Allagash Truepenny Pilsner – Allagash has long been one of my all-time favorite breweries and this pilsner shows exactly why they are so good at what they do. Truepenny puts a unique twist on a refreshing pilsner by using Allagash’s house yeast strain, a classic grain bill and noble hops, and a touch of wild beer blended in for balance and complexity. It’s immensely drinkable and crisp with a hint of melon.
Southern Tier Nitro Chocolate Milkshake – Southern Tier’s Blackwater Series is a must try for those who like dessert flavors, somehow managing to perfectly capture each flavor they are inspired by. The new flavor, Chocolate Milkshake, offers cascading, creamy richness with notes of milk chocolate, vanilla and a touch of Himalayan sea salt. The nitro can uses integrated technology to release the nitrogen when opened and instantly activates a smooth mouthfeel and thicker, creamier head for a decadent experience. Creamy, smooth, decadent, and wonderfully balanced – these beers are 10% ABV and you wouldn’t know it!
Mitolo Jester Cabernet Sauvignon – As a lover of fine Italian wines, this unique wine from McLaren Vale Australia caught my attention early on as 20% of the grapes are dried using the Italian Appassimento method. This process is used traditionally in Italian wine regions to make the popular Amarone and Valpolicella Ripasso wines (among others) and results in richer, bolder, more complex wines. This is a lovely, medium-bodied wine, with soft notes of blueberries, cherries and raisins balanced by cedar, smoke, mocha and warm stone characters. The silky palate shows the oak a little prominently but overall it’s finessed, with more raisiny fruit on the long, smokey finish.
St. George Bruto Americano – A sublime new aperitivo that amplifies the berry flavors in vermouth and pairs perfectly with the floral botanicals of gin. Named as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that St. George Spirits—an American distillery—is riffing on a classic Italian style (bruto means crass, or rude), the Bruto Americano uses a recipe inspired by distiller Lance Winters’ memories of growing up in California in the 1970s. Gentian root, balsam fir and Cascara sagrada (the bark from the coffee cherry bush) offer a complex woody bitterness, with California-grown Seville orange adding sunny top notes to the mix, and the bright red hue comes from the addition of cochineal extract. Try it in your next Negroni, Americano, as a spritz or with soda.
Saint Antonius Kreuznacher Kronenberg 2017 Spatlese $12.99
Yes, this is a slightly sweet wine. Since that is the inevitable question regarding Riesling, let’s now move forward to more interesting aspects of this lovely Spatlese. Watch as you pour the wine, it almost looks effervescent! Round, ripe peach and mild pear notes greet you at first taste and soon balance out with a light acidity that allows the fruit notes to linger. Don’t be limited to the overly advised pairing with spicy dishes. I often drink it as an aperitif or pair it with a hearty pork dish. Zesty and refreshing, Saint Antonius is an easy introduction to German wine.
Cap Royal Bordeaux Supérieur 2015 $14.99
I often describe to new Bordeaux drinkers the aromatics of “barnyard” in the glass before them, and, to me, this wine epitomizes that experience. Pour a small amount in a large glass, swirl it around and inhale. Wet straw, earth and another term that Monte Belmonte likes to use (ask him!) introduce you to ripe red fruits and subtle toast notes. Try to plan ahead and decant. The additional aeration brings out vanilla and a personal favorite, cedar. Enjoyable as a glass of red at the end of the day, Cap Royal’s silky tannins and mild oak help it shine with food. At 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, this young wine is accessible now and shows that 2015 continues to shine at every price point.
The People’s Pint Farmer Brown $12.99 16oz 4-pack
Long before there were Valley breweries in every town pushing out Mango Chutney Milkshake IPA’s (don’t worry, it’s coming), there was The People’s Pint in Greenfield. Since 1997, “The Pint” has produced one of my favorite craft beers, “Farmer Brown”. A nutty, malty, slightly bready Brown Ale that hearkens back to communal agricultural living and large midday meals. At 5.4% you can (gasp) have more than one and (double gasp) pair it with food. Ploughman’s Platter anyone? As the temperature starts to drop, this gorgeous chestnut colored ale suits all the Valley has to offer, food and friend alike.
Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 year $79.99
I must confess two things: 1) Speyside and Highland contribute to a majority of my scotch collection and 2) as a New England Yankee born n’ bred, I believe in continuing our long history of dark rum consumption. To be clear, if the classic Islay “peated fireplace in a glass” is your daily drinker, this is not the scotch for you. 100% malted barley is distilled and aged for 14 years in American ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in West Indian rum barrels for an undisclosed amount of time. Non chill filtered and NO caramel added. Lots of vanilla and dried fruit on the delivery with creamy, brown sugar mid palate and a dab of peppery all-spice on the finish. Think Jamaican rum cake in a dram.
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier $13.99
Honeydew melon, peach, hint of lime. Nicely balanced with plenty of fruit flavors and right amount of acidity. I enjoy this with cheese appetizers or with fish entrée.
Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico $14.99
A good step up from your usual “pizza wine.” It has those nice earthy flavors and tannin of a good Chianti with more dark, almost dusty, fruit flavors that I enjoy from Italian reds.
Celestin Blondeau Sancerre Cuvee des Moulins Bales $26.99
All the flavors and crispness you expect from a French Sauvignon Blanc. (You will never confuse this with those grapefruit flavors of New Zealand S.B.) I love this wine with scallops and with goat cheese!
Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio $18.99
Peach, pear, honey flavors abound, but don’t think sweet. The acidity is in good balance. It’s a nice match for shrimp and pasta dish. Also, good for just sipping on the porch.