Our Mixed Case series serves up an eclectic mix of recent taste discoveries.
Let our guide lead to new taste destinations.
By Hope S. Philbrick
As vaccinations continue to get jabbed into cooperative arms, we’re venturing out into the world again. Future Mixed Case roundups won’t need to recommend “sheltering,” though of course it’s always a good idea to stock your home refrigerator and bar with our taste-tested mix of goodies.
2020 Cameron Hughes Lot 825 Napa Valley White Meritage is a refreshing blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with notes of citrus blossom, apple, honeycomb, and wet stones. Well-balanced with medium acidity, enjoy this dry wine alongside summer fare or on its own. Another great option from the consistently impressive Cameron Hughes. Retails for $16 at CHwine.com.
2019 Cameron Hughes Lot 811 Lodi Zinfandel offers bold notes of berry jam, tobacco, plum, spice box, and wood. Well-balanced with integrated tannins and acidity, the wine lingers on vanilla and plum jam in the finish. Enjoy alongside whatever you’re grilling. Another great option from the consistently impressive Cameron Hughes. Retails for $13 at CHwine.com.
2020 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc offers refreshing, layered notes of peach, melon, light herbs, lemon zest, tropical fruit, white pepper, and honeysuckle. According to the winemaker, “Stainless steel fermentation was supplemented with small amounts of chestnut, acacia and French oak barrels adding additional character and nuance to this delicious wine.” Retails for approx. $20.
2018 Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has elegant notes of black cherry, dried herbs, leather, and oak. Well-balanced with pleasant minerality and tannins. Retails for approx. $32.
2019 Dry Creek Chardonnay Block 10 has clean notes of peach, lychee, apples, dry herbs, and lemon cookies. Rich yet bright, like the best companions. Retails for approx. $34.
2020 Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg is, according to press materials, “A wine that we have produced each and every year of our 49-year history. When David Stare started our family winery in 1972, his desire was to craft wines that reflected his passion for the Loire Valley in France. Nearly 50 years later, we continue to honor the history and tradition of this incredible white wine. The Wilson Ranch in Clarksburg has provided us with delicious fruit that expresses a lively mouthfeel and subtle creaminess for over 30 years. 100% stainless steel fermentation guarantees the fresh fruit characters and bright acidity will shine through.” Enjoyable notes of green melon, white peach, mango, lemon blossom, and cucumber skip across the tongue. Retails for approx. $16.
2020 Dry Creek Fumé Blanc, Sonoma County, has refreshing, crisp notes of citrus, peach, cucumber, cut grass, and minerality. A hint of jalapeño arrives on the finish, kicking your palate into craving another sip. Retails for approx. $16.
2019 Dry Creek Zinfandel Heritage Vines offers well-balanced notes of mixed dark berries, toast, spice box, mocha, and dried herbs with a touch of cedar. Silky smooth with a rich mouthfeel. Retails for approx. $26.
2016 Celebrities Old Vine Garnacha, Bodega San Valero is a 100% varietal that is, according to press materials, “sourced from some of the oldest vines in Spain.” Bold, juicy and delicious, it pours a sophisticated balance of fruity and spicy notes. Retails for approx. $13.
2016 Monasterio de las Viñas Reserva, Grandes Vinos is a classic, reserve style blend of Garnacha, Cariñena and Tempranillo grapes. Notes of red berries, violet, anise, and roasted pepper make noses and tongues happy. Retails for approx. $17.
Four Peel Gin, produced Watershed Distillery in Columbus, Ohio, is named for the four citrus peels included in its botanical mix. This American-style gin is soft enough to sip in a martini yet strong enough to stand out in a multi-ingredient cocktail. We adored it in our own creation, the “Berry Tasty Twisted G&T”: Muddle 12 large blackberries in a cocktail shaker, add 4 oz. Four Peel Gin, fresh-squeezed juice from one lime (before juicing, slice two thin wheels from the center of the lime and set aside), 1 teaspoon mulberry syrup (or blackberry syrup), and shake vigorously with ice. Strain while pouring equal amounts into 2 Collins glasses filled with ice. Top off with high-quality tonic. Garnish each glass with a blackberry and reserved lime slice. Retails for approx. $30; available in eight states and online.
6 O’Clock Gin, an award-winning, family-owned artisanal spirit produced in Bristol, England, is now available in the U.S. A variety of styles is produced; we sampled the flagship London Dry and admit to love at first sip. According to press materials, 6 O’Clock Gin is “distilled in small batches, using traditional skills, and only the best natural ingredients.” Botanicals are led by juniper and also include orris root, angelica, winter savory, orange peel, coriander seed, and elderflower. This well-balanced, refreshingly clean gin is made with Gin & Tonics in mind—and named for the British tradition of enjoying a G&T at 6:00—yet is equally enjoyable in a martini, whether you prefer it shaken or stirred. Retails for approx. $35. We also sampled the brand’s ready-to-drink canned G&Ts, a convenient way to continue that tasty 6 O’Clock Gin happy hour tradition wherever your travels take you. Retails for approx. $4.29 a can or $49.99 for a 12-pack.
Dahlia Cristalino Tequila is a new 100% blue weber agave reposado made in Oaxaca, Mexico. According to press materials, it realizes “the vision of Fausto Zapata and Vicente Cirenos, the Mexican-American entrepreneurs behind the largest independent mezcal brand in the country, El Silencio.” With notes of cooked agave, warm vanilla, roasted chile peppers, and oak, this is pale-hued reposado especially shines in a creative array of cocktails. Find recipes here. Shop for it here. Retails for approx. $40.
I’m Your Huckleberry Lemonade is the newest canned craft cocktail flavor by 503 Distilling. According to press materials, “’I’m your huckleberry’ is a phrase from the Old West, meaning that a person is essentially up for anything.” But you don’t need to be adventurous to appreciate this lip-licking thirst-quencher: It’s one heck of an impressive canned cocktail! Featuring 503 Vodka infused with handpicked Idaho wild huckleberries then blended with fresh-squeezed lemonade, this well-balanced blend of sweet-tart berry-citrus flavor packs a soft punch of alcohol. The ethereal flavor of huckleberries, which taste like the love child of blueberries and raspberries, is complemented by the lemon, not overpowered by it. This stuff is worth a trip West; unfortunately, distribution is currently limited. Find it now at 503 Distilling in Oregon City for curbside pick-up or shipping within the state of Oregon. It is also available in Oregon liquor stores and select on-premise retailers; in Washington at select Safeway/Albertsons, Whole Foods, and other independent retailers; in Idaho at Boise Co-op, Whole Foods, Sunset Markets, Hayden Beverage, and other independent retailers; and in California at Young’s Market. Retails for approx. $15 for a 4-pack of 12 oz. cans.
Canned White Sangria is the newest addition to the consistently impressive Round Barn’s ‘Flavor Trip’ series. The juicy refresher once again proves that serious yum is being produced at this Michigan winery. The winery’s grapes are blended with natural peach, pineapple, and lemon concentrates. With soft carbonation and 6% alcohol and wine-forward flavor, this sipper is enjoyable on its own or alongside light summer fare. Retails for $19.99 for a 4-pack of 12 oz. cans and $48 for a case. Order on Round Barn’s online store.
Colony Cocktails is a Southern company producing gluten-free, wine-based, high-alcohol canned cocktails with all-natural ingredients. According to press materials, “Colony doesn’t need to release a ‘higher alcohol’ version, their ABV’s have ranged from 10.5-11% since the beginning! These bar-quality, ready-to-drink aperitifs are comprised of Sonoma wine, real fruit like lemon and grapefruit, and aromatics like rosemary and lemongrass. The delicious drinks appeal to a refined palate, while the high alcohol content makes these drinks appealing for everyone looking to imbibe efficiently.” Our personal favorite, The Biarritz is a pale yellow, refreshing lemony sipper with a hint of juniper that’s inspired by the French 75—it was a gold award winner at the Canned Cocktail Beverage Competition. A close second favorite in our house is The Tangier—a silver award winner at the same competition—which pours orangey-pink with pleasant notes of grapefruit, rosemary, and cardamom. The Charleston, inspired by French and Italian aperitifs, has spicy notes that pair well with cheese and charcuterie—it also won a gold award at the same competition. Colony Cocktails retail for approx. $19 for a box of 4 cans.
Hairless Dog—an excellent name for a non-alcoholic beer!—is, according to press materials, “the first domestic U.S. 0.0% ABV craft beer brand, with truly alcohol-free products. Our brews are flavor-forward so you celebrate an active social life while making healthy choices. Our brews are for anyone. Whether you still enjoy traditional beers, but sometimes want the flavor profile without the alcohol, or you work from home, are pregnant, a first responder on call, or you’ve simply left alcohol behind for better health. Whatever your story, Hairless Dog is here for you to enjoy with 0.0% alcohol and 0 regrets.” The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company recently expanded to the East Coast starting production in Atlanta, Ga. We sampled three of its brews, all of which pour into a glass with a foamy head. Black Ale, our personal favorite, is dark and malty. IPA is a hoppy quaffer with enough hop flavor to be interesting yet not too much to overwhelm the palate. Citra Lager has a funky citrus note that you will either love or not, and it’s worth a try to find out; my husband favors this version as his “lawn-moving ‘beer’.” Retails for approx. $9/case. Find a complete list of locations carrying these products here.
Rightside Brewing, a craft non-alcoholic brewery in Georgia, just reformulated its IPA from its inaugural batch in March. According to press materials, “This new batch has a bit more body and is hoppier than the first.” I never sampled the first batch, but this batch impresses. Note that I am no fan of IPAs—it’s too easy to toss an excessive amount of hops into a brew to hide flaws; it requires much more skill to craft a well-balanced beer—so I sipped this with some trepidation. To my pleasant surprise, it’s yum! Can you taste hops? Yes. Do the hops stomp your taste buds into dazed oblivion? No! Count me among its fans. Retails for approx. $16 for a 6-pack.
A2 MILK removes the A1 protein from milk, which can ease ‘dairy-induced’ digestive issues. According to press materials, “The A2 protein was identified by Dr. Corran McLachlan (and founder of The a2 Milk Company) in 2000. Dr. Corran discovered that proteins in milk affect people differently. Published research over the last two decades demonstrates that people who have discomfort while drinking ordinary cows’ milk were able to comfortably and enjoyable drink a2 milk since it does not contain the a1 protein, a commonly overlooked irritant for some people in most store-bought milk. While some might still experience discomfort due to true lactose intolerance, a major share of people have found that the a1 protein was the root of their dairy digestion issues.” A2 Milk is worth a try if this is an issue for you. It comes in a range of varieties (skim, 2%, etc.) and tastes like milk. It’s enjoyable alongside a cookie, atop cereal, in a latte, or however you use milk. Retails for approx. $4 for 59 fluid ounces.
Unless otherwise noted, all suggested retail prices are for a 750ml bottle.
Be a responsible grownup: Never drink and drive.
Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.