Sunday, August 10, 2008

a beverages post

in the spirit of my short-lived beer blog, this is a post about gourmet beverages. over the last week or so, i had the opportunity to try a few nice things, so, here are some brief reviews.

the highlight of the last week, unquestionably, was the cakebread, or the 2003 Cakebread Cellars Benchland Select, to be precise. cakebread is known for decent chardonnays and world-class cabernet sauvignons, and the benchland select is no exception. complex flavors, incredibly smooth finish, and a ridiculously long and pleasant aftertaste. it's the sort of wine where the term 'sublime' can be used without it being ridiculous.

last night i opened up a bottle of 2006 veritas claret, brought back from a recent VA winery weekend. the claret is a drinkable virginia red wine, with a touch of the smokiness that characterizes most of the Virginia merlots and cabernet francs, in my experience. the Veritas Claret is a blend of mostly those two grapes. it didn't disappoint, but better wine can be had for a lower price. my Virginia wine weekend as a whole was outstanding, though. i saw a lot of fantastic countryside, and i had some surprisingly good wines. the best wines that i tried, hands down, came from Pollak vineyards. Pollak had the only truly great red wines i tried in Virginia - their merlot tasted like good bordeaux, and their cab franc tasted like a good rioja, with flavors of dark chocolate to die for. their white wines were no less impressive. i used to refuse to drink chardonnays, because i hate the over-oak of California wineries. but Virginia wineries do it the right way, and Pollak, in particular, achieves the perfect balance of vanilla/toffee and pure grape. i would drink their estate chardonnay any time of any day and count myself a happy man.

on my last evening visiting my parents, we opened a moderately priced bottle of barbaresco as well, which was my first opportunity to try the renowned Piedmont varietal. i enjoyed it, but i was not blown away, and my parents were not enthralled by it. perhaps it needed to open up more; i'm not sure. i have a cheap ($20) 2003 barbaresco, from a winery with young vines, that i have been holding on to, and my first experience with the type will encourage me to let my bottle age a little longer before consumption.

my parents brought back a bottle of dark efes beer from their visit to Turkey; they have not been able to find it in the United States since they returned. it's quite good overall, with great up front flavors of coffee hard candies and of chocolate, though it is a bit rough in the finish. but, a tasty and interesting beer which i will keep my eyes out for in the future.

my roommate made a round of Pimm's Cup cocktails over the weekend. the Pimm's Cup is a combination of an herbal-citrus-gin concoction known as Pimm's No. 1 and other non-alcoholic liquids, in this case Sprite. toss in a slice of a citrus fruit, or even grapes or apple slices or almost any other fruit imaginable, and you have made a very refreshing drink. at my suggestion, we added a few drops of angostura bitters to one of the glasses, which i think enriched a lot of the flavors even more. very tasty stuff.


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