2018 Sean Minor 4B Pinot Noir, California

Pinot Noir. It’s the most finicky grape in the game. It has thin skin and is very hard to grow. It has a specific temperature it likes and will throw a temper tantrum if it isn’t right. I always like finding value bottles of this varietal where I can.

Sean Minor Wines is a modern brand that doesn’t own any vineyards. That’s not uncommon these days. But what is, is the choice Sean Minor Wines to only work with sustainable farms out of California and Oregon. Real estate in wine growing regions is expensive so working with farms can be a win win.

The 4B or “Four Bear” is part of their California series that’s meant to reflect the terroir of California, have a broad appeal, and be in an everyday price bracket. As a parent, I love where the name 4B comes from. Originally the brand was called Four Bears because of the husband and wife owner’s children. They have three sons and one daughter. Not to mention when they would do tastings to pick what would be in the bottle, their daughter said it was like watching Goldilocks taste porridge trying to find the one that’s just right.

Photo courtesy of http://www.seanminorwines.com

This was exactly what I expected from a California Pinot Noir. It was bright with full red fruit nose. On the palate it’s medium bodied(lighter weight) with cola, cherries and strawberries. Super soft on the finish. As far as pairings go, we had it with turkey sloppy joes and it was great! Also try it out with burgers or pizza.

Typically, this wine will run you $15-17 a bottle.

Sippers: Herradura Silver Tequila

I’ve long heard the name Herradura mentioned but hadn’t tried it until recently(within the last year). As it turns out, Herradura is part of Brown-Foreman(Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, etc.) and it’s part of the portfolio of spirits I sell. When I started this job and was looking through our portfolio, I saw Herradura and got super excited. So here’s what I learned:

Herradura Silver is actually aged in American White Oak. Most sliver or blanco tequilas are bottled right after distillation. Legally they don’t have to be aged but can be aged up to 2 months to be designated as “Silver.” Herradura Silver is aged right up to the Reposado time line. What that time aging in oak does is and several layers of complexity to the Tequila and also gives it a slight tint which is why it looks different than other silver Tequilas.

This Tequila has a unique white pepper, vegetal Agave flavor. Those flavors are what makes this a great cocktail Tequila and a favorite of mixologist everywhere. You can easily enjoy this Herradura Silver in a traditional Margarita but…

Instead, try this super easy cocktail out. It’s easier to make than a Margarita and is much tastier:

Herradura Horseshoe Paloma

2oz Herradura Silver

0.5oz Lime Juice(fresh, not concentrate)

Q Mixer Grapefruit Soda

Recipe: In a highball glass, rim the glass with a lime wedge then salt the rim. Fill with ice, then add Tequila then lime juice. Finish by topping with Q Mixer Grapefruit soda. Garnish with a lime wheel if you’re feeling fancy.

That’s a great and easy cocktail but I like to enjoy it in an Old Fashion glass with a large ice cube and a big ole orange swath. The orange essences plays so well and adds a kind of synergy to the white pepper and vegetal agave flavors.

Missing the orange swath because I got trigger happy with the photo.

If you are a Tequila fan or becoming one, try this one out next time.

Wine Review: 2012 Bonny Doon ‘Contra’

Randall_Book1Bonny Doon’s wine maker Randall Grahm is an all around California Wine OG. In 1989 he was dubbed “The Rhone Ranger” by Wine Spectator because of his mastery of those varietals, types of grapes, normally grown in the Cote Du Rhone of France(Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre to name a few). That spark started a big fire. Because of that, there is actually a group of around 200 wine makers in Cali that are called “The Rhone Rangers” and they are committed to the cause of growing and producing those varietals exclusively. He is also a James Beard Award winning author in 1994 as well as was inducted to the The Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame in 2010. Needless to say, he knows(and makes) great wine.

Bonny Doon Contra

Today, we are tasting his red blend “Contra.” Some red blends will tell you how much of which grape is in it. Here’s the breakdown: 56% Carignane(Care-in-yahn), 17% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 17% Mourvedre, 1% Cinsault(Sin-so). All are Rhone varietals. Those crazy Rhone Rangers.

I’ll break it down into 2 sections: Nose and palate. The nose is obviously the delightful aromas that are going to flood your nostrils and the palate is going to be what you actually taste.

Nose: This wine has huge aromatics. Right after I opened it, there was a ton of smoked meat/bacon, tangy dark cherries and white pepper fighting for attention.

Palate: The depth in this juice is pretty crazy. Right off the bat, that cherry flavor is present and accounted for. It’s followed up by a little brininess(think black olive. Don’t freak out about that, it works beautifully) and a long, juicy finish that has just little hints of cedar after you finish your sip(or gulp). Body wise, it’s definitely not over weight and needing to hit the treadmill. It’s got some sexy curves that could stand up to a rib eye steak or even venison.

After about 30 minutes, flavors evolved to dark cocoa and light cinnamon spiciness.

The next day, if you had any left over, super bold fruit had taken over the spiciness and toned down that cocoa flavor.

Definitely pick this wine up. Great stuff at $17 a bottle and something that can stand up over a day or two. If you are interested in buying it in the Shreveport-Bossier area, email at beardandbarrel@gmail.com and I’ll get you taken care of.