Twelve (+5) Tasty Sips
Our Mixed Case series serves up an eclectic mix of recent ‘adult beverage’ discoveries by the dozen…
…and sometimes a few extra bottles since, yes, we can count, but we can also carry a handled bag and a big box at the same time.
Whether you’re perusing a bar menu while traveling or stirring up a cocktail at home, let our guide lead to new taste destinations.
By Hope S. Philbrick
This column was conceived as an eclectic mix of bottles and this installment delivers with picks representing multiple countries and beverage categories. After all, variety is fun. We’re also included more than 12 this time because parties happen.
2012 Karmei Yosef Winery Bravdo Landmark 2B, Samson is a dry blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with the unusual addition of Cabernet Franc skins that were pulled from off a batch of rosé wine in its early stages. Batches of this wine were aged 24 months in French (75%) and American (25%) oak barrels. Rich and hearty, it offers notes of dark cherry, plum, spice and wood with light earth and a touch of vanilla. Kosher. Retails for approx. $45.
2013 Psâgot Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon M Series hails from what is considered a top-of-the-line vineyard nestled in the hills of Jerusalem. Smooth and elegant with tight tannins, this medium-bodied wine pours notes of tart cherries, pomegranate, blackberries, mocha, vanilla and marjoram. Retails for approx. $60.
Yarden Blanc de Blancs is made from Chardonnay grapes grown in rocky volcanic soil in Golan Heights, which overlooks the Galilee. The grapes are whole-cluster pressed; the juice is aged for a minimum of four years in the traditional Champagne style with tirage yeast. Yeast flavor is strong yet pleasant on the nose and palate (think fresh bread), alongside lemon zest, delicate tropical fruit, and floral notes with a hint of minerality. Elegant and crisp. Retails for approx. $31.
Yarden Brut Rosé is made from Chardonnay (70%) and Pinot Noir (30%) grapes that also grow in vineyards with rocky volcanic soil in Golan Heights overlooking the Galilee. Made using the traditional Champagne method, this crisp elegant bubbly tickles with notes of strawberry, orange, green apple, toasted almonds and fresh baguette. Retails for approx. $40.
Ron Zacapa Centenario’s 23 Solera Gran Reserva is made by Lorena Vasquez, one of only a few female master blenders in the world. This rum offers notes of vanilla, butterscotch, caramel, nuts, banana and tropical fruit. It won a platinum medal and ranked first place at the prestigious Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago. Each bottle is adorned with an intricate band of woven palm leaves hand-crafted by one of the more than 700 local Guatemalan women who make them! Retails for approx. $47.
Tipperary Watershed won double gold at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Produced in small batches by the boutique Tipperary Distillery, this smooth Irish whiskey impresses with cheerful notes of vanilla, malt, roast pear, dried apricot, mixed grains and black pepper with a trace of honey and golden raisins. Retails for approx. $70. Supply is limited: Only six ex-bourbon casks are used for each batch.
Tipperary Knockmealdowns is a 10-year old Irish whiskey with a bit more complexity than its sibling, one of the Tipperary Distillery’s new ‘Mountain Range’ series of older whiskies. It’s smooth and luscious with vanilla flavor alongside notes of leather, nuts, spice, sour apples, lemon and cinnamon. Retails for approx. $130. Supply is limited: Only six ex-bourbon casks are used for each batch.
Highland Park The Dark 17 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the first of a two-part series that aims to celebrate Viking heritage and Orkney, a remote set of islands off the far north coast of Scotland. The distillery was established in 1798. Brand director Jason R. Craig is quoted in press materials, “The Dark is the first of two special editions. It has a sibling spirit called The Light [released in spring]. Both editions share the story of the contrasting seasons of our Orkney islands home.” The Dark has been matured exclusively in first-fill, sherry-seasoned European oak casks. It offers rich flavors of dried fruit, nutmeg, walnuts and toast with smoky peat. Retails for approx. $300. Limited release of 4,500 bottles.
VieVité Côtes de Provence is a rosé made at Domaine Sainte Marie—a vineyard first planted in the 18th Century—of Grenache grapes cultivated from vines that are 25 years old. This versatile food-friendly sipper offers refreshing notes of mango, strawberry, pineapple, pansy and soft summer savory. Interesting, well-balanced and refreshing, this pale pink wine is enjoyable on its own, but also pairs perfectly with a wide range of foods from hors d’oeuvres through dessert. Retails for approx. $30.
From the U.S.A.…
Canoe Ridge Vineyard “The Explorer” Red Blend hails from Washington’s Walla Walla region and is made using a blend of red wine grapes from the Horse Heaven Hills area. Deep garnet red with black undertones, it offers notes of juicy dark cherry, blackberry, raspberry jam, cedar, thyme and blueberry alongside balanced spicy tannins. Retails for approx. $22.
Heeet is a cinnamon vodka that packs some serious hotness. It’s the most elegant of the red hot candy-inspired spirits we’ve sampled, offering a more natural/less manufactured taste. Press materials claim it’s made using “all natural ingredients,” which may be the key. Sure, you might sip this spirit on its own or on the rocks, but we think it performs best mixed into a cocktail. Retails for approx. $25.
4 oz. pineapple juice
1.5 oz. HEEET
1 oz. ginger ale
Splash of grenadine
Slice of pineapple
Pour ingredients into an 8 oz. rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of pineapple.
2015 Tom Gore Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is produced by Tom Gore, a second-generation grape farmer from Sonoma County who has worked every harvest since he was seven years old. He is a grape farmer who’s now making wine using grapes from Central and North Coast vineyards. This dark ruby red wine is fruit forward with assertive notes of blackberry, cranberry and pomegranate backed by wood, mocha, and chai flavors for complexity. Round tannins add sophistication. Retails for approx. $14.
2016 Tom Gore Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and refreshing with notes of grapefruit, lemon, lime and mandarin. Lovely with a summer salad. Retails for approx. $13.
A series with multiple origins…
The final four in this Mixed Case are especially perfect for any Lord of the Rings fans. Give a bottle or four to any fan of the book or movie and s/he’ll love the wine for the label alone. Everyone will enjoy the tasty sip.
Winemaker Lot18 teamed up with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to produce this limited-edition collection. Each wine is limited to 6,000 bottles each and can be ordered exclusively at Lot18.com/LordOfTheRings while supplies last.
2016 Frodo Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel is billed as “honest and pure as a hobbit’s heart.” It opens with soft earthy berry aromas. Tart upfront acidity gives way to what tastes like an unwashed mix of blackberries, fig and plum with spicy notes that build heat on the finish and linger on a chipotle note. Try it with your favorite barbecue. Retails for approx. $20.
2016 Galadriel Bordeaux Blanc is billed as “noble and powerful” with notes of citrus, lady fingers, lemon blossom and bouquet garni. Pair with grilled chicken or fish. Retails for approx. $18.
2015 Aragorn Appellation Lussac-St. million Contrele is described as “fit for a king.” Made of grapes from the Lussac-St. Émilion appellation, it’s a blend of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec. Rich and intense, it offers dark fruit, smooth tannins, and earthy flavors. Pair it with a grilled steak. Retails for approx. $25.
2016 Gandalf Monterey County Pinot Noir pours spirited notes of raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, herbs, leather and a hint of dusty library that, according to the official description, “cast a spell over the palate.” We can’t disagree and enjoyed it alongside roast chicken. Retails for approx. $20.
Unless otherwise noted, all suggested retail prices are for a 750ml bottle.
Be a responsible grownup: Never drink and drive.
Photos courtesy product producers.
Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.