Friday, April 29, 2016

A Night with Charlie Garrison

We were so excited when Charlie Garrison of Garrison Brothers Distillery said he would be our next guest in The Bounty Hunter Distiller Series. Garrison Brothers is the first bourbon distillery to come out of Texas, and boy is it a good one! The night was filled with stories, laughter, and of course a lot of bourbon sippin’. 

Our guests started out by grabbing our Bounty Hunter Texas Tea, a special concoction we made with the 2015 Garrison Brothers bourbon,(see recipe below) a refreshing if not spicy way to start  mingling amongst ourselves. Our chefs prepared small bites including pimento cheese, pork sliders, and mini sausages. Barbecue with bourbon? Never can go wrong there! 

Once everyone had settled in and had their cocktail, it was time to get down to business. We started with the 2015 Garrison Brother Texas Bourbon. Like wine, bourbon has a specific way to smell and taste correctly. Charlie explained to smell a bourbon correctly, to get all the aromas that it has to offer, you must put your nose in the glass and breathe in very deeply through your mouth. This allows you to smell the bourbon rather than the alcohol. Now comes the tasting, you first want to warm up your palette by putting a little of the bourbon in your mouth and letting it sit there for a few seconds. After that, your palette will be relaxed and ready to taste.

As the bourbon was being sipped Charlie started talking about some of the basic fundamentals of Bourbon and the history as well. Here are some interesting facts that we learned:

The ABC’s of Bourbon
A: Bourbon is uniquely American
B: Must be aged in a brand new white American oak barrel
C: Must be a minimum of 51% corn
D: Must be distilled at no more than 160 proof/80% alcohol
E: Must be entered into barrel at no more than 125 proof
F: Must be bottled at no less than 80 proof
G: Must be genuine, nothing added to it but water

As the night went on another bottle of bourbon was passed around. This time it was the Garrison Brothers Bounty Hunter Barrel Selection, which our Spirits Buyer bought exclusively for us. This one was definitely the favorite among the guests, and many ended up buying bottles at the end of the evening.

Before the night ended, Charlie explained how he and his brother got into the bourbon business, and it all started with Charlie’s sister in law saying “With as much bourbon you guys drink, you should be making it.” Right then and there the Garrison Brothers Distillery started. A couple years later in early 2006 the Garrison’s got their distiller permit and officially became the first bourbon distillery built outside of Kentucky and Tennessee since prohibition. They also were the first legal whiskey distillery in Texas and the first organic grain distillery ever.

The night was a huge success and we thank Garrison Brothers for coming to good ol’ California and sharing their journey with us.

If you would like to purchase a bottle of Garrison Brothers click here.

Want to make your own Bounty Hunter Texas Tea? Here’s how:

Bounty Hunter Texas Tea
2 parts 2015 Garrison Brothers bourbon
1 part lime juice
Black pepper
Fresh chopped Texas Tarragon, steeped in the bourbon

Top off with ice and ginger beer

Monday, April 25, 2016

7th Annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff

This weekend Chef Nick and the Bounty Hunter team (from our Wine Bar and Smokin’ BBQ flagship restaurant in downtown Napa) participated in the 7th Annual Hall Cabernet Cookoff at Hall Winery. What a beautiful Saturday in the valley to have a barbeque cook-off. The sun was shining, the vineyards were vibrant with color and the people were ready to eat!

Not only did the attendees get to sip on some delectable wines and tasty barbeque, but also got to support a handful of local charities. Each of the 13 chefs partnered with a local charity and competed to raise money and awareness for that cause, including:
  •             Bounty Hunter Smokin’ Barbeque and Napa Humane Society
  •          Brix and JDRF
  •          Ca’ Momi and Do It For the Love
  •          The Grill at Meadowood and Community Resources for Children
  •          Harvest Table St. Helena and Boys & Girls’ Club of St. Helena
  •          Intercontinental Mark Hopkins and Grace Cathedral
  •          Kara’s Cupcakes and The Napa Valley Vine Trail 
  •          One Market Restaurant and Collabria Care
  •          Paula LeDuc and St. Helena Hospital
  •          Sift Dessert Bar and Girls on the Run
  •          Sacramento Experience and Food Literacy Center
  •          Winery Chef’s and Cope Family Center
  •          Feast Catering and Erika Van Giesen Foundation

This year, there were five celebrity judges, including Duff Goldman from The Food Network. Every chef did a fantastic job cooking up food for the event’s roughly 800 guests. Although we didn’t document everyone’s dishes we snagged a couple of pictures of our own dish in between the hustle and bustle of guests. Chef Nick and the Bounty Hunter team prepared a dish that was out of this world, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Pickled Collard Greens and Stone Ground Grits topped with a Crystal

We could hardly keep up with the demand, as soon as we put plates down, they were gone within seconds!

The praise that Bounty Hunter received was fantastic and multiple guests couldn’t resist and had to come back for seconds! We are very proud to say that Chef Nick and The Bounty Hunter team won awards and a glorious amount of money for our chosen charity, the Napa Humane Society. 

  •          Best Food and Wine pairing: Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Hall Sauvignon Blanc
  •         The People’s Choice Award + $8,500 for Napa Humane Society 

Congratulations to Chef Nick and the Bounty Hunter team, and Congratulations to the Napa Humane Society!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Fisher Vineyards - The Best of Both Worlds

On top of Spring Mountain road, just above the town of St. Helena, lays Fisher Vineyards; a small, family-owned winery with acres and acres of vineyards surrounded by luscious forests and wildlife.

Bounty Hunter was lucky enough this week to be hosted at the winery to explore the grounds, and taste their delicious wines.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the winery’s dog, Sake, an Akita who was as sweet and friendly as he was big! After Sake had his share of us petting him, we walked up to meet Cameron Fisher, the young scion of the Fisher family, and the guide for our tour.

As we hiked up the pathway, Cameron explained to us that Fisher Vineyards, which was founded by her parents in 1973, was fortunate enough to straddle two growing regions: Napa Valley and Sonoma County. The Napa Valley Estate fruit is sourced from the Coach Insignia, Cameron, Lamb Vineyard and the RCF Vineyard. The Spring Mountain Estate fruit (on the Sonoma side) comes from the Wedding Vineyard, Whitney’s Vineyard, Mountain Estate Vineyard, and the Hidden Terrace Vineyard.

Atop the mountain, the views of these vineyards, and the Valley below, are breathtaking. Everywhere you look you see vineyards and clusters of trees in between.

After the tour of the vineyards came our much anticipated tasting:

2013 Mountain Estate Chardonnay
·      100% Chardonnay, aged 18 months in French oak barrels (35% new)
·      Hints of honeydew melon, lemongrass and vanilla on the nose
·      The palate shows flavors of lemon and honeyed apple expanding the palate for a nice smooth finish

2012 Mountain Estate Cabernet
·      76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot
·      Aged 21 months in French oak barrels (85% new)
·      Well balanced with medium tannins
·      Sweet red cherries and rose petals on the finish

2012 Coach Insignia Cabernet
·      81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 3%Petit Verdot, 2%Cabernet Franc
·      Aged 21 months in 100% French Oak (95% new)
·      A juicy palate with flavors of blackberry and dark cherries, with a hint of tobacco and espresso
·      Layered tannins with a supple finish

2012 Lamb Vineyard Cabernet
·      100% Cabernet Sauvignon
·      Aged 21 months in French oak barrels (100% new)
·      245 cases produced
·      Dark cherries, plums and spices on the palate
·      Velvet texture and elegance on the finish

Altogether, the wines were excellent with silky textures and smooth velvety tannins.

After sipping on some delicious wine, we got a little surprise from Cameron’s sister, Whitney, who is co-founder of Mad Fritz Brewing Company in St. Helena. Whitney shared her 2015 Ambassador Golden Ale, inspired by the extended Fisher Family their loyal Ambassadors. Brewed with water from Fisher Vineyards and aged in Chardonnay French oak barrels, this French- Style saison is a golden delight on the palate!

A huge Thank You to Fisher Vineyards for a wonderful day. Our wine team is excited to be selling your wine and sharing our great experience with our customers!

Have we enticed you to try this Spring Mountain beauty?  Pick up a bottle of the 2012 Coach Insignia Cabernet Sauvignon here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tales from the Trail: Bounty Hunter and B Cellars

When B Cellars came to Bounty Hunter with a trio of their Cabernets, we had a feeling that this was the start of something good.

As wine and spirits professionals, Bounty Hunter Wine Scouts know better than most, that in order to tell you about a wine, we need to experience it first-hand. That’s why we accepted the gracious invitation from B Cellars to visit them at their newest winery in Oakville, to see what was really going on beyond the bottle resting in our tasting lab.

The new winery - formerly a horse ranch - is immaculately groomed and pristinely designed, set against the appellation's trademark rolling knolls. Previously, B Cellars called Calistoga home, and they spared no expense in bringing a new tasting experience to this renowned hamlet, which includes neighbors like Silver Oak, Plump Jack, Opus One and Groth. They overhauled their business model, brought Brian Michael Green into the fold as the winery's Chef de Cuisine, and developed an ultimate experience in food and wine pairing.

 **Photo : A glass of 2012 Maldonado Chardonnay paired with Sonoma Mushroom Arancini, Smoked Gouda Cheese, & Citrus AioliOur tasting experience began in the winery's Hospitality House with a glass of 2012 Maldonado Chardonnay and a taster spoon of locally-sourced Sonoma Mushroom Arancini in hand. It's clear that providing the ultimate guest experience is paramount here and that comes as little surprise once we found out that co-founder, Duffy Keys, cut his teeth as an executive at the Four Seasons for twenty years before embarking on a life in fine wine.

As we continued, we were guided to a Chef’s Garden and tasting deck, where romantic, private pairings take place in the warmer months during a customized, two-hour experience overlooking the young vines on the property. It's definitely at the top of our recommendations for visitors and locals alike.

**Photo: A chilly glass of the un-released 2015 Sauvignon Blanc that was incredibly fresh and made us giddy with potential!

Of course, the best part of any tour is seeing the inner-workings of the winery and the hands-on techniques that produce what goes into the bottle. B Cellars has come to be known for their unique blends.  But perhaps most importantly, it's the blending of traditional winemaking techniques and leveraging new technology to elevate it. From an optical grape sorter, to concrete aging tanks, their modern approach in the winery results in refined and balanced wines. It also doesn’t hurt that their long-standing relationships all over Napa Valley provide them access into some of the best vineyards in the area, including Andy Beckstoffer’s top sites. A relationship we know the value of quite well!  

**Photo: A trio of Red Wine Braised Shortribs, Torchon au Foie Gras, and a “Southern Roll” stuff wtih BBQ Chicken, Smoked Gouda, Shishito Peppers and Carmelized onion.
As we came to the end of our tour, we made our way back to the Hospitality House for one final treat; a three-course pairing matched with B Cellars' newest releases of 2012 vintage wines, including the Blend 24, Stagecoach Cabernet, and the Stagecoach Syrah. These wines matched the presented pairings perfectly, and were as delightful in the glass as what was on the plate. B Cellars clued us in on their unique niche in the food world, as they found a significant portion of their wines pair well with Asian cuisine. If you’ve ever tried to drink a Cabernet with Pad Thai (it’s ok, we’re not judging), you’ll understand what a feat it is to find wines to battle the spice and intense flavors in this category.

In the end, we all walked away from the table with a teased palate and a mental list of the clients we know will want to hear about these wines right away. It's an excellent experience in the Napa Valley matched only by some exceptional and unique wines. 

We hope we've excited you as well! Check out page 3 in the Winter Gazette, and call your Wine Scout to start your new obsession with a winery on the rise! (Be sure to ask us what the "B" in B Cellars stands for!)

No Gazette? Even worse... no Wine Scout? We can easily remedy both of those things. Call us at 1-800-943-9463 and let’s find you some great stuff; starting with a bottle of B Cellars' flagship Cabernet, the Ehrlich Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

* * *

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Gifting Without The Headache: The Bounty Hunter Difference

We’ve all had the following little internal monologue. It’s December 26th, or January 2nd:
“Why haven’t I heard from my customer or my colleague with a little thank you for the gift basket I sent? Did they get it? Why don’t I know if they received it or not? Do I really have to sit on hold on a customer service line for 10 minutes to find out?”
At Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits, we have been sending wine and spirits gifts on behalf of our clients since 1994. Hundreds of thousands of packages later, we think we have worked out a kink or two.

Providing one stop shopping, with a responsible associate instead of a faceless customer service number, has worked well for us. Our clients work closely with their Wine Scout, or wine concierge, who handles every step of the process – from choosing the perfect wine or spirit, to confirming the delivery – in a thoughtful and proactive way.

Here’s our protocol:
·         The Wine Scout works with the client to hammer out a budget and a list of recipients and addresses, domestic and international.

·         The Wine Scout responds with a proposed package of wines or spirits for the budget that create maximum impact for the recipient.

·         The client provides a gift message, which we print on an elegant card, or they can provide individualized gift cards of their own, which we insert into the top of the box to ensure that the message is received precisely the way it was intended.

·         The order is sent to our warehouse, into which no product is accepted - nor does anything ship out - if it’s not perfect. Our staff opens every case and performs a detailed QC process on every bottle before giving it a literal seal of approval. This practice includes a visual inspection of the bottle looking for any defects, label or foil damage, and checking for leakage. We have a check and balance system that means that every shipment is checked no less than 3 times. Therefore our clients and their recipients never receive anything less than a perfect unboxing experience.

·         Once the shipments are deployed, managing expectations is essential. Our Wine Scouts review the UPS tracking list of recipients to see if there have been any delays in the package deliveries, and inform the client of any problems and a timeline for resolution. It’s like having your own personal assistant running interference for you, even contacting your recipients directly when necessary.

Bounty Hunter’s detail-oriented focus on customer service and satisfaction requires that we consider the customer’s needs on multiple levels during the holiday season.

So this year, ask yourself, “Does this gifting option make my life easier, or does it add stress? Does the gift enhance my own personal reputation or my company’s brand? Have I maximized my budget to come up with a gift that my clients will savor and remember?

If all of these considerations are important to you, reach out to us here at Bounty Hunter, and we’ll handle the rest! 

From all of us here in the Napa Valley, we wish you a Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bounty Hunter Wine Scouts Help Set the Table

It’s that time of year again! The invitations have gone out, the RSVPs received, and now all that’s left is Thanksgiving dinner prep. While you’re master of your domain in the kitchen, maybe you need a little help in taking the guess-work out of wine pairing. Well, no reason to fret. We polled some of our Wine Scouts for their favorite wine pairings of the holiday season and we offer them now for you. Our takeaway? Seems no Thanksgiving table is complete without bold reds and bubbles!

Alan Lewis
Senior Wine Scout

The Waypoint King Ridge Pinot Noir makes an excellent pairing with many of the traditional holiday dishes. Its gorgeous red raspberry and kirsch notes will make a nice surprise to the wine lovers in your family.

Jared Seitzer
Senior Wine Scout
You can't go wrong with Champagne/Sparkling and it won’t overpower your turkey. Go with a Sparkling Rosé like Schramsberg to accentuate the cranberry sauce shaped like a can. Save the Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé for closest family!

Larry Kantrowitz
Wine Scout
I am very traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. I go directly to the Chenin Blanc for the white and to Sonoma County Zinfandel for the red. My suggestion is the Chenin Blanc from Foxen, it is America’s finest. For a Zinfandel, Seghesio works great. They not only pair well with food, they also pair well with each other!

Walter Hamlin
Wine Scout
French Rosé like Domaine Philippe Gavignet Bourgogne and bubbly have great acidity, light fruit, and make a Thanksgiving pairing easy. Not to mention, Mimosas are a great sidekick while basting that turkey!

Matt Clancy
Wine Scout
Tradition for the Clancys starts the night before with a Crab Feed for 60, paired with 2006 Domaine Lancelot Royer RGS Brut Champagne, 2012 Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay, and good friends. The next day we have more bubbles, 2012 Calera de Villiers Pinot Noir and 2010 DelasFreres Haute Pierre Chateauneuf-du-Pape, to pair with turkey, mushroom pie, and family.

We hope that these recommendations have inspired you for some perfect holiday wine pairings. If you have any other questions or would like more recommendations, feel free to reach out to your Scout!

As we sit around our own tables this Thanksgiving, we will certainly be raising our glasses and giving thanks to good health, good friends and family and to you, our Bounty Hunter customers!  Cheers and have a happy Thanksgiving! 

Important Dates to Ensure Thanksgiving Delivery:
Wednesday, 11/18: Last Day for Ground Shipping
Thursday, 11/19:  Last Day for 3-Day Shipping
Friday, 11/20: Last Day for 2-Day Shipping
Monday 11/23:  Last Day for Overnight Shipping

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 The Harvest Notebook

Here at Bounty Hunter headquarters we’re surrounded by what looks to be another terrific harvest in progress. We checked in with our winemaker Tim Milos for the lowdown, and here’s what we scribbled in our notebook.

Tim Milos, Winemaker
Napa Valley 2015
Across grape varieties, the crop yield is relatively low, due to lots of spring shatter (which leads to less berries being created), but almost uniformly gorgeous. A light misting rain in mid-September was quite helpful, giving the grapes a bath and a little sip before the final push. The heat wave of early September had driven up sugars, but the weather of the last few days has brought them right back in the wheelhouse.

Bounty Hunter Vineyard Sources (For Justice, Waypoint, etc)

·         Brown Ranch Pinot was harvested in early September, with tight and uniform clusters. The vineyard managers were thrilled about how little they had to do in terms of dropping fruit or having clusters rejected at the sorting table.

Hudson Vineyard in Carneros
·         The first pick of Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay went smoothly (two different blocks). The second pick was carried out the weekend of September 26th under ideal conditions.

·         We picked most of the To-Kalon Cabernet on Monday Sept. 21st. Here, we had to do very little crop thinning during the season. Flavors and sugars look awesome. The berries are tiny, with a high skin to juice ratio, so we should be looking at some linebacker reds.

·         Dr. Crane Cabernet Franc, our secret weapon in the cellar, was picked September 24th. It looks beautiful. Crane Cabernet Sauvignon was picked on Monday the 28th in gorgeous conditions.

·         Spring Mountain “Terra Buena” was picked on the 23rd, so there‘s not the typical variation between mountain fruit and valley floor. Everything is pretty much ripening at the same time.

Terra Buena Vineyard overlooking St. Helena, Spring Mountain

All in all, it’s been a pretty easy harvest so far. There might have been some raisining or sugar imbalances if the heat kept up for a few more days, but the heat thankfully moderated recently. Unless people are going for crazy ripeness, 90%+ of Napa fruit will be picked by the first weeks of Fall, if not before. Yields are probably 20%-25% down from “normal” based on the initial fruit set, but things look phenomenal. In short, anyone who screws this harvest up needs to consider a new line of work outside of the fermentation sciences!