Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for October, 2009

Weekend Update 10.30

Halloween weekend is now the biggest keg sales time of the entire year, so most people will having their own beer events this weekend.

THIS WEEKEND

Saturday, October 31-Sunday, November 1

Rubicon, in Sacramento, will hold their 4th annual Hoptoberfest. Rubicon has been collecting their favorite hoppy IPAs and Double IPAs. At the fest they’ll be pouring 21 IPAs on tap.

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Saturday, November 14

The Bistro in Hayward will be hosting their annual Barrel Aged Festival, which will feature beers aged in various types of barrels, whether new or having previously held wine or spirits.

Sunday, November 15

November 15: The first BevMo! Holiday Beer Fest will be held at Fort Mason’s Herbst Pavilion in downtown San Francisco on Sunday November 15th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The event will feature 50+ Holiday, Seasonal & Special, “soon-to-be-released beers. Tickets are $35 in advance, and can be purchased online, or $45 at the door the day of the event.

holiday-beerfest

ON THE HORIZON

November 18: New Belgium beer dinner at the Hopmonk Tavern.

December 2: Dogfish Head beer dinner at the Hopmonk Tavern.

December 12: From Noon to 4:00 p.m., Pacific Coast Brewing in downtown Oakland will host their 21st annual Holiday Beer Tasting.

If you know of an upcoming beer event, please let me know about it so I can share it here. Let me know at BrooksOnBeer@gmail.com.

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Under: On Beer | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Monterey Great Wine Escape Nov. 13-15

Can’t believe it’s already been a year since this wine tasting event in Monterey. While there are an infinite number of worthy wine events from Monterey to Mendocino, I like this one because it features 35 wineries – the sweet spot to not getting overwhelmed.

Also, what I like about this event is that there’s truly something for everyone. If you have the dough, you can spend $1,265 on the getaway of your dreams, or $95 on a winemaker’s dinner. For my money, I recommend the $25 Saturday self-guided wine tour, which gives you tasting admission to 11 Carmel wineries, including Ventana, a favorite of mine for their Syrah, and another 12 in Salinas (Chardonnay lovers should not miss Chalone).

On your own, be sure to check out Line Shack, a winery that’s making some gorgeous and very affordable Rhone varietals out of southern Monterey’s San Antonio Valley, a relatively new AVA and mountain valley in the Santa Lucia Range that is gaining a reputation for developing full-bodied, intense red and white wines.

Get tickets at the Monterey County vintners and growers website.

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Under: Corkheads | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Best deals at the BevMo 5 cent sale

My co-worker wants to know what the best deal in the $10-$15 range is at the BevMo 5 cent sale. Well, here you go, Ari:

I poked my head in there yesterday, but the BevMo web site is a much easier way to navigate the sale. There, you’ll see 253 wines. I can’t be sure if they’re available at all stores, or if certain locations have different wines (I bet they do), but for my money, here are three must-purchases:

- if you like grenache and syrah, I’d splurge three more dollars and get the 2007 Auguste Bessac Cotes du Rhone for $17.99. It’s meaty, perfect for the increasingly chilly weather, and is even worthy of 2-3 years of age. A great deal.

- gnarly zinfandel lovers will be really pleased with this recommendation: make up for the Rhone splurge with a 2007 Challis Lane Old Vine Zinfandel. It’s a powerhouse in the fruit and tannin department, perfect for a weeknight hamburger or barbecue. And old vine zinfandel at $7.99 is simply a steal.

- Honestly, for my money, I can never have too much dry riesling in my house. That’s why I’d grab a couple of bottles of the 2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Riesling. It’s only $10.99 and pairs beautifully with all kinds of food. Seriously, the residual sugar, acidity, and fruit on this beauty are pretty much in perfect balance. Can you say YUMMY?

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Under: Corkheads | 6 Comments »
Leave a comment

Negociant wines from Seattle’s Pour Fool

I really like The Pour Fool’s installment on negociants, the mad scientist folks who buy vinified wines from producers and then blend them to make them go from good to fantastic.

The role of the negociant was grossly under recognized in the United States, until folks like Joel Gott and his fellow thieves and of course Cameron Hughes became pseudo household (make that Costco) names.

When you find a negociant you like – Haystack Needle is the Fool’s recession fave – follow him or her to the ends of the earth; buy up their stashes, because they will run out; and remember that blends can change quickly in order to keep a popular wine in demand. Judging from his post, I can see that the Tempranillo and Bordeaux blend, both to be released on Nov. 1, will sell out.

Posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
Under: Corkheads | No Comments »
Leave a comment

‘No Sour Grapes’ fun ride through France

If you long for France the way I do and crave an entertaining read, check out my friend Danielle’s blog, No Sour Grapes. I know, I know, there are a lot of wine blogs out there – some 700, to be exact.

But Danielle’s blog stands out because she’s A GOOD WRITER and because she is at a place in her wine journey where she’s soaking it all up. She makes sense of every food pairing, every new appellation. And she’s not just waxing poetic. lAfter graduating from UC Berkeley, she worked as a cellar rat for Jared and Tracy Brandt of A Donkey and  Goat winery, where she learned everything about truth in terroir and naturally made wine – including crushing grapes with her feet.

The Brandts hooked Danielle up with a summer gig in Chateauneuf-Du-Pape with famed Rhone producer Eric Texier (see the September posts for her day-by-days of harvest) and now she’s tasting through Beaujolais. I love her brief Charnay reverie about Mattin Noblia of Top Chef.

Check it out.

Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009
Under: Corkheads | No Comments »
Leave a comment

$7.99 for 2008 Oak Grove Reserve Pinot Grigio!

Pinot Grigio

I’ve been nursing this bottle of pinot grigio because I adore it. The first night I opened it I had it with turkey meatballs. I corked it, put it back in the fridge and had it with baked salmon and lemony asparagus three days later. It was still showing wonderfully.

It’s rare when a white wine finishes soft on the palate without a heavy dose of oak or a smack of tartness or acidity. Don’t get me wrong – I love the latter to the point that I suck on salt-sprinkled lime wedges as a snack.

Not long ago, I did a column on the rejeuvenation of pinot grigio, and pinot gris, and the Oak Grove Reserve is yet another example of how this grape produces white wines that can satisfy devotees of California chardonnay and Alsatian riesling alike.

It’s rich in body and flavor like a sauvignon blanc but without assaulting the palate with acidity. The wine has aromas and flavors of lemon and quince and finishes clean. The web site hints at cool climate vineyards in California, so my guess is that the grapes come from coastal Monterey county, but not sure.

Based on the  quality and the word ‘reserve,’ I assumed the wine retailed for $15.

Posted on Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Under: Corkheads | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Weekend Update 10.23

It’s the end of an era for beer dinners tomorrow night and on Sunday ride up to Santa Rosa and Russian River Brewing to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

THIS WEEKEND

Friday, October 23

On Friday, October 23, the last beer dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel will take place. The Beer Chef, Bruce Paton, will cook the final dinner featuring the beers of Allagash and brewer/owner Rob Tod will be on hand, as well.

Sunday, October 25

Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa has paired with Revolution Moto to create the ”Scooters For Hooters” ride to benefit Breast Cancer Awareness Month this Sunday, October 25th from 2:00-4:00 p.m. The entrance fee is one of their “All Hopped Up For The Cure” t-shirts, and the ride begins at RevMoto by the brewpub on Fourth St. More info available at Russian River Brewing or RevMoto.

scooters-4-hooters

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Saturday, October 31-Sunday, November 1

Rubicon, in Sacramento, will hold their 4th annual Hoptoberfest. Rubicon has been collecting their favorite hoppy IPAs and Double IPAs. At the fest they’ll be pouring 21 IPAs on tap.

Saturday, November 14

The Bistro in Hayward will be hosting their annual Barrel Aged Festival, which will feature beers aged in various types of barrels, whether new or having previously held wine or spirits.

Sunday, November 15

November 15: The first BevMo! Holiday Beer Fest will be held at Fort Mason’s Herbst Pavilion in downtown San Francisco on Sunday November 15th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The event will feature 50+ Holiday, Seasonal & Special, “soon-to-be-released beers. Tickets are $35 in advance, and can be purchased online, or $45 at the door the day of the event.

holiday-beerfest

ON THE HORIZON

November 18: New Belgium beer dinner at the Hopmonk Tavern.

December 2: Dogfish Head beer dinner at the Hopmonk Tavern.

December 12: From Noon to 4:00 p.m., Pacific Coast Brewing in downtown Oakland will host their 21st annual Holiday Beer Tasting.

If you know of an upcoming beer event, please let me know about it so I can share it here. Let me know at BrooksOnBeer@gmail.com.

Posted on Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
Under: On Beer | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Sacramento Brewery Closed

Sad to say, the economic downturn has claimed yet another good craft brewery. Sacramento Brewing closed for good on Monday, October 19. Owners George and Sarah Irwin, who only recently bought the brewery, were unable to keep it going in the face of the slowing economy. That’s the third Sacramento brewery to close this year.

Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
Under: On Beer | No Comments »
Leave a comment

‘Tis the Season!

It’s time once again to dive into the mind of Tom Dalldorf, the publisher of the Celebrator Beer News, the nationally distributed “brewspaper” that’s headquarted in Hayward.

Tom Dalldorf

Celebrating Beer with Tom Dalldorf

‘Tis the Season!

Over forty percent of all alcoholic beverage sales take place in the months of November and December. Colder damper weather requires warming elixirs and the holidays are a natural for welcoming beverages of all sorts. This is a spectacular time for beer lovers as the brewers step up to provide highly flavored and curiously inventive winter beers and ales of all descriptions.

American brewers have taken the great traditions from Europe’s finest breweries and, in their usual fashion, have done remarkable jazz riffs on styles, processes and ingredients. The results are often spectacular and every so often, well, challenging. But if the brewer likes it there is a good chance that there will be a following for just about every new expression of the brewer’s art and ingenuity.

Celebrator is gearing up for its annual blind panel tasting of Holiday and Winter beers. Be sure to check out the December/January issue for results and write-ups. Meanwhile, here are some suggestions of new beers available in the late fall and winter. It is advised to get these quickly as they are usually gone by the holidays.

Black Xantus is a rare bird indeed. Named after the black hummingbird found in parts of Mexico, it is the first ever specialty beer from Nectar Ales from the Paso Robles powerhouse Firestone Walker Brewery. Black Xantus is a bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout infused with coffee sourced from Jobella, a fair-trade organic coffee roaster also in Paso Robles. Only 500 cases will be produced for all of Firestone Walker’s extensive distribution regions so move quickly on this one.

Yet another bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout not to be missed is Pike Breweing’s Entire weighing in at 9.5% abv and with a huge roasty-chocolate flavor profile and toasty barrel character. Quite a massive beer from this iconic Seattle brewer now celebrating its 20th anniversary. Also from Pike is the Auld Acquaintance Hoppy Holiday Ale hopped with Magnum, Willamette and East Kent Goldings. This winter warmer is infused with orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander for festive flavor but at a more modest 5% abv.

Look for exotic winter beers at better liquor stores around the bay area. City Beer Store on Folsom and Healthy Spirits on 15th Street in San Francisco and Ledger’s Liquors in Berkeley are always a good bet for the latest beers and freshest inventory. Be sure to have a good selection on hand for guests and, more importantly, your own enjoyment. Beer is still the affordable luxury so indulge yourself and share the experience with friends. ‘Tis the season, ya know.

Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
Under: On Beer | No Comments »
Leave a comment

1969 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine is a stunner. I had the pleasure of consuming three ounces of it last night, Oct. 19, 2009,  at a Freemark Abbey library tasting at Boulevard in San Francisco.

I spent about 15 minutes just taking in its color and aroma. Its nexus was the shade of brick, and the rim was gold like honey. It was crystal clear; not a drop of sediment.

When I tipped my nose in the glass, my heart almost melted: chocolate mint with hints of caramel. On the palate, the wine had a lot of complexity – even fruit. I tasted dried cranberries, licorice, and again, that eucalyptus. It was soft, a little lacy and reminded me of an old Bordeaux.

The other tasters in the room agreed that the wine even harkened back to a different style and era of winemaking in the Napa Valley; perhaps a window into, in its infancy, the area approached fruit and hang time (the grapes were picked at 21 Brix). It’s certainly the oldest, and one of the best Napa Valley wines I’ve ever had.

Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
Under: Corkheads | 4 Comments »
Leave a comment