Friday, March 29, 2013

An Afternoon with Steve Beal

Whenever we have the chance to spend a few hours tasting with and learning from Steve Beal we jump at the opportunity. You might ask yourself, who is Steve Beal? Steve Beal is the Senior Master of Whisky for Diageo as well as brand ambassador to Lagavulin, Talisker, Johnnie Walker, Bulleit, Bushmill’s and more and he is the top distilled spirits expert in the US. His vast wealth of knowledge comes from years of experience working in top distilleries along side master distillers helping to develop new products. He has been a judge in the annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and serves on the Board of Directors of the US Bartenders Guild Master Mixologist program. Even with all his experience, it’s his easy going personality and willingness to share his knowledge that has earned him respect from members of the spirits industry and whisky connoisseurs.

During our recent afternoon with Steve, he guided us on a tasting journey through Scotland. Starting in the Highlands we tasted our way through to the lowlands and finished off with the smoky island malts. Having a tasting setup in this manner really showcased the broad range of styles available. With a table covered in great bottles, we felt like kid’s in a candy store. Choosing a favorite was a difficult task, but highlights include the hard-to-find Talisker 18 Single Malt Whisky which can be found in our upcoming catalog, Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition Single Malt Whisky which has become a favorite at our wine bar and a gem from the little-known Glenkinchie Distillery which will be making an appearance on our website soon.

We could have easily spent several more hours more with Steve asking questions and listening to him recant stories about the how the industry used to be, but will have to save that for next time. Speaking of which, Steve will be with us at the Craft Spirits Carnival at Fort Mason in San Francisco on June 15th and 16th if you want to pick his brain about spirits and sip some great stuff. We look forward to seeing you there.  

--Justin Moulton  
Spirits Manager

Friday, March 22, 2013

Introducing Bounty Hunter Rare Wine &... Spirits?

Yes, it’s true. We’ve changed our name from Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Provisions to Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits. As fans (and consumers) of high-proof goods, we know how hard it is to find a trusted source for some of the world’s best bourbons, scotch, tequila, etc. That’s why in 2009 we started working with distilleries, importers and distributors – both in our back yard and around the world – to provide a selection of spirits to compliment our wine program. Much to our surprise it was a pretty big success and has grown to be a large part of the offerings in our catalog and on our website. We thought it fitting that the name of the company should mirror our selections, thus a name change was in order.

Just Released: Bounty Hunter
Straight Bourbon Whiskey
(now available on our website)
I took on the project of acquiring the rare spirits, and for the last four years I have to admit it’s been a lot of fun. However, with success came more work than one person can handle. So, last year we welcomed Justin Moulton, an accomplished Wine Industry Professional and card-carrying Whiskey Geek, to the Bounty Hunter team. As our Spirits Manager, Justin will help take our spirits program to new heights. As such, you can expect Justin to regularly post here on the blog, presenting new products, sharing progress on new projects, and discussing the latest news in the spirits world.

Along with the name change, we’ve also updated our website to feature our spirits program, showcasing many of the rare, limited and exclusive spirits we have to offer. From pre-WWII Armagnac to Pappy Van Winkle Bourbons to Limited Edition Single Malts from distilleries that no longer exist, you can find these and many more highly sought-after gems in the Rarest of the Rare section of our website. And, just like with our wine program, we also teamed up with some of the top distilleries world-wide, to create custom blends and single-cask selections from the most esteemed rickhouses in the world. Our Bounty Hunter Spirits Selections are carefully crafted by some of the greatest in the business and all wear the Bounty Hunter moniker as our endorsement of their exceptional quality.
Exclusive bottlings for Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits

Even though the name changed a bit, the core values of the company have not. Honesty, integrity, trust, good living and plain talk are and will always be the cornerstone of Bounty Hunter. We invite you to take a look at our spirits on the website or read through the spirits section in our upcoming spring catalog and rest assured, “if it’s not great, we don’t sell it.” 

--Stefan Matulich, Sales Director & Spirits Buyer

Friday, March 15, 2013

Easter Food & Wine Pairings

There are many reasons to celebrate and appreciate this time of year, from the more serious occasions of Passover and Easter to the less formal, but equally inspiring, Saturday night with friends. The days are growing longer and everywhere there are telltale signs that winter is thawing – spring fever, anyone? Recently, our office chit-chat turned heady and hedonistic, as a friend recounted her upcoming Easter feast.

As she described the menu in great detail and the mouth-watering meal started to come to life, she asked us “What wines should I serve?” After a quick detour to the Bounty Hunter cellar (online), we found some delicious gems to fit the bill. We've decided to share some of our finds to get you started too.

Set yourself up for successful wine pairings with a few broad strokes in mind. Acid, alcohol and tannin all love fat, which is why that marbled hunk of meat goes great with a bold red wine (Joseph Phelps 'Insignia', or Kapcsandy perhaps). Bitter foods, such as bitter greens, will not work well with a tannic wine. They’ll be much friendlier with a juicy, fruity wine instead (Streamside Riesling or Mathis Grenache). Heavy foods require an appropriately weighty wine, while lighter wines lend themselves to more delicate fare, such as a crisp Sauvignon Blanc (Six Sigma for example) will pair beautifully with a citrusy lobster salad.

With the ground-rules set, it’s time to dig in. Thanksgiving may have turkey, but Easter (and spring) is the season of ham, lamb and prime rib. Not to mention, every incarnation of potatoes and vegetables under the sun. Let’s break down why these foods lend themselves to certain wines.

Ham – it’s rich, salty and naturally a bit sweet. While sweetness poses a bit of a wine pairing challenge, look to your wine as a refreshing foil of flavors to lighten things up. Depending on the spices and seasonings employed, a lighter, high acid wine such as the 2010 Louis Latour Marsannay, or the lively 2010 Waypoint Blue Farm Pinot Noir bring an elegance to the table. For those who’d rather sip on a white wine, try a brightly balanced Chardonnay such as the 2010 Waypoint Donum Estate Chardonnay to keep them smiling.

If lamb is the order of the day, rest assured, your wine choice can climb the intensity ladder a few rungs. Lamb is naturally on the gamey side and calls for a more muscular dancing partner. The 2010 Pursuit Campfire Red is a sure-fire go-to, but then again, the sophisticated 2009 Jonata El Desafio de Jonata Red would also be impressive.

When it comes to prime rib, (or beef brisket for Passover Seder), it seems only fitting that a Cabernet grace the table. Perhaps the 2010 Weatherby Red, or we can imagine a bottle or two of 2010 Ehlers Estate 120/80 Cabernet. Mmmm.

No matter the menu, we wish you a successful and fun holiday. Cheers to a Happy Easter, Passover, or any other spring celebration that gathers you and yours ‘round the table this season.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

St. Paddy's Day isn't complete without Irish Whiskey...

What makes an Irish whisky great? We'll for starters it's not made to be like scotch. From traditional triple pot still distillation of both malted and unmalted barley to bottling without caramel coloring or chill filtration and then finishing in a combination of oak to accentuate (not overpower) the true whiskies character, this Knappogue Castle 14yr is unapologetically Irish. Soft but supple honey and toasted grain notes with a kiss of macerated sherry fruit and a light nutty finish, it's a straightforward, understated and authentic Irish whiskey. With St. Paddy's Day right around the corner, you don't need the luck of the Irish to get a deal like this!

About Knappogue The Emerald Isle of Ireland has become synonymous with whiskey for many reasons, including the little known fact that it is home to the oldest licensed distillery in the world. Contrary to other whisky nations, the finest Irish whiskies were often sold in casks rather than in bottles, as it is today. As we sometimes see in neighboring Scotland, spirits merchants purchase casks of "new make spirit" (un-aged whisky), aged them in bourbon and sherry casks, and bottled them under their own brand names. In the 1960s, Mark Edwin Andrews, an American with strong ties to Ireland, began buying casks of fine pot still whiskey from the top distilleries in Ireland. He aged them and bottled them under the Knappogue Castle label, named after the 15th-Century castle in Ireland that he owned. Today, the Knappogue Castle 12-year-old continues Andrews' family tradition of exceptional quality Irish single malts. From traditional triple pot still distillation of both malted and unmalted barley to bottling without caramel coloring or chill filtration - this is pure unadulterated whiskey.

Was $64.95, Now $49.95/btl
Net item - no discounts apply

One of the rarest older Irish whiskies out there, the Bushmills 21yr is an absolute...
The last remaining pot still whisky in Ireland just got better...
Two things rarely associated with one another are peated whiskey and Ireland...

If you think great whiskey isn't made outside of Scotland, then you've not tried Midleton...
Wild Geese
In 1691, as Ireland was being destroyed by famine, injustice and Mother Nature,...
Named after a horse that overcame 100 to 1 odds to win the 1876...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Marvelous Melka Wines

As one of Napa Valley's most lauded winemaking consultants, Philippe Melka's services are employed by a high-flying group of wineries. His French training at such legendary houses as Château Haut-Brion and Château Petrus gave him an early entrée into the cellars at Seavey and Dominus, and his star quickly rose from there. Now working his magic for a number of marquee clients, he ranks among the elite craftsmen of Bordeaux-inspired blends in California. We've assembled a few of his latest gems for you to enjoy, and we know you'll find that Monsieur Melka's reputation for quality is well-deserved. Pull a few corks from this lineup and taste for yourself.

Marvelous Melka Wines
2009 Seavey "Caravina"Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Price: $54.94 btl.
$49.95 btl. / mixed case
92 - WA
2009 Seavey Merlot Napa Valley
Price: $44.95 btl.
$40.95 btl. / mixed case
91 - WE

2010 Parallel Chardonnay Russian River Valley
Price: $47.95 btl.
$43.15 btl. / mixed case
94 - WE
2009 Moon Tasi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Price: $82.95 btl.
Net Item - no discounts apply
2010 Cliff Lede "Dream Hill" Cabernet Premiere Napa Valley
Price $374.95 btl.
Net Item - no discounts apply
2009 Gemstone "Eate" Cabernet Sauvignon Yountville
Price: $134.95 btl.
$121.45 btl. / mixed case
93 - WA
Click here to shop our entire line of wines produced by Philippe Melka

Friday, March 1, 2013

Premiere Napa Valley 2013

Another February, another Napa Valley Premiere auction… it has become arguably the most anticipated week of the entire year in the Napa wine trade for locals and visitors alike. What was once a (relatively) low-key day of a barrel tasting and live auction has morphed into a full-blown four days and nights of mayhem with nearly every winery in the Valley participating in some way. After the auction wraps-up on Saturday and the final round of celebrations begin, one can easily debate whether it’s hitting the finish line or hitting a wall. Not that we’re looking for much sympathy, of course. It’s just a long damn party. 

The best way to really get a handle on the auction lots being offered is to attend the tastings on the days leading up to the event. Keep in mind that everything – even the white wines – are barrel samples. If you've never tasted multiple barrel samples in succession, especially young Cabernet, let’s just say that the taste buds start to fade quickly in the race. So by staggering it across several sessions throughout the day, with meals (and the occasional cleansing Pilsner) in between, we’re able to get a much more precise read on what’s happening in the glass. Whether it’s a smaller, winemaker-specific gig for guys like Bob Foley or Philippe Melka, or the full-blown cave experiences of Spring Mountain, Oakville or the Stags Leap District, small sips are a lot more manageable than trying to hit the 200+ tables pouring the morning of Premiere.

There was a bit of nervous anticipation this year as many of the lots were from the 2011 vintage. You may have heard that this was not a year for amateurs in the vineyard or cellar. Mother Nature was hot and bothered and she took it out on all of us. That said, we were very pleasantly surprised at the life and vibrancy that most of the wines displayed, offering a sort of freshness and pop that’s often lacking in warmer vintages. I tried a Cabernet that was 12.8% alcohol with plenty of expressive fruit, length and fantastic weight. That sort of combination hasn't been seen around these parts in a long, long time. Maybe we should have a “challenging” vintage a little more often…

When the final hammer dropped, we picked up five lots that made us feel very good about the weekend’s effort from Beringer, Heitz, Signorello, Spoto and a joint effort between Robert Foley and Switchback Ridge. They’ll be trickling into our warehouse starting next year, but we have no doubt that our fans of the rarest wines Napa Valley has to offer will be duly impressed. Until then, here is a list of our current PNV releases.  To purchases, visit our website or call your Wine Scout at 1.800.943.9463. 

--Rhett Gadke
Wine Director