Category: Tasting Notes

Winning Spirits: Results from the First Annual Spirited Craft Distillers Spirits Competition

The inaugural Craft Distillers Spirits Competition took place at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Calif. over two days in December, 2017. The competition was created in conjunction with the upcoming Spirited International Spirits Trade Tasting & Show, February 27, 2018 (also at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds). “For a first-year event launched late in the fall, less than 150 entries were received in time to be evaluated, but I think this lent the competition an exclusive feel for both judges and entrants,” says Debra Del Fiorentino, owner of Wine Competitions Management & Productions, which produced the event in...

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5 to Try: Pétillant Naturel

Pétillant naturel, aka Pét-Nat, is the original way sparkling wines were made before the advent of méthode champenoise, which is why it’s also known as méthode ancienne. Basically, it’s wine that’s still fermenting, which means it’s far less labor-intensive, not to mention far less time-consuming and expensive, than its better-known counterpart. Because Pét-Nat is not filtered, it can have a cloudy appearance, especially with rosés and reds. Unlike Champagne, which undergoes two fermentations, the second of which happens in the bottle and can take months (if not years), Pét-Nat is youthful and effervescent—sometimes to the point of being explosive....

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5 to Try: Winter Ales

Our species has been using colder weather and holiday seasons as an excuse to drink special beer for centuries. Whether Christmas/holiday ales, winter warmers, old ales, juleøl, jólabjór, or myriad other titles, the seasonal releases of the coldest months tend to aggregate around a core set of distinctions: often stronger in alcohol, darker in color (with a heavier focus on the malt contributions), and frequently spiced. But a quick glance at Sierra Nevada’s hop-focused Celebration—zero spices; malt in the back seat—reminds us how variable those bounds are. Ultimately, consumers tend to be a bit more inclined to embrace sweeter,...

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Winning Wines: Results of the 2017 Harvest Challenge

Although it’s often used in reference to a choice slice of mom’s apple pie or a great deal on a fancy new car, the phrase, “We saved the best for last,” also applies to the 1,062 wines that were tasted at the prestigious Harvest Challenge Wine Competition, which took place at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Calif., November 14 and 15. As the final large-scale international wine-judging event of the year, this annual competition has earned a reputation for providing producers of the top medal-winning wines with the true sense of accomplishment, and prestige. This critical acclaim...

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5 to Try: A sampling of canned beverages for thirsty adults

At first, I was a wee bit skeptical, but I’ve become a complete fan of cans. They sure beat hauling around bottles of wine, cider, or big jugs of cocktails when you’re going to a game, hiking, camping, motorcycling, or hanging out at the beach. Here are five makers who hit the mark. (For more on canned beverages, read “Yes We Can.”)   Backpack Wines These cute, beautifully decorated 250mL cans really are perfect for purses and backpacks. The rosé, made of Pinot Blanc and Sangiovese from Washington state, offers crisp peach and strawberry flavors, with a nice tartness. Bright...

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