Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pinnacle Whipped Vodka

The well-governed State of Vermont has a fantastic** website which listed information about the content of alcohol for sale there.

(** as in "wonderful")

One of my daughter's possibly not quite so well-governed friends brought over a magnum of fantastic* flavored vodka which piqued my curiosity about the abuse of perfectly good alcohol.

(* as in "unbelievable")

Here is the Vermont info:

Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
Whipped cream-flavored vodka imported from France. Handcrafted in small batches and quadruple distilled with spring water from the Champagne region of France. The time-honored recipe has been handed down from generation to generation. Pinnacle Whipped Cream is a light, sweet combination of vodka, vanilla and cream.

you can mix 2 oz. Pinnacle Whipped Flavored Vodka with 4 oz. of ginger ale for a 'Whipped Cream Soda.' Or you can make a Key Lime Pie-tini. The possibilities are simply endless.

I will say that it is a curiously clear liquid, for something containing cream and vanilla. But who am I to quibble? It actually tastes pretty good. Like candy. Like something which can cause you to ingest mightily, not even noticing the alcohol, then make you want to go out driving, or performing brain surgery . . .

Friday, December 24, 2010

Vintage European Posters

On Maui there is a wonderful little store which you should visit and dawdle in, if you are ever on that island. It's in Lahaina, on Front Street, facing the channel and Molokai.

Employees with gloved hands show you as many of their hundreds of thousands of vintage posters as you can stand. Many of them are by pretty famous artists, such as Capiello, and date from 1900 to the present. A giant wine-related poster from 1920, by a great artist, might set you back about $700. These are original prints, not reproductions. The variety and colors and skill are amazing. Many reveal a wonderful bit of whimsy.

I found a real treasure (OK, two): In 1905 some French chaps put together the Ampellographie, a seven-volume set of the world's best depiction of all the world's winegrapes, with lots of written information about each variety. This set includes many grapes that are now thought to be extinct. We think of animal extinction but how often do we consider plant extinction? Each set of books includes about 500 color plates and many more black and white ones. Each plate was stone-lithographed; the color plates were done by printing each color separately, in multiple printings. The process is so exacting that it took about seven years just to print enough for 250 sets of these books. Many of those sets were lost in World Wars 1 and 2; this store has a set which they'll sell to you for just $14,000. Another set is for sale online at another bookstore for $13,000. But this Maui store also found a partial set of volumes, and they stripped out the color plates, and sold each one for $400. Guess who came and bought almost all of them? California winery owners, of course, so as you taste through Napa and Sonoma, you might scan the walls for color grape prints--just look for "Ampellographie and 1905" on the print. By the time I got there, they had only three color plates left. I bought the best one of those--an obscure white grape, Gradiska. It's grown in Bessarabia, which is now called Mondovia, a tiny country in the former USSR which runs north-south and is bordered on the south by the Black Sea. It is the most amazing artistic quality you can imagine. The color printing is amazing.
The second treasure I found was a 1937 Damiani label created by the famous Italian artist Capiello. He drew a comely lass adorned with grapes, for a liqueur called Quinquina--it has a double shot of quinine in it and was made on Corsica. The border of the label is 10k gold! It is lovely.
They have SO many posters there that a nearby warehouse cannot hold them all. The employees are highly educated art history majors (in case you know any who might need a job using that knowledge). Allan Dickar is the owner. What a great business! I give it my very highest recommendation!

Maui's Winery

If the San Juan Islands can have a winery, why not Maui? Tedeschi Winery is about 20 years old, and is located close to Kihei as the crow flies but to drive to it one must go Upcountry and then way past the squiggly road up to Haleakala (10,500' dormant volcano).

They have a vineyard a mile northwest that was full of Ruby Cabernet (a Cabernet sauvignon hybrid), but with 365 days a year of warm, humid weather even the disease-resistant hybrids cannot long survive here. And to simulate winter they strip the leaves off the vines, but because of the warm weather the vines merely start up the growth cycle again.

So the winemakers make vinifera wines in California, and then ship them in bulk [on ships! a 3-week (and possibly hot?) voyage] to Maui for "finishing." I humbly submit that is not the preferred way to make vinifera wine (and I'm sure the winemakers know that). However, the winery has spent decades perfecting pineapple wine. They have a dry white still version, a sweeter pineapple-passionfruit version ("Maui Splash"), and a bubbly version. Wow! They were fun to try, though a metallic aftertaste holds my score for them to the low 80s, max. If you find yourself on Maui, you should go to the winery. It's cool, up there in the clouds at 2000'. Gorgeous. Green, with black stone field walls, like Ireland.
That's Noni in the photo. The tasting room has a wonderful bar made from Mango wood.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2008 Adelsheim Elizabeth's Reserve Pinot noir

My friend Nick recommended this wine, so I tried it during the Thanksgiving open houses. It is a great wine. Now, Matt Kramer (the Oregonian's wine writer) has written how great it is. He says yes it is $50, but it's worth it. It's from the vintage generally considered Oregon's best ever. It demonstrates great concentration, depth and nuance, and this may be the best Elizabeth's ever. I loved its nose which emphasized violets and fruit, with the requisite barnyard just a subtle note in the background, and I loved its richness and complexity on the palate. It's best bought now and laid down.

I was fortunate to be given a private tour by Adelsheim's winemaker, which afforded plenty of time to learn a lot about this wine and his winemaking theory. I'm a fan. And I offer this one at $40. While it lasts. Contact me!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

An old, great WA cab

1998 Apex Cabernet sauvignon: We opened this last night with steaks and potatoes au gratin. Wow! I bought it at the winery in 2002 for $30. At twelve years, it is magnificent. The bouquet yields a burst of purple fruits, leather, and violets. In the mouth it was so rich and jammy you could literally chew it by pushing it against the roof of your mouth. The tannins were silk. The flavor came in waves. Each sip brought a big smile to our mouths.

Incredible. Who cares if Spectator gave it 88 points and noted a smoky element? I give it 95 points and there was no smoke in mine at all.

PS-Apex used to sell wines from the old Sunnyside Dairy building. I believe Apex is long gone now, and Owen Roe makes its WA wines in that building.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Who says the Romans weren't brilliant?

"Why do strong arms fatigue themselves with frivolous dumbbells? To dig a vineyard is worthier exercise for men!"

Marcus Valerius Martialis, 40AD-103AD

How Climate Change's Extreme Weather Events Affect Grapes and Wine:

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