Monday, October 5, 2015

Water of Life, Scotland Version

It was a good evening last Friday as a group of friends got together to polish off the remains of a number of bottles of Scottish Whisky.  All but one had less than eight ounces left in them so the collection proved to be an interesting evening.  Pictured above are a bottle of Dalwhinnie Distiller's Edition, a Highland whisky from what I understand is the distillery with the highest elevation in Scotland, and a bottle of Kilchoman, a somewhat new, craft distillery from Islay.  The Dalwhinnie was elegant and refined and the Kilchoman was was raw and wild.  I was not in an elegant mood and I preferred the Kilchoman.

Next up was a Glenmorangie finished in a Sauterne cask and an Oban Distillers Edition with a 1995 distilling date.  Both of these were quite elegant and tasty and much more refined than the previous two.  The Glenmorangie is another Highland malt and had a bit of smoke and a bit of earth to it.  The Oban is a coastal malt and had a secondary maturation in a sherry cask.  It had seaweed notes and a distinctly orange flavor, rather like a glass of Drambuie without the sweetness.  The Oban was my contribution to the evening.  You will notice the bottle is empty.

The one exception to the small content of the bottles was the Laphroaig QA cask, a double matured Islay available only at duty free shops.  We drank the first sips from this bottle.  Smoke and peat and iodine were everywhere, but they were in such good balance that this whisky had a touch of elegance to it.  Not for the faint of heart - but definitely for me.

And that brings us to another product from Islay, Lagavulin, a very near neighbor to Lagavulin.  This was the regular 16 year old bottling.  There is elegance here to go along with incredible smokiness.  Full flavored and rich and hearty.  If the gods told me that I could only have one whisky from anywhere this would be the one.  Not surprising that my late Gordon Setter was formally named Dunbar's Lagavulin.   Indeed this is the water of life.  A great evening.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


A few brief notes on the pig roast:

While the 2005 Vieux Telegraph Chateauneuf du Pape discussed a couple of posts below was a very good wine it was a little overpowering for the roast pig.  The crowd favorite turned out to be a 2010 Fontodi Chianti Classico, at least from how quickly the bottle was drained.  And while there was barbecue sauce and other accompaniments for the pig that called for beer, the Chianti was near perfect with the pig dressed simply with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.

It was such a typical Chianti.  There were earthy aromas mixed in with fresh fruit.  The wine was full of soft tannin and dry, red cherry flavors.  It was tart with acid and and finished with a great length bringing to mind thoughts of early autumn.  A beautiful combination.

2010 Fontodi Chianti Classico.  14% alcohol and $30.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cocktail Hour

A rye Manhattan with orange bitters

“Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it’s time to drink.” Haruki Murukami

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An Old Friend

The twice delayed pig roast finally got off the ground last Saturday and with a good crowd came some good wines.  One that stood out from the crowd was a 2005 a Domaine du Vieux Telegraph, La Crau, a Chateauneuf de Pape.

A long,long time ago in a galaxy far away I owned and drank my fair share of Chateauneuf de Pape, but over the years the wines kept getting bigger and bigger and higher and higher in alcohol.  They stepped over the line for me a decade ago.  Nonetheless I plunged into this one without trepidation.  After one sip I got an empty glass and spent about five minutes pouring the wine back and forth between the two glasses to open it up a little.  It helped, but a few more hours would have helped more.

This is a very tight and dense wine.  I could smell clean leather, fruit and spice. It had a ton of ripe blackberry flavors with bits of oak and cinnamon added in to the mix.  The tannin was still strong and the acid was good, but there was still a bit of alcohol burn on the finish.  Produced from a blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault.
2005 a Domaine du Vieux Telegraph, La Crau.  15% alcohol and $90.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Hemingway Daiquiri

Hemingway Daiquiri

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”  ― Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Autumn Fruit and Willi Schaefer


It was a great summer for agriculture in this area with almost ideal growing conditions and plenty of moisture.  The local market is full of fully ripe tree fruit.  The pears looked very good the other day and the result was a pear tart made with frozen puff pastry with cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, salt and sugar mixed in with the pear slices.   

The wine was a 2005 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Auslese #9 in a 375 ml bottle.  I love it when the first sip of wine makes one pause, look at the glass and think what a wonderful thing someone has made.  The golden color looked like fall in the glass, and aromas of apples, pears, pineapple and spices were not at all shy about expressing themselves.  It was wonderfully sweet but with so much acid that it was refreshing.  It tasted mostly of fully ripe apples and pears, and that taste lingered and lingered. 

It was wonderful with the tart, but it would have been just as great by itself.

2005 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Auslese #9.  7.5% alcohol and $55 a few years ago.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


"The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many."
-   Oliver Wendell Holmes