ort can’t be made in California, but I was amazed when I found this bottle of port for $4 at Grocery Outlet a few months back. I picked up a few bottles just for kicks, figuring that it’s probably past it’s vintage and would just be dumped but I secretly had hoped for a zinger.
While I didn’t get a HUGE win, I did get a port that’s deep purple in color, has a nice, velvety structure, probably from the zinfandel blend (also added is touriga, tinto cao and Sousao) that create a nice ruby port-style with character. The port is a syrupy dose of heaven for not too much money if you can find it.
Information on Belo Vineyards can be obtained by emailing them at email@example.com
A little info: Belo Wine Company is owned and operated by winemaker Terence Dewane. He has been making wine commercially in Napa since his first vintage in 1992 which was merely a barrel. It is always an extremely rare treat for us to try dessert wines from Napa because there are so few producers here who specialize in the “sweet stuff”. Belo’s main specialty is premium Port wine.
Again, this was a very pleasant surprise from a California producer of port – not because good port can’t be produced in California (see Westover Cellars in Castro Valley) but because it’s not a typical style that we see in wine.
I’ll have to admit, this is my go to cigar when I’m at Grants and can’t make up my mind. For the money, EVEN with the higher taxes in California, this cigar is priced at around $10.40 (tax included) and is a 6.5 X 54 stick that boasts a dark wrapper which is a little veiny but still has that gritty character that up close looks tasty.
Upon firing it up, spice notes and leather are clearly present. The draw is open like the lower Padrons (2000 and 3000) but the cigar burn time is much longer. Light gray ash and a pleasing aroma from the smoke make for a good visual. As the cigar burns, the leathery flavors turn earthy and the spice mellows. I usually end up chewing these cigars, just because at the end of my day as a writer I need to stay away from the keyboard as LONG as possible and this cigar generally provides me with almost 2 hours of smoke time.
This is one of the first Nicaraguan cigars I’d ever smoked and enjoyed. It’s a full puro – meaning all the tobaccos come from a single country and will give you a feel for the land, similar to terroir in wine.
I typically like to enjoy this cigar with a smooth scotch, probably Glenfiddich.
This wine was one I’d tried many years ago and I guess I was just stupid. I didn’t like it. But the palate grows and changes with age and also,I was at a wine/cigar event in League City. Chances are I hadn’t eaten enough and I’d smoked too much because I remember coming home and passing out.
Tried a bottle tonight and picked up deep cherry/berry flavors, a chewy mouth feel, nice tannins, definite structure and something that accompanied chicken and rice stew pretty well. the finish was medium to long, I’m still tasting it now as I finished my last glass ten minutes ago.
For $16, not a bad wine though do check around because a deal can be had if you’re willing to look a little.
We picked it up at Grocery Outlet in Oakland for around $7 a bottle.
from the website:
Starting in 1989, Kent and Celia launched a second brand, called “Ramsay” – Celia’s maiden name – which was originally intended to focus on some ‘less-than-usual’ varietal wines. But as time passed, the Ramsay brand has taken on an entirely different identity, that of a true ‘second label’. Best known for its high quality, but lower-price, Ramsay Pinot Noir is often poured by the glass in wine bars and restaurants. The Ramsay-brand line also includes a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Merlot.
I’d love to see next year’s release.
This limited release cigar only comes to a select number of tobacconists in the country and Grants in San Francisco was on their list this year.
The folks at Grants planned a little release party complete with mimosas, beer and those nasty vodka and tomato drinks I can’t understand, along with sample packs (for sale) of various Tatuaje cigars, including the Boris and the Drac.
Dave convinced me to try the Drac and so at $15 a pop, I gave it a whirl. Clipped the torpedo end, looked it over and found nice construction. A dark maduro wrapper with Nicaraguan filler lent a mellow earthiness with a rich flavor I couldn’t place but enjoyed for almost 2 hours over good conversation. The cigar had a slightly tough draw but the flavor profile made up for it. The burn was even, smoke not a lot, but a white.
I followed that up with a Brickhouse, a new cigar released by the JC Newman folks (favorite of mine) that had a Honduran wrapper and a Nicaraguan filler. Pleasant spices completed with a smoothness for those accustomed to JC Newman’s usual brands (Cuesta Rey, Diamond Crown) and a pleasing taste with a lingering finish.
Both cigars complemented each other as one didn’t overpower the other as in the case of smoking a Padron and an ambos mundos (made by the Tatuaje people)
While sitting at Occidental in San Francisco, I fired up an Ambos Mundos (made by the same people who make Tatuaje) and had asked Jack for a robust wine to defend against the cold wind. The wine he and another guy suggested was the RDLR 2002 Syrah.
First off, to get a bottle this old and have it still be drinkable AND at a reasonable price is amazing. (Buy from WineBuys.com) 750 ml for $16.50 from Wine Buys.com site.
Second, the notes were solid. Dark Purple in color. Flowing berry flavors with a light mouthfeel that suggested softening of the typical California Syrah elements to help create a wine with a medium finish.
The wine might not hold up another few years, but it’s certainly one worth drinking.
Hell, it even help up as a nice followup for the Hoyo De Tradicion and Elmer T Lee bourbon I had just beforehand.
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