Tag Archive for tasting notes

Bandit Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

Bandit Wines Cabernet Sauvignon
California

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Bandit Wines is a boxed wine company that you can find on Safeway’s lowest shelf. I haven’t had much boxed wine in my life. But when I tap into the foodie party line, I hear from craft enthusiasts that beer in a can has no metallic aftertaste and that boxed wine can be just as good as wine in a bottle. It appears as though mere reputation alone has kept me from embracing either thus far.

I’m not ready for beer in a can. I’m barely ready for beer in a pint glass—half pints do me well. But wine in a box? I could try that…and I swear my willingness has nothing to do with how ridiculously cheap this box was (about $5). Nope, what sold me is what that the pretty little lavender box said clear as day (good job, marketing!): At a liter, one box is the equivalent of one and a third bottles of wine, making it even more ridiculously cheap than it already was. Sold!

(Yes, I realize that means I bought it for exactly the same reason as I claimed I didn’t buy it. You don’t need to tell me that. And now I’ve lost my literary effect. I blame you.)

How does it taste? As I drink, I feel a kinship emerge with one Violet Beauregarde and her amazement as the gum she chewed at Willy Wonka’s factory shifted and reshaped itself into something new. A lovely, simple, cherry-leather nose broadens to include eucalyptus and pine notes on the palate. Those fade away, and the cherry reasserts itself to engage in delicious dessert play with milky cocoa. Luckily, no adverse side effects have been detected…yet.

I’ll be clear; this wine exceeds all my expectations. It gets an 80/100, and I will be back for more of that value buy. Heck, I’ll even give their chardonnay a chew.

Here’s my full Quini profile for more specific tasting notes:

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Woodchuck’s Cheeky Cherry Cider

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Obligatory disclaimer! I received this bottle of Woodchuck’s new Cheeky Cherry Cider free for review. And I’m pretty darn excited about it because it’s a departure from Woodchuck’s other fruit-infused ciders. I enjoy cider more than beer in the category of easily quaffable alcohol, and I appreciate that Woodchuck has been successful enough to make it nearly a given that most supermarkets and bars will have a hard cider option.

But in keeping with our American traditions, Woodchuck’s amber, peach, and pear ciders are generally much sweeter than European styles of cider-making…and well, I like it dry. So as I prepare to flip the lid on this Cheeky Cherry, I do so knowing it’s been quite some time since I’ve had a bottle of Woodchuck anything.

The Cheeky Cherry is made with bittersweet cider apples and infused with sour cherry juice after fermentation. It is meant to make you pucker, as the bottle label proclaims along with a selfie call to arms that I’d rather not repeat here out of respect to copy writers everywhere. I am reticent before trying it for the reasons I’ve already described, and I’m expecting a Sourpatch Kids version of a cider. My husband is a HUGE fan of sour beers, but admittedly, I am not that fond of them. Yet I find picturing a sour cider as a candied apple oddly appealing.

The color helps.

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It’s as blood red as blood red can get. For maximum punnage, I want to say it’s red delicious but it’s deeper, more sultry than that. There’s very little smell, maybe a little wood, which is unexpected. But I have a cold, so I’m probably imagining that.

Tasting it, I’m surprised right away by how great it actually is. It’s much drier than their other fruit-infused ciders, which is most notable when it initially hits my tongue and after the cider has lingered for a while. The acidity is much less than expected, which is a boon for my taste buds. Think lemonade, not Lemonheads. This cider also captures apple and cherry notes in a harmonious blend that would run the risk of being so smooth, it’s boring…if the sour factor didn’t break through that with an aftertaste that entices me back sip after sip.

I enjoyed it and wouldn’t hesitate to order it next time I want a cider. You can get it through March 2015 as part of Woodchuck’s Out on a Limb six-packs.

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Sipping Stones, TOPO Eight Oak Carolina Whiskey, and the Strawberry Glades 

I’m doing two reviews in one today! My friends over at TOPO Distillery have debuted their organic Eight Oak Whiskey, and they were kind enough to send me a bottle for review. This fortuitous gift also provided me with the perfect opportunity to test out a set of Sipping Stones, soapstone cubes designed to provide a slight chill for drinks on the rocks that you don’t want to dilute. And yes, I also received them free to review (obligatory disclaimer alerts!).

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Why not try them together, I thought. So I did. I made sure the Sipping Stones were chilled for a good day, as the instructions suggest, and then set to tasting.

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Now, those stones are an obvious conversation piece on their own, providing a lovely, eye-pleasing addition to any chilled beverage. So is TOPO’s Eight Oak bottle that comes with a piece of whiskey-soaked wood at the bottom—and yes, you should suck that wood for all it’s worth when you reach the end.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the savoring, not the gluttonous sucking, yes? I’ve come to expect quality from TOPO Distillery, which is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They make spirits with sophisticated character including their unique vodka, a clear liquor that is often utterly forgettable but smooth and pleasantly sweet in this case, and their subdued Piedmont Gin, one of the few gins I genuinely enjoy in a cocktail. Eight Oak is aged in eight distinctly different oak barrels during its maturation process. Each barrel has its own profile of toasting and charring, and one of them also involves vanilla chips.  2/20 Correction: Oops! I got that process wrong. Esteban McMahan, TOPO’s Spirit Guide, informs me of what it really is: 

The Eight Oak refers to the eight combinations of three oaks (one American and two French oaks) and toasts that we use (one has a high vanillin content). We’re using techniques that have been used in the wine industry for over 100 years and it enables us to get a flavor that is simply unattainable using a single American oak barrel.

Thanks, Esteban, for clarifying that for me! And now back to the review…

The color is a beautiful peach-amber with a golden horizon.

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