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!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Bounty Hunter Staff Tastes Through the Fall 2015 Catalog - Part 2

In Part Two of our Fall Preview, we’ll introduce you to some of the spirits that raised us from the dead this week and will be sure to rattle your bones when they’re shipped straight to you later this Fall. 
A few years ago when we seized the opportunity to add world-class spirits to the Bounty Hunter lineup, this room full of full-fledged wine geeks couldn’t contain our excitement. As wine country insiders, we’re well aware that it takes a whole lot of whiskey (and bourbon, and vodka, and rum, and…) to make world-class wine. Another season brings us the opportunity to introduce you to some great new distillations, while reuniting you with some old favorites.
Buy American, Drink Bourbon Gift 3-pack ($174.99, page 18)
(Old Forester Straight Kentucky Bourbon, Bounty Hunter Selection, Eagle Rare 10yr Bounty Hunter Selection, and Russell’s 10yr Reserve Bounty Hunter Selection)
Because: America. All three of these Bounty Hunter Selections were absolutely killer, and for an average price of $58, superb values. Because our stocks are dwindling, these are available only in this custom gift pack. Feel free to gift it to yourself, you patriot.
Blade & Bow 22yr Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($249.99, page 21) 
While the phenomenon surrounding a certain cult 23 year old bourbon is understandable, the pricing has skyrocketed to over $2,000 per bottle (if you can find it). This exceptional Kentucky bourbon from Blade & Bow was made in the same Stitzel-Weller distillery frequented by everyone’s favorite Grand-Pappy and is nearly as old. Coconutty, spicy, ethereal and creamy, with that gorgeous rancio note only two decades in the barrel can bring. This is absolutely stunning bourbon. When you taste it, you’ll understand why we limited folks to one bottle, and you’ll thank us for saving you $2k.
Germain-Robin “Old Havana” Bounty Hunter Single Barrel Selection Brandy ($121.45, page 22)
The name is misleading, as this is an American answer to Cognac, not to Cuban rum. Sauntering, complex, spice-cakey, serenely beautiful brandy.
El Dorado 21yr Rum, Guyana ($99.99, page 23)
Incredibly concentrated, intense rum. How many other spirits that are clearly some of the best in the world in their category – and this old – are obtainable for just one Benjamin?
Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacão, Switzerland ($37.99, page 23)
Do you remember the sensation of putting headphones on for the first time when you were a kid? Hearing music in the center of your head, instead of from speakers across the room? This is like that, but with chocolate, and this time it is happening inside your face. Imagine layers of powdered cocoa dusting a savory, but not-too-sweet core, and you’ll begin to hear the melody for yourself.
Fuenteseca 7yr “Extra Añejo” Tequila, Jalisco ($184.99, page 24)
Añejos aged this long are exceedingly rare, but tasting this made us wonder why more producers don’t do it. If you like great single malt scotch, treat yourself to a bottle of this one.
Dillon’s “Dry Gin 7” Ontario, Canada ($39.99, page 25)
Such a delicate, pillowy gin, with incredible, gentle complexity. Quite simply one of the best gins we’ve ever tasted. Distilled from rye, of all things.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Bounty Hunter Staff Tastes Through the Fall 2015 Catalog - Part 1

This week we were treated to a privilege here at the ol’ Bounty Hunter hitching post: the whole team tasted through more than half of the wines in our Fall Catalog.
Like you, we are wine maniacs – from the accountants to the ecommerce team and every Wine Scout in between – and we get really animated when we taste great stuff. We thought we would take a few lines to highlight the nectars that had people murmuring around the meeting table.  Not sure what to buy from the catalog? Consider this your insider’s preview:

2012 Continuum Red, Napa Valley ($199.99, page 5)
Tim Mondavi’s first 100% Estate release from his Pritchard Hill estate. A big, bold, ripe Cabernet, this will be a collector’s item one day. The legacy lives on.
2013 Streamside Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($16.95, page 10)
How many Sauvignon Blancs would you call “slurpable?” This one is right clean down the fairway – not too innocuous, not in any way feral. Not face-caving tart, not low-acid blowsy. Just an eminently drinkable bottle of Sauvignon. Bravo!
2013 Collosorbo “RGS” Sant’Antimo Rosso ($34.95, page 10)
“Really Good Stuff.”  Sant’Antimo is the appellation the folks in Montalcino created in 1996 to accommodate wines that did not meet the varietal requirements of Brunello di Montalcino. Then in 2008 numerous producers were caught with their pants down, adding Cabernet Sauvignon to their Sangiovese and illegally calling it Brunello. Legally, they should have bottled such wines as Sant’Antimo. If you want to know why they pushed their luck and added Cabernet, try a bottle of RGS.
2012 Domaine du Penlois “Lancié” Beaujolais-Villages ($13.95, page 12)
Long ago, at another domaine in Beaujolais, we spotted a barrel with the letters “P.M.G.” written in chalk. What does this mean?” we asked the winemaker. “Pour ma gueule,” he said. “For my gullet.” Say no more.
2013 Calot “Cuvée Jeanne” Morgon ($27.95, page 13)
If you love Pinot Noir or Red Burgundy, here’s a wine you can pop on a weeknight without guilt, from Mr. Jean Calot, a late master of this Beaujolais Cru. Cherries, orange rind, cinnamon.
2013 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre “Les Romains” Blanc ($69.95, page 13)
What would Grand Cru White Burgundy taste like if it were made with Sauvignon Blanc? It would taste like this. Long, succulent, minerally, lemon-scented. Truly world-class wine.
2012 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena ($54.95, page 26)
Absolutely textbook Saint Helena Cabernet, brimming with black and blue fruit, and in no way overripe. Underpriced by about $30.
2012 Montagna “Tre Vigneti” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($59.95, page 29)
What it says in the catalog is absolutely correct – this is one of the finest values going in Napa Valley Cabernet. This wine deserves your attention, because it seized ours. From Pritchard Hill, which is a hotspot for quality, (e.g. Colgin, Bryant Family, Chappellet, Continuum, David Arthur) this is deep and complex and ripe without being heavy. A tour de force, this pantses far more expensive wines up and down the valley and back again.
2013 Hanzell Pinot Noir “Sebella,” Sonoma Valley ($59.99, page 31)
Made mostly from the Terra di Promisio vineyard in Petaluma Gap, it’s no surprise that this has such class and poise. Really superb. Hanzell has been making great Pinot Noir since 1957.  
2013 Clos du Mont Olivet “Petit Mont” Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($39.95, page 32)
We consulted the rulebook, and it doesn’t say anywhere that great Châteauneuf has to be $50.  This one has it all: sweet forest floor aromas, cinnamon, raspberry jam, and puffs of cocoa powder. 
2013 Laird “Cold Creek” Chardonnay, Carneros ($29.95, page 36)
Oh, ok. We see that Paul Hobbs made this. Now it makes sense. Year in and year out, this is one of our top picks in Carneros Chardonnay. Big? Yes. Buttery? Yep. Are we apologizing for loving it? Absolutely not. Bring it on home.

That wraps up our vinous rundown.  Stay tuned for our next post on all things distilled!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Spirit Flights

Spirit Flights

Our tasting flights each feature three 1oz. pours. All spirits are also available individually.

All spirits are available for retail purchase in our Wine Bar.

Kentucky Kitchen Sink                                                                                         

Three Whiskey’s in three different styles.
♠  Larceny 92 Proof 
     Bourbon – Kentucky 
♠  Old Forester, “Signature” 100 Proof                                              
    Bourbon – Kentucky
♠  Sazerac 6yr. 90 Proof
     Rye – Kentucky

Bourbon Bonanza                                                                                                   

These three producers just know how to do it right.
♠  Jefferson’s, “Reserve” 90.2 Proof
      Bourbon – Kentucky 
♠  Ezra B, “Single Barrel,” 12yr. 99 Proof                                    
    Bourbon – Kentucky 
♠  Rowan’s Creek 100.1 Proof
     Bourbon – Kentucky

Shots Heard ‘Round the World                                                                              

A Scot an Irishman and a Canadian walk into a bar…
♠  Glenrothes, 1995, 18yr. 92 Proof                                                              
     Single Malt – Speyside
♠  Redbreast, 15yr. 92 Proof                                                                                 
    Whisky – Ireland
♠  Forty Creek, “Double Barrel Reserve” 80 Proof
    Whiskey – Canada

Orphan Barrel Series                                                                                               

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity!
♠  Forged Oak, 15 yr. 90.5 proof  
    Bourbon – Kentucky
♠  Rhetoric, 20 yr. 90 proof                                                           
    Bourbon – Kentucky
♠  Lost Prophet, 22 yr. 90.1 Proof          
    Bourbon – Kentucky

Bounty Hunter Collection                                                                                         

Single barrels and custom blends crafted by team Bounty Hunter.
♠  Blanton’s, “BH Barrel Selection” 90 proof
    Bourbon – Kentucky  
♠  Angel’s Envy, “BH Blend” 86.6 Proof                                           
    Bourbon – Kentucky  
♠  Bounty Hunter, “Batch 329,” 94 Proof                                    
    Bourbon – Kentucky