May The 4th Be With My New Ink…

Yep, I’ve got a bit of new ink to report! What does everyone think?

It’s just so me isn’t it?

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Wine Review: Tortoise Creek “The Chelonian” 2014

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It’s been a good long while since I’ve done a wine review so I figured I’d do one tonight.

This California Zinfandel from Tortoise Creek weighs in at 14.6% ABV. I like a good Zinfandel but I’m kinda picky about them, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked it up, especially given the price point. I was very pleasantly surprised by this one though!

Pours a deep burgundy color. Thick streaks of lacing when swirled, owing to its slightly higher-than-average alcohol content. Nose consists of raspberry, a touch of caramel and alcohol astringency. Medium bodied flavors of plum, black cherry, toffee and a hint of spicy vanilla. Finish is long and somewhat hot with a cinnamon afterburn.

For about $13/bottle you can’t go wrong. This is a great everyday wine that’s not too sweet or dry and easy to please.  Surprisingly complex for its price point, it went well with the pictured Blanco Nine JT Limitado but would also be a great dessert wine in my opinion. Rating: 4/5.

Wine Review: Apothic Inferno

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This offering from Apothic Wines is a red blend (they don’t disclose specifics from what I’ve found) aged for 60 days in whiskey barrels. Consistent with this aging, it does have a slightly higher than average alcohol content at 15.9% ABV. Whiskey (particularly bourbon) barrel aged wines have been a bit of a hot trend lately, so I expected nothing less than for Apothic to get in on the action. But did they do it well?

Pour is a deep burgundy color as a great red wine should. The nose is immediately greeted with notes of plum and cherry with a tinge of vanilla and woody bourbon. The palate is greeeted with a blast of bourbon with tones of vanilla, oak and maple syrup. This is supported by a black cherry and blueberry core. Finish is semi-dry with mild tannins and a long lingering warmth. I would rate the body at medium – it’s an easy drinking wine without being too heavy.

For the price (about $12/bottle it appears) I doubt you’re going to see a more wallet friendly whiskey barrel aged wine. I do feel the whiskey in this case might have been too assertive in that it seemed to be the star of the show instead of just adding character, but it was still a very enjoyable wine. I paired this with a Torano Exodus 1959 50 Year cigar for this review and it was a solid pairing. Rating: 3.5/5.

 

Cigar and Wine Reviews: Micallef Grande Bold A Maduro and Ménage à Trois Midnight.

Tonight I have a cigar and a wine to review, so let’s just get right down to business.

Grande Bold A Maduro

This offering from Micallef cigars features an Ecuadorian Broadleaf Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers. The size reviewed is a 5″ x 52RG Robusto vitola.

First light is a perfect draw producing thick plumes of smoke. Medium/full body. Earthy and peppery. A tinge of must and an unsweetened cocoa in the background.

The first third tames the pepper a bit while seemingly dialing the body down to medium. Smoke gets creamier and the cocoa asserts itself more on the finish while the earthy tones morph more toward a distinct leather.

The 2nd third sees a subtle shift as the leather takes on a cashew note and the pepper dies out completely allowing an aromatic bright cedar to shine on the retrohale. No further changes were noted in the profile but the body came back up to medium/full in the last third. Ending at 50 minutes for an average burn time for the size and entering a subtle mild/medium nicotine strength.

Flawless construction and a razor sharp burn. Ash holds for half the stick at a time. No issues there.

An interesting complex cigar great for any time of the day. Would go well with a variety of drinks but went very well with tonight’s wine. My only issue is I would have liked the body to maintain its intensity instead of dipping toward the middle. Rating: 4/5.

Ménage à Trois Midnight

This dark red blend from California consists of 59% merlot, 16% cabernet sauvignon, 15% petite sirah and 10% petit verdot.

Pours a deep burgundy color. Ample lacing when swirled. Aromas of black cherry and rose petals. Flavors of blackberries and raspberries, plum, cherry and a hint of nutmeg. Finish contains a slight hint of chocolate. Medium body and mouthfeel.

Very good middle of the road wine for everyday drinking. Not too expensive. Complex enough and easy to please. Went well with the above cigar. Rating: 4/5.

That’s all for today. Have you had either of today’s offerings? Let me know what you thought!

Wine Review – 1916 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Today we are reviewing a wine. I haven’t done many wine reviews on here but I’ve been asked to do more so I’ll try to make a conscious effort to do so. Today’s topic is this 1916 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon of a 2012 vintage.

This bottle I found at a local grocery store on special, but don’t let that fool you. It’s not a cheap wine by any stretch. My research has pointed to me to Espier Estate in Victoria, Australia as the mastermind behind this wine but the back of the bottle says “Our Cellars” in Hopland, CA so I’m utterly confused, as can be seen here along with the ABV. Maybe someone more knowledgeable than me  can educate me on what exactly this is.

Pours a deep red as a good Cab should. Ample lacing when swirled. Aromas of rose petals, blueberries and black cherry. The black cherry carries over into the initial attack which gives way to a jammy plum note and just a tinge of dark chocolate. Warm, peppery finish with oaky undertones and an ample amount of tannins. Medium to heavy body with a long warming aftertaste.

An excellent wine, it would go well with a heavy dinner or, as I had it for this review, paired with a full bodied Maduro cigar such as the previously reviewed Blanco Liga Exclusiva Maduro. Rating: 4.5/5.

Wine/Cigar Reviews – Stave & Steel Bourbon Barrel Cab and H&S Veiled Prophet

So today in my reviews we’re doing something a bit different – I’m reviewing a wine and a cigar. I absolutely love wine but I don’t review many wines here because I don’t feel as I have developed a super sophisticated palate for it yet but I’m learning (I’ve been drinking more and more wine lately – I find it goes very well with a cigar). Well this one is a special wine, and I’m reviewing it along with a special cigar review as well.

We’ll start with tonight’s wine.

Stave & Steel Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Bourbon barrel aged everything seems to be a fad lately so why the wine scene has not gotten into it yet I don’t know. Whatever the case, here we go. This offering from Stave & Steel retails around $15-20/bottle depending on geographic location.

Pours the deep reddish-purple color a good cab should. The nose is immediately greeted with a big whiff of smoky bourbon supported by floral notes and cherries. On the palate the bourbon is up front but not overbearing or dominating. The supporting flavors include dark chocolate, ripe cherries, mixed berries and features a smoky oak and tobacco finish with a touch of a warm vanilla aftertaste. Rich and substantial in the mouth and easy drinking.

If you like whiskey and you like wine, do yourself a favor and check this one out. It brings the two together beautifully. Pair with a hearty steak dinner or with a Habano or Maduro wrapped cigar for best results. Rating: 4.75/5.

And now for a truly special cigar pick:

Hiram and Solomon Veiled Prophet

The cream-of-the-crop stick in the Hiram and Solomon line by Blanco Cigars, this stick comes in one size (a whopping 7″ x 60RG “Grand Monarch” vitola) and features a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper and an undisclosed binder and long fillers.

First light revealed a perfect draw producing plumes of thick, chewy medium-full bodied smoke containing notes of a sweet creamy leather, nuts and a peppery but not overbearing retrohale.

Getting into the first third the pepper dials back a bit allowing a bright, aromatic cedar to join the retrohale and bringing in a rich, sweet caramel onto the draw. The flavors remained largely consistent into the 2nd third but with an added level of complexity as a bright, light roast coffee joins the mix. A very long 2 hour and 15 minute smoke surprisingly only a mild/medium nicotine strength by the end of it (ending with around 2″ to go; if you like the hot nub you can easily get almost 3 hours out of it).

Construction was what I will call excellent. It did have some of the characteristic burn issues found in 60 ring gauge cigars and required occasional touch-ups. It did also prefer to be double-puffed for the first third or so as more airflow was needed to generate smoke than I had in my mouth, but these were small things and definitely worth the flavor package.

This would make a lovely after dinner or special occasion smoke. Would pair well with almost any drink you throw at it, but just make sure you have ample time to sit down and enjoy it. Rating: 4.75/5.

That’s a wrap for today. Hope you enjoyed this special edition of my reviews. Let me know what you thought!

A Little Look at My “Wineador”

With the hot Texas summers keeping cigars in optimal shape is a real challenge. Humidity isn’t such an issue if you’re like me and use tupperware containers as opposed to wooden humidors but temperature is the killer. Unless you want an insane electric bill keeping your house air conditioned at or below 70 degrees, you’re risking mold and beetles just leaving them out and about in your house.

So for the past couple of summers I’ve kept my cigars at the office where the A/C is set that low for the benefit of everyone who has to wear PPE. I knew my cigars would be safe there but I kind of got tired of doing that and having to pull cigars for the evenings/weekends. I wanted all my cigars accessible at home, so that’s when I decided I would get a thermoelectric wine refrigerator to store them in. It’s a little hack that has literally taken the cigar world by storm (in various capacities) so this just seemed like it’s what I needed.

So I took to looking at wine refrigerators and lo and behold the tiny ones weren’t much cheaper than a large-ish 28 count refrigerator with removable racks. I figured what the hell, might as well just get the big one and do double duty with it. I like red wines too and the ideal serving temperature for those is about 65 degrees F (18 degrees C) – which is perfect for storing cigars too, albeit a bit on the cool side but not cool enough to negatively impact them. Found a great deal on such at Wayfair and pulled the trigger.

So now, I have my tupperdors of cigars as well as some wine in it. It’s turned out to be a handy little appliance. Every cigar I’ve smoked out of it has burned, smoked and tasted as it should so the slightly cool storage temp hasn’t seemed to affect it at all. For those wondering, each one of my tupperdors are Dollar Tree specials and hold about 50 cigars depending on vitola and each one has two 60g 69% Boveda packs. Of course, if you’re the traditionalist you can put cedar shelves/drawers in and have your humidity source loose in the refrigerator but many find it harder to maintain the humidity that way.

Nonetheless, this is what it looks like right now, but the contents are surely to expand in the near future.

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So yes, if you are a cigar lover and live in a hot climate, definitely get you a wine refrigerator and convert it into a “wineador.” It’ll make your life so much easier. If you enjoy wine that’s even better as you can use one appliance for both purposes. I must say I’m happy with the results.