while not from CA, I feel a shoutout is necessary when talking about American Merlot to Leonetti in Washington (Zin already mentioned the values from the Apple State). Ain't cheap, but if you have a fat stack of cash burning a hole in your pocket look em up.

Feb 10, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine

Wanted: the USA's Missing Wine Drinkers

If anyone ever wondered why there are wines like Menage a Tois, If You See Kay, Wine by Joe, Josh, Layer Cake, Cupcake, Planet Oregon, JCB #69, Two Hands "Sexy Beast", Bitch, Black Box, Goat Bubbles, Red Truck and Two Buck Chuck...these are wineries trying to unlock the 108 million person riddle that is the US wine market in regard to the irregular drinkers of wine.

And BTW, I don't think this is a bad thing. Some of these wines (and the list is a bazillion times larger than the wines mentioned) are really good.

Feb 02, 2013
ellaystingray in Wine