Monday, July 22, 2019

Wonton Tacos Recipe!

Wonton Tacos!

It's Monday and that means tomorrow is Taco Tuesday! Instead of using regular taco shells, I'm gonna show you how to make taco cups with wontons! It's one of our favorite meals in Casa Casco and I swear it's about to be a favorite in your home as well.

WHAT YOU NEED

Ground beef
Taco seasoning
Uncooked wontons
Salsa
Shredded Mexican cheese
Your favorite fixin's like lettuce and jalapenos, etc
Nonstick spray
A muffin pan

WHAT YOU DO

1. Set your oven to 375˚F
2. Cook that beef in a pan with the tacos seasoning
3. Spray the muffin pan with nonstick spray
4. Place two wontons in each muffin pocket, but with the corners of the top one aligned with the sides of the bottom one (see pictures)
5. Put some taco meat in each cup
6. Sprinkle some cheese for melting on there too
7. Bake until the wonton corners start to turn brown. Be very careful and watch closely because they can go from perfectly crispy to burnt in moments.
8. Serve it up!

Yeah, man. These little things are just sooooo goooood. Enjoy!

Wonton Tacos!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Wine Review: Left Coast Cellars "Queen Bee Bubbly" Sparking Pinot Noir 2017


I've done plenty of reviews of Left Coast Cellars' wines over the years, and you can read them all by clicking hereThis winery is out of Willamette Valley, Oregon and was founded in 2003. With 350 acres of land and 130 acres of vineyards, they use sustainable viticulture to produce only estate-grown wine. They're LIVE Certified Sustainable, Salmon Safe Certified, and are one of fourteen wineries to complete the Oregon Environmental Council's Carbon Reduction Challenge. All of the power for the guest cottages, the front gate, and the vineyard irrigation is run by solar power, and use a big chunk of their land for their Oak Savanna Restoration Project. They are very environmentally conscious.

This time around I've got some of the brand new vintages just released in 2019! There's a quickie of the 2018 White Pinot Noir, a full review of the 2018 Rosé, a quickie of the 2017 Pinot Gris, and a full review of the 2018 Queen Bee Bubbly. (Hopefully I remember to update those links as they're published)

The 2018 Queen Bee Bubbly is entirely from the Wädenswil clone of Pinot Noir. It's a sustainably farmed sparkling rosé that was fermented in 100% French oak and saw 10 months of aging. What's super cool about this stuff is that they use honey from their estate honey bees as the source of sugar for the secondary fermentation that creates the carbonation, so there's actual honey in this wine! The final ABV is 12%, and rather than a cork or screwcap it's topped off with a bottle cap.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Wine Quickie: Left Coast Cellars Pinot Gris 2017


So I received the 2017 Pinot Gris instead of the new 2018, and I previously had this vintage last summer. But, hey! I don't mind doing another quickie of the same vintage! This is 91% Pinot Gris and 9% Pinot Blanc, and it'll cost you about $18. There's aromas of green apple, yellow pear, orange blossom, and walnuts. It's full bodied with a smooth mouthfeel and a lively acidity, with flavors of green apple, yellow pear, honeydew melon, and wet stone. Another year older and it's still just as good!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Wine Review: Left Coast Cellars Rosé 2018


I've done plenty of reviews of Left Coast Cellars' wines over the years, and you can read them all by clicking hereThis winery is out of Willamette Valley, Oregon and was founded in 2003. With 350 acres of land and 130 acres of vineyards, they use sustainable viticulture to produce only estate-grown wine. They're LIVE Certified Sustainable, Salmon Safe Certified, and are one of fourteen wineries to complete the Oregon Environmental Council's Carbon Reduction Challenge. All of the power for the guest cottages, the front gate, and the vineyard irrigation is run by solar power, and use a big chunk of their land for their Oak Savanna Restoration Project. They are very environmentally conscious.

This time around I've got some of the brand new vintages just released in 2019! There's a quickie of the 2018 White Pinot Noir, a full review of the 2018 Rosé, a quickie of the 2017 Pinot Gris, and a full review of the 2018 Queen Bee Bubbly. (Hopefully I remember to update those links as they're published)

The 2018 Rosé is 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Pinot Meunier from sustainably farmed vineyards in Willamette Valley. What really makes this interesting rosé and different is that it was barrel fermented and aged for oak for six months in 100% French oak. Not something you see everyday, right? The final ABV is 13.7%, so it's a hell of a dry one.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Video Unboxing: Forbidden Geek Horror Comics Mystery Box #1


I grew up a HUGE fan of EC Comics (Tales from the Crypt, Haunt of Fear, Vault of Horror). The 1990's reprints are an important part of my chidhood. I'm also an enormous fan of DC Comics (Superman, Batman, The Flash) and after purchasing and unboxing two DC Comics Mystery Boxes from Forbidden Geek, I found out that they were coming out with Horror Boxes. HORROR COMIC MYSTERY BOXES? Shut up and take my money!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Just Brew It, Part Two: Making Sake


If you haven't read Part One: A brief history of Sake then go ahead and check it out. Or not. It's not required reading for this article, but Sake's history is a fascinating one.

In the next two parts of this trilogy I'm going to give you a run-down on the things that you NEED to know if you want to start getting into Sake while I consciously leave out the things you don't (unless you want to become an expert), and here's why:

Sake is actually not a hard thing to understand, and learning about it has felt the least like work than anything else in my alcohol related education. What makes it hard is the words and terminology. Myself as an English-only speaking person, at least with wine I'm mostly dealing with languages that are also based on Latin like French and Italian, so learning things like Methode Champenoise is not a big deal. However, Japanese is a whole other thing and the terminology can be pretty hard to grasp. For example: Seimaibuai. See what I mean?

I have thoroughly enjoyed this Sake adventure that I've been on and I want you to get as interested in this category as I am, so I'm going to do my best to provide some Sake education without scaring you away with an overload of information. But that also doesn't mean we're not gonna get nerdy. So let's begin! Welcome to the world of Sake!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Wine Quickie: Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir 2018


I look forward to getting the new vintages of Left Coast's wine every year, and it's another awesome vintage for their White Pinot Noir! This is sustainably farmed and made from 93% Pinot Noir and 7% Pinot Blanc. It was fermented and aged for five months in 100% stainless steel. There's aromas of peaches, orange, elderflower, and grass. On the palate it's got a lovely silky mouthfeel on a medium to full body with very bright acidity and a flinty minerality. There's flavors of peaches, pears, melon, and spearmint. It has a citrusy and salivatingly tart finish. So good. So, so good.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Wine Review: Dane Cellars DesNudos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvigon 2015


Bart Hansen is the founder and winemaker of Dane Cellars and just from the brief conversation I had with him over the phone two years ago I could tell he's just one hell of a guy. Funny, open, honest, and kind, with a big heart full of passion and love. Bart started off in the industry during harvest; trucking grapes from the vineyard down a hill, five tons at a time. In 1986 he started winemaking for Kenwood, and then hopped over to Benziger in 1998. But he left Benziger to become a stay at home dad to his son Dane. And when he felt like he needed to get back in the game, he founded Dane Cellars in 2007.

You can read all the reviews I've written on Bart's wine under the Dane Cellars label for the blog, but this time I'm reviewing his 2016 Valeria2016 Chenin Blanc2016 Zinfandel, and 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. (PS: I still have a bottle of his 2012 Justi Creek Cabernet Sauvignon that I'm waiting to open on a special occasion and can't wait to see how it evolved)

The DesNudos Vineyard is located on the southern end of the Mayacamas Mountains, and in the 1940's it was a nudist colony known as Sun-o-ma. This 2015 Cabernet from that property is 100% Cabernet that spent 5 days cold soaking, three weeks fermenting with the skins, pressed when dry, and then saw 26 months in French oak barrels. Only 150 cases were produced and it has an ABV of 14.8%.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Fleming's Uncorked Wine Experience with Duckhorn Vineyards

Fleming's Uncorked Wine Experience with Duckhorn Vineyards

This summer Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is promoting Duckhorn Vineyards with tastings of their wines all throughout the month of July, and I'm super bummed that I'm unable to attend. Even though I only live an hour and twenty minutes away from their Boston location, I also live on Cape Cod. This is tourist and traffic season and the busiest time of the year for me, so I'm hunkered down here on the Cape and keeping busy!

But still Fleming's was awesome enough to send me a little box of goodies anyways! I've got a Fleming's corkscrew and wine glass tag, a sweeeeeeeet Duckhorn Corkcicle cup that keeps whatever you put in there warm or cold, some little chocolate ducks from Napa Valley's Woodhouse, a flash drive with the following press release, and a 375 ml bottle of Duckhorn Chardonnay. I'm sipping on that Chard and nibbling on that chocolate right now and they're both just so good! Thank you, Fleming's! That Corkcicle cup is gonna be my new favorite thing! And hopefully I'll be able to participate in your next Uncorked!

INTRODUCING AN “UNCORKED WINE EXPERIENCE” FROM FLEMING’S PRIME STEAKHOUSE & WINE BAR FEATURING SIX DISTINGUISHED WINES FROM THE DUCKHORN PORTFOLIO

Sip through as many of the six luxurious wines to create your own personalized wine experience for $28* per guest with dinner

Tampa, Fla. (July 1, 2019) – Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is offering guests a whole new way to enjoy wine with dinner…personalized. Beginning July 1, guests are invited to sip through as many of the six distinguished wines as they’d like from the Duckhorn Portfolio as part of its new “Uncorked Wine Experience” for $28* per guest with dinner. 

Fleming's Uncorked Wine Experience with Duckhorn Vineyards
“Discovering wine is a promise we make to our guests, and we are delighted to deliver on that promise with our inaugural summer Uncorked wine experience,” said Stephen Blevins, Director of Wine, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. “For four decades, the Duckhorn name has been known for optimal grape selection, innovative winemaking techniques and a premium barrel-aging program.”

The “Uncorked Wine Experience” offers guests the opportunity to create their own personalized wine experience while discovering as many of the six featured wines as they would like during their dinner.  

Decoy Rose California: This lovely Rose displays enticing aromas of pink grapefruit and fresh melon along with hints of strawberry and spring wild flowers. Suggested pairings include Beef Carpaccio or Burrata with Prosciutto. 

Decoy Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County: This bright and aromatic wine offers enticing layers of lemon and lime zest. Suggested pairings include Sweet Chili Calamari or Fleming’s Salad.

Duckhorn Chardonnay Napa Valley: This is an intense and complex expression of Napa Valley Chardonnay, with alluring aromas of nectarine, yellow plum, pineapple upside-down cake and sweet spices. Suggested pairings include Shrimp Cocktail, Lobster Bisque or Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass.

Fleming's Uncorked Wine Experience with Duckhorn Vineyards
Calera Pinot Noir Central Coast: A recent addition to the Duckhorn portfolio, this wine is crafted using grapes from a handful of the finest vineyards on the Central Coast, this alluring Pinot Noir offers lovely aromatics, soft, velvety tannins and vibrant fruit. Suggested pairings include Pork Tomahawk or Main Filet Mignon.

Duckhorn Merlot Napa Valley: This is a beautifully complex expression of Napa Valley Merlot, with inviting aromas of fresh raspberry, vanilla, tea leaves, pie crust and licorice. Suggested pairings include Prime New York Strip or Barbecue Scottish Salmon Fillet.

Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley: A classic expression of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine combines beautiful complexity with rich intensity. Suggested pairings include Prime Bone-in Ribeye or Bone-in Filet Mignon.

Fleming’s guests will also have the opportunity to enter the Uncorked sweepstakes from July 1 through July 31, 2019 for a chance to win a trip for two to Napa Valley. For details of the sweepstakes and additional information on Uncorked, visit http://www.flemingssteakhouse.com/uncorkedsweeps.

*Pricing and participation vary by location. Visit www.flemingssteakhouse.com for more information. 

About Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Nationally acclaimed Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar offers the best in steakhouse dining – here you'll find a passion for steak and wine, reflected in an exceptional menu of hand-cut steaks, an award-winning list of wines by the glass, and seasonal menu selections showcasing locally-inspired chef dishes. Fleming's was launched in Newport Beach, California, in 1998 by successful restaurant industry veterans Paul Fleming and Bill Allen. Today there are 70 restaurants nationwide and one in São Paulo, Brazil. Fleming's is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including Wine Spectator's annual Award of Excellence. For more information about Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, please visit www.FlemingsSteakhouse.com.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Wine Review: Dane Cellars Gopher Run Zinfandel 2016

Dane Cellars Gopher Run Zinfandel 2016

Bart Hansen is the founder and winemaker of Dane Cellars and just from the brief conversation I had with him over the phone two years ago I could tell he's just one hell of a guy. Funny, open, honest, and kind, with a big heart full of passion and love. Bart started off in the industry during harvest; trucking grapes from the vineyard down a hill, five tons at a time. In 1986 he started winemaking for Kenwood, and then hopped over to Benziger in 1998. But he left Benziger to become a stay at home dad to his son Dane. And when he felt like he needed to get back in the game, he founded Dane Cellars in 2007.

You can read all the reviews I've written on Bart's wine under the Dane Cellars label for the blog, but this time I'm reviewing his 2016 Valeria2016 Chenin Blanc2016 Zinfandel, and 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. (PS: I still have a bottle of his 2012 Justi Creek Cabernet Sauvignon that I'm waiting to open on a special occasion and can't wait to see how it evolved)

The Gopher's Run Zinfandel is so new that it's not even available on DaneCellars.com yet! So because of that, I don't have any winemaking information. But that's okay! After you try this Zinfandel out you won't even care as long as it gets in your belly!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Cocktail Recipes: Vodkatini and Manhattan with González Byass Vermouth La Copa


I know what you're thinking! "These two cocktails are ridiculously basic!" and you're absolutely right! So why am I even doing this? Whelp... because both of the Vermouths involved use Sherry as their base wine. That's right! Sherry!

So rather than get convoluted and technical and fancy and add a bunch of things that would take away from your first experience with a Sherry-based Vermouth, it's better to keep it basic, right? Right! Plus, dammit Jim, I'm a wine guy not a mixologist! So let's start drinkin'!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Wine Quickie: Scaia Rosato 2018

Scaia Rosato 2018

This is one hell of a yummy and juicy Rosato! It's made from 100% Rondinella in Veneto, Italy. The color of the wine is pale pink and on the nose there's aromas of rose petals, tangerines, strawberries, and raspberry-lime seltzer. On the palate it's medium bodied with a lush mouthfeel but a tangy acidity. It's like biting into a big juicy watermelon, with tangerines, strawberries, and lime joining in. Oh, I'm really diggin' this one! It's delicious with a cheerful personality! Snatch it up if you see it!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Wine Review: Dane Cellars Buddah's Dharma Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2016

Dane Cellars Buddahs' Dharma Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2016

Bart Hansen is the founder and winemaker of Dane Cellars and just from the brief conversation I had with him over the phone two years ago I could tell he's just one hell of a guy. Funny, open, honest, and kind, with a big heart full of passion and love. Bart started off in the industry during harvest; trucking grapes from the vineyard down a hill, five tons at a time. In 1986 he started winemaking for Kenwood, and then hopped over to Benziger in 1998. But he left Benziger to become a stay at home dad to his son Dane. And when he felt like he needed to get back in the game, he founded Dane Cellars in 2007.

You can read all the reviews I've written on Bart's wine under the Dane Cellars label for the blog, but this time I'm reviewing his 2016 Valeria2016 Chenin Blanc2016 Zinfandel, and 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. (PS: I still have a bottle of his 2012 Justi Creek Cabernet Sauvignon that I'm waiting to open on a special occasion and can't wait to see how it evolved)

This is 100% Chenin Blanc from the Buddah's Dharma Vineyard in Mendocino County that was whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel, and aged in stainless steel, French oak, and concrete barrels, and saw time on the lees for about five months. Only 175 cases were made and it has a final ABV of  13.1%.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Wine Quickie: Scaia Garganega Chardonnay 2018

Scaia Garganega / Chardonnay 2018

This crisp summer refresher from Trevenezie, Italy, is 55% Garganega and 45% Chardonnay. The nose is spectacular with aromas of jasmine, white flowers, lime, melon, and orange. Those are all repeated on the palate, but in a softer manner. It's light bodied with a surprisingly round mouthfeel and a zippy acidity, and the crispy grapefruity/limey finish goes on for days. It is what it is. Light, crisp, refreshing, and DELICIOUS. It wouldn't be hard to down this whole bottle in twenty minutes. Who wants fish tacos?

Friday, July 5, 2019

Saké Quickie: Ty Ku Junmai "White"


This Japanese saké should be widely available and it's not that hard to identify among all the other sakés at your liquor store. Just look at that bottle! Ty Ku has a "Black" Junmai Ginjo, a "Silver" Junmai, and even Cucumber saké and Coconut saké, but this is their "White" Junmai. It's light and clean and simple and smooth, with pears and melon and a little bit of booziness on the finish. It's just a mellow and relaxing saké that you can rely on in a pinch. Ty Ku produces a solid product on every tier for the price.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Wine Review: Dane Cellars Valeria 2016


Bart Hansen is the founder and winemaker of Dane Cellars and just from the brief conversation I had with him over the phone two years ago I could tell he's just one hell of a guy. Funny, open, honest, and kind, with a big heart full of passion and love. Bart started off in the industry during harvest; trucking grapes from the vineyard down a hill, five tons at a time. In 1986 he started winemaking for Kenwood, and then hopped over to Benziger in 1998. But he left Benziger to become a stay at home dad to his son Dane. And when he felt like he needed to get back in the game, he founded Dane Cellars in 2007.

You can read all the reviews I've written on Bart's wine under the Dane Cellars label for the blog, but this time I'm reviewing his 2016 Valeria, 2016 Chenin Blanc, 2016 Zinfandel, and 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. (PS: I still have a bottle of his 2012 Justi Creek Cabernet Sauvignon that I'm waiting to open on a special occasion and can't wait to see how it evolved)

The 2016 Valeria is a Rhone Ranger blend of 55% Grenache, 38% Syrah, and 7% Mourvédre from Sonoma Valley. It was fermented in open top tanks, punched down by hand, and aged in French oak barrels for 18 months, and it has a 15.5% ABV. I wonder if the name Valeria has anything to do with Game of Thrones???

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Beer Quickie: Devil's Purse Handline Kölsch


There are plenty of damn good breweries here on Cape Cod and the Islands but Devil's Purse in South Dennis is something special. Although I love their Imperial Stout the most, today is definitely a day for Kölsch! Their Handline Kölsch is a slightly hazy dark gold in color. It's light bodied with a bready midpalate mouthfeel. There's a little grassiness to its profile of lemon, pears, sour dough, caramel, and spices, and it finishes with deliciously sweet malt, a touch of bitter hops, and a boat load of refreshingness. This is a solid summer thirst quencher.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Wine Quickie Revisit: Rodney Strong Rosé of Pinot Noir 2018


So back in May I had the pleasure to join the #PinkSociety chat on Twitter and I seemed to be the only one who wasn't digging this wine. Well, it turns out that there were multiple reports of bottle shock in Massachusetts for this particular wine and I must have gotten one... because I have a second bottle here and it's drinking much better! It's zippier than the last bottle, has better fruit expression, and it's less peppery. There's tart raspberry, juicy watermelon, and white peach. And it finishes refreshingly crisp with a bit of watermelon Jolly Rancher, some white pepper, and nice tart acidity. Yup! This is exactly what I was missing out on! It's delicious and I'm very happy that I gave it another shot!

Monday, July 1, 2019

July Wine Pick: Bieler Family "Daisy" Pinot Grigio 2017

Bieler Family "Daisy" Pinot Grigio 2017

It's July and I've got a lot of good stuff lined up! Dane Cellars returns with four full wine reviews, and Left Coast comes back as well with two full reviews and two quickies. For other full reviews I've got a Godello and a Mencia from Spain, and a Chardonnay from Marshal Davis. For quickies I'm revisiting Rodney Strong Rosé to see if I had a faulty bottle, three Italian whites and a rosé, two Vermouths, Artezin Zinfandel makes another appearance, more canned wine, and... frozen rosé??? Of course, as always, things will be added as the month moves along.

I'm hoping to get Part 2 of my Saké articles up. Also, Wine Bloggers Off-Topic #3 is about our most inspirational historical figure, so if you want to join in then just email me at joeycasco80@gmail.com.

So I was at a spring trade tasting this year and the salesperson had marked a bunch of stuff in the book that she wanted me to try. When I literally had five minutes before I had to leave, I quickly looked through the book to find one item she had suggested instead of a whole table... and then I saw one arrow with a heart that she had drawn next to it... and it's name was Daisy. The name of my two-year old. That was it, I had to try it. And it was delicious!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Wine Review: Hazelfern Cellars Pinot Noir 2017

Hazelfern Pinot Noir 2017

The land that has been Hazelfern Cellars since 2014 was once Hazel Fern Farms, circa 1895. Bryan and Laura Laing come from winemaking families who taught them everything they know about winemaking and they've been making wine together since 2006. But they decided to buy vineyard land when a young cousin passed away and made them realize that life is short, so they went all in! The other two wines that they produce are Rosé and Syrah, but the ones I've got are their 2017 Chardonnay and 2017 Pinot Noir.

This is 100% Pommard clone Pinot Noir from the Robinson Family Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains. It spent 8 days cold soaking, 8 days fermenting, and then went into 100% French oak, 25% of it new, for 12 months. It has a 13.2% ABV.

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate and Wine Pairing

Guest post by Nicholas Rubright of Jordan Winery

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate and Wine Pairing

When it comes to wine and chocolate, there are several similarities. For example, both are used in Valentine’s Day advertisements, and both are made up of antioxidants making them heart-healthy when consumed in moderation.

But do wine and chocolate pair well together? Of course they do!

The rules to wine pairing are tricky, and when you’re trying to pair wine with chocolate, this is no exception.

I’ve put together this guide to help you match your wines with the right chocolate.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Wine Review: Hazelfern Cellars Chardonnay 2017

Hazelfern Chardonnay 2017

The land that has been Hazelfern Cellars since 2014 was once Hazel Fern Farms, circa 1895. Bryan and Laura Laing come from winemaking families who taught them everything they know about winemaking and they've been making wine together since 2006. But they decided to buy vineyard land when a young cousin passed away and made them realize that life is short, so they went all in! The other two wines that they produce are Rosé and Syrah, but the ones I've got are their 2017 Chardonnay and 2017 Pinot Noir.

This is 100% Chardonnay from two different vineyard sites using the clones of Dijon 76, 95, and 96. It went through a 35 day fermentation, six months attaining full malolactic fermentation, and 11 months in 100% French oak of which 17% was new. The final ABV is 13%.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wine Quickie: Wente Sandstone Merlot 2015


I had the pleasure to have lunch with Karl Wente in Hyannis back in 2012, and enjoyed a really fascinating conversation about sustainability. He feels doing just a few things things that disqualify you from being fully organic is worth it because it frees you from releasing carbon emissions with diesel tractors. He's a very cool and intelligent guy and it was a good time. Wente's Sandstone Merlot is medium bodied with soft tannin and nose/palate descriptors of blackberries, blueberries, vanilla, and cola. The bright acidity on the finish brings tart black cherries that transition into soft plums and Smarties candy. It's solid, it's delicious, and a shining example of $15 California Merlot.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Cocktail Recipe: Tío Pepe Fino Sherry Dirty Martini

Tío Pepe Fino Sherry Martini

Tío Pepe Fino Sherry is 100% Palomino that sees 4 to 5 years in American oak casks after going through the traditional Solera system. It's a pretty darn good Sherry on its own for the $20 it'll cost you, with that lovely flor yeastiness and nuttiness, but today we're making a cocktail out of this bad boy. Instead of using Vermouth to make a martini, we're using Tío Pepe.

WHAT YOU NEED: 
Cocktail Shaker
2 ounces of gin (I used New Amsterdam)
2 ounces of Tío Pepe Fino Sherry
Green olives

WHAT YOU DO:
1) Drop some ice into your cocktail shaker
2) Pour 2 ounces of Tío Pepe Fino and 2 ounces of gin into the shaker
3) Shake the crap out of it
4) Strain into a glass
5) Plop an olive or three or six and splash some olive juice in there
6) Drink up!

The botanicals of the gin play along really well with the classic flavors of Fino Sherry, but I really do believe that making this martini a dirty one is the key to making it all work. Honestly it's not for everybody and I wouldn't recommend it for people who don't like Sherry or gin or olives (how dare you in all cases), but I'm really enjoying it and making myself another one (or two)! Cheers!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Wine Review: Ashkar Shafaya 2014


This is the last of three wines that I'm reviewing from western Galilee, Israel, in this quick review run for . We started off with the 2016 Julia Samara blend, then did the 2016 Julia Cabernet Sauvignon, and now we're finishing up with the 2014 Askar Shafaya.

From Ahkar's website: Ashkar Winery is a boutique winery located on a pastoral hill in Kfar-Yasif village, where the spectacular view of the ancient olive trees of the Western Galilee region. The winery was founded in 2010 as a continuation of a long tradition, started by the family homeland village "IQRIT" which surrounded with dozens of antique presses used for making wine from grapes growing in the region. Ashkar Winery's wines are produced strictly according to perceptions of “Old World" with a minimum intervention in the process from fermentation and improvement in wooden barrels till the bottling stage. The tradition of winemaking has been passed down within Ashkar family from generation to generation until 1948. This tradition was revived with the establishment of Ashkar winery in 2010.

All I can really find out about this wine is that it's 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Shiraz, and that the grapes were handpicked from selected vineyards planted in the Iqrit Valley. Because this is a brand new item to Terra Sancta, my contact still doesn't have all the winemaking information yet. But that's fine. All you need to know is that this wine will rock your world...

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Wine Quickie: Casa Santos Lima Portugal Red Blend 2017


So I brought this wine home to see if we should carry it at work. It's a red blend of unnamed native Portuguese grapes and it'll run you about $8. There's lots of jammy plums and black cherries all over the nose and palate, along with fine black table pepper, vanilla, and olives. It's medium bodied with a nicely rich mouthfeel, soft tannins, and a bright acidity. It's not bad for the price, although you can do better, and the label would be sure to attract attention.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Best of Spring 2019!

It's officially summer so here are the Top 5 wines that I reviewed this spring!

I reviewed A LOT of wines in the spring, but I was still surprised to see that I handed out EXACTLY five 5/5's. That’s pretty high. And three of them were from one producer! Altaneve dominates the list!

#5. AIX Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Rosé 2018

Region: Provence, France
Review Release: June 1st, 2019 (Wine Pick of the Month)


The color of the wine is just a gorgeous pomelo pink. The floral character on the nose is right up front along with vanilla, and then you get aromas of strawberries, watermelon, citrus, and black pepper. For a Rosé it's got quite the intriguing nose. On the palate it's medium bodied with a borderline rich mouthfeel, perky acidity, and grainy tannin. Watermelon is the head flavor in charge with strawberries, citrus, and black pepper riding along. But citrus takes the wheel on the finish with black pepper looking to spice things up.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $18
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#4. Altaneve (Sparkling) Rosé

Region: Veneto, Italy
Review Release: March 21st, 2019


It's a very light salmon color. I absolutely love the nose. There's some breadiness over aromas of rose petals and Fruity Pebbles (don't even try to act like that's a bad thing). On the palate it's got a crisp and clean acidity but the wine still has a creamy mouthfeel. There's flavors of strawberry yogurt and peaches, and an uplift into green apples on the finish. Outstanding.

READ THE FULL REVIEW WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $33
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


Region: Galilee, Israel
Review Release: June 16th, 2019

The color of the wine is a deep purple. On the nose, oh my goodness, the chocolate! THE CHOCOLATE! There's also plums, raisins, rose petals, black table pepper, and pencil shavings. This wine has an fantastic nose. In fact, SPOILER ALERT, it has a fantastic everything! It's medium bodied with a smooth mouthfeel, soft tannin, and perfectly balanced acidity. There's flavors of plums, black cherries, root beer, chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. Then it finishes with plums and chocolate and some heat from the alcohol.

For $24 this is absolutely killer. KILLER. Mark it up! Perfect score!

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $24
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Region: Veneto, Italy
Review Release: March 24th, 2019


The color of the wine is a very pale yellow. The nose starts off as very floral, and beyond that there's honey and keylime pie. The mouthfeel is wonderfully soft and creamy. There's a little bit of sweetness but it still has a refreshing briskness to it. On the midpalate there's flavors of lime and apple, and on the finish it's pears and ginger and a nice coating of that touch of sweetness.

Oh man. This may be the best Prosecco above $25 that I've ever had. It's fantastic!

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $30
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#1. Altaneve "Z" Prosecco Superiore

Region: Veneto, Italy
Review Release: March 28th, 2019


And hot damn this is some good bubbly! It's pale yellow in color with tiny bubbles. When I first opened it there was one stream of bubbles that went up the side to the top and it was pretty cool. There's aromas of freshly cut pears, white peaches, and white flowers. On the palate it's creamy and fluffy with just the right amount of acidity and tingle. The mouthfeel is perfect. Then for flavors you've got pears and lime peel and a touch of green herbs. That may all sound really simple but when combined all together it's just phenomenal.

Godamnit. You know what? I never thought that I would say that you should drop almost $50 on a Prosecco. Never in a thousand years. That's Champagne territory. Yet here I am. The quality is worth even more than what you pay for.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $46
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Wine Review: Julia Cabernet Sauvignon 2016


This is the second of three wines that I'm reviewing from western Galilee, Israel, in this quick review run for Terra Sancta. We started off with the 2016 Julia Samara blend, now we're on to the 2016 Julia Cabernet Sauvignon, and then we'll finish with the 2014 Askar Shafaya.

The Julia winery was founded in 2012 by the Arraf family in a western Galilee village called Mii’lya, which is on the edge of Wadi El Qurain national park and the Montfort Castle. The vineyards are on Terra Rossa soil and are hand harvested by family and friends only. Their goal is to develop and increase the awareness of wine making as a traditional industry in the Galilee region.

This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines planted 8 years ago. It saw 12 months aging in American and French oak barrels.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Video Unboxing: Forbidden Geek DC Comics Mystery Box #2


How many more times can I say “I love me some”?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

TippsySake.com Saké Box #2

TippsySake.com

First off, I need to thank TippsySake.com for inspiring me take this adventure into the world of Saké. It has been a boatload of fun and the category in my alcohol education that has felt the least like work. A lot of my reading/learning time and adult beverage excitement these days is owed to you.

Tippsy is basically a wine club for Saké. You can shop around on their site and buy the Saké that you want or you can subscribe to the Saké Box, which is delivered to your door every month with three different Saké. And you, my fellow Wine Stalkers, can use promocode SAKECLUB to get $10 off your first order. So if you like your Saké then go check it out!

To learn more about the history of Saké, read my latest article called Just Brew It, Part One: A brief history of Sake. After I've done more studying on the category there will be a Part 2: Making Saké but I'm not there just yet.

I got my first Tippsy box back in April and you can read my review here, and you should because they were awesome and I really enjoyed the service. But now it's time for round two and I can't wait to get started!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Beer Quickie: Night Shift "Santilli" American India Pale Ale


Night Shift is out of Everett, Massachusetts, and one of my favorite local breweries. The Santilli is an American style IPA, their flagship beer, and it won the Bronze Medal in the 2016 World Beer Cup for its category. Visually the beer is gold with a little bit of haziness and nose/palate descriptors of pineapple, lime, orange peel, and pine. I'm not a big fan of IPAs that try to jack the bitterness up without balance (I'm more of a stout guy), and although this one does have a bite, it's not overpowering. I love it.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Wine Review: Julia Samara 2016


This is the first of three wines that I'll be reviewing from western Galilee, Israel, in this quick review run for Terra Sancta. We're starting off with the 2016 Julia Samara blend, then moving on to the 2016 Julia Cabernet Sauvignon, and finishing with the 2014 Askar Shafaya

The Julia winery was founded in 2012 by the Arraf family in a western Galilee village called Mii’lya, which is on the edge of Wadi El Qurain national park and the Montfort Castle. The vineyards are on Terra Rossa soil and are hand harvested by family and friends only. Their goal is to develop and increase the awareness of wine making as a traditional industry in the Galilee region.

Named after the area where the vines for this single-vineyard selection are grown, "Samara" is 63% Syrah, 32% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It's from a hilly stone and rock covered slope, surrounded by olive and oak groves, on land that has been growing grape vines for wine since the early days of vinification. The wine was aged in French and American oak barrels for 12 months.

There's something about Israeli wine that gets me excited. Maybe it's the thousands of years of winemaking history? So let's stop wasting time and jump right in!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Cocktail Quickie: Round Barn Crantini and Red Sangria cans


Round Barn is a winery, distillery, and brewery in Southern Michigan. After looking at their products, that whiskey and Kolsch of theirs look pretty damn delicious! But right here I have their two most popular items: their canned Crantini and Red Sangria. And guess what? They're awesome! The Red Sangria is tart and extra cripsy and refreshing. It's a Sangria made with red wine but there's a lot of peach and lemon on there with a little bit of cranberry, so for flavor it's only really "Red" from its base wine and its color. This would be great for grilling burgers! The Crantini is my favorite of the two. It's white wine with cranberry and lemon concentrates. It has a little bit of a breadiness with juicy cranberries and lemon candy. YUM YUM! It definitely calls for a big slice of pizza! Good stuff!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Wine Review: Chateau Lamothe Castéra Cuvée "Margaux" Bordeaux 2016


Chateau Lamothe Castera, located in the village of Roquebrune in the Entre-Deux-Mers area region of Bestides, 50 miles from Bordeaux, has been producing wine since the 15th century. Nowadays, Claire and Renaud Jean run this 190 acres winery in the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur AOP. The Vineyards, composed of 30 year old vines of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are sustainably farmed.

This is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, the vines are planted 300 feet above sea level, and  the wine spent 12 months aging in stainless steel tanks. Notice the quotes with "Margaux" because this is technically a Bordeaux AOP and not designated as a Margaux, although the juice is presumably from Margaux but for some reason it doesn't meet the requirements to carry the Margaux designation. Thus... it's only $17.

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