Paranormal IPA? Stone’s Ghost Hammer

Stone_Gost_Hammer_IPAOn the docket: 12 oz. can of Stone’s Ghost Hammer IPA

Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  A Lightly golden, somewhat hazy body stands beneath a white frothy head.  Decent lacing accrues on the sides of the glass, but the head dissipates, like a specter you’re not sure you saw.  Small zippy bubbles make their way to the top.

A:  A grapefruit citrus mixes with a subtle floral aroma.  A pinch of pine.

T:  Mirroring the aroma, citrus leads, followed by the floral component.  Interesting hop choice.  It finishes with a bit of cracker-y malt and firm but not bracing bitterness.
F:  Medium-light.  Gentle, but discernable carbonation.  Excellent bitterness to balance the malt.
O:  On the lighter side, but a smooth, easy-drinking IPA despite the 6.7% abv.  It’s a bit of a departure from what we expect from Stone, but that’s by no means a bad thing.  An intermediate-level IPA that will vanish quickly from your glass.  Ooooooo!

Suggested food pairing:  Arugula salad with sliced mango, tropical style roasted chicken, fruit tart, medium-sharpness cheddar.

One For the Now: California Project Pinot Grigio

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California Project Pinot Grigio, Non-vintage

5 ounces poured into:  Wine Country stemmed wine glass

Sight:  Very pale golden, clear, clean

Aroma:  Subtle nose of lemon, slight tartness

Taste:  A small thread of Meyer lemon, plus citrus, and light, zippy tart acidity

Feel:  Light, crisp.  What you want for casual company, a hot day, and a back deck

Overall:  Easy drinking, casual-consumption wine for those hot days on the deck, by the pool, or out in the sun

Suggested food pairing:  spring-mix salad with Meyer lemons, lightly-washed rind cheese, pasta with Alfredo sauce

Sure to Win: Victor Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon

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On the docket:  Victor Vineyards 2013 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon 750mL

Poured into:  stemless aeration glass

S:    Red-violet meniscus that rings around a deep, intense ruby red body.

A:  At the first inhale one gets sweet black cherry jam. There’s some pleasing alcohol present.  Subtle spice.

T:  The black cherry continues, but not as jam-like on the palate.  There is an initial sweetness which gives way to earthy flavors, cocoa, and black pepper.  Oak is balanced, adding a modicum of vanilla.

F:  Smooth, fine-grain tannins and a full-bodied feel.  Supple.  Long finish of cherries and a dried herbal note.

O:  An affordable, pleasant Lodi cab.  Excellent on its own or with a simply prepared cut of beef.

Suggested food pairing:  Osso bucco, venison, berry fruit tart, Havarti

 

French Connection: Sarah’s Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir

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On the docket: 2013 Sarah’s Vineyard Central Coast Pinot Noir
Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  Intense ruby, with thick legs and a pinkish-orange tint.

A:  Red berry fruit, a touch of spicy earth.  Higher fusel alcohols reminiscent of cherry liqueur.

T:  Bright berry flavors of strawberry, tart cherry, plus subtle wood and vanilla in mid-palate.  Digestif-style spice quality as it breathes.

F:  Regal, delicate with smooth tannins.  The finish is slightly tart and acidic with a hint of alcoholic warmth.

O:  Dancing on the tongue and roof of your mouth before gliding through to the finish, this Central Coast Pinot has a somewhat French sensibility, but with a bit more weight.

Suggested food pairing:  Lemon-braised pork or chicken, Gouda cheese; fruit salad

Best Kept Secret: Secret Cellars Paso Robles Cabernet 2013

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On the docket: 2013 Secret Cellars Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  A deep, inky body with a red-pink meniscus.  No legs.

A:  Dark red fruit and hints of cassis.  A touch of alcohol and subtle oak and vanilla.

T:  Initial sweetness and a burst of dark cherry and currant.  A hint of vanilla.  Fruit-forward.

F:  Supple, soft.  Refined, ample tannins that provide structure and a bit of grit, nothing scathing.

O:  Paso Robles cabs deliver excellent fruit and tannin.  This wine is no exception.  Let it sit for a bit and really get a sense of the luxury inside this bottle.

Suggested food pairing:  Black and blue filet with caramelized onions and mushrooms with a bleu-cheese butter sauce.  Want to go off the beaten path?  New York-style cheese cake.

Gose Down Easy: Anderson Valley’s Briney Melon Gose

On the docket:  12 oz. can of Anderson Valley Brewing Co.’s Briney Melon Gose

Poured into:  Innis & Gunn stemmed craft beer glass

S:  The body pours a golden straw and sports a creamy bone head.  The cap builds, lingers, then eventually settles down to a small, tight and hugging band of bubbles.  Tiny bubbles helix their way to the top from the base of the glass.  Lacing is thin, delicate but consistent bands with each sip.  There’s a slight haze to this, but does not detract from the beauty.

A:  Subtle but luscious watermelon, the slightest hint of funk, clean briny mineral, and soft malty sweetness comprise the nose.  A strong sniff reveals the rind of the watermelon, not simply the meat.  Another long sniff pulls out a faint floral aspect, it must be the Bravo hops.

T:  Certainly the most interesting aspect of the beer, the fruit flavor is everything done right about fruit used in beer.  The melon is present, but gentle, and melds with the pale malt and malted wheat into a lovely tang.  The sea salt is there too, adding balance to the acidity and fruit.  And, while it’s certainly sour, there a nice give and take between sweet and salty, sour and fruity.

F:  Crisp, and dainty on the palate with ample carbonation, lending another element to its drinkability and and refreshing nature.  The finish is relatively short, with a small dose of bitterness in addition to the melon flavor that rides along the entire time, beginning to end.

O:  Excellent execution of a fruit-flavored gose, and less on the traditional side (no coriander for starters).  Thirst-inducing and paradoxically, thirst-quenching.  Sessionable at 4.2%, imagine this on draft after a day out hiking, biking, running, kayaking, or any other summer activity in the sun.

Suggested food pairing:  goat cheese, summer ingredient salads, grilled chicken or fish with lemon-pepper seasoning (because the beer already brings the salt)