Sunday, December 14, 2014

Issue XVI: Castello Del Poggio Moscato Edition

Castello Del Poggio Moscato

The HSC train rolls mightily along, constantly searching and testing, to further bolster the list and with this column, to bring the results to you, so that we might all prosper. Unquestionably, try as our not-very-trained HSC staff (me) might, we still wind up with a bevy of duds, wines, that while are not bad, are just of not high enough quality to make the cut. I think we’re running somewhere in the neighborhood of one addition every 10 – 15 different wines…something like that. Once I started this list, it's gone down quite a bit as I will take entire weekends to just enjoy the fruits of the list, rather than even the modified testing of one new wine and one "anchor" wine (that's on the list already), a far cry from the early stages, when nearly everything was experimentation all the time. Some of the wines will take more than one testing, but most we can tell right out of the gate are either going to make the list or not. This was one that did and is the first that was added in 2014.

From the first sip of this slightly effervescent (carbonated) sweet potion, we knew we were onto something. I got it initially for a dessert my wife wanted to make and I think it was a struggle for her to not only keep enough for the dessert but also to save enough so I could sample it, as I like to do with everything boozy that comes through here (with few exceptions). After tasting the two or three swallows that my dearest had *ahem* graciously allowed me, it was clear I had to get another bottle to re-test. My immediate thought was to just add it to the list, but that small amount, while enough to get a good feel, is not enough to really gain a grasp. We are, of course, wanting full grasp on these things.

Moscato, for those of you unawares, is one of the sweeter dessert grapes out there. In this case, it is just a matter of chilling to the desired temp, twisting off the screwcap, pour and go. You get a nice prominent sweetness, but not enough to be cloying, somewhat reminiscent of honey and some of the lighter fruits in tone, but definitely having that distinctive Muscat taste to it. It is by no means heavy, rather on the lighter side, but just enough heft to give it the right touch of mouth feel.  It’s not in the territory of a full-on champagne, but it does very lightly graze the side with its sparkly nature and grace notes of apple. In short, this is the type of wine that people who don’t like wine will love.

For around $11 a bottle and with high drinkability, you can almost always find room for a bottle of this. The applications of using it for desserts are very strong with this as well and it’s one of the more versatile wines on the list, as long you’re looking at something on the sweet side. This meets all the criteria of a Standard, though we frankly don’t get it frequently as we’d usually rather have something heavier and with more body and complex tones for our movie nights, but for those times that we do pick it up, it never disappoints.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Issue XV: Sean Minor Pinot Noir Carneros Edition

Sean Minor Pinot Noir Carneros 

Ahhh, here we see that noble grape, Pinot Noir, rearing its head once again. It can be a finicky grape, very temperamental, the wine world’s version of that old adage of when it’s good, it can be very good, wonderful, among the best that wine can be and offer and a beautiful, gorgeous, splendid, magnificent concoction, but when it’s bad, it can be very bad, astringent and grimy and stomach churning. Obviously, by its inclusion here, this is one of the former.

It’s strange how some of these wines can be stumbled upon. This particular one came from a business associate with whom I shared a common interest in wines, an interest which was later picked up by a friend of mine who was within that same circle. He strongly suggested I try the Cab from this winery, which I did, after a fashion, as Cabs are not really my preference. I did, however, enjoy that one enormously and it will be eventually making its way in a future installment.

When it came time for me to leave the world tour I was doing and come back stateside, I started at the south end of the wine store and worked my way north. So, after tinkering with Cabs and Syrahs and Merlots and Zins, I eventually made my way to the Pinot Noir section and started sifting through that. Upon finding the label, I was pretty excited, due to that great experience with the Cab. Every accolade I heaped upon the A By Acacia wine (HSC Installment 10) I would also extend here, though I would give this the slight nod for smoothness. It’s one of those that makes my mouth very happy to have this wine in it, like taking sips of silk. Delicious!

This wine clocks in generally around $15 and is usually not on SPA. It is, however, a Mixed, as I will pick up bottles of it (or the A By Acacia – I kind of trade off) when I’ve got the urge and the hankerin’ that only a glass of Pinot will fill.