Friday, August 28, 2015

The Bounty Hunter Staff Tastes Through the Fall 2015 Catalog

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

Monday, June 29, 2015

Wine Notes - Lost in Translation

Sometimes something gets lost in translation – that’s why we opt to use the term in the native tongue when we write about wine. It’s less about pretense and more about being accurate. But sometimes we all need a little cheat-sheet to get on the same page. Here are a few French terms that could use a bit of expansion.

Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC): Indicates the official place-name of where the grapes were grown.
Château: A wine estate.
Cru: A vineyard, a village, or perhaps a wine estate.
Cuvée: A blended wine.
Domaine: A wine estate, often smaller than a château.
Millésime: Vintage.
Mis en Bouteille au Château: Estate-bottled.
A votre santé!: To your good health (cheers!)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Don Wetherell – Triple Threat

New life has been breathed into our operation with the addition of Don Wetherell as our new Vice President of Restaurant Operations.

A New England native, Don is a triple threat – classically trained in restaurant and hospitality management, and seasoned by years of experience in both small and large restaurant establishments alike. Most recently, Don spent several years at Redd Wood in Yountville, and before that, nearly two decades with the Hillstone Group (that runs the iconic Napa dining spot on Highway 29 in the heart of the Napa Valley, the Rutherford Grill).
A Penn State grad, Don didn’t set out to be in hospitality. His sights were on a degree in Exercise Physiology, but after taking a leap year in Vail, Colorado, where he worked in the restaurant industry, Don returned and enrolled in Penn’s Hotel and Restaurant Program.

Don jokes that in his formative years, “I did time at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires” (the super luxurious spa resort in western Massachusetts), where he worked as an outdoor guide. But his real inspiration comes from his mother, who had the opportunity to purchase a restaurant when Don was just a tyke. “She’s celebrating 40 years in business this October,” he says proudly.

Don’s been on the job almost six months now, and is currently helping to run the restaurant, work the floor, learn the culture, facilitate the management team and generally “tighten up service.” The best part of his new role is the “life/work balance” it affords him. Don not only tackles the day-to-day race of running our Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ, he’s a dedicated husband to a lovely wife and father to his toddler son, both of whom eagerly command his free time.

Back to shop talk, Don tells us he’s excited about “this block” referring to Bounty Hunter’s new building site at the corner of First and Main Streets in downtown Napa. It’s a blank slate, and it will be our mother-ship property. “I can’t wait to grow into our new digs,” he says, “I think of all the things we can do when we have the luxuries of a full kitchen, a sauté station and more real estate in general.” Being the detail-oriented type that he is, Don doesn’t see the devil in the details but rather the opportunity for improvement. Some might think it daunting, but Don just smiles….

Thursday, June 18, 2015

It's Mystery Case time!

As Norman Bates said in Psycho, "Everybody goes a little crazy sometimes." Well call the sanitarium and start booking us rooms, because after this offer drops, we're gonna be escorted out of the building in straightjackets. It's Mystery Case time!

Here's the deal. There are three categories that you may request: $299.99, $599.99, or $999.99. The cases will include 10 bottles of red and 2 bottles of white, and the contents in each case are GUARANTEED to be of higher retail value (25% or more) than what you are paying. Each case INCLUDES GROUND SHIPPING in the price, and provenance is guaranteed. It's our way of saying "thank you" for supporting us over the years.

Now here's where it gets really interesting. After 20 years in business, we've acquired some pretty special bottles that have found their way into our inventory. What if we told you that 36 lucky cases are going to end up with one of these "JACKPOT" bottles? Whether it's the 100-Point 2012 J. Daniel Cuvée from Lail, 2013 Raphet "Clos Vougeot" Grand Cru, 2010 Château Lafite-Rothschild , 2011 Remoissenet "Le Montrachet" or a few other special gems from our stash, each one of these JACKPOT bottles is a cellar treasure of the highest order. You will know if you receive a "JACKPOT" bottle as they will be wrapped in gold tissue paper. We ask that the JACKPOT bottle recipients post a photo with their JACKPOT bottle to our Instagram account so we can see you with your prize.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mad Fritz Tap Takeover

Bounty Hunter Wine Bar and Smokin’ BBQ is thrilled to announce a “Tap Takeover” by Mad Fritz Brewing Company on Saturday, June 27th, from 11:00am until the kegs are gone. As one of only a handful of places to offer Mad Fritz's creations, and the only spot in downtown Napa—it’s hard not to be excited.

If you haven’t had a chance to experience any of Mad Fritz Brewing’s concoctions, they are certainly turning the beer world on its ear with a revolutionary approach to the entire process.  Born from years of winemaking, and more importantly a deep love for frothy, cold beer—Mad Fritz brews beers featuring specially sourced water from ultra-premium aquifers, springs, and wells.  In addition, they utilize estate grains and hops as well as custom malting to their exact specifications.  The result is a truly remarkable beer of unparalleled craftsmanship from start to finish.

Our featured beer and the highlight of this event is a special edition of Mad Fritz’ “The Kite, Frog and Mouse” Rye Ale using well water from Calistoga. The beer was then aged in some of our own bourbon barrels that were used for our custom spirits program.  

We will also be pouring “The Wind and Sun” Golden Ale.  Mad Fritz’ rendition of a Belgian Strong Ale with saison yeast aged in third use French oak Chardonnay barrels. Water sourcing for this delightful offering comes from St. Helena. For the mash bill, we see Copeland barley sourced from Fallon, Nevada. For a bittering and balancing element, Glacier Hops were chosen from Clearlake, CA.

Finally, “The Old Man and Death” Imperial Rye Stout is the darker offering for our valued guests. This beer uses a 2 row barley called “Full Pint” bred by Pat Hayes at Oregon State University. This special barley was grown in Brownsville Oregon, and micro-malted in Colorado.  The final component to the recipe is rye grown in Fallon, Nevada and micro malted at Rebel Malting in Reno, Nevada. Ivanhoe hops from Clearlake are used to balance the hefty malt bill.

We are truly honored to have the chance to showcase the immense talents of Nile Zacherle and his up-and-coming craft brewery or as they call it “Ultra Craft.” Once we open the taps, we won’t stop pouring throughout the weekend until the beer is gone, so come on down and get your hands on them before the well runs dry.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dinner with a Whiskey Legend

It’s not every day one gets to have dinner with a legend. Master distiller Dave Pickerell, of WhistlePig Rye, hosted a dinner last Friday for which we were lucky enough to snag a ticket.

Dave was the distiller at the helm of Maker’s Mark when the company (pardon the pun) made their mark on the whiskey world. He drove the brand from craft distiller to production behemoth – over 1.3 million cases at the time of his departure. Known for its consistency and approachability, it is still one of the top brands in the bourbon category. After leaving Maker’s Mark in 2008 he worked as a consultant for a variety of small craft distilleries.

By 2009 he and Raj P. Bhakta (owner of the WhistlePig farm) developed a plan to return Rye Whiskey to prominence in the USA. The highly anticipated “Old World Finishes” series is one of the ventures WhistlePig is using to do so. The whiskies are 12 year old rye finished for 3-4 weeks in barrels used for different old world fortified and dessert wines. The series releases are each finished barrels formerly holding Sauternes, Port, and Madeira. The final release is a marriage of the three. The proof is in the glass, these whiskies are worthy of some serious recognition.

Throughout the meal Dave answered questions from the diners and talked about the approach he took with the “Old World Finishes” series. After hatching this plan he proceeded to source two shipping containers full of different barrels from Europe. Once the rye was aged he put them in front of  his contemporaries – a series of focus groups, predominantly made up of bartenders from around the country, helped shape the program into what it is.

Dave relied heavily on this input regarding the final products. He likened the final bottling of the project to an orchestra with each type representing a different part of the symphony. The Port finish, with its rye spice, Christmas fruits and a dark chocolate finish is the base of the orchestra. The Madeira finish has loads of peppery spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and other baking spices are abundant and this is the most powerful of the three and represents the woodwinds, which drive the orchestra. The Sauternes finish is the softest in many ways, showing apricots and other stone fruits, hints of rye spice and a delicate feel on the palate, accenting the other two much the way the string section does. The marriage bottling is the orchestra as a whole and tastes as such, you get those delicate hints from the strings, the power of the woodwinds and the foundation of the bass instruments as represented in all 3 whiskies individually. Each whiskey stood out from the pack of what is on the market today for the rye. Each also paired quite well with the dishes presented. The most complete pairing being the amuse course of foie gras torchon with the Port finish.

A thoroughly enjoyable meal with great conversation and a learning experience about WhistlePig that is unparalleled, this will not soon be forgotten. And keep an eye out for any release from this distillery, they really are bringing Rye to the fore. The “Old World Finishes” are available only in restaurants and bars. You can find your shot at the Bounty Hunter Smokin’ BBQ and Wine Bar in downtown Napa, CA.