Piggybacking on Relationships

As many of you know, we bring in a lot of wine from small producers all over the planet. In some cases, those producers make more than just wine—especially our Italian posse. One of the coolest and most-exciting new Barolo winemakers we've started working with is Barale Fratelli, a family-run Piedmontese operation that makes a classically-styled Barolo with real gusto. If you've never heard of Barolo, it's the powerful, heavily-tannic northern Italian red made from the nebbiolo grape that can age for decades if not centuries. What some Barolo producers do if they have left over Barolo wine is to make what's called Barolo Chinato—a vermouth-like aperitif wine that uses quinine to add a pronounced bitterness and balance out the sweetness. You can use Chinato as a wine-based Campari substitute in a Negroni, or even as a vermouth substitute in your favorite Manhattan recipe. The result is a chewier, more intensely-rich ingredient in your concoction. 

The thing about Barolo Chinato is that, because it's made with Barolo, it's not cheap. But that's where the relationship thing comes in. Of the few Barolo Chinati that make it into the country, most of them are between $30-$50 for a 500ml bottle and are decent, if not pretty good. The Barale we've got is the best we've ever carried and it's going to cost you $34 for a full 750ml. Try it in your next Bourbon drink, or pour it over ice with soda.

I'm going to start looking at all of our Italian producers now for little add-ons like this. Between the Barale Chinato and the Sesta di Sopra grappas, we could start our own little Italian spirits stable here.

-David Driscoll


Recreating Bordeaux Here at Home be home again in one's own bed. There's nothing quite like that feeling (except for maybe using one's own toilet). Apparently a number of you were crossing over to the On the Trail blog to read along with our recent adventure. I had a lot of emails saying things like, "If only..." or "I wish I could go too." It was indeed an incredible experience and I'm not going to act like opening a bottle at home is a substitute for being there at the château. That being said, K&L does a pretty great job of bringing Bordeaux to California, convincing top names and producers in the region to partner up for big events. Take the two we have coming up later this month (which you probably don't see if you only read the spirits blog):

On Monday April 25th you have two great chances to taste Bordeaux in San Francisco, depending on how far you want to go down the rabbit hole. 

Tour des Deux Rives Tasting @ Wine & Wall - $50: From 5 - 7 PM you can taste a serious amount of very serious wine for half the price of what a serious bottle would cost. Hosanna, Certan de May, Ducru-Beaucaillou (my favorite), first growth Mouton, and many, many more châteaux will be on hand to pour. This is a hot fucking deal for what they're pouring. If you've wanted to get an idea of what this whole Bordeaux thing is about since reading the blog, this is your chance.

But if you want to get the full experience, you can ball out and do this:

Tour des Doux Rives Dinner @ One Market - $380: Have dinner with all the above producers and taste library wines from their various château. 

I'm probably going to both events (not sure about dinner yet) on my day off. If you want to hang out with me while you taste and listen to my boring Bordeaux stories from the road, I'll be there!

-David Driscoll


Still Alive, Back Soon

As we sat down to dinner last night, our minds practically complete mush at this point, I said to Trey: “Remember that dinner at Haut-Bailly on Monday?” He paused for a few seconds, looked at me and said: “That feels like it was a year ago.” When you run hard for eight straight days, live on four hours of sleep a night, and ingest nothing but red wine from the moment you wake up until the moment your head hits the pillow, you tend to lose track of time. You also tend to lose track of your standard dietary intake, your personal hygiene, and any sense of of a real schedule. I’ve been on some serious trips before and I’ve watched less regimented folks lose their shit completely. I’ve seen industry professionals have full blown meltdowns, vomit all over the fuselage of a plane, and launch into expletive-laden tirades that leave them both isolated and embarrassed. Tasting expensive wine for a living is fun. It’s the best job in the whole world. But being forced to do it for fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, with no breaks, no rest stops, no down time, and no privacy can be a real challenge. I knew that going in, however, which is what has saved me thus far. This isn’t my first rodeo, but I have to admit I’m on my last legs at this point. Thank goodness the end of the marathon is in sight!

Pretty soon I’ll be back in the store tasting booze again and you guys will have your whisky-oriented spirits blog once more. In the meantime, let me share a few photos with you. We had a fancy dinner at Logis de la Cadène in St. Emilion two nights ago and it was prepared for us by one of Paul Bocuse’s protégés from his famed cooking school. One of Bocuse’s classic dishes was part of the menu: the soupe aux truffes noires VGE that was first prepared for the president of France back in 1975. It’s a savory broth simmered with fois gras and black truffles, served with a puff pastry style of bread baked over the top. You use your spoon the break the crust down into the soup so that it soaks up all that earthy goodness. Nothing decadent, really. Just a little light affair.

-David Driscoll


Corti Brothers Bourbon Returns

It has a new label and a new name, but this latest batch of Corti Bros Bourbon is made in the same way as the "Exquisite Whiskey" releases before it, finished in California Mission del Sol wine barrels that act almost like a Port influence with highlights of sweet red fruit. It's another great batch, albeit a bit different than the previous releases at a younger age and with a different mashbill, and we grabbed everything we could. Now let's feast!

Corti Brothers "Good Honest" Bourbon Whiskey $49.99

-David Driscoll


Living the Life

Bordeaux is pretty much a playground of amazing wine and food backed by insanely-wealthy properties that can afford to fly in Michelin-starred chefs like Vivien Durand to cook for them at their leisure. We dined at Haut-Bailly last night and had it not been for the fact that I was extremely tired, it would have been one of the most spectacular nights in my wine industry career. It's going to be ten straight days of this type of living here in Bordeaux. I'll continue to post photos here, but the main work will be over at On the Trail. 

I got about three hours of sleep, which I guess I'll have to deal with like a professional. It's off to the first growths today! 

-David Driscoll