Hand Picked Selections: Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare & More

   That glass on the right is the first ever sample of the next bottling of Binny’s Hand Picked Buffalo Trace Bourbon. It is awesome. We made that one little sample while picking our barrels; the product itself does not exist yet. And I can hardly wait for it to get here.

   The tasting panel met this week, picking a new vatting of Buffalo Trace and several barrels for individual bottling of Eagle Rare. As always, it was good times.

(Click the image for a good view of gorgeous bourbon in a smudgy glass)

 

Buffalo Trace

   I hope this doesn’t read like sales-pitch hype, because I am genuinely thrilled about our upcoming Buffalo Trace bottling.

   Quick rundown: we do a multi-barrel vatting of Buffalo Trace to keep consistency in larger batches and from year to year. What we end up with is better than the sum of its parts; we are able to compliment an extra spicy barrel here with an extra sweet barrel there. You can be sure that the bottle that you buy in our Orland Park store will be the same blend as the bottle you convince your buddy to buy up in Lake Zurich.

   Just like last year, we were given twenty barrel samples, all bottled at the final 90 proof, all from the same warehouse area, and noteworthy this year as the oldest batch we’ve gotten yet. The dilemma: every sample was top-notch. We all agreed that we’d be thrilled if we bought a bottle of any one of the barrels. 

   We came to a pretty quick consensus on our favorite fourteen barrels, and then waited patiently as The Whiskey Hotline’s very own Joe Maloney blended small measures of each into a glass. This blend was passed around the group along with the last of the previous batch for comparison. It needed just a little more sweetness, so we added the sweetest remaining barrel to the blend. Pow. Fifteen barrel blend. It sings.

   So look forward to the next bottling of Buffalo Trace, arriving in late spring. It’s round and sweet like our last batch, but with a little more spirited punch and a little heftier caramel. Buffalo Trace is the cornerstone of our Hand Picked Selections, and ours is the best Buffalo Trace around. Again, I don’t know how to say this without making it sounds like a sales pitch, but I think this is the best 25 bucks you can spend on bourbon.

 

Eagle Rare

   Eagle Rare is interesting bourbon. It tends to be less big and burly than our other Hand Picked bourbons, more intricate with savory and herbal notes and hints of dry grass along with bright butterscotch. Pleasing and complex stuff.

   This time around we chose from ten samples; picking five to be bottled singly at 90 proof. All ten samples were pretty consistent, with small differences here and there. One with a little extra peachy fruit, one with a little more spice, but that’s mostly splitting hairs. If you do happen to find one you really love, grab the rest off the shelf. 

 

One More Tasting Note: Bulleit Rye

   Bulleit Bourbon is a big brand, and if I could use the word “commercial” without it seeming too negative, I would. It comes from Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and we’re seeing more and more interesting whiskey from Lawrenceburg. One thing that makes Bulleit stand out from the luxury bourbon pack is its high rye content just under 30% that gives it a spicy spine. So now they’re releasing Bulleit Rye, at 95% rye. We got a sneak peek at this new bottling. Not a Hand Picked Selection, but noteworthy.

   It’s interesting. The first thing to jump out at me on the nose is lots and lots of mint. Like, really minty mint, fresh in a garden (of the other tasting notes I’ve seen, mint hasn’t been mentioned, but it wasn’t just me).The mint carries across into the palate, along with a strong vegetal note, even peppers. There’s a little sweetness and grain in there too. Certainly worth seeking out, at least in a tasting somewhere. Not sure how soon it will hit retail shelves.

 

The Craft Beer Road Show St. Charles Lineup

Here is the lineup for the Binny’s craft beer road show on Saturday, March 12th from 1-4pm in St. Charles.  As you will notice, it is completely different from the Friday tasting at Willowbrook featured in the previous beer blog.  If you can’t make it to either of these events, you still have a chance as the Binny’s craft beer road show still has stops slated for Bolingbrook, Des Plaines, and Lake Zurich.  Come on out and try some beers on us!

 

  1. Ska True Blonde Ale

  2. Ska Modus Hoperandi IPA

  3. Stone Pale Ale

  4. Stone IPA

  5. Stone 06.06.06 Vertical Epic Ale

  6. Stone 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale

  7. Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale

  8. Stone Double Bastard Ale – 2008

  9. Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale

  10. Two Brothers Bitter End Pale Ale

  11. Two Brothers Domaine du Page French Country Ale

  12. Allagash White

  13. Metropolitan Flywheel Lager

  14. Lagunitas IPA

  15. Green Flash West Coast IPA

  16. Anchor Steam

  17. Anchor Liberty Ale

  18. Stevens Point Whole Hog Barley Wine

  19. Sand Creek Franks Wild Ryed IPA

  20. New Holland Golden Cap Saison (from 2008)

  21. Clown Shoes Brown Angel Double Brown Ale

  22. Clown Shoes Clementine White Ale

  23. Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA

  24. Clown Shoes Eagle Claw Fist Imperial Amber Ale

  25. Grand Teton Bitch Creek Extra Special Brown Ale

  26. Founders Porter

  27. Founders Pale Ale

  28. Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout

  29. Breckenridge Avalanche Ale

  30. Breckenridge Lucky U IPA

  31. Breckenridge Regal Double Pilsner

  32. Breckenridge Vanilla Porter

  33. Breckenridge 471 IPA

  34. Allagash Curieux 2008

  35. Dogfish Head My Antonia

  36. Dogfish Head Squall IPA

  37. Three Floyds Black Sun Stout

  38. Southampton IPA

  39. Issaquah Menage A Frog

  40. The Bruery Saison Rue

  41. Southern Tier Backburner Barley Wine (from 2008)

  42. Anderson Valley Brother Davids Triple Ale

  43. Sierra Nevada Homegrown Estate Ale

  44. Bells Expedition Stout

  45. Bells Double Cream Stout

  46. Bells Java Stout

  47. Bells Batch 10,000

  48. Great Lakes the Dopplerock

  49. Duchesse de Bourgogne

  50. Monks Cafe Flemish Sour Ale

  51. Petrus Aged Pale

  52. Girardin Gueuze 1882 (Black Label)

  53. Caracole Amber Ale

  54. Schneider Aventinus

  55. BrewDog Hardcore IPA

  56. BrewDog Punk IPA

  57. Maredsous 6 Blonde

  58. Maredsous 8 Dubbel

  59. Maredsous 10 Triple

Craft Beer Road Show Bringing 60 Beers to Willowbrook on Friday

Be sure to stop by Binny’s in Willowbrook this Friday, March 11th from 5-7pm for our Binny’s craft beer road show.  We will be pouring 60 cellared, rare, and everyday beers for your enjoyment.  Think of this no charge tasting as not only a way to try new beers, but as a thank you from Binnny’s for your support.  If you can’t make it on Friday, the craft beer road show still has some dates in the future at other Binny’s locations.  See the bottom of this blog post for a full list of stops.  The following beers will be poured at Willowbrook come Friday, and the list has and will change for each and every stop.  We hope to see you there!

 

1. Chatoe Rogue First Growth OREgasmic Ale
2. Chatoe Rogue First Growth Wet Hop Ale
3. Chatoe Rogue First Growth Creek Ale
4. Rogue Yellow Snow Ale (from 2009)
5. Rogue 21 Ale
6. Rogue XS McRogue Scotch Ale
7. Flossmoor Station Station Master Wheat Ale
8. Flossmoor Station IPA
9. Flossmoor Station Pullman Brown Ale
10. Julian Hard Cider from California
11. Great Lakes Christmas Ale (from 2009)
12. Great Lakes Christmas Ale (from 2010)
13. Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA (from 2010)
14. Pyramid Snowcap Ale (from 2009)
15. Bells 25th Anniversary Ale
16. Bells Batch 10,000
17. Capital Island Wheat
18. Capital Autuminal Fire (from 2010)
19. Coopers Sparkling Ale from Australia
20. Coopers Original Pale Ale from Australia
21. Alba Scots Pine Ale from Scotland
22. Samuel Smiths Nut Brown Ale
23. Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout
24. Samuel Smiths Organic Apple Cider
25. Samuel Smiths Winter Welcome Ale 2010 -2011
26. Samuel Smiths Pure Brewed Lager
27. Samuel Smiths India Ale
28. Fullers Organic Honeydew
29. Wychwood King Goblin ESB
30. Gavroche Biere de Garde
31. Duvel Golden Ale
32. Petrus Winter Ale
33. Petrus Dubbel Bruin
34. Petrus Gouden Tripel
35. Petrus Speciale Ale
36. Petrus Blonde Ale
37. Petrus Aged Pale
38. Petrus Oud Bruin
39. Het Kapittel Blond
40. Het Kapittel Pater
41. Het Kapittel Prior
42. Het Kapittel Abt
43. Troubadour Obscura (Mild Stout)
44. Straffe Hendrik Brugse Tripel Bier 9°
45. Lindemans Kriek
46. Lindemans Framboise
47. Lindemans Pomme
48. Dogfish Head My Antonia
49. Dogfish Head Squall IPA
50. Dogfish Head Aprihop
51. Dogfish Head Theobroma (from 2009)
52. New Belgium Le Terroir
53. HeBrew Jewbelation 9
54. HeBrew Jewbelation 13
55. Fantome Hiver (from 2009)
56. Port Brewing Old Viscosity (from 2009)
57. Brooklyn Sorachi Ale
58. Samuel Adams Infinium
59. The Bruery 2 Turtle Doves
60. Choc Beer from Oklahoma Brewmasters Signature Reserve Quadruple

Focus on Alto Adige

   One issue with big wine tastings is the fact that inherently flashy wine gets noticed. I mean high-alcohol, superripe and fruity and/or heavily oaked styles are what stick out by definition. And when you’re tasting so many wines all at once, it’s easy to miss out on the examples of more restrained, balanced, contemplative styles.

 

   Earlier this week, I was lucky to attend a trade tasting featuring the wines of Alto Adige, a region at the very Northern tip of Italy, bordering Austria. The region drapes down from the Alps in  the North, facing the Mediterranean in the South. The wine reflect this combination of cooler, high-altitude Alpine climate and moderate Mediteranean influences: classy, aromatic wines with focused acidity, good fruit, never getting too ripe.

   The region’s strength is in white wine, with consistent themes across different varietals; acidic, linear whites with fantastic focus. Some highlights offered at Binny’s: Colterenzio’s pinot grigio is nice and light, with notes of pear and limestone. Tiefenbrunner’s pinot bianco is more toward the modern style, with more fruit than most others at the tasting, but still defined by racy acidity. Elena Walch offers a memorable pinot grigio with fresh lemon citrus and circus peanuts, with more breadth than most.

   It’s worth pointing out that every one of these falls under the fifteen dollar mark. Talk about value.

   The gewurztraminer from Alto Adige is spectacular. Gorgeously aromatic on the nose, with full honey and melon, these gewurztraminers smell sweet. This is deceptive, though, as the wines are often fermented dry, spicy and linear. Favorites include those by Terlano, Colterenzio, and an upcoming release from Elena Walch, though none are on Binny’s shelves yet.

   A bit of trivia: Gewurztraminer means “spice from Tramin.” Tramin is a town within Alto Adige, so linguistically speaking, Alto Adige is the home of gewurztraminer, or so the locals claim. More on that story on Wikipedia.

 

   I enjoyed these wines quite a bit. Most are consistency vibrant, structured, and classy, and outstanding values too. Even those that stand out as fruitier and more plush only do so in a matter of context they still fall into this charming but angular profile.

   I felt like this tasting was the ideal way to appreciate these particular wines. I had been worried that a tasting featuring only Alto Adige would be a little narrow. But in a larger contest, say, the Tre Bicchieri tasting just a few weeks ago, or maybe among hundreds of brown-bagged wines in a big reviewer’s blind tasting, these little wines would surely get lost in a sea of heavier, more showy and obvious styles. And trust me; that would be a real shame.

Hand Picked Selections Mega-Post

   First, check out the most recent update to The Whiskey Hotline. This one’s our Spring Edition, and it’s totally packed full of neat stuff: a rundown of recent microdistillery releases, more new items, special Spring Cleaning sale pricing (while stock lasts), a sneak peak of our upcoming World of Whiskies event, and an update on our 2011 Hand Picked Selections program.

   About the Hand Picked Selections: the tasting panel met twice in the last two weeks, and we have another meeting scheduled next week. We’ve been focusing on bourbon, since last year’s choices sold a lot better than we were expecting, and now our stocks are running low. So here’s a little extra insider info on upcoming single-barrel releases, presented in quick-notes form.

 

Old Weller

   This one’s interesting. We haven’t had a Hand-Picked Weller for a while, and we totally need one. We tasted across a current Old Weller Special Reserve bottling and then ten barrel samples, looking for examples that fit the profile while offering a little more oomph than the standard bottling. What we ended up fits that traditional Old Weller style round with lots of brown sugar, butterscotch and cloves and a light peachy fruit note.

   The problem is that our vatting is just too drinkable at full strength. We fell in love with it at barrel strength, but the Weller Special Reserve is bottled at a lighter 90 proof. We’re also considering the Old Weller Antique Original 107 Brand, bottled at 107 proof, which would be more faithful to what we were tasting. Plus, it looks like our four barrel choices meet the minimum age requirement for the Antique bottling. The tradeoff is it’s an extra couple bucks per bottle, and because of the higher proof there will be less to go around. Tough choice, right? What do you think we should do?

 

Blanton’s

   Blanton’s is a perennial favorite and a Hand-Picked Selections staple. Tasting for Binny’s exclusive casks is a blast for our panel. We shoot for a ballsy bourbon overloaded with intense baking spices and caramel.

   After comparing this round of five choices, we found two that we really liked, both showing the familiar Blanton’s profile, but both are intricate and complex, each in unique ways. So it looks like we’re getting two barrels, which I guess is great because we’re seeing the demand for more than one barrel at once. We won’t know which bottlings will go to which stores, so if you find a favorite, be sure to stock up. Or better yet, try to find a bottle of each different barrel.

 

Elmer T. Lee

   For our Elmer T. Lee bottling, we chose from nine samples, eventually narrowing it down to just two barrels to be bottled separately (or maybe three, depending on a couple things). This one has a more complex, intricate style. Along with the caramel and nutmeg notes you might find in the Blanton’s, I think of bright honey, salinic qualities, vegetal and herbal notes (dry straw, pepper), slight char, and even hints of smoke. There’s not much more to say; the choice was tough because the samples were consistently delicious and complex. This one’s a killer value.

 

Four Roses Single Barrel

   Here’s the short version of the story: Four Roses uses ten unique whiskey recipes that involve different mash bills and different yeast strains, resulting in ten different styles that are blended into their Yellow Label bottling. We were really excited last year when we were able to offer single barrel bottlings of all ten.

   Then in January, we held an event at our Lincoln Park store called The DNA of Four Roses, where we sampled out all the recipes (and other surprises; it was way cool). There were two interesting results. First, the unexpected crowd favorite was the oddball recipe known as OBSF, odd for its combination of high-rye mash bill and herbal yeast, resulting in lots of minty/herbal/savory/eucalyptus notes. Second, we sold through a lot more bourbon than we expected, and need to refill our stocks once again.

   We had to pick four new barrels for bottling: OBSO, OBSK, OBSQ and OBSF (you can decode that here). I won’t bore you with all the details of each bottling (each one could fill an entire blog post the whiskey is just that complex), but here are a few quick points of interest.

   Several of the new choices were distilled on the same date as our previous bottlings, and were found in the same areas of the warehouse. This means that there’s a good chance that what we have in these bottles for this upcoming release is the same thing as what is in the bottle from last year, only with that extra time in wood. It’s interesting to see what that extra time in wood does, and if you still have some of the last batch, you can try them side-by-side.

   My personal favorite this time around is the OBSK, a high-rye blend with yeast that imparts more spice. And by spice, I mean tons of baking spice: nutmeg, clove, molasses, butterscotch. But then my preference is for big whiskey.

 

Knob Creek Single Barrel

   The new Knob Creek Single Barrel release has gotten a lot of attention lately; it’s one of our most-requested items. As mentioned in the Whiskey Hotline, the new Binny’s picks won’t arrive for a few more weeks. We tried the sample from the distillery, but we just couldn’t commit to a big purchase without the chance to Hand Pick the best barrels for our customers (we’re selfish like that). So a few weeks later, the tasting panel met to try fifteen barrel samples aged in three different warehouses, along with an official retail bottle.

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Pax Vinifera, Part II – The Great Alcohol Debate

It is nearly impossible to work anywhere near wine without being dragged into this particular issue. It never fails. . .it will be a pleasant evening among wine friends, professional and casual alike, until someone throws down the gauntlet with a comment something like this: “all these overripe Napa Cabernets taste the same” or “I am sick of these high alcohol wines, they never pair well with anything”. . . and so begins The Great Alcohol Debate.

Lets get a few things out in the open before we proceed any further. Yes, alcohol levels in wine have risen in the last generation or so. This is an undisputed fact. Does this mean that 12.5% abv (alcohol by volume) wines are a thing of the past? No. It does indicate, however, a change in the stylistic landscape of the wine world. Wines have become increasingly ripe and, consequently, more alcoholic (with some vitners pushing the boundaries as far as absolutely possible, as someone will surely always tend to do), displaying dense, powerful styles that have proven extremely popular. As the popularity of these wines has risen, so has the outcry from those opposed to high alcohol content in wine. To put this into perspective, the federal government classifies table wine as having an abv percentage under 14. It is important to note that this percentage was created for tax purposes only and is in no way indicative of the style or flavor of a wine, nor was it intended as such. Any wine with an abv higher than 14% is considered a fortified wine whether or not its alcohol content was reached through natural fermentation or actual fortification. I use this as a cut-off, not because I agree with the federal government (about nearly anything), but because this is about the starting point where most people tend to agree alcohol levels become “too high”.

Whenever I hear someone argue that a wine’s abv is too high, my immediate reaction is to take issue. Here’s why: balance is key. I feel that those who take serious offense to alcohol levels are drastically over-simplifying an extremely complicated equation. The amount of variables in wine production is staggering. There are over 1,200 different compounds in wine. When you take into account that our perceptions are often based upon different combinations of these compounds, that number rises dramatically. Also, we must take into account the counteracting effects certain aspects of wine have with one another. For instance, we know that, given enough acidity, a wine that appears dry may have residual sugar present. Alcohol is similarly experienced differently when combined with new oak versus used, sugar content, acidity and even the temperature of the wine, among many other factors. Why then, is there a Great Alcohol Debate at all? One man’s opinion: because alcohol content provides an easy target. In order to sell a wine legally in these United States, the alcohol level must be printed somewhere on the label or the bottle itself. This provides people with an easily recognizable scapegoat. Is the wine ”hot” or seemingly too ripe? It must be the alcohol content!! See, its right there on the label! Does it not pair well with dinner? It’s that darn abv again! 

Now, here’s the big problem. Actually, problems, if you are a hair-splitter. Firstly, alcohol isn’t usually the culprit, folks. It’s the balance, or lack thereof. If a wine is too “hot”, dense, ripe or lacks any essence of terroir or significant character, it is not a balanced wine. Conversely, if the wine is too tannic, acidic, herbal, green or diluted, it is also unbalanced. If you care to streamline the argument (with one this convoluted, who wouldn’t?): a wine that is too anything is not balanced. Pointing at an alcohol level and saying ”that is why I don’t like this wine” or, worse “that is what is wrong with the wine industry today” is just plain wrong.

Another phenomenon I have encountered is people shopping according to alcohol level. Wow. That doesn’t seem right to me for one simple reason: they haven’t tried the wine yet. If you agree with the producer, grape, region and vintage, why would anyone exclude a wine based on alcohol level? That is like shopping for a car, finding the make , model, color and option package you like and then walking away for fear the steering may pull to the left. It just doesn’t make any sense. 

Now, am I making an absolute statement about alcohol level here? Nope. Of course not. Wines in the 15%+ range aren’t meant to be consumed the same way as wines with a 12.5% abv. For one, when alcohol levels rise to such heights, inebriation becomes a concern. Obviously, smaller portions or an earlier cut-off are in order. Pairing these wines, however, is no different. It is no more difficult pairing a nicely balanced 15% bottle than it is to pair a nicely balanced 13% bottle. So long as they are balanced, it becomes a matter of flavor (as it should always be). 

Now that we have finished with the academic aspects of this argument, it is time to address the moral. Recent history has proven that big, dense, powerful wines garner much critical acclaim and get the ratings that vitners are after. Is this the reason for the change in vinicultural landscape? To be a bit callous, I am not sure that I care. I want to be perfectly clear about this, I am not typically one to be dispassionate about anything ethical, yet I cannot help but feel indifference towards some of these arguments. Is it the ratings that changed the ripeness of wines? Is it the scores? How about the entirety of the scoring system? Maybe its all Robert Parker’s fault. If you spend enough time with wine geeks, all these arguments will seem to have merit. Yet I believe them all to be wrong. If you look at the most revered historical vintages of the last century, they have all been unusually ripe for their time. This indicates that people have always valued ripeness. This fact, when combined with scientific advancement, viticultural knowledge, enological education, current vinicultural practices and general concern with quality, the current state of wine appears somewhat inevitable. Are there irresponsible producers who chase ratings at the price of character and distinction of terroir? You bet. Are there winemakers who are so hungry for fame that they choose to impart a signature style on all the wineries they consult for, regardless of varietal and location? Yep. Am I going to invest my hard earned dollars in these endeavors? Of course not. Because at the end of the day, you and I are the gatekeepers. We decide what remains in the market. And what we want is choice

A final thought: I was tasting some wines with a good friend yesterday and this very topic came up. We were tasting a nice Burgundy (not perfectly balanced, but a refreshing reminder of how beneficial acid can be) when he said, “What I can’t understand, is why can’t there be room for all styles?”

I couldn’t agree more.         

 

  

Pax Vinifera, Part I – Screwcaps vs. Corks

   Brace yourselves friends, for I am about to break character: this is a call for peace. For any of you who know me well, I will give you a moment to get back into an upright position. . . all better? Fantastic. For those of you who do not know me as well, let me offer a bit of insight; I am often a slave to my passion. As such, I rarely ever temper said passion, as I feel that to truly embrace a passion you must let it burn hot and bright. However, as I have stated before, this is a call for peace. Perhaps an explanation is in order.

   You see, I do not necessarily look like a common wine professional. And I am fine with that. In fact, it has long been a hobby of mine to send people’s eyebrows racing into their hairline at every opportunity and I relish these moments. The juxtaposition between my appearance and my profession is an extension of this. So, when I shop for wine at other retailers, I am often amused by fellow wine professionals and their demeanors when dealing with me. I bring this up simply to illustrate that most wine professionals who do not know me personally would not assume I work in the industry and tend to let their true snobbery run wild. Often times, I am treated well, as the wine world is changing (albeit slowly, in this regard) and wine drinkers, and consequently wine professionals, are becoming a bit younger and more liberal. However, I am often faced with an elitist wine professional or a consumer who loves to assault me with their judgemental philosophies concerning my purchases. For instance, I am a big fan of Charles Smith. He produces wonderful wines at affordable prices. In my eyes, his QPR (qulaity-to-price-ratio) is one of the best. However, his labels are bold, brash and unforgiving, which is frowned upon in some minds. Also, I believe he bottles exclusively under screwcap (please correct me if I am wrong) and this is another point of contention among certain sects of the industry. When I sit down to think about the state of the wine industry and these hot points, I am faced with the big controversies in the wine world right now. So, I decided to make a list and call everyone out now and stop all this silliness. Here goes.

   Round 1: Screwcap vs. Corks

   I know, I know. I can feel my hair being blown back from the collective sigh. This topic has epitomized the metaphor of beating the proverbial horse. As a fan of the Romance Of The Cork (if you must know, I collect them, because I am a wine geek),  I am always a bit disappointed by having to twist my wine open. However, that disappointment often fades very quickly, so long as the juice is good. After all, we are in this for the wine folks, not the closure. Priorat, my favorite region, could close their wine under marshmallow and so long as the quality remained the same (though I doubt it would, I was just making a point) I would still buy it. I hear a lot of arguing about slow oxidation of wine contributing to its maturation and how screwcaps (because they don’t allow oxygen) would prohibit this phenomenon. Well, the jury is still out, though not entirely devoid of a potential verdict. The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) conducted a test with Semillon that is on point. They took thousands of bottles of 1999 Clare Semillon from Leasingham and aged them under perfect conditions for 10 years using 14 different closures. Once a year, a bottle representing each of the closures was opened in the lab and tasted and analyzed by researchers. After a decade of aging, yep, you guessed it, the screwcap held up best and the wine portrayed classicly aged Semillon characteristics. All other closures varied in efficacy with traditional cork bringing up the rear. Now, is this single research study absolutely conclusive? Of course not. Especially, when one considers that Australia was among the first to advocate the benefits of screwcaps, while simultaneously bottling millions of cases that way. On the flipside, Portugal has released numerous studies advocating corks (most cork comes from Portugal) and blaming “cork taint” on all sorts of other sources, including wineries themselves.

   So, is there a clear winner in this argument? Absolutely. The consumer. I use this to my advantage. Until there is enough history with bottles closed under screwcap, I only buy screwcaps for immediate, or near immediate, consumption. The reason? I know they will keep until I can get to them and while all my children of the cork lie sleeping in various states of maturation, my screwcaps stand straight, tall and proud above them, frontline soldiers in the quest for the perfect evening.

   How about you? Any feelings? I encourage you to jump right in…

   Next week, Pax Vinifera Part II: The great alcohol debate.

   Stay tuned.

Greg Hall Bringing Bourbon County Vertical, Dominique to South Loop

On March 10th, our South Loop store will be hosting Goose Island brewmaster Gregory Hall as he presents his Bourbon County Brand Stout vertical tasting.  2008, 2009, and 2010 Bourbon County Brand Stout will be on draft and available for purchase.  Other limited Goose Island draft offerings will be on tap such as Nightstalker, Pepe Nero, and Dominique.

 

Dominique is an extraordinarily unique beer.  It is a sour version of Matilda which is then aged in the same bourbon barrels that house Bourbon County Brand Stout.  Dominique really hits the spot for those like us that love both sours and bourbon barrel aged beers.  For all we know Dominique will be a one time thing, so come try a pint with Greg himself! Have you ever had a sour beer aged in bourbon barrels?