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quick shots

I’m back home after a whirlwind trip through California. During the weekend I had the chance to sample a number of noteworthy beverages. Here are some quick summaries.

a jeraboam of Smith & Hook 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon At a family party we drank a jeraboam (5L bottle) of 1979 Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County, California). It was rather amazing. I mean, of course it has lost the brambly notes that I remember from the last time Dear Old Dad brought a bottle out, but it must have been 15 years ago that I last tasted it, and it is still a large cabernet with good structure. It may well be in the “drink it if you’ve got it” category. But I know there are more in the Dad’s cellar. I avoided food saturday night in order to help Dad finish the bottle.

potent potables For a late night treat, I brought a bottle of Nocino della Cristina from Monteverdi Spirits and we had drams of this thick sweet (green)walnut liqueur. The producer describes it as divestivo but I find it so sweet that it is more of a nightcap, perhaps a seduction device. And it would be incredible in steamed milk. All of us who tasted it found it almost syrup-sweet.

For my former housemate Aaron’s birthday, I brought him a bottle of Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir from Clear Creek Distillery (Steve McCarthy) I’ve been a champion of this white spirit flavored by infusing dougles fir buds since I tasted it in 2004. It is a perfect digestif: incredible aroma that cuts through the postprandial drowsies and slightly fiery with alcohol, precisely what is needed to fuel the fourth round of a full evening’s discussion.

Aaron and Kami have been growing a dwarf citrus tree, the Rangpur Lime. It is an incredibly sour and tart, surprisingly orange, thick-skinned citrus fruit. It is an amazing lime. I want a tree, if it will produce in Portland. If you ever see these mandarin limes, lemandarin, nasaran, sour tangerines, listed, obtain some for gin and tonics.

Aaron has taken up brewing again. This time his interest is in belgians and flemish and older styles. He had a soured porter that was in its second bottling (the bottle fermentation was uneven and too sour, so he blended half the batch and re-bottled). We tried it sunday night. I found it amazing (Aaron thinks that the blending worked and it had also mellowed a bit); I want to taste this style again. Does anyone have suggestions of commercially available examples?

On my agenda for the next two weeks is a comparison of maraschino liqueurs, a couple of endorsements of liquor stores, and the formulation of a couple of drinks we’ve been subjecting to bibation analysis here at the Prince of Cups.