Friday, August 31, 2012

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

We’ve always thought of Labor Day as the last big event of the summer. When fruit starts coming off the vines – as some Sauvignon Blanc is here in Napa – it’s officially time to start thinking about fall. Everyone is rushing around trying to make it to the last BBQs, back to school sales (even when there isn’t anyone going back to school) and talking about how their team is going to fare on the gridiron this year. Soon the days will be shorter and darker and your internal clock will be telling you “work more and play less.”

Let’s make the most out of our last chance to really enjoy the sun! Team Bounty Hunter is not only on the continuing adventure to find the rarest wines, we’re also on the quest for the finest artisan spirits. Here are a few suggestions for some BBQ-riffic wines and a couple of specialty spirits for your Labor Day celebration. They are perfect for laying back and sipping the day away. Try them out and let us know your favorite. Cheers to one last holiday weekend!

2009 Graff Mourvèdre Chalone - Like its spiritual cousins in the south of France, this thoroughly quaffable Mourvèdre is about user-friendly gulpability (if that’s not a word, it should be). Red fruits, spice and blueberries are presented with the sort of body and texture that’ll even take a little chill in the fridge and still be ready to go. We’re offering it at a pretty sweet price too…

2008 Lagier-Meredith Syrah Mt. Veeder - It’s in the argument for Napa Valley’s best Syrah. Let’s see what Robert Parker has to say, shall we? “… a gloriously intense perfume of roasted meats, herbs, barbecue smoke, burning embers, plums and acacia flowers. The wine possesses exceptional intensity, a full-bodied opulence and not a hard edge to be found. It is a beautifully complex, ethereal Syrah.” Any questions?

2010 Casarena 'Sinergy' Reserva Mendoza - There will be a quiz later, so let’s see who’s paying attention. This is one of the finest values in our entire Fall Catalog. Tasted blind, we guessed this would be in the $40-$50 range… it’s not. Concentrated and silky at once, it’s a gorgeous display of violets, cassis, blackberries and caramel. Seriously, if this doesn’t get your engine revving, red wine may not be your thing.

Mezcalero Mezcal #6 Oaxaca - Unlike Tequila, mezcal can be made from different varieties of agave, some of which only grow in the wild. Leaving behind conventional farming, these modern day "mezcaleros" take donkeys into the highlands of Oaxaca, harvest the wild plants, and craft a spirit all by hand using traditional artisan methods. The No. 6 is made from agaves Mexicana, Madrecuishe, and Bicuishe resulting in a soft, supple and richly flavored agave spirit with a core of earth and smoke that with one sip will make anyone into an instant fan. Fewer than 900 bottles produced.

Diplomatico “Reserva Exclusiva” Rum - While Jamaica and Puerto Rico are usually associated with "top-shelf" rum, aficionados will tell you Venezuelan rum is not to be overlooked. Copper-pot distilled and aged for 12 years, Diplimático Reserva Exclusiva massages the senses with rich molasses, allspice and dried fruit. The sweet buttery entry melts into a spicy mid-palate finish that lingers for minutes. You simply cannot get more taste-per-dollar than this!

Summer Olson Stubblefield
Event & PR Manager

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Peek Behind the Bounty Hunter Curtain

Ever wonder how that bottle gets an endorsement from Team Bounty Hunter?

My peek behind the curtain came last Thursday at about 10:15am PST. Thursday was shaping up to be an all around greyscale kind of day – no surprises or delights to look forward to, when all of a sudden Stefan Matulich, Bounty Hunter’s Sales Director (and champion of Spirits) rounded my cubicle partition with an impromptu invitation to a Bourbon tasting.

Heck yeah! I was off my swivel chair in a flash, dashing down the hallway to the conference room where seated at the head of our large wooden table was our team of highly qualified decision makers.

I was honored to take my seat to embark on our task (and tasting). The mission at hand was to select a single barrel Bourbon offering that would be worthy of bearing the Bounty Hunter’s endorsement. We had eight samples from three different producers from which to select. With a tasting sheet at hand, snifters, beakers of water and spittoons all lined up we dove head long into the bevy of brown liquors.

It was quite a lineup – in fact each and every sample had ample virtues, which of course makes it harder to pick the one that would rise above the others like cream to the top. Pony flasks adorned with large white stickers held all kinds of information (none of which would prove more important than our sensory observations).

Bearing in mind that Stefan had already done months of leg work whittling down the contestants to these eight finalists, we tasted the lineup in rapid succession. From the spicy nutty and leathery elixir that hinted of sea air, to the more feminine and Calvados-scented spice stick offering, we sniffed, sipped and spit. After each flight we compared tasting notes. Our small panel often found that we liked the same one or two, but at times there was dissent. I believe I heard the words, “You actually liked sample 4 the most?!?" Well, yes, I did… but that’s another story.

Ultimately a decision was made. Actually, we selected two. With our reputation at stake and you, our loyal spirit enthusiast in mind, we made our single barrel selections, and while you aren’t likely to see them until the holiday season, it’s okay to begin dreaming of what’s to come. Just a teaser – in spite of the early hour of the day, it was really, REALLY hard to spit out the winners…

Katy Long
Content Manager

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bin to Bottle

Grapes are harvested once a year (per hemisphere), but that doesn’t mean that we sit around twiddling our thumbs the other eight months out of the year. After harvest winds down at the end of the year for us here in Napa, we take a deep breath and then return our gaze to the wines that are aging in barrel.

Many natural elements conspire against the making of a great wine so we must always remain vigilant. It’s important to keep barrels full with no headspace so that excess oxygen is not introduced. It’s also vital to taste the wines to see where they are in their evolution. We strive to blend and/or bottle at just the right moment to protect all those prized flavors and aromas. Spoiler alert: the 2010’s taste amazing! But, we’re still going to keep them in barrel a little while longer.

As harvest looms in a couple of months, June is the perfect window to get some wine in the bottle. The wines have seen enough oak, and what better time to make some room in the cellar for the upcoming vintage than right now? So on a recent June morning we set off to check in with our wares. We were bottling few of our 2009’s and our 2010’s were ready for a preliminary run through tasting from barrel – a “well baby check up” as it were. Gus Rivers, Weatherby and Tin Star were making their journey from barrel to bottle and we wanted to see it go off without a hitch.

With the logistical nightmare that is bottling (and all that can go wrong in the blink of an eye) it’s easy to understand why this can be one of the most stress-inducing times for a winemaking team. Fortunately we had the experts on deck. Our Winemaker Tim Milos, Wine Director, Rhett Gadke and Bin to Bottle’s General Manager, Adam Braunstein stood at the ready. All the while a few highly skilled bottling line employees worked their magic shoulder to shoulder with and the incredible Bin to Bottle staff. Pumps whirling, hoses snaking across the floor, and forklifts singing with their customary reverse warning beeps. The senses are fully accosted and on overload. At first glimpse it looks like barely organized chaos, but after a few moments of peering around (and avoiding being struck by said forklift) a sense of order emerges; this is a carefully choreographed ballet.

Movement abounds all around, fast-paced and precise with no room for error. Wine chugs through hoses from tank to the bottling line. Empty glass bottles are shuttled to the end of the bottling line. Here, wine meets bottle. Workers guide the glass through the various stages of filling, labeling, corking and foiling in mere seconds. The bottles exit the line filled with intoxicating ruby liquid. Finally the bottles are carefully packed into boxes and stacked on palates then wrapped in cellophane. They are then whisked away to a cool room where they will remain until we deem them ready to pop the cork and start the party. It’s just other ho-hum day in Wine Country.

Katy Long
Content Manager