This week on Pure Indulgence

This week we cover the question I posed on episode 6 about the cigar shops and tobacconists across the country that have strict policies.

A recap of the issue: Grants Tobacconist had changed their policy whereby customers could enjoy use of the lounge. Prior til August 2nd, there was no minimum required purchase and patrons could enjoy smoking from 5-7 during the weekdays and all day on the weekends. After August 2nd, this changed as did the rules of the lounge. Things looked a little grim and led many of the former patrons to boycott the shop yet I felt it was better to ask why the change occurred and what we as customers could do to help ensure a future of one of the Bay Area’s oldest smoking lounges.

I discovered a very simple answer in talking with Joe, one of the owners of Grants Tobacconist. I think you’ll be delighted.

We’ll discuss Westerly Vineyards 2004 Merlot, Atlas Peak 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and some basic notes while covering the beauty of these simple, yet elegant wines. Sadly, I haven’t been drinking much in the higher end of things. Yet I intend to remedy that soon as there are a ton of events coming up in the Bay Area that cater to those seeking a taste of the Good Life.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. We recently had a chance to sample wines from the Stepping Stone line by Cornerstone Cellars, Napa Valley California. Tasting notes to follow.

As always, catch repeat shows on Radio Dentata
The White Wolf Indulgence Blog: http://whitewolfindulgence.wordpress.com which is the official blog for Pure Indulgence!

Wine Review: Cornerstone Cellars Red Hills Lake County 2009 Rose

I have to be honest, I’m NOT a big fan of rose so I’ll have to evaluate this wine based on what I know and enjoy. We’ll start with the pinkish red tint of color and the apparent blueberry fruit on the nose. A sip confirms blueberry and a hint of pepper on the back of the palate from the Syrah/Grenache blend.

As I mentioned in my previous review of Stepping Stone, these wines are drinkable now but could improve with some age. The Rose is a wine that is meant for summer sipping by itself or with light seafood, perhaps ceviche.

Link to Cornerstone Cellars

Wine Review: Cornerstone Cellars 2008 Stepping Stone Napa Valley Cuvee Musque Sauvignon Blanc

Wow, what a name! This wine has a perfect balance of lush fruits with hints of grapefruit. The nose reveals limestone while the light colored wine swirls perfectly around the glass. A firm, medium finish tops this wine off and makes it perfect for light seafood.

I’ve become a growing fan of Cornerstone Cellars since we were introduced to them last year. Stepping Stone is their low end wine but for the price, these wines are a steal. Providing body, finesse and intensity of flavor, Stepping Stone is sure to please many palates.

Trouble in the Cigar Industry

With all the new bullshit legislation coming down on cigar and pipe smokers, we’re left looking at each other with unlit vitolas in hand, stress on our shoulders and a crumbling economy. The problem has become so bad that many retailers are scrambling to find new ways to generate revenue -ways which are ultimately going to drive away business.

One of the shops I’ve visited has a policy whereby customers must purchase $25 worth of merchandise in order to enjoy ONLY two hours with one other person in the shrunken smoking lounge. They shrunk the lounge to make more room for product that’s NOT cigar/tobacco oriented.

This policy took effect recently and has already shown itself to be harmful. Many of the regulars have stopped coming to smoke there and will find other places to hang out, if those places can be found. In San Francisco, we’re limited to the Occidental, 850 Montgomery Cigar Bar and that’s it.

Things continue to worsen. The bar around the corner has a sign up in the “smoking” section that says no cigars, no pipes, no weed ya’ll. I agree on the latter but the former two? I’m a cigar smoker, a pipe smoker and now will be taking my money elsewhere as I search for a cigar friendly place to relax.

In the first case, I understand the need to generate revenue in a brick and mortar store located in state with high as hell tobacco taxes. Legislation has shut down many of the businesses that support cigar and pipe smokers, leaving less revenue on the table. This may all seem like whining from a minority group but the last time I checked, this was AMERICA.

In ultra liberal California I’m no longer allowed to smoke cigars on the community balcony. So far the manager has said shit about me smoking my pipe on the front steps.

So what is the answer for shops with shrinking revenue? Even with unlimited funds I couldn’t justify going to a shop every day to smoke and having to spend a minimum amount, which makes it seem like I’m carrying the shop. And the feelings a lot of folks have expressed have been less than stellar.

Sascha Illyvich

Cigar Review: Rocky Patel Old World Reserve

This cigar starts off with lighter aromas and flavor than the Patel Bros. and the Decade. With a dark brown wrapper that provides medium flavors of earth and espresso, the draw is tight but there is plenty of aromatic smoke.

I’d say for fans of RP cigars, start off here before hitting the Edge. It’s not an ass kicker of a cigar but it’s definitely delicious 🙂

Thanks to Timothy Wong of Rocky Patel for the smoking experience! Be sure to check out the interview we did with him on Pure Indulgence

Cigar Review: Arturo Fuente Churchill

Once a cigar smoker begins to expand their palate and get away from Macanudo, they’ll invariably find their way to Arturo Fuente. The Fuente line as I’ve mentiond before is a great line for beginners as well as more experienced cigar smokers due to price and quality.

Typical of the Arturo Fuente Churchill cigars are soft flavors of cream from the cameroon wrapper with hints of spice. The construction is superb. A nice tight ash holds well for about an inch before dropping off.

A thick light gray cloud of smoke billows from the cigar, helping the newly accustomed cigar smoker relax and ponder the hard work put into the cigar by the Fuente Family. Medium in finish, the cigar is consistent all the way to the last third where the flavor changes slightly and warms up a bit. The Arturo Fuente Churchill wil last about anhour and a half.

I do reccomend Arturo Fuente’s cigars as a way for beginners to experience the finer pleasures of life.

Cigar Review: Rocky Patel Decade

With a beautiful eye catching Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, the Rocky Patel Decade is a blast of flavor from one of the newer voices in the Cigar Industry. Rocky Patel’s attempt to create a cigar commemorating ten years in this business is one that doesn’t disappoint. Not as full bodied as the Patel Bros, but just as tasty, the Decade starts off with a pleasing aroma of coffee. Flavors that linger on the palate include light earthiness that carry all the way to the nub.

Plenty of smoke emits from this finely constructed cigar. I won’t bother mentioning the glowing reviews this cigar gets but they are present for a reason.

I’m beginning to see some of the trademark tastes of these cigars and the others I smoke. More on that later.

Cigar Review: Short Story by Arturo Fuente

This tiny vitola packs a lot of flavor as did the Work of Art from the Hemingway Line by Arturo Fuente. The Perfecto shape signifies a skilled roller as does the one inch ash that clings after being lit. Notes of sweet cedar compliment a medium finish that lasts all the way to the nub.

I will be honest, this being the first one I’ve smoked, it burned a little hot. Paired with water, the Arturo Fuente Short Story was a little bitter on the prelight but had delicious aromas and a consistent taste just as it’s little brother, the Work of Art.

For new cigar smokers, this is an excellent way to get into a new habit that promotes relaxation, good flavor and only takes roughly 30-45 minutes of time. Once you try the Short Story you’ll quickly find yourself wanting more. Pair with a sweeter bourbon such as the Four Roses

Cigar Review: Rocky Patel Patel Bros.

One of the newest cigar makers the industry at the time when I first picked up smoking cigars was Rocky Patel. He’d left his career as a lawyer and found a much better following and probably more success in the cigar industry by making his own cigars. Most folks probably know him for the Edge, a full flavored vitola only for “professional smokers.” Quality on these cigars was astounding and the price was unbeatable.

Shortly after the release of the Edge, Patel launched the 10 year and 12 year blends which were an instant hit due to consistent flavor and great rankings from Cigar Aficionado. Personally I tend to like the 12 year 1990 in a Churchill form for maximum smoking pleasure.

I had the opportunity to try out the Rocky Patel Patel Bros yesterday and I have to say it’s a wonderful stick. A gorgeous dark maduro Pennsylvanian broadleaf wrapper adds flavor and power to this unique Nicaraguan binder and filler. The cigar starts off with robust, spicy and somewhat overpowering flavors that meld into dark roasted coffee notes.
The second third of this cigar mellows even further with toasty earth and mild spice while allowing a perfect draw throughout. The ash held on for about a half inch, indicating flawless construction. A medium to full finish on the palate reminded me of the Casa Magna blend, only a little more complex.

For those interested, this is the first cigar released that was a collaboration between Rocky and his brother Nish. The two for some time wanted to create a special cigar and this is definitely one that continues the legacy of Rocky Patel.

We’ll cover this cigar and a little more about it on an upcoming episode of Pure Indulgence, found only on Radio Dentata. Don’t forget that we did have the opportunity to speak with Tim Wong of Rocky Patel for almost an hour and as soon as the podcast link is up, you’ll find it first here!