Wine & Beer Reviews

Posted by Keith Wallace

Peachy Canyon Cirque du Vin

Bouncy and round and charismatic. There are plenty of wines like that at this price point, but this wine goes for the gold: it’s got a bit of depth, too.

An edge of acidity and tannin offers a level of balance and, dare I say, complexity. Nice bit of earth and flowers on the nose, but these are really just diversions. This is a great everyday wine.

Spice Route Pinotage

This producer is creating some of the most appealing pinotage available today. The tobacco and smoke notes are heavily woven into chocolate and fig flavors and a touch of soy sauce.

Fruit veers from dark to bright red fruit flavors. The pinotage-ness of this wine reveals itself fully in the granite and smoke finish.

Belguardo Morellino di Scansano Bronzone

A lovely example of an older Tuscan wine (well, older than typically available commercially). Hazelnut and orange oil notes are followed by mocha and dark cherry flavors.

Portia Ribera del Duero

Put on your nicotine patch because this smells just like cured tobacco: I had a hankering for a cigarette after just one sniff. A bit of forest and charcoal add to the overall character of this wine.

This is a lean, linear wine on the palate, with just enough fruit to soften an otherwise austere wine—an excellent example of this Spanish wine region.

Chateau Maris La Touge Syrah

This bottle is an old Wine School favorite. From the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, this is a warm-weather syrah: fleshy and full-bodied. What separates it from the pack is its pitch-perfect bacony nose… and its chocolate finish. Truly a delight.

Beer Reviews

Love beer? Check out the beer classes at the Philly Beer School.

Pliny The Elder / Russian River Brewing

Vinnie Cilurzo, Brewing God at Russian River Brewing Company, named his new experimental Double I.P.A. after the Roman author and soldier.

So how did the Double I.P.A. come to be? “An accident,” says Cilurzo. “I used 50% more malts, so I needed to add 100% more hops.” Of course, many do not believe the process was accidental, but it makes for a great story to attach to the already legendary brew.

A hefty 8% beer that smells of grapefruit and lime zest, the big evergreen scent can be detected 4 feet away. It’s a powerful lady. Full of excessive bitterness and soft malts, the sticky residue left behind in your mouth is quite nice; a harmonious blend of sweet and bitter notes shows the true strength and length of this supremely balanced Double I.P.A.

Racer 5 I.P.A. / Bear Republic

Arguably the most popular style in the craft beer world, I.P.A.’s have become the flagship beer for many breweries across the country, and none so much as Bear Republic Brewing’s Racer 5 I.P.A.

While I have other favorites that I might choose for personal preference, I can say without a doubt that this offering from the Healdsburg, CA brewer is the template for all other West Coast India Pale Ales.

As with most West Coasters, floral and flavorful hops are the name of the game here. More focused on pine than tropical fruit, The Racer 5 has a touch more refreshment than sweetness. The quiet malt backbone is a nice touch as well, making it sing a sweet and complex harmony with the hop flowers—a really superb beer.

Cantillon Gueuze

Very few breweries make beer with wild yeasts anymore, but the small group around Senne Valley in Belgium still practice this method. This style of brewing produces a very sour taste, unlike any beer you have ever experienced.

My very favorite brewery on Earth is Brouwerij Cantillon. They are one of the breweries still at the forefront of spontaneous fermentation. Their flagship beer is The Geueze. This legendary beer is created by mixing 6 lambics, followed by secondary fermentation in the bottle that provides the champagne-like effervescence.

The nose is ridiculously funky with notes of barnyard, clay, and pungent moldy basement. It is intimidating to any non-adventurous beer drinker. But being daring can be rewarding, and in this case, so very true.

The flavors are all super tart fruits, a kiss of yeasty wheat, and rich leather. The mouthfeel is nearly perfect, and as it ages will only get better. For those of you looking for something different, this is the beer to try. For those in love with Gueuze, this is the yardstick.

Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere Farmhouse

Earth and barnyard funk are aromatic descriptors usually associated with wine more so than beer. Still, The Bam Biere from the good folks at Jolly Pumpkin has all the best of a Burgundian Pinot in a cloudy, frothy head.

The taste is zesty and tart, and the attack is just a touch sour. But, Funk and fruit aside, my Saisonaholic friends will be pleased with the trademark Farmhouse refreshment. As with all of their labels, it’s of the highest quality, and the cool factor is off the charts. (22oz. Bottles). Check out the beer classes at the Philly Beer School.

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