This is what our editors and contributors have been drinking. Only one local this time, but that's part of the fun of WWD -- the diversity:
I spent this past weekend in upstate New York and in Shelburne, Vermont for the 2010 Vermont Cheesemakers' Festival -- mostly as cheese editor Aaron Estes's photographer.
We tasted some stunningly delicious cheeses that served as a reminder of how far New York still has to go in terms of overall cheese quality. We also sipped some good-not-great beers from Lawson's Finest Liquids, including a Double IPA that was plenty hoppy but a bit one-note.
With a little extra time before heading back to our wives and families, Aaron and I drove over to Waterbury to visit The Alchemist, a pub and brewery that he'd read about previously but had never visited on previous jaunts to Vermont.
Let's just say that it was well worth the trip -- which was a bit out of our way. From a bright, citrusy saison (called "Farmer's Daughter") to a ridiculously good "Focal Banger" IPA on cask, the beers weren't good...they were great.
The highlight -- and I think I can speak for Aaron here too -- was the "Holy Cow" IPA, which wraps up everything an IPA lover wants in the style -- balanced malt, hoppy aromas and flavors...and great bitterness without going over the top -- all within 5.2% ABV, making it extremely sessionable. In fact, if we weren't driving back to my in-laws' right after, I could have had a handful of these.
It didn't hurt that a Pittsburgh Steelers pendant hung from the wall and some other Steelers-related paraphernalia was visible in the bar. Turns out the brewer is from Pittsburgh.
Bryan Calandrelli: La Clos Coutale 2008
For some reason I have this romantic idea of what a Cahors should taste like. It's not based on any experience or research. It's based entirely on my mind taking the fruit forward crowd pleasing South American style and breeding it with the dirty, rustic, earthy style that I associate with French wines.
Guessing that this may be completely unrealistic, I picked up a bottle of La Clos Coutale 2008 the other day. I recognized the name from the WS Top 100 from 2009 and appreciated that it is a Kermit Lynch Selection.
Aromatically this wine showed blueberry, blackberry and vanilla. On the palate it was surprisingly unsophisticated with soft acidity and easy tannins. Every once in a while I got some interesting spice notes but
overall pretty simple.
I'm not sure if I¹d choose this wine over the right malbec from Argentina. It's interesting enough to be a good stepping-stone into French wine for big fruit lovers but ultimately not the romantically rustic wine I was expecting.
Saratoga caught my eye yesterday during a beer shop browse; having never tried anything from the brewery I picked up a six-pack.
This IPA pours golden-orange-amber in the glass with a one-and-a-half finger head and faint lacing. One whiff and I was in a brewery: the nose smells unmistakably like wort, the point in brewing at which the malt is brought to a boil and fills the room with the scent of wet, warm baking bread.
I actually love the smell, I’ve just never experienced it in a finished commercial product before.
Had the palate been weak or off-putting I would be more concerned about that rather unfinished aroma, but the post-lips experience is solid: an appealing balance of smooth Fuggles hops and a Cascade hop finish, with a touch of malty sweetness and restrained carbonation.
It’s perfectly enjoyable -- it just tastes like homebrew, and though I really don’t have a problem with that, I’m not sure the majority of IPA drinkers would be into it. I’m curious to taste the beer again at a later date -- the characteristic could be unique to this particular batch.We've heard an awful lot of debate about why American syrah isn't a big seller lately. Price is always a factor, but Qupe packed some promise into a relatively inexpensive package: Nice pedigree with consumers who prefer more elegant styles, and not a big scorer on the west coast critics' radar. Ship it!
I was not disappointed. Try to imagine that last West Coast red with 14.5% ABV you drank that didn't show a trace of oak.
Then factor in an interesting mix of mint and meat. Only the macerated plum component gave away its birthplace, which is perhaps not the asset its label implies.Overall, bien hecho, Qupe.