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Monday, October 22, 2012

Drinks As Diverse As Blanc and Noir: San Francisco International Wine and World Spirits Competitions

The cool weather of Fall after the Summer's warmth can be frightful, but a glass of wine going down is so delightful!  Comforting, satisfying and wonderfully relaxing is a glass of good wine or even a wonderful spirit at the end of a day of dealing with subway announcements, standing in taxi lines or fighting for spots in line at lunch hour.  Well for me, before I board that train or hail that cab, I stop and grab a nice bottle of wine or spirit to unwind but find myself overwhelmed by the selections in wine stores at times.  The subtleties of flavors even among wines by the same collective name can be night to one person and day to another.

With this in mind, I attended a wine and liquor tasting event recently hosted by Blue Lifestyle featuring some 2012 double gold winners from the San Francisco International Wine and World Spirits Competitions.  When whittling through the multitude of wines and spirits it's good to start with those voted as the best to gauge the flavors, notes and nuances of taste to separate, say, a deep sauvignon from a light chardonnay.  

Being more of a white man myself, pun intended, for wines, I only indulged in the white wine choices to better acquaint myself with why these choices were contenders and winners.  I must say all are worth trying and stocking as each has a flavor characteristic to their names with subtle added notes.


 L to R:  Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte 2004 Vintage Brut, France voted the Best In Show-Sparkling was full bodied, 1/2 sweet 1/2 tart with a delicate grape aroma and one of the best sparkling champagnes I've ever tasted, Astrolabe Pinot Gris Promise, Marlborough, New Zealand was a very smooth Pinot Gris with a delicate almost cleansing flavor and Middle Sister NV Pinot Grigio, Drama Queen, California gave a slightly tart with a hint of sweet flavor.


L to R:  Bonterra Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Lake and Mendocino Counties had a pleasant punchy aroma with a crisp finish and McManis Family Vineyards 2011 Chardonnay, River Junction, California was incredibly smooth and a touch sweet but I'd have to say that I enjoyed Francis Ford Coppola 2011 Director's Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California the best as the flavor was incredibly smooth, crisp and refreshing with the faintest pop of sweet.


Three other light and sweet mentionables were Cameron Hughes 2010 Moscato d'Asti Lot 319, Italy which was delightfully sweet, light and easy to gulp down, Midsummer Cellars 2011 Grenach Rosé, Yolo County, a light and flavorful rosé with subtle sweet notes and Barboursville Malzaxia 2007 Reserve Passito, Virginia, voted Best Dessert Wine, with a pleasantly sugary flavor that would be great with semi sweet breaded desserts.

Never having had much samplings of scotch, I decided to try The Dalmore 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch, Highlands and suddenly understood why it was a drink of choice on the rocks for many learned men.  The flavor was smooth and spicy with the slightest bit of peppery and sugary notes that made for an adult well cultivated flavor that justified the well-cultivated price tag of $165.  Next I moved onto my drink of choice, whisky.  I sampled the deeply flavorful, warm and spicy Balcones "1" Texas Single Malt Whisky, Texas and it was every bit as woodsy and aromatic as I expected it to be and then some.


Next was my own tequila showdown.  I haven't had the best of post-tequila recovery with this spirit but well, hey, it makes for one helluva party.  Avion Silver Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico, voted Best in Show- White, was a happily strong tequila that would make one great delicious party-rockin' margarita while El Jimador Reposado Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico had a great classic flavor that would still be sure to please at the fiesta.


The rums were also in the house with my favorite two being from Cockspur Fine Rum, Barbados and Dictador 20 Year Old Rum, Columbia.  Cockspur had a great flavor to mix with and had a pleasant aroma and a delightfully matured sweetness while Dictador had a deep peppery flavor making it a potent strong rum.


Finally, rounded out my last three tastes were what for some the next morning have been three wicked stepsisters but for me were three wonderful flavors that were well worth sampling: vodka, gin and aquavit.  Admittedly I don't drink vodka but I honestly would drink 2 Nite Vodka, Sicilian Blood Orange, Sicily, Italy straight up by itself.  The sweet citrus flavor was a delight and also quite smooth and crisp leaving me thinking 'Is this vodka?'  Cardinal American Dry Gin, North Carolina had the slightest touch of licorice with a good unique flavor for mixing.  Based on a traditional Scandinavian recipe, Aquavit is a great spirit to accompany savory foods and a wonderful addition to mixed drinks and Kroqstad Aquavit, Oregon, voted Best Aquavit, is made with caraway seeds and other ingredients are great for a remixed Blood Mary, my brunch beverage of choice.


All in all I became more acquainted with the mature drink flavors I'd want to accompany my comfort foods this season.  These are definitely some items to cause you to make a detour to the wine store on your way from the office tonight.  Enjoy and remain stylishly sober or nattily intoxicated while drinking responsibly.

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