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Iconic Scotch Blends: Old v. New

   How cool is this: tasting two bottles of the same iconic blended Scotch side by side, one right off the shelf today, and one bottled three, four, or even five decades ago?

   This is how I spent Tuesday night, in the company of the self-described Midwest Single Malt Appreciation Society (they were aware of the irony in their tasting a series of blended whiskys).

   We met on the patio of a local watering hole; everybody laid down thirty bucks to cover expenses. Organizers Brett and John pulled seven bottles from their collections, each decades old, to compare to current bottlings of the same labels. Each of the seven old bottles was something of a mystery their bottling dates unlabeled; we had to narrow down the age of each based on clues: tax stamps, bottle sizes, design changes and importers listed on the labels. The bottles were all sealed, the fills all good, so the influence of additional bottle age and oxygenation was minimal. If age was a factor in any of these whiskys, it was more in how the bottle was stored, from issues like heat and light, than from the age itself.

   So. Who comes out on top in a comparison of old v. new?


Dewars White Label

   The old Dewars White Label was bottled in 1984, in a 1L bottle. The new and old are similar in style, sharing notes of honey and light clove. The newer bottling is a little more spirited and rough, with more sour notes on the nose but less intense on the palate, lacking the finesse and pretty floral notes of the older bottling.

   Tasting the Dewar’s White Label flooded my mind with memories from college. This brand has been consistent at least since then. The group spent some time reminiscing about this monolithic brand.

 

Grant’s

   Grant’s recently went through a rebranding; the old bottle of Grant’s was labeled Grants 8 Year and had a white label while the current “Grant’s Family Reserve” bottling on Binny’s shelves has a red label and no age statement. The old example was bottled sometime after 1957 but before 1977; we guessed it in the late 60’s.

   The older bottle shows a beautiful nose of honey and toffee and butter, leading into a slightly spirited whisky with a good buttery texture, short but nice. The current bottling is much more raw, fatter and more spirited, while less complex.

 

Chivas Regal

   The older bottle of Chivas Regal was from the late 70’s or early 80’s, based on bottle design and importer. The older bottling is broad, sweet, and full, with just a slight mustiness, leading to a broad spirit with some good notes of fruit and grain. The newer bottling is slightly thinner on the nose, and while similarly mellow on the palate, shows a little more shrill with grassy notes.

 

Pinch

   Our older bottling of 12 Year Old Pinch was from sometime in the late 70’s, and it was bad. We all agreed that making the comparison with the current bottling wouldn’t be quite fair. It smelled like something rotten, with comments like “burnt brown sugar in a mop bucket.” The modern bottling 15 Year Old Dimple Pinch in a word: “Smooth.”

 

Johnnie Walker Black Label

   This one was a surprise. The 1L bottle of Johnnie Walker 12 Year Old Black Label was bottled in 1971. With a broad nose of honey and grain, this blend is mellow with a quick finish. The modern bottling is slightly lighter, less intense and more thin on the nose. On the palate, this blend sings! It has more breadth than it’s older brother; is sweeter, with more smoke and more intensity all around.

   This was the first modern bottling that bettered its older counterpart. As Brett put it, “The bottom line is that for thirty bucks or under, Johnnie Walker Black Label is one of the best whiskys you can get your hands on, day in and day out, anywhere.”

 

Teacher’s Highland Cream

   The older Teacher’s Highland Cream bottling, from some time between 1967 and 1979, bore the old label “4/5 quart.” Tasting the two side by side, it is apparent that the older Teacher’s is more intense in every way. The nose is frosting-sweet compared to both the Johnnie Walker that came before and the modern Teacher’s bottling. Lots of caramel leads to a bitter finish with wild fruit notes. The modern bottling, from a 1.75L bottle (the only size available at Binny’s) is dialed back; lightly smoky with some honey notes. It is quite soft by comparison, but we agree that the handle is a great value for thirty bucks.

 

Buchanan’s

   This may be the oddest pair of the evening. We compared a 1976 bottling of Buchanan’s Black & White (the one with the black scottie and white westie on the label) with the current Buchanan’s 12 Year Old. The two are surprisingly similar. The 1976 bottling has a nose of light toffee, vanilla and vegetation, with a little white pepper. The modern bottling is just a little flatter, with a note of balsa wood. Both are light-bodied with caramel and some smoke poking through.

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   Overall, the modern bottlings tend to be more focused, thin, spirited and austere. While a small part of this may stem from bottle age and storage conditions, it is more likely that the productio blends have shifted over the decades, leading producers to include more inexpensive grain whisky in each blend, and less of the


Coming Soon: Onion Brewery Pumpkin Ale in Cans

This blog was going to be about a viable alternative to the hard to find Southern Tier Pumking, but it turns out the beer we were going to recommend in its place, Hoppin’ Frog Frog’s Hollow Pumpkin Ale, seems to be just as scarce this year.  In years past Frog’s Hollow has long outlasted Pumking on our shelves, but this year it was bestowed with a gold medal at The Great American Beer Festival, causing its popularity to soar.  So instead, this blog is now about the brand new Wild Onion Pumpkin Ale from the local Onion Pub & Brewery in Lake Barrington.

While most pumpkin beers hit our shelves weeks ago, Wild Onion’s will make its debut next week.  It will be the first pumpkin beer that Binny’s will offer in a can.  We had the chance to try this on tap over a month ago, and we were impressed by just how much pumpkin and spice flavor was packed into this 5.4% ABV brew.  More importantly, it reminded us of pumpkin pie, a trait that most pumpkin beer enthusiasts seek out. 

Check your local Binny’s for availability if you wish to acquire Wild Onion Pumpkin Ale, or if you are seeking out the dwindling Southern Tier Pumking or Hoppin’ Frog Frog’s Hollow Pumpkin Ale.  Which pumpkin beer is your favorite this year?


A Question of Price

   First, a story:

   I had just moved to the Chicago area and needed to meet some people, so I sat on a folding chair in my new apartment complex courtyard. A neighbor came out onto his balcony and asked if I wanted to hang out. He had some friends in town and they were bored.

   As it often does, it came up that I work in wine. They asked about the difference between expensive and cheap wine. I geek out on these questions. After their protests, I ran home and grabbed two bottles of cabernet, both from California. One was under ten bucks and the other was around forty. I poured everybody a glass of each, and asked them which they liked more.

   After tasting both, my new neighbor said, “I can tell you which one I like, and I can tell you which is more expensive, and they’re not the same.”

—–

   Consumer perception of wine pricing was a hot topic back in 2008, before the financial meltdown, before dropping high-end wine sales became the big story. Interesting studies about wine pricing were released in the field of economics and also the field of neuro-biology (follow those links for science!).

   The economists’ report confirmed what we all suspected: In a blind tasting, people who are not wine experts tend to like less expensive wines while those with more wine experience tend to like more expensive wines. Freakonomics author Steven Levitt wrote this entry in his NYTimes.com blog about it, concluding (with or without a smirk) that it is unwise to seek education about wine for fear of developing expensive tastes.

   It’s easy to dismiss something that you have not invested yourself in, something that you do not wish to understand.

   The second study the one done by neuroscientists is the one that stuck in my head. It suggests that people not only react more favorably to a wine when we are told it is expensive, but we show increased “blood-oxygen-level-dependent activity in medial orbitofrontal cortex, an area that is widely thought to encode for experienced pleasantness during experiential tasks.” Which I guess means that your brain physically reacts more positively to wine when you are told it is more expensive, even before you have sniffed it.

   It’s causing a miniature crisis every time I taste expensive wine. Where I used to think “It’s a hundred bucks, so it better be good,” I now think “It’s a hundred bucks, so I am at a hightened level of brain activity.” That 2007 Ornellaia that I tasted last week was it really as monolithic as I perceived? The barrel sample of 2007 Opus One was it really as amazingly complex and intense and focused as my receptively oxygen-addled medial orbitofrontal cortex concluded?

   Is my appreciation enslaved to a subjectivity beyond my own perception, subject to a level of prejudice hardwired into my brain function at a physiological level?  It’s getting tough to sleep.

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   This has been on my mind because of the comment on this blog from early last month. My fellow Binny’s guy Bill suggests that I might be part of the “‘price has no bearing on quality’ brigade,” which I think is unfair. Price has a clear bearing on quality. I’m always looking for and blogging about great values (so much that a friend recently offered post-it note with a list of synonyms for “value” that I might mix it up) but lately the wines capturing my attention are the most expensive.

   Though price does matter, a hefty price tag does not guarantee that the a will be good, nor does it guarantee that you will like a wine. So in the end I guess it’s up to each person to find their own golden mean, as wishy-washy as that sounds.

   So. How about you? What do you consider a value? At what price does something get too expensive, even if it is super delicious?


De Proef Collaborates With Terrapin

Monstre Rouge is the fourth beer in a series in which De Proef Brouwerji from Belgium invites a famous American craft brewery to head across the Atlantic to collaborate on a beer.  What makes Monstre Rouge unique to us Illinoisans is that De Proef collaborated with Terrapin Brewing Co. from Georgia, whose beers are unavailable in Illinois.  The previous three breweries to collaborate with De Proef (Lost Abbey, Allagash, and Bell’s) are all available in the Land of Lincoln.

 

Monstre Rouge is a self titled Imperial Flanders Red Ale, but the name and description are a bit deceiving.  While we didn’t pick up on the brettanomyces yeast, tart, sour, or sweet flavors that Monstre Rouge boasts, we did notice a spiciness from the added rye, as well as a heavy dose of bitterness from the hops.  Monstre Rogue is aged on toasted American oak, resulting in a woody flavor on the finish.  While we did feel somewhat tricked by the Imperial Flanders Red Ale description, we still all agreed that this is a delicious brew, and drinks more like a barleywine.

 

Monstre Rouge is your chance to endeavor the beers of Terrapin Brewing Co., who presently have no plans of expanding distribution to Illinois.  There is a reason why De Proef selected Terrapin to collaborate, and the proof is in the bottle.  Email kyle@binnys.com to see if your local Binny’s has this one of a kind brew in stock.


Thoughts on Mezcal

   The explosion of tequila in the last few years has created a lot of confusion surrounding all kinds of spirits distilled from agave from Mexico.

   Here’s a thumbnail sketch.

   The origins of distillation in Mexico date back to at least the 1530’s, brought to the new world by Spanish Conquistadors. They used the most readily available fermentable material in Mexico – agave – a relative of the lily family (not a cactus, as commonly misperceived) with over 100 strains growing across the vast new territory.

   A fermented (but not distilled) drink called pulque was being made with agave well before the arrival of the Spaniards, nearly always by native priests who considered it a gift from the Gods and used it for sacrificial ceremonies and medicinal purposes. When the Spaniards arrived they brought the distillation process with them, and the oldest North American distilled spirit was born.

   “Mezcal” is a catchall term applied to anything distilled in Mexico from agave. Ergo, Tequila is technically Mezcal de Tequila. Tequila can only be produced from blue agave grown in the Mexican state of Jalisco and small parts of bordering states Zacatecas and Michoacan. Mezcal is actually distilled in nine states in Mexico from up to eleven different species of agave, the green Espadin being the most common.

   The closest regional association to Mezcal is with Oaxaca state in the south. Oaxaca is somewhat considered the home of Mezcal by the Mexican government. Another agave distilled product, Sotol, is distilled in the state of Chihuahua.

   Most Mezcal, especially in Oaxaca, is distinguished fromTequila not only by the agave used but by production techniques.Most notably, Mezcal production includes cooking the agave intraditional in ground pits lined with rocks and fired by wood, and distillation in traditional copper pot stills. The variety of available Mezcalavailable is as wide as the selections of agave strains.

 

   Let’s get to what’s in the bottle.

 

   The grand daddy of Mezcal for most US consumers is the Del Maguey line, imported for a number of years by Mezcal guru Ron Cooper, produced in and named after the Oaxacan villages where they are born. More expensive than most, but fat, sweet, spicy and in varying degrees smoky, they offer a great representation of regional styles, differentiated by the elevations and areas from which the wild agaves are harvested.  The new Del Maguey Vida bottling is a good introduction to the gems Ron has discovered, retailing for $39.99. 

  New From Durango comes El Malpais Blanco ($24.99), Rojas Especial Blanco ($24.99) and Reposado ($29.99), none for the faint of heart. All three are rich, smoky, herbal and almost briny. These are almost the equivalent of an Islay whisky made with agave! 

   Moving to a softer style and more balance between smoky and sweet is the Scorpion line from Oaxaca. This lineup, still new to Binny’s, is traditional but approachable, and each bottle has an actual scorpion inside! (Actually the exoskeleton of a scorpion, considered a mystical delicay in Oaxaca) Bottlings range from the traditional blanco, reposado and 1 year aged anejo, to the exotic 5 year and 7 year aged anejo.

   From the Mexican state of Zacatecas, you should check out the Casa Curiel line. They drink like well made tequila, as they are made like tequila, from Blue Agave grown just outside the zone around Jalisco that would legally designate them as tequila. We currently offer the standard blanco, reposado and anejo. Also from Zacatecas and coming soon to Binny’s is Felino Reposado, another reposado made in the Tequila style.


Rare Imports Hit Our Shelves

Several  rare beers made an appearance on our shelves last week, and we would like to share them with you.

 

First up is Mikkeller and Brewdog’s collaboration I Hardcore You.  The brew is a combination of Brewdog’s Hardcore IPA and Mikkeller’s I Beat U.  Both are double IPA’s in the 9% ABV range, and when blended together and dry hopped, then end result is the brand new, 9.5% ABV I Hardcore You.  We had a chance to sample this last night, and it is quite a bit hoppier than just about anything we have had from Europe.  It is definitely brewed with American hop heads in mind.

Less than 10 barrels a year are produced of Pannepot Reserva Old Fisherman’s Ale, and you can find some of the bounty at Binny’s.  This delicious Belgian style Quadrupel is aged in French oak barrels for a year, and clocks in at 10% ABV.  Pannepot Reserva has rich malty flavors of chocolate, coffee, and caramel.  Dark fruits, spices, and brown sugar are in your face.  Subtle hints of oak and Belgian Yeast are in the background.  This otherworldly creation is a must try if you are a Belgian beer lover.

A few of our city stores also recieved a limited amount of Fantome Strange Ghost and De La Senne Wadesda you can call your local Chicago Binny’s to see if they still have either in stock.  If you want to get your hands on any of the beers mentioned in this blog act now they won’t be around forever.


Food and Wine: Art or Science?

Food and wine pairing is a challenging process. However, there are several steps that will help match up food and wine. You know what meal you are going to have with the maturing Bordeaux in the cellar: steak (or just the wine itself). But what about those special, more complex meals? Heck, what about everyday meals?

 

  1. Define your dish. What is the first thing to come to mind when you eat a certain dish? Savory, salty, smokey, spicy, or sweet? There are limitless descriptors, but the most prominent flavor (or even texture) in your dish will ultimately help you with the pairing.

  2. Know your wine. Lobster and Chardonnay is a classic pairing, but there are so many different styles of Chardonnay; not all of them will work. Knowing your wine is equally important as defining your dish. The more wines you try with a dish the easier it is to find a match.

  3. Look at Alcohol. Rule of thumb: less alcohol, easier pairing. Wine with 15% or more alcohol is tough to find a match with anything that isn’t still bleeding off of the grill.

  4. Old World vs. New World. In general, old world wines will pair with food better than wines from the new world. Old world wines will have less acohol, less use of oak and more acidity. Wines high in acidity like Chianti or Cotes du Rhone are food friendly reds. Rieslings from Germany and Austria are low in alcohol and high in acidity as well. They pair well with spicy food or any standard, lighter fare.

  5. Keep an open mind. The single best food and wine pairing I’ve experienced was lamb loin and a buttery Chardonnay. The loin was seared in clarified butter and served with a taragon and Cointreau cream sauce. Look at the components of the dish aside from the lamb. Butter, taragon, Cointreau and cream. It worked amazingly. An oaky, buttery chardonnay is complemented by the butter and fresh taragon extremely well.

  6. Cooking Method. A chicken can be cooked using nearly every cooking method. How it is cooked can make it easier to pair with a wine. A braised dish like Coq au Vin goes really well with red wine. The same goes for a heavily seasoned grilled chicken. Consider the main cooking method for your wine pairing.

  7. Contrast or Complement? Complementary and contrasting flavors with food and wine need to be defined. Foods that are buttery (butter, shellfish, even popcorn) will usually do well with a buttery Chardonnay. Savory dishes, like grilled red meat play nicely with red wines. Salty or spicy foods are contrasted by light, bone dry white wines and also sweeter white wines as well. Strong and stinky cheeses do extremely well with sweeter wines.

  8. Adjust your dish to find balance. This is where your battle is won. The only things you can do to change your wine are to age it, decant it or chill it. Slightly adjusting your dish by adding salt, acidity or fresh herbs can make a huge difference in your final product. Salt and acidity enhance flavors in a dish, but they also tone down a wine. Bite into a lemon wedge and have a sip of Sauvignon Blanc. It tastes like water, right? This shows that acidity in a wine (and wine in general) is toned down when you add acidity to your dish. It is also extremely important to season your dish as you cook. If you are making a sauce, taste the wine with it as you go. Certain herbs play really well with certain wines. Rosemary and Cabernet are great together. Taragon and Chardonnay is another.

  9. When in doubt, bubbly! Sometimes there are dishes that are too complex for a still red or white wine. Sparkling wine is the food friendliest wine there is. Its bright acidity and lighter style keeps your palate awake and lively. From salads to desserts, sparkling wine is the perfect wine with food, and it’s not just for celebrations.

  10. Try the Classics. There are many classic food and wine pairings. Sauternes and foie gras or Roquefort are matches made in Heaven. Lobster or crab with a buttery Chardonnay is a great pairing as well. Shrimp and Fino Sherry is another classic. Not much beats a steak and a bigger red wine, either. There are plenty of others as well.

  11. Play with your food! Get a group of friends together and open a few wines with a meal. Use different cooking methods on your protein of choice. Keep it simple. Use different herbs, make different sauces and test them with different wines. Take notes too, drinking wine affects ones memory.

  12. Don’t forget dessert. Your dessert wine needs to be sweeter than your dessert. A Snickers bar followed by a drink of soda is an example of why this needs to happen. When you are making a dessert, tone down the sugar in your recipe a bit, and see how it goes.

 

 


BAKON Vodka

   Here at Binny’s, we like to think that we have our finger on the pulse of the community when it comes to spirits, beer and wine. We listen to you in the aisle, we are out at trade shows and constantly touring wineries, breweries, distilleries. And now with the social media on the internets, we have this new layer of communication with you (would this be a good time to shamelessly plug our Facebook and twitter pages?).

   Case in point: Bakon, the bacon flavored vodka.

   There’s a lot of bacon talk out there “bacon-mania” they call it. I’m probably not the guy to ask. Bacon has come to represent something all-American, macho and sexy and smirkingly gourmet. You can get it smothered in chocolate, you can have bacons-of-the-month delivered to your door, you can put your system through the 1390-calorie punishment that is the Baconator Triple (which is a real thing, apparently). A vodka flavored like bacon only seems reasonable.

   I shrugged off Bakon vodka at first. The spirits buyer at Binny’s ordered it in based on customer interest, and I smirked each time I passed it in the aisle. Then I started hearing about it on Twitter, on blogs. And it’s selling well in our stores. My curiosity was piqued.

   I did a little research, and now a bottle is sitting on my desk. Despite my skepticism, I dove right in. The bottle comes with a necker that suggests using Bakon in two drinks the Bakon Mary a take-off on the classic bloody mary, and the Chocolate Bakon Martini. For science, I tried this vodka neat, with Bloody Mary Mix, and a cocoa bar, since I didn’t feel like springing for fresh cream and chocolate liqueuer. For science! Also, I got some other people in here to try it.

   The vodka is clear with just the slightest hint of pink. It certainly smells hammy not smoky like I was expecting, maybe like hot dogs? Bacon bits? It shows no chemical components at all; the vodka under the bacon flavor is of good quality and does not betray its standard 40% abv. The bacon flavor is there on the palate a little black pepper and savory meat. It’s not like charred, crispy bacon, but floppy raw meat with black pepper. That’s probably good. Char is not a great quality in vodka. It’s smooth. The general consensus here is that the bacon flavor is right up front and the spirit underneath is held back nicely.

   For the Bakon Mary: Zing Zang is my old standby mix for those times where I can’t lug all the ingredients for a bloody mary with me. I prefer to mix my own, but that’s not always an option. Zing Zang is super spicy with lots of celery salt, and a value for five bucks. It’s so flavorful you’ll need to mix the Bakon vodka to almost 50/50 before the meatiness shines through, but then there it is, savory meat.

   The verdict? I think I’d prefer my bloody mary to be about the spices and vegetables, but if you’re a fan of meat in your tomato juice, this actually seems like a pretty good option. Just make sure to use a mellow mix or recipe, or you might eclipse the savory flavor of Bakon.

   Then there is the Chocolate Bakon Martini. I wanted to keep it simple, so instead of setting up a full-service bar, I opened up the Lindt 70% Cocoa, broke off pieces passed them around. We first bit into the chocolate, then sipped the vodka.

   …And it’s a decent pairing! The richness and bitterness of the chocolate covers the hamminess of the vodka, but the subtle savory quality remains. I could really see this working well in a cocktail, adding a subtle layer of savory flavor into a chocolate martini a drink too focused on sweetness.

   Bakon is a decent flavored vodka, and though “refreshing” isn’t the first word that comes to mind, it is sort of refreshing to see a new vodka flavored like something other than fruit or candy. It’s certainly not for everybody, but if you’re into this whole bacon thing, it’s something you should know about. And probably already do?


A Day at Inniskillin

About a month ago I was asked about the ageability dessert wines, specifically that of Icewine.  Many dessert wines are famous for their ability to age.  However, when it comes to Icewine Ive never had one more than a few years old.  So I set out to find an answer.  My guess would be that, since they have alcohol, sugar and acidity they should have no trouble going the distance.  The real question is not will they age, but what will they be like when they do?

First, I checked The Oxford Companion to Wine and Sotheby’s Encyclopedia of Wine.  Both had information about making Icewine and drinking window of 2-20 years, but nothing about what they become.  Then I thought to check to see if what the critics are saying.  The reviews are all for current vintages with a wide drinking window, but nothing about them once aged.  I would have to find out for myself.  So I made the drive (about 10 hours) to Canadas Niagara region.  While there are many wineries to visit, I set my course for Inniskillin.

Arriving early gave some time to explore the grounds before the tour.  I tried some of the dry table wines, sadly with the low production of these most are offered at the winery only.  After some reds it was time to grab a bite to eat.  This simple meal was the best of my whole trip; a mixed green salad with grilled Brie and bacon cured in Icewine paired with the Brae Burn Vineyard Viognier, which was my favorite of the dry wines.  It would be worth the trip to enjoy this again.

The tour began with an explanation of their expectations for 2010.  As other wineries in the area would confirm, there was an unusual stretch of heat early in the growing season which puts the grapes about 2-3weeks ahead of schedule in ripeness.  As long as there arent any hail storms or late season rains, 2010 has the potential for a very large, very ripe crop; possibly the regions best year ever. Our host also went over the history and many milestones of the winery.  Its a great story of travel, love, excitement and anticipation.

At the end of the tour I mentioned my interest in aged Icewine.  The cellars library holds bottles going back to 1986 and that they are tasted periodically to check in on them.  The 84s and 85s recently lost their life and are mere collector items rather than bottles you would actually want to drink.  It was time to find out.  I paid my tasting fees and heres the line up:bottles '86-'07

 

2006 Riesling $69.99 Binnys Price 375mL bottle

 Deep yellow color.  Smells more like apricots than apricots do.  A very rich wine up front, with marmalade fruit flavors and great acidity that sneaks up on the end.

 

2007 Vidal $49.99 Binnys Price 375mL bottle

 Pale straw color.  Very clean and even refreshing if you can believe that for an Icewine.  Distinct flavors of lemon and marzipan.  My 2nd favorite.

 

2006 Vidal Oak Aged $89.99 375mL bottle, winery only

 Golden amber color.  The scent of fresh biscuits and honey is mirrored on the palate.  This is much more viscous and warming.  The fruit aspect richer like pecan pie filling.

 

2006 Cabernet Franc $89.99 Binnys Price 375mL bottle

 Red color with auburn tones.  Very aromatic with candied plums.  On the palate it is much lighter than expected and tastes like strawberries, rhubarb and ultra ripe red plums.  Another surprise comes when it finishes as clean as it does.

 

1998 Riesling $200, 375mL bottle, winery only

 Medium dark gold color. Smells like those tan colored caramel squares I got while trick-or-treating as a kid.  Tastes of caramel-covered fruit cake, dried apricots and spiced oranges.

 

1986 Vidal $350, 375mL bottle, winery only

 Darker caramel color.  Slightly musty and oxidative sweet sherry scents.  The peach flavors are slightly stewed, and the acid is lively but prickly in the front of the palate.

 

1996 Vidal Oak Aged $250, 375mL bottle, winery only

 Beautiful hazel & amber shades.  Smells like sugary browned butter and raw cinnamon.  Its creamy in texture with flavors of charred and roasted mixed nuts and pudding pie.  The finish lasted nearly 2 minutes.  My favorite of the bunch.

 

1995 Cabernet Franc $250, 375mL bottle, winery only

  At first I very much disliked it.  It looked like muddy water and smelled like a 30 year old bottle of Bordeaux way past its prime and with a tablespoon of sugar.  I came back to after tasting through the rest of the wines.  While the color didnt improve, everything else did.  The nose turned into figs, and brown sugar melting over oatmeal.  The flavors that were hiding before were no longer shy, and had become expressive in strawberries and caramel fondue.

 

NV Sarkling Vidal $60-$100 375mL bottle, limited distribution.  NA @ Binnys

 Its fun to watch the bubbles flow through this.  The texture is creamy and fizzy all at the same time.  Drinking it feels like a Lambic upfront but feels like a wine on the end.  The nose and the palate are concurrent with sweet lemon, nectarines, Orangina and grapefruit.  You will burp.  I did.

Glasses '86-'07

 

  Today there are 3 Inniskillin Icewines (2008 Vidal, 2007 Riesling and 2007 Cab Franc) available at Binnys.  Feel free to call your favorite location to inquire about whats in stock.

  I know we dont offer many of the wines that are listed here, but if you are ever in the Niagra area or have the time make the trip, its worth every second of your time.  While you are there, Niagara Falls is only about 30 minutes south of the winery, and it is breathtaking.Niagara Falls

Questions, comments and discussions are not only acceptable, but encouraged,

Jon Adam


Pushing Oktoberfest to the Limit

Oktoberfest style beers, just like the majority of beer styles, are pushed to the limit by American craft brewers.  Oktoberfest brews have a long and storied tradition, sharing characteristics such as their deep copper color, rich maltiness, subdued hops, and 5-6% ABV.  Two popular craft breweries, including one right here in the Chicago area, have taken Oktoberfest beers to the extreme.

 

Avery Brewing Company – Denver, Colorado
Averys imperial Oktoberfest offering, The Kaiser, is like a traditional Oktoberfest beer on steroids.  It is oozing with sweet caramel and toasted malts while hints of brown sugar, molasses, toffee, and biscuits round things out.  It has everything we would expect from an Oktoberfest, only much more pronounced.   Dont be fooled by The Kaisers drinkabilityit surpasses 10% ABV.

 

Two Brothers Brewing Company Warrenville, Illinois
Atom Smasher made its debut at Binnys last week unlike the abovementioned Kaiser, which Avery is now offering for the 7th consecutive fall season.  The two beers share many flavor similarities, although Atom Smasher is a bit toned down when contrasted to Kaiser, mostly due to it being 7.7% ABV.  The uniqueness in Atom Smasher comes from it being aged in Two Brothers massive oak foudres, giving the beer a conspicuous oak flavor that is pleasant but doesnt dominate.

 

Whether or not you are a fan of Oktoberfest brews, the abovementioned beers are worth a shot.  They are close enough to the original style for the Oktoberfest lovers, yet different enough for the extremists.  What fits your fancy when it comes to Oktoberfest beers?


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Certain states expressly prohibit the direct importation of alcohol and violation can be punishable as a misdemeanor or felony.


It is Binny's policy not to ship alcohol to certain states where direct shipment is prohibited and therefore, our website will not let you place an order for shipment to Minnesota, Virginia, Michigan, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and other states.


Please contact your local alcoholic beverage control agency for further information.


Purchaser and recipient must be over the age of 21 to purchase alcohol.


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