Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

OESF… ect?

October 31, 2020 Leave a comment

Hey Free Rangers,

Well, it’s just over a week before the most consequential election of our lifetimes, and I can confirm that the whiskey still works. Between the inequities of the Electoral College, rampant Gerrymandering, voter suppression at the state and federal levels, foreign meddling, and domestic meddling, I’ll be very surprised if this goes well at all. I hope that my instincts are incorrect, but does anybody remember the Brooks Brothers Riot of 2000, which forced the end of ballot tabulation that handed Bush the least convincing “victory” in the history of American politics? Khaki-clad political operatives stormed a south Florida election office (while professional dirty trickster Roger Stone observed from a parked car down the street), giving the Supreme Court the time to kill the re-count from above. Three lawyers involved in the legal battle to steal that election were John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and bible literalist, Amy Coney Barrett. They subverted American democracy, and Republicans rewarded them with lifetime appointments to the highest court in our land, where they can further infringe on your voting rights (as well as on your healthcare, and women’s reproductive freedom). Real news. If I could make this shit up, I’d be a better writer, and you’d be asking me to sign my new book, instead of what to drink with tonight’s shrimp scampi (Garnier Chablis, Rebholz Dry Riesling, or A&P Villaine Aligoté).

Speaking of amoral idiots, it really takes a special type to pick a fight- repeatedly- with shop clerks (even Derek!), claim that she was “yelled at twice before”, but still wanted to “give us another chance”. Really wish she hadn’t. Unfortunately, we’re the closest game to her front door, and even though she has no respect for us, our business, or our posted signage and pandemic guidelines, she can’t be bothered to walk further to a lesser shop, and ruin their day instead. This time, she walks in as before with a stroller, doesn’t address anyone, stops directly inside the front door, blocking both the entrance and the fridge. I know what’s going on, but I try to reason with her (again!), and explain that we’re happy to help with whatever she’s looking for, but to please come into the shop, and stop opening the fridge repeatedly. I am able to coax her away (by a foot or two), and I answer some oddly aggressive questions that she poses, each while waving a bottle in the air. And I get her a cold bottle of a chardonnay, upon which she settles (even though it’s 3:30pm and she already said that it’s for dinner). Her tone is sharp, and general kinesis is high. Derek and I genuinely can’t tell if she’s agitated, or if this is just who she is. On the way out, she says that she’s been yelled at here twice before, but decided to give us another chance. My initial response is to open up the vocal chords to 11 and unleash a stream of high decibel consciousness at her, but a guy my size actually yelling at somebody in my shop isn’t a great look, even if that person is delusional, obtrusive, and is already accusing me of that crime. But apologies to anybody else I may have been snippy with the rest of that day (Saturday?). Sometimes it’s hard being on the front lines of daily life for the better part of a year long pandemic (with no end in sight).

But back to the whiskey. One of the greatest scores we’ve yet achieved in our single barrel whiskey program, was last year’s Four Roses Private Select OESF 10 Year Bourbon. Every time we’ve tasted a set of barrel samples from any source, there’s always been at least one or two that are simply not worthy of our shelf. The only counterexample I have, is from my visit with the legendary (and sadly passed) Al Young at Four Roses. I learned an amazing amount from that fine gentleman in one delightful summer afternoon. 

He had pre-selected 8 barrels to taste for my selection, and every last one was a true rockstar we would have been proud to put our name on. The one we selected, which was our fastest selling barrel of all-time, I genuinely believe was one of the every best American Whiskeys released that year, by anyone. So when the Plague hit, and we were informed by all but Heaven Hill (Elijah Craig) that we would not be able to taste the samples, the only option became taking a full barrel of whiskey that somebody selected for us, or not get any at all, we told all but Four Roses, “No thanks.” Since OESF is consistently my favorite of their 10 recipes (based on mash bill and yeast), we said we’d take a Private Select barrel of their choosing, as long as it is OESF and at least 10 years old. So, our Four Roses Free Range OESF 12yr Bourbon just walked through the door, and it’s another classic, this one clocking in at 122.4 proof! Our barrel yielded 102 bottles, and you better believe I’m keeping a couple cases for myself, which doesn’t leave a whole lot left for the rest of the world (or at least the New York world, as we can’t ship liquor out of the state). These will go quickly, but I wanted to give you all first crack, at the lowest price we’ll offer on this one.
Who’s in?!

Four Roses Free Range OESF 12yr
sale: SOLD OUT!                                    retail: $119

*** Limit 3 bottles per customer ***
** This week only, as supplies last! *** No other discounts apply.*


Free Range Wine & Spirits

Categories: Uncategorized

What day is this… man?

October 18, 2020 Leave a comment

“We may be living in Hell World,
but no one said the comedy was bad.”
– Michael Brooks

Hey Free Rangers,

A bit of chaos this week. The numbers were great, and too much business is a dubious thing about which to complain, but there was also a significant uptick in people ignoring our signage, and coming in 3 or 4 people at a time (often to  buy one bottle). As we’ve been keeping it to 4 people or less for social distancing, it doesn’t take much for a line to form, and for crowd control to become an issue. I am well aware that 99.9% of people who do this kind of thing are not any of you faithful regulars (and/or e-mail readers) that keep us going, but I rarely actually get a chance to properly bitch at the people causing the issues, while said chaos is underway, so thanks for letting me vent. Conversely, I don’t blame you, if you’ve already skipped ahead to the sale at the bottom.

It would definitely help if any of you who know ahead of time what you’re seeking would purchase online for pick-up: And huge thanks to those of you who continue to go this route. We’ve gotten much more efficient with picking and packing time, though deliveries don’t always go out as quickly as we’d like- especially on weekends. Sorry about that, and thank you all for your continued support and patience. 8 months into this pandemic, there is still no cohesive national response or policy, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, regardless of what the Orange Orangutan in the Oval (and all form of online idiot) has to say. We are all very much still in it together.

It always amazes me how much outside life alters the wine world. And while it’s easy to see and quantify how a popular film like Sideways can increase the perception and consumption of Pinot Noir (and brutally slander Merlot), completely unrelated events can also have outsized effect. While I don’t have numbers to back it up, I feel that Ponzi Vineyards took a perceptual hit when Madoff’s unconscionable shenanigans, widely shorthanded as a Ponzi scheme, put a new dark spotlight on the name, regardless of the quality and sustainability of the wines. The name of Charles Ponzi is synonymous with money draining scams, and has been since the ‘20s, but this caused new focus on the old term via this widely publicized newer thief. The Ponzis of Vineyard fame are not related to the infamous Charles. Sadly, Comedy Central has Drunk History episodes locked down, such that I couldn’t link the applicable scene. Real news.

Regardless of the reason, Ponzi’s Reserve Chardonnay has been consistently discounted in our market for such a period of time, that for multiple vintages we’ve been selling it for about fifteen bucks less than the vineyard charges on site (and on website). This is an absolutely exemplary American Chard that is the perfect antidote for people who think they hate Chardonnay, because they’ve only had Kendall-Jackson (which tastes like a buttered 2×4, smothered in a sauce of balsa wood and Werther’s Originals), and we’ve been ecstatic to be able to offer it at $30 per bottle.

Very recently, the same local distributor put closeout pricing on some of Ponzi’s rarest single vineyard wines, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit how little we paid for all remaining Ponzi Chard Aurora Vineyard 2014 in New York. Good Chard ages quite well, and 2014 was a particularly long lived vintage across the board for Willamette, OR. If you’d like to buy some of this same wine from the two most recent vintages, Ponzi has them on their website for $65 per bottle (and worth every penny). However, we have the absolutely delicious 2014 on the shelf at $44, and this week, we can offer it to you at $35/btl, or a 6-pack at $29/btl plus a FREE tote and FREE bonus bottle from my personal collection (which could be literally anything)!

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Ponzi Chard Aurora Vineyard 2014
sale: $35                                    retail: $44

6-pack Ponzi Chard Aurora Vineyard 2014 + FREE BOTTLE from my personal collection (+ free wine tote)!
sale: $174 ($29/btl)            retail: $264

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.


Free Range Wine & Spirits

Categories: Uncategorized

… And I feel fine.

October 4, 2020 Leave a comment

Hello Free Rangers,

Cops continue to meet protests against their unregulated lawless violence with more unregulated lawless violence, and chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Convention. The main structures of our government and democracy have been irrevocably deliberately eroded, and thousands of career non-partisan public servants have been pushed out, being replaced by unqualified partisan operatives, or by no one at all. Our President and Attorney General are openly speaking about how they mean to subvert the upcoming election, with or without the help of hostile foreign powers. Securities markets continue to flirt with record highs, while more and more Americans tumble into poverty. The global pandemic only seems to be still raging in a few places, but our country is one. The American judiciary is overrun with bible literalists who will be adjudicating to the benefit of faceless corporations, and a bastardized imagining of Jesus, as long as most of us shall live.

Yup, Free Rangers, it really is that bad out there. Western capitalist democracy is in real trouble, largely because of the unchecked capitalism, and the single-minded determination of the religious right. I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit scared, and am kind of kicking myself for not selling this joint early in the year, so I could vote early, and be far away for the inevitable dustup. But we’re still here on Atlantic Ave, slinging booze, gearing up, and hunkering down for gifting season, assuming that’s a thing that still happens this year. #2020 Regardless, I can confirm that the whiskey still works.

In wine, whiskey, or any other category of tasty intoxicant, there is no substitute for palate experience, especially comparative tasting. I have learned an amazing amount about the variations to be found in the glass, do to tiny variations of what takes place in barrel (true, not all wine & spirits involve barrel aging). One of my greatest revelations of the last decade was that the age of the whiskey barrel has less to do with the flavor of the finished bourbon, than the floor of the rickhouse. After our tasting with Heaven Hill to choose our second Elijah Craig Barrel, we noticed that all of our favorites were from the 5th and 6th floors, regardless of warehouses or age of the barrel; always the top two floors. The higher the floor, the closer to the ceiling, the greater the heat and pressure changes (daily and seasonally) of the barrel, and the quicker and/or more vigorous the aging of the spirit inside. Air flow within each warehouse is also a huge factor, which is why the barrels that end up being selected for Heaven Hill’s very darkest, richest, and most exclusive Bourbon (William Heavenhill), always come from the same locations in the same warehouses.

It’s often tempting to simply pick the oldest barrel offered, as the higher the age statement, the more we can charge, but we generally go for the best/most intriguing barrel (or two) of the bunch. And the last two times we tasted Elijah Craig barrel samples, the best/most interesting barrels were the 8 year(s). For the first time ever, we have two exceptional single barrels, of the same age, bottled in the same year, on the shelf simultaneously. The barrel that arrived earlier this year is an Elijah Craig 8 year Bourbon from the 5th floor of Warehouse N, while the barrel that just arrived is an Elijah Craig 8 year Bourbon from the 6th floor of Warehouse X.

I hesitate to give too many tasting notes, as coming up with one’s own is half the fun, but both Derek and I find the Warehouse N to be lighter and more yellow visually, and have more prevalent dry, woody, and yeasty characteristics, with a slightly softer finish. The Warehouse X bottling comes off as more fruit forward, with cherry notes up front, and a spicier, bolder finish, with a touch more bite. For the price of 2 bottles of the regular Elijah Craig small batch (one of the best values in world whiskey), you can grab a tasting pair of our two Elijah Craig 8yr Single Barrels.

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Elijah Craig Free Range 8yr Bourbon 2-pack
sale: $58                        retail: $72

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.


Free Range Wine & Spirits

Categories: Uncategorized

Jeff Austin 1974 – 2019 (Travels with Jeff)

July 4, 2019 1 comment

* Editor’s Note: There won’t be much wine in this geist.

My dear friend, Jeff Austin, is gone.

Jeff & me 2003

I’m still processing, though the news cycle has moved on, but I also need to write some things down. This is how I used to process everything, before I sold booze for a living, back when people would pay me for words. It used to be a whole industry, before they started calling it user-generated content, and settled on shittier copy for free. You get what you pay for. I used to write a lot, as did my friend, Jeff, often in the same place and time. I recall a time high on a hilltop, above Nederland, CO, pounding away on my laptop (and wrestling with Sawyer the dog) on Jeff’s living room floor, while he and Todd Snider worked out some tunes.

I like Todd a lot, but he never remembers me. The third time we all hung out together was on the front couch of somebody’s tour bus outside a theater in the south (maybe the Ryman, maybe the Fox?) that one or both had just played. Todd introduced himself to me, so I reminded him of the living room writing session, and another solid hang in between. I told him, “no worries, I get it, songwriters only remember chicks and guitar players.” Without missing a beat, Todd replied, “I don’t much remember guitar players.”

Jeff Austin was one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and unlike Jeff, I’ve never had a lot of them, at any one time. I don’t entirely know the details, but I know that he is gone, and I am currently a 6’3” raw nerve in a hail storm. He had so long since survived his hard coke days, and the rehab that followed. It had been a decade since I had seen him consume to excess, and I never saw this coming.

Jeff and I certainly had some hard days, nights, and weeks of mass consumption, but the last decade or so, our parties usually involved fairly lavish meals, and reasonable bedtimes. Jeff worked much of his early work life in kitchens and food service, and became a true gourmand and a highly skilled home cook. He used to work at the deli in Nederland when he was off the road with Yonder, not because he needed the money, but because he enjoyed the work.

Chef Park’s Wagyu Carpaccio

Our youthful Vegas trips, filled with drugs and strippers (long before his marriage), quickly turned into long slow evenings of 12+ course dining events and rare Chambertin at profound eateries, most notably and often, Joel de Robuchon’s L’Atelier at the MGM. Those meals were rivaled by equally decadent, though more rustic and relaxed NY dining expereinces at Chef Park’s counter, at Bistro Petit. The visceral joy we shared at those counters, watching the deep effortless artistry that occurred in the open kitchens, reverberates through my brainstem even now.

I met Jeff and the other founding members of Yonder Mountain String Band when that scraggly bunch of skinny kids (and one full size acoustic bass) spilled out of a stuffed white minivan, onto a soggy festival field in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. It was the 3rd year of the Big Wu’s Family Reunion. Jeff was a human rubber band of life lust, Ben soft-spoken and joyfully reverent, Dave was reading The Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich, and I thought that Adam hated me, but it turned out he’s a profoundly dry wit, moored to a stoic anchor. And man could those kids pick. That drive without drums was riveting. Through the course of that wonderful weekend, Jeff and I found ourselves in the same place and time, over and over again, and by the time those four packed back into the minivan, we were fast friends. Swimming in similar circles for then next few years, I crossed paths with Jeff and the Yonder crew frequently, both happenstance and planned.

Jeff & I once spent a couple of days looking at houses outside of Nashville, with the intent to buy, and we joked about being hetero-life-partners. And there was always music! Everywhere we went, we were always comparing notes on what we were discovering and exploring. Jeff turned me on to the Louvin Brothers, I turned him on to Yo La Tengo. Driving west from Colorado to Las Vegas once, listening to Ben Folds’ then recent release, Rockin’ the Suburbs, Jeff said, more than slightly enviously, “That guy holds the patent on every hook in the universe.”

It wasn’t long into our friendship that the Yonder van rolled up to Berkfest, and I spent much of that weekend careening

Jeff holding church in 2006

through forest and field with Jeff, his mandolin, and the Devil (a tiny, sweet, cherubic blond with a magical sack full of trouble), stopping at tents and camp sites to pick and partake. At some point during the weekend I arrived (just as Jeff, Dave, Ben, and Adam walked up) at the tented, elevated platform that served as the festival stage’s indoor/outdoor green room. At this time in my life, I was respectful (and naïve) enough to believe the sign reading ‘Yonder Mountain String Band and family’ meant the band and blood relatives, as opposed to ‘family’ in the Dead sense of the word. I was talking with Jeff as he headed up the stairs, and then he turned back toward me, noticing that I had stopped at the sign. He shot me an incredulous little smile, “what are you doing? You’re family.” It’s hard to explain how much that meant to me then, and how much it still means to me now, but it has been a long time since anybody paid me for words, and I’m a little rusty.

During those years, as a Hunter Thompson disciple, I was practicing the self-indulgent art of getting away with it, which is what Thompson said of writing for a living. In our travels, and occasionally from stage, Jeff would refer to me as his lawyer (though which of us was Dr. Gonzo was always in question), and I in turn would offer life and professional advice. My cartoonish tone would indicate whether it was a deliberately awful idea, or an actual moment of reason. Considering our individual self-destructive tendencies, we were more often than not, a centering influence on each other, which is why I feel such an abject failure now.

Through my freelance years, during which we both traveled extensively, I had more world-class times with Jeff Austin, in more cities and festival fields than I can count or detail. When he first started attaining real material success, he was proud of the pull he could muster and came to New York to join me for two consecutive small venue Jeff Tweedy shows- for which he had excellent seats awaiting us. We had a blast. And I was proud of what my friend had built, from nothing, with his buddies and his bare picking hand. Over the years, my own fortunes ebbed and flowed, while for many consecutive, Jeff’s were on a steady constant rise. Through my leaner years, he always picked up the check, without

Wrigley Field 2007

saying anything about it.

I once had the ill-conceived idea to join my friends Jeff, Ben, Dave, and Adam, on Yonder Mountain’s Europe tour, and shoot a feature on spec. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and then there was radio silence from Yonder’s then manager for a very long time. The project was going to be scrapped completely, until Jeff stepped in and insisted that my feature accompany the next Mountain Tracks (4) live release, as a CD/DVD combo. When the dust settled, and the cash was counted, I was repaid what I had spent on production and travel, and a (tiny) little bit on top. How many filmmakers can say that they turned a profit on their first feature (using the term loosely, as it’s my only feature)? The only reason I can say that is Jeff Austin.

It was also on that trip, that for 11 Euro each, at a picnic table full of Yonder cast and crew, we shared one of the most profoundly fulfilling meals of our lives, outside the otherwise sold-out tiny village dining room, two towns down the road from the American country music festival the fellas were playing in rural France. Many of the festival’s patrons didn’t speak a word of English, but they did line dance in tasseled leather, and wide-brim hats. If I could make this shit up, I’d be a better writer.

Our times were always music and food centric. But few things will ever beat the profound simplicity of those freshly picked wild morels, sautéed in butter, in a heavy skillet, over an outdoor hearth on the edge of Yellowstone. Was that before, during, or after Sandy and Stella’s wedding, Jeff?

Jeff wasn’t perfect. He once caused a huge rift between my girlfriend and I, after curtly dismissing discussion of her music (she is a classically trained string player, and a founding member of an indy band, with a couple of solid records). But she eventually threw me out, in the middle of the night, for something I didn’t do, and Jeff would always take my calls in the middle of the night, so it’s tough to hold that one- or any other- against him.

In an interview once, Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, told me with a reverent chuckle, “On stage, Jeff is a freight train.” Hunter Thompson often said that you know who your friends are at 3 o’clock in the morning. Jeff Austin was a freight train, who would take my call at 3 o’clock in the morning. There is no replacing that. My world is a much smaller place for his absence, and I will miss him as long as I breathe, but I will be listening to his music, and recalling our adventures, fondly for the rest of my life. And you should too.

If you’d like to help out Jeff Austin’s wife and kids, you can do that HERE.

Yelp! Justice

December 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Bless me, blogosphere, for I have sinned. It has been the better part of a year since my last confession- and that wasn’t my finest showing. As many of you know, the atrophied output here in recent years is due largely to my retail shop, here in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. If you ever want to watch 5 years of your life evaporate, open a small business. As any small business owner will also tell you, Yelp! is an unfortunate part of being in today’s retail marketplace. And there is very rarely justice in Yelp! Unless you’re looking to purchase an advertising package, you’re pretty much told to go Yelp! yourself. Here is the most recent customer review for our little retail shop.

beep t Yelp review 12-16-2017

Apparently this post was a violation of Yelp’s Terms of Service, and it was deleted (surprisingly quickly- begrudging thanks!).

Below is the public response I didn’t have time to post before the above poetry had vanished into the ether of cyberspace:
First, I genuinely have no idea what this about, or who this person might be. There aren’t a lot of clues.

Now, let me address each and every concern, as if this were reasonable constructive criticism from a fully sentient adult, completely in control of language, syntax, and punctuation.

1) Pompus. Yeah, sure, if we’re being honest. ‘Pompus’ is definitely in the top 20 1-word descriptors of me, but not in the top 5. Firm, but fair.

2) Mansplaining. As the proprietor of a specialty wine & spirits shop, I’m often asked questions about the many wines and spirits we carry. I generally respond with the facts that I have, and a fair amount of opinion (not everybody’s cup of tea, I know), though I’m also not afraid to admit when I don’t have an answer. I am still just scratching the surface in Italy. Do you know how many different varietals of grape the Italians grow? Seriously, do you know? I’ll google it. I suppose describing is another word for ‘explaining’. And I am also a male person, or a man, by birth, according to my DNA. For better, or for worse, I have chosen to identify this way. To shove two otherwise unrelated words together to imply sexist motivation is pretty low, and wholly unsubstantiated.

3) Man bun. Okay, now you’re just being deliberately hurtful. Hey, I don’t like it either! Perhaps you’d like to try working 7 days a week during holiday shopping season and see if you can squeeze in time for a decent haircut. #rude

And I’ll just let history decide the poetry of dingleberries and bun pegging.

P.S. ‘beep t.’ has zero friends.

Categories: Uncategorized

BourbonGeist – Elijah Craig 12 year, End of an Era

June 21, 2016 Leave a comment

1 Elijah Craig 12 6-2016Well, I’ve just cleaned out a local discount shop of the last of the 12 year, so I can relay the secret, my personal stash secured.

Elijah Craig 12 year small batch bourbon is one of the very best values in American whiskey. Quality and barrel year per dollar, with an age statement of 12 years, it is (was!) almost always available for under $30 per bottle. These are unheard of numbers in the new American whiskey market, and they’ve finally buckled under its weight.

Elijah Craig SB 12 6-2016Last year, when the visually prominent ‘12’ was removed from the Elijah Craig 12 Year label, it seemed they’d eventually be dropping the age statement, as so many have, due to the Boom. Until the most recent batch, the 12 year age statement was still in the very first line on the back of the bottle. The trend in the whiskey world is toward removed aged statements and increasingly mysterious blends. It’s the simplest way to increase production and keep up with demand. Regardless of all technological advancement, it’s still impossible to up production of a twelve year old product tomorrow.

As a nerd and a collector, I would’ve preferred the price of the 12 year increase and a less expensive 8 year be released (or even a 6 and a 9 year, or a 6 and 9 year, or an If 6 was 9 year!). I get why that would be less practical, but it would’ve been much cooler.

Now, the tasting. It’s easy to assume the worst, and at this point the age unknown small batch blend likely contains barrels of 6-12 year old bourbon, but with no statement, it can literally be any age combination. It will likely get younger and younger over time as Heaven Hill struggles to keep up with world thirst. As of today, the 94 proof Elijah Craig Small Batch is a little lighter in color than the last of the 94 proof 12 year, a little less red, slightly more golden, visually. The difference in nose is similar, but a less measurable contrast, the small batch comes off as a little brighter, the 12 year a little deeper, more overt wood, and a ghost of faded smoke.

Flavor-wise, the difference between the two is subtle, but noticeable, though it’s hard to say that my beloved 12 year is empirically better. It’s deeper, darker, more complex, greater overt wood affectation- and all the little secondary and tertiary flavors that go along with that. The small batch is comparatively lighter, sweeter, prettier, livelier, but not hotter. One man’s ‘lighter’ is another man’s ‘flatter’. I’m sure many will prefer one over the other, but I don’t think in a blind panel collective preference would necessarily skew toward the elder.

In short, the quality per dollar is still high in the new NAS (no age statement) Elijah Craig Small Batch; this is not just a cheap imitation of the original. That being said, for your own future enjoyment and edification, you may want to check out your nearest retailer, flip the Elijah Craig bottle(s), and if the back label says ’12 year’, maybe squirrel a couple away. Nobody ever said, “What am I going to do with all this nice 12 year bourbon?”

The Unbearable Rightness of Seasons: Sean Thackrey, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and St. Anselm

February 29, 2012 2 comments

I often say: Nerds make all the good stuff. Which makes sense, because smart people tend to find and create interesting processes and products at a much greater rate than those less cerebrally gifted. Amongst winemakers, there are few nerds on the level of Sean Thackrey. He maintains, translates, and makes available his renowned collection of ancient texts on winemaking. He also gleans techniques from them with which to experiment on worthy grapes, here in the future. At their best, Thackrey’s results are world class, by any scale or measure. I don’t often defer directly to a media outlet (nor do I like to post links w/ ads), but I couldn’t possibly reTweet you a better instagram of the winemaker and the iceberg tip of his philosophy than did in video form. Go watch it. Seriously. I’ll wait….

Orion's 2nd vintage and the 100th anniversary of the Rossi Vineyard.

So, I don’t have new tasting notes on any specific Thackrey wine, but I did learn that the proprietor of Spuyten Duyvil, Fette Sau, and most recently St. Anselm, here in Brooklyn, is the second biggest Thackrey nerd in Brooklyn. A couple of conversations later, St. Anselm has the most extensive selection of Sean Thackrey wine of any restaurant on earth, including the non-vintage Pleiades, Andromeda Pinot Noir, Sirius Petite Sirah, and 6 vintages of his flagship California native field blend, Orion. St. Anselm already had one of the best small wine lists in Brooklyn, now one can find well aged bottled gems to accompany serious cuts of grilled meat. Apparently the (various) whole fish is excellent as well, but we all have our priorities. Mine is finding the perfect syrah to pair with lamb saddle and rib eye.

At St. Anselm last night, enjoying the delightfully accompanied meat monster on grilled bread they call a patty melt, the soundtrack added quite a bit to my burger and my day: Hendrix’ “Bold as Love” the semi-title cut off his masterpiece, Axis Bold as Love, the greatest record ever made. After my Jimi moment, I was reminded that Frank Zappa was not only an actual genius at writing and arranging music, but he could be laugh out loud funny in a Steven Wright deadpan on acid sort of way (Zappa hated drugs!): “Bobby Brown Goes Down” from Zappa’s 1979 Sheik Yerbouti. And if you want to throw some crap around about how silly the album title is, go take a quick peak at what else the record companies were pressing that vintage. I mean, whatever happened to Randy Vanwarmer?

Wait, what was the question?

Happy LeapDay!


No Time Like The Present (Viva Charles Smith!)

March 6, 2011 3 comments

Hello Wine Drinkers of the World!

As I actively switch wine related web presence in this direction, previously residing @:!/Jack2point0

I’m drinking a glass of K Vintners Milbrandt Wahluke Slope Columbia Valley Syrah 2006 (see comically low-fi iphone pic).

The two worst features of the iPhone 3G: the camera and the phone

The wine is a big concentrated fruit forward full-bodied red, as most Charles Smith wines tend to be. Much of the nose, after considerable breathing time, is still masked beneath a heavy waft of alcohol, but the dark berries that make up the most pleasurable aspects of the palate are beginning to make themselves known to the olfactory as well. I have tasted a number of these wines going back to K Vintners The Beautiful Syrah 2002, which was not just a clever name, and Smith continues to impress at a number of price points, even as those price points creep skyward with each vintage.

While today’s photo quality is poor and these wine notes abbreviated, soon you will find unreasonably in-depth reviews, interviews, research, hi-res images, and video.

Happy hunting,