TACOS AND TEQUILA

 

 

 

 

Drew and Crew

Tacos and tequila is one of my favorite events.  San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz California was an excellent location choice.    The weather was perfect and the crowd was friendly and festive.  The event was festival style with multiple choices of tacos venders, margarita bars, merchants, bands and of course tequila tasting.  I did notice that there were not as many tequila reps this year as there were last year but, the ones that were there this year were great. 

I had a chance to hang out and talk to Drew Garrison from Dulce Vida, about tequila.  We had a great conversation and I learned that Dulce Vida allows their tequila to go through malolactic fermentation.  Their tequila is 100% Puro  Agave, one of the highest rating given by the Mexican Government.  They have a blanco that is done in stainless steel and they also have infused tequilas.  Their agave if from Arandas, Jalisco Mexico.  I found the Organic Blanco to be lite to medium agave flavor, easy over the tongue.  It could be drank with just a cube of ice.  According to Drew, it is available at Bevmo and Total Wines.  Price range is $22 to $24.

Don Antonio Aguilar

I had the pleasure of meeting Cesar Garcia from Real de Jalpa.  He is the Rep for Don Antonio Aguilar Mezcal.  If you are one of those people that turns their nose up when you hear the word Mezcal,  I guarantee Don Antonio Aguilar Mezcal with change your mind.  It is a Mezcal with a lot of the same qualities as tequila.  Real de Jalpa own their own fields in Zacatecas Mexico.  They produce approximately 6,000 liter a day.  Cesar brought for Reposados with him.  They ranged in age from 4 months to 11 months.  For Mezcal, they were not smokey.  I found them to be earthy with good agave flavors.  The older reposados had more oak notes and easy finish.  Price range from $30 to $60.

Blue Iguana Tequila

Blue Iguana Tequila was the surprise find.  It is double distilled from agave from the Highlands of Jalisco.  They were pouring a 2 months, 4 months, 7 months, 11 months and an 18 month tequila.  The 7, 11, and 18 month olds were aged in whiskey barrels.  I found the tequila to be very neat and clean.  Good agave flavor with a short smooth finish.  Well balanced oak notes from the whiskey barrels.  According to the Rep, it can be found at Raley’s for $28 to $35.

Azunia

Another surprise find was Azuñia.  100% Puro de Agave from the Valley of Jalisco. Azuñia is hand harvested and roasted in traditional clay hornos.  The blanco and reposado good agave flavors that were not overpowering.  An earthiness that was complemented by lite oak notes.

We had a Fantastetic time.  Made some new friends, ate some tasty taco and tasted some excellent tequilas.  I am looking forward to the next event.  Where ever that may be.

Ciao for now

Brax

 

 

 

 

Provence. Cassis and Bandol. Chapter 1

You may be familiar with Bordeaux, Champagne and Burgundy but, have you heard of Cassis?  Not many people know that Cassis was the first Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée in France.  So, it is only fair that we begin our adventure in Provence, in Cassis.  We stayed in a cute farm-house surrounded by vineyands, in the valley between the Medieval towns of Le Castellet and La Cadiere d’ Azure.  Our friends, Kim and Todd found the house on VRBO.  It is in the heart of Bandol and the perfect location for our base of operation.

Le Castellet

Le Castellet

 

 

 

Cassis Harbor

Cassis Harbor

 

 

Cassis is located on the French Riviera.  It has some nice beaches and it  is  surrounded by cliffs known as the Calanques.  The Calanques provide spectacular views of private beaches only accessible by boat.

Calanques

Calanques

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wines of Cassis

The red and rosé wines are Grenache based blends, with Syrah and Cinsault.  The white wines are a blend of Ugni Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne and Rollé.

Domaine du Bagnol.  White wine: Marsanne, Clairette and Ugni Blanc, aged in stainless steel.  This one reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc from Cuvasion, Napa Valley.  The rosé is 48% Grenache, 34% Mourvedra and 18% Cinsault.  Domaine Bangol produces 100,000 bottles per year.  Our next stop was Domaine du Paternel.

Domaine du Paternel produces approximately 450,000 bottles per year.  They produce a GSM + Cinsault and Rollé aged in stainless steel.  Their Blanc de blanc is a blend of Clairette, Marsanne, and Ugni Blanc.  Their red is a blend of Grenache and Mourvedra aged for one year in oak.  Our final stop of the day was at Le Moulin de la Roque.

Moulin de la Roque was established in 1950 and it is located in the AOC of Bandol.  They produce 1.3 million bottles per year.  They are a co-op of different vineyard owners.  They bottle under five different labels to showcase their five different terriors.   In the Bandol AOC, the red and rosé wines has to be a minimum of 50% Mourvedra.  The Blanc is made of Ugni Blanc and Clairette.  The rosé is Mourvedra, Grenache and Cinsault.  The red is 90% Mourvedra, 10% Carignan.  They have a second blend of 95% Mourvedra and 5% Carignan.  I found the Mourvedra in this region to have a lot of minerality , lite fruit hints and tannins from the mid pallet to a short finish.  Our host was Tim, was kind enough to give us a tour of their facility.

Moulin de la Roque

Moulin de la Roque

We ended the day with fine dining at a Michelin Star restaurant Todd found.  Le Goguette is located in the Medieval town of Le Castellet.  Dinner was superb.  Wine with dinner was Domaine Richaud ,Cairanne 2015.  A well balanced blend of Claret, Bourboulenc, Roussane, Vigonier and Marsanne.  The red was from La Sagesse.  A blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Syrah.  I highly recommend Le Goguette and Domaine Richaud’s Cairanne 2015.  Perfect paring.

Carrot puree with lemon vinegar. Artichoke with mushroom and carrot puree. Fras Gras with strawberries and basil. poisson of snapper. Chocolate cake with ginger ice cream.

Carrot puree with lemon vinegar. Artichoke with mushroom and carrot puree. Fras Gras with strawberries and basil. poisson of snapper. Chocolate cake with ginger ice cream.

Au Revoir for now.

Silverado Trail Challenge 2017

Last year I had high hopes of visiting half of the wineries  on the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley.  Unfortunately, that lofty  goal was not realized….not even close. But, 2017 is a new year and an early start. The rest of the our group had prior plans and could not start the wine adventure just yet.  I am sure they will join me on the next excursion. So, I grabbed a couple of friends that never say no, we all need friends like that. And we headed up to Napa Valley.  Our first stop was Judd’s Hill.

Judd"s Hill

Judd”s Hill

Judd's Hill

Judd’s Hill

 

Judd’s Hill is by appointment only so, call ahead.  We didn’t know that when we arrived.  We were met by a staff member who politely told us they were by appointment and they did not have an opening until 3 pm.  A current release tasting is $25 and a Reserve tasting is $45.   It was 1 pm when we arrived.  He then offered to pour for us on the patio.  Fortunately for us, there was a break in the weather and it was a beautiful day.  A little chilly but beautiful non the less.  We accepted his kind offer and sat down by an outdoor heater.  His polite kindness and the quality of their wine would earn them a new wine club member.  The first wine he poured was their 2013  Reserve Chardonnay.  I have to admit that I am not a big Chardonnay fan but this one was exceptional.  It was fruit forward and not buttery.  It had aromas of citrus and pear, and was lightly oaken.  At $50 it is an expensive Chardonnay.  The price point reflexes how unique this Chardonnay is.  The next one was their 2009 Meritage.  The Meritage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petite Verdot.  Black cherry jam notes on the front, light oak, and a hint of vanilla on the finish.  Also $50.   2012 Syrah.  Well balanced acids and tannin’s with notes of Blackberry, jam and tobacco. $42.

We were treated to an additional tasting of their 2013 ZSM.  If you like a well balanced, complex and layered wine, with dark berry fruit,  and balanced tannins, You will love this one.  It had to come home with me.  $40.   2011 Founder’s Art Reserve Cabernet.  I found it to be a complex and full bodied wines.  Well balanced with notes of dark berry fruit.  $85.  I have to admit, I enjoyed every wine we tasted.  Which is very unusual and a credit to the quality of wine being made at Judd’s Hill.  The price points are in the range of  wines in Napa Valley.  These wines are exceptional and I look forward to another tasting flight.

Regusci Winery

Regusci Winery

 

Next up, Regusci Winery.  Well, you would have thought we would have learned from our experience at Judd’s Hill, to call ahead.  Regusci Winery is also by appointment.  Lucky for us, they were also gracious enough to accommodate us.  The tasting room has a great vib and it was an enjoyable experience tasting there.  The first wine on the list was the 2013 Merlot.  Black berrry and black cherry on the tongue with notes of tobacco and chocolate.  Full bodied and well balanced. $55.  2013 Syrah.  Full bodied, well-balanced with black berry fruit and smooth finish.  $60.  The Elder’s 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Full body,  Black berry fruit with notes of vanilla, typical tannin structure and spice on the finish. $65.  2013 Patriarch. The Patriarch is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  I experienced aromas of red fruit, charred oak, smoke and coffee.  On the palate you may experience red fruit, leather and vanilla. $90.  Angelo’s  2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is a big full-bodied Cab with bold dark fruit and tannin’s.  $140.  The wines were enjoyable but, the price points were a little more than what I would feel comfortable paying.

Regusci Winery

Regusci Winery

 

All in all, not a bad start for 2017.  Stay tuned for the next stop on the trail.

Salute

 

 

Spirits of Mexico

 

It must be Christmas in September.  I am (If you didn’t already know) a huge tequila fan.  So, when a friend told me about an annual tequila event in sunny Del Mar, I got packed and headed to the airport.  The Spirit of Mexico: Mexican Spirit Tasting Festival is an event I will return to every year.  This year it was held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds next to Del Mar Race Track.  It was a great location for a great event.  Over 30 vendors pouring their best Tequila, Mezcal and Rum from Mexico.  Some of the vendors were small distilleries only producing 1000 bottles.  The big boys, like Herradura and Milargo, were also there.   As I walked into this event, I felt like a kid about to open all his gifts under the tree.  My sights were set on tasting ALL the  spirits being poured.   In the end, I ran out of time not enthusiasm.  It was speed dating with 30+ lovely ladies.   Of all the lovely ladies I dated that day, these were my favorites:
U4rik Tequila.  Just launching in the US and international markets.  Smooth…hints of lite vanilla, oak and agave.  100% puro de agave.
Don Fulano. 100% puro de agave.  Reposado.  Full oak, agave nose.  Mouth; agave on the front, smooth finish of French oak and caramel.
El Cachabilla.  1000 bottles in US.  Small production from  Tequila Mexico. 100% agave.  Extra anejo…yeeeeaa!!!  Double distilled.  All the hint of agave, oak, vanilla, caramel and lite smooth tannins.
T1.. Blanco ultra fine.100% de agave. double distilled, triple filtered.  The  Reposado looks and smells like a Blanco but has classic Reposado flavor.  Anejo.. agave and pineapple goodness.
T1. “Tears of Horona”. Double distilled extra Anejo.  The nose was of wood, tobacco. and agave.  Mouth;  Orange blossom, agave and caramel.  Nice…
On a side note, T1 is a creation of Master Distiller German Gonzalez Gorrochotegui.  Master Distiller of Chinaco.  T1 is his new brand.
Mexican moonshine.  Double distilled, triple filter in Kentucky oak whisky barrels.  18 months  in barrels, 100% puro de agave.  Nose of honey, wood and agave. Mouth; agave, tobacco and balanced tannins.
Critalo Tres Marcos..  Extra Anejo. The nose is awesome pineapple sweetness. There is smoke and caramel on the tongue.   Really good. The 3-5-7 blend is a blend of three-year old, five-year old and 7-year-old tequila.  It had a  strong agave nose.
The price point for these ranged from $45 to $80.  Well worth the investment.  The following also deserve mentioning.
Cantina Fortaleza.  Resposado. Nose of agave and pepper. 100 % de agave. Mouth;  Lite pepper, agave and oak.
La Gran Senora..  Jenny Riviera line of Signature tequila .  Reposado, 100 % de agave.  Agave front, full agave and tannins on the finish.  I was not  a fan of the Reposado but I did like the Anejo.  It had a nice vanilla agave nose. Agave on tongue with lite tannins.
Casa amigo.  Reposado, 100% agave. Agave, vanilla on the  nose. Mouth; Full agave and tannins on front and back. The  Anejo was the same with a little more oak on the finish.
Dirty Tequila Liquor.  Pineapple and cinnamon.  Tequila version of fireball whisky.
Tequila Celestial.  100% puro de agave.  The Reposado had heavy tannins and agave. The Anejo was the same but with smoother tannins and oak.
In the end, I had the opportunity to meet some of the best tequila makers in the world and taste the results of their hard work.  I can’t wait to see what is under the tree in December.

4th of July weekend

Hill and I are off to Clearlake to celebrate our Nations Name Day.  We are looking forward to a weekend of wakeboarding and adult  beverages with our great friends.  Luckily for us, our route to Clearlake is via the Silverado Trail through Napa.  Of course, we could not resist visiting a few wineries on the way up.

Paraduxx is one  winery I have wanted to visit for awhile.  We parked the boat into the lot and headed in for a tasting.  The tasting fee is $30, so Hill and I decided to share aTasting.  Johnny Bon brought out our tasting flight and introduced us to the winery and the wines we were tasting.  We tasted the 2013 Napa Valley Rose, 2011 M blend, 2011 C blend, 2011 Rector Creek Red Wine, 2011 Howell Mountain Red Wine, and Johnny treated us to a bonus pour of their 2011 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.  I enjoyed all of their wines.The M blend was a Merlot-Zin blend. It was full of red fruit, plum and spice.  I found the mid range heavy in tannins (for my taste)  but the finish was well balanced and even. The wine is well priced and would go well alone or with food.

The 2011 Rector Creek and Howell Mountain are really good Zin-cab blends.  The price point is a little high but, you do get what you pay for.

Last stop before heading over the hill was Cuvaison.  We first discovered Cuvaison on a recent weekend trip to Sonoma. I was really excited to visit the original tasting room on the Silverado Trail.  It did not disappoint.  The tasting flight was their 2012 Kite Tail Chardonnay, 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, 2012 Estate Syrah, 2011 Brandlin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and their 2012 Brandlin Zin.  All of their wines were delicious and well priced.  We are considering joining their wine club.  The one that really got my attention was their 2012 Estate Syrah.  It gas a deep red plum color and a nose that will make your mouth water.  It is full of dark berry fruits with bacon, pepper and silky tannins.  It is everything you look for in a Syrah.  The 2012 Brandlin Zin is also worth mentioning.  It is old  a old vine Zin full of spice and pepper with hints of caramel and vanilla on the finish.  It is complex and mature and worth discussion.

Overall, not a bad way to start off the holiday.  Happy 4th of July.

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