Tenille O'Connor

Alfred Gratien Cuvée Brut Classique

Bubbles are not just for New Years Eve, friends. This refined sparkling wine haling from the world- renowned Epernay village in the Champagne region of Northeastern France is quite a value. It has the essence of exotic summer fruits derived from the Pinot Meunier grape blended with the body and elegance that Chardonnay offers. The Pinot Noir grape adds depth and enduring flavor. The bubbles are exceptionally fine with mousse that that lasts from sip to sip. The finish offers just a hint of brioche with just the right amount of citrus. A must-have for your next event calling for a toast. Pair with just about anything, especially light appetizers… Read more »

Boom Boom Syrah

A tremendous value out of what some consider to be one of the best new growing regions in the country! This Columbia Valley Syrah if from playful winemaker Charles Smith. The nose begins with aromas of pickled herbs and pine leading to a spicy cherry palate with hints of sweet tobacco. The finish is packed with cherry and slightly floral with hints of lavender coming through. Warm up next to the fire (or space heater) with this one while it’s chilly outside! Pairs nicely with a crock pot meal featuring pork tenderloin or any rich, meat-based stews. Found on our “Under $25 Wall.”

Wigle Spiced Landlocked

Wigle is the oldest post-Prohibition distillery in Pittsburgh. Allgeheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, was once making a half barrel of whiskey for every man, woman and child in the entire country. Honoring a distiller hanged for carrying on his passion during Prohibition, Wigle sticks to its roots in traditional methods, local ingredients and, whenever possible, organic as well. All their spirits and bitters are made in-house and each batch is lovingly crafted in single copper pot stills. Part of this dedication to craft distilling is utilizing local ingredients to make the best spirits possible – whatever that ends up being. That leads us to Spiced Landlocked, Wigle’s rendition of… Read more »

Notre Dame de Cousignac Vacqueyras

France has very strict, long held, traditional laws and regulations about most of the wine produced there. Two of the oldest wine growing regions, Bordeaux and the Rhône, have more regulations about grapes, soil, bottles, labeling and standards than any single region in North America. The good news is, this keeps quality high and styles consistent, history in tact and growers who are proud of their work. It also leaves little room for innovation, but when it occurs, something magic can happen. Organic growing practices haven’t historically been a huge goal in old world wine growing regions. As threats to wine became evident like phylloxera (a nasty little bug that kills the… Read more »

Brewer-Clifton “Gnesa” 2011 Chardonnay

A lot of Chardonnay drinkers prefer either Burgundy or California, assuming this generally means the difference between a crisp, lively wine and an oaky, buttery one. While those are certainly two key differences in plenty of Chardonnays, it’s not the law. What if you could have the best of both worlds? It’s true. Enter “Gnesa” (knee-sa) 2011 from Brewer-Clifton. From the Santa Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara, the vines for this wine were planted nearly 20 years ago and cared for in a tiny 4-acre spot by the Gnesa family, who turned over the land to Brewer-Clifton in 2009 for single vintage bottling. The clone used to make this… Read more »

Brasserie Dupont Moinette Brune

I took this bottle home at the recommendation of my boss, Aaron. He’s into much hoppier beers than I am, so I was only a little hesitant of the recommendation (he hasn’t steered me wrong so far). Typically, Saison Dupont is just a touch too bitter for me to have more than a small glass of, but I was pleasantly surprised with Moinette. Moinette is a bottle conditioned Belgian strong dark ale (there’s a mouthful for you) and, pleasantly, offers up a good amount more malt than its Saison sister. It’s brewed with four distinct styles of malt, lending the reddish-brown hue and intensely fruity aromas. Dated, candied nuts, ripe plum… Read more »

Anchorage Brewing Co. “Galaxy”

Anchorage Brewing Co. “Galaxy” White IPA brewed with Galaxy Hops, Coriander, Kumquats, and Peppercorns; Fermented and Aged in French Oak Foudres Bottle Conditioned with Brettanomyces 7% ABV 50 IBUs When somebody asks me what my favorite IPAs are, I say “what’s fresh?” Something I learned 2 or so years into drinking “the good stuff” is what makes a good IPA great, such as life, is timing. The time to drink is now. Adversely, when asked what my favorite style is, hands down I go with age-worthy funk. Anything that’s aged in wine barrels, uses wine grapes in the brew, has an addition of “wild” bacteria/yeast (brettanomyces/saccharomyces/lactobacillus) or has an addition of homebrew’s earliest souring… Read more »

Inti Bonarda

Inti Bonarda, so named for the sun god that blessed the crops and lives of the ancient Inca people, is a shining example of high quality yet inexpensive and totally accessible New World red. Often, mysterious grapes and descriptors like “licorice,” “plum,” and “cigar box” can be off putting if not totally intimidating. Don’t be scared! At one time, Chardonnay was just as confusing to the everyday wine sipper as Bonarda might seem right now, but I urge you to give this wine a shot. It is so good. Bonarda, which started its life as Douce Noir in France and is called Charbono in California, is the darker, earthier, sun-warmed cousin of… Read more »

Domaine De L’Aurière Muscadet

Summer time means plenty of things, but one I’m most excited about is Muscadet. I’m not a strong believer in season-appropriate wine drinking (you’ll find me sipping on rosé well into December, for example) but there’s just something about a cool glass of this white wine on a hot summer day among friends and good food. Dry, light bodied, crisp, and vegetal, Muscadet is aged on its lees (the yeast used to ferment the juice into wine) for a full winter before bottling so the aromas can range from super green melon rind to a slightly yeasty, Champagne-like bouquet. The palate is slightly “prickly” on the tongue, and the region’s… Read more »

Castellroig Brut Cava

Do you like to try new things? This sparkling wine out of Catalonia, Spain is made of a blend of grapes that you have probably never heard of: Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada. The wine is creamy and yeasty with lots of bread-based aromas on the nose. The mouthfeel has just right amount of acidity with citrus fruits on the palate. A lingering finish leaves you wanting that next sip. This is probably one of my favorite sparkling wines under $20…like, ever!