Staff Favorites - Mahon McGrath

Mahon McGrath


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2011 Chalone Vineyard Monterey County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 12-6-2013
Pinot Noir is still one of the most difficult grapes to get right in general, but especially at the lower end of the price spectrum, and Chalone has done a commendable job with their 2011 Monterey County Pinot Noir. Cherry-berry flavors, with just a smidgeon of cocoa, have the concentration to show to good effect while happily staying this side of understated, skewing more tart than sweet.
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart WE 90 BC 0

2011 Soter "North Valley" Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-13-2013
Soter has shown a masterly hand in the 2011 North Valley. This is spritely, dynamic Willamette Pinot Noir. Dark cherry and rosehip notes, with a dry edge, on the nose segue into lifted berry flavors buttressed by a dusting of earthy cocoa. The slight chalk of the tannins adds texture to the vibrant, lively finish.

Sean Thackrey "Pleiades XXIII" Old Vine Red Blend
Review Date: 11-10-2013
The twenty-third Pleiades features aromas of tart raspberry backed with lily. I almost want to say rhubarb, but it never quite gets all the way there. A smidgeon of discrete toast backs the vibrant fruit on the palate. Compared to the previous release, this has a more ample mid-palate, and more of a sense of continuity from beginning to end, while remaining a very light on its feet and graceful, with a transparency of flavor many a Ca. Pinot Noir wishes it had.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1994 Schloss Schönborn Hochheim Domdechaney Riesling Spätlese Gold Kapsule
Review Date: 11-9-2013
The most pronouncedly mineral of the trio of older Schonborn Rieslings, this leads with wet sand and slate, before finding its way to honeycomb, quince, and golden apple, with a little warm spice rounding things out. The sweetness is really nicely enfolded into wine, and this is very lithe and lively. The vitality and freshness suggest that this has many more years left in it, but as seductive as it is, I doubt anyone will opt to wait and see.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1991 Schloss Schonborn Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Spätlese
Review Date: 11-9-2013
Classic petrol notes are conjoined with an array of fruity and spicy aromas, running from ginger, balsam, blossom, incense, and, insistently, tobacco, to guava, quince, and tart apple. The wine is in a really pretty place right now; mature, robust, and yet still lifted, with clarity of flavor. Autumn leaves, just fallen.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1989 Schloss Schönborn Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen Riesling Auslese
Review Date: 11-9-2013
Of the three older bottlings we’ve got from Schloss Schonborn, this is the vintage which is at full maturity. The wine, however, has plenty of power left. The nose suggests dried roses, dried peach, and quince, this last of which continues on the palate to be joined by apricot preserves, orange marmalade, and caraway. Texturally, this is viscous, full, round, and dense. The impression conveyed isn’t of a melodic air, but more as if a complex chord was resolutely struck on a keyboard, and sustained until fading out. Though not anywhere nearly so sweet, there is a Sauterne-esque aspect to this Auslese’s aromas that makes me wonder if there wasn’t a bit of botrytis that year.
Price: $52.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Charles Smith "Kung Fu Girl" Evergreen Columbia Valley Riesling
Review Date: 11-4-2013
Offering a blossom, peach, and orange scented nose, on the palate Smith’s “Kung Fu Girl” veers toward the citric in flavor, with just a hint of that aforementioned blossom reappearing. The only “kick” I can find here seems to be the lip-smacking, tart finish. Is it dry? No, strictly speaking, it isn’t, but it is only a hair away from being so: you may comfortably proceed as if it were. Nice job for a domestic Riesling at a fair price!

2011 Stolpman "Estate" Santa Ynez Valley Syrah
Review Date: 8-31-2013
An enveloping bouquet of meaty, peppery, charcoal intensity in the 2011 Stolpman Syrah finds a pretty floral lift. Tart berry and plum flavors, with a suggestion of hot asphalt, come through on this medium-full bodied wine, before it finishes long, bright, and fresh, with negligible tannins, and considerable suavity.

1993 Domaine du Miquer K&L Exclusive Bas Armagnac 750ml
Review Date: 8-5-2013
Conjures up an a evocative compromise between light cigar tobacco, dried flowers, fruit cake, baking spice, new leather, licorice, and dusty vanilla. A wonderfully layered Armagnac, this has a tremendous length and concentration, while simultaneously keeping a certain lightness and refinement. Following its evolution in the glass is pure pleasure; with so much going on, it never strikes you exactly the same way twice.
Price: $115.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 5-13-2013
With summer a short ways off, this crisp, affordable Sauvignon Blanc answers the call of warm days and backyard grilling parties, picnics, and the like. Light and refreshing, with green melon, citrus, and a dash of herbs, this could either make a good foil to, say, grilled shrimp, or serve as a nice, straightforward, juicy, "cocktail" wine.
Price: $7.99 Add To Cart WE 90 BC 0

James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Rye Whiskey 750ml
Review Date: 4-29-2013
Surprisingly sweet and round, with lemon, mandarin peel, and pine contrasting toasted almond, marshmallow, and vanilla, there is a solid depth of flavor here for a two year old rye. That being said, if you plan to make a Manhattan or some similar creation, go with a lighter sweet vermouth and be chary with it. I find this works best for my palate in cocktails with just a few small additions. As an aside, it is refreshing to see that the bottle's legend freely admits to the whiskey being from sourced barrels, while the label's own distillates are coming of age.
Price: $23.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Old Forester Bourbon 86 Proof 750ml
Review Date: 4-29-2013
Not every whiskey needs to be pondered. Sometimes, you just want something enjoyable that you can splash liberally about. For under twenty dollars, this delivers. Robust without being heavy, this Bourbon ranges from dried fruit, crème anglais, pecan and nougat, through to cinnamon, allspice, and cedar. While you could nit-pick this or that aspect, overall, I find this quite easy to enjoy just on its own, straight up. Nicely done!
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart WE 92 BC 0

Plymouth Navy Strength Gin 750ml
Review Date: 11-4-2012
It had been bruited about that such a creature as “navy strength” Plymouth gin existed, or once had, and here in the midst of the great cocktail revival, where many a long-lost dream comes true, it once more graces these shores. If you’re familiar with Plymouth gin, there are no great surprises in store for you here; which is just fine. Why mess with success? The Navy Strength bottling is simply a brawnier version of the classic Plymouth taste. When this is, for instance, mixed up simply 1:1 gin to vermouth(Noilly Prat), no garnish, as a Wondrich reprint of an early 1850's San Francisco Gibson recipe suggests, this is a fabulous drink, and one in which a standard proof just wouldn't cut it. With the Navy Stength, you can taste the gin’s presence clearly and distinctly. An excellent addition to the canon!
Price: $33.99 Add To Cart WE 93 BC 0

Kina L'Avion D'Or Aperitif 750ml
Review Date: 10-8-2012
Does Kina l’Avion d’Or replace Lillet? Not exactly; more like compliments Lillet. While you can have a glass of Lillet all by itself, L’Avion is much too sweet for such a maneuver. The bitterness is also, correspondingly, more pronounced in the l’Avion d’Or, though it is still only moderately bitter. What is different is the scope. It would be more correct to say that it has an array of bitter flavors. When mixing, those flavors and l’Avion’s over-all robustness really stand out when you substitute this in a cocktail in place of Lillet. I think you might even find you want to adjust your proportions accordingly to take that into account. The fact that this is so clearly its own creature is to be commended, and provides plenty of room for the imagination to invent new drinks as well as showing established recipes in a different light.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Tempus Fugit Creme de Menthe 750ml
Review Date: 9-4-2012
I admit, I had my doubts. While a devoted fan of the sweetly aromatic, cooling smell of fresh mint, any attempt to capture that essence always seems to me to come up short. This liqueur comes about as close as I reckon you can. It doesn’t, naturally, take the place of fresh mint in cocktails; as much as it is true to the flavor, it is best considered as its own creature. It mixes splendidly, especially in gin drinks, where the juniper and the crème de menthe get together and execute a sort of cool tango on your tongue, and in a way that muddled sprigs wouldn't. So, yeah, I'm a convert: this is well worth checking this out.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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