Monthly Archives: May 2019

Hendrick’s Gin reveals exclusive cocktail for Napa Valley’s Bottlerock event

 

To preview their new cocktail, created exclusively for the Napa Valley’s Bottlerock event later this month, Hendrick’s Gin has released “Midsummer Solstice,” a limited-edition gin crafted by Master Distiller Lesley Gracie, once described as “the woman who invented your favorite gin.”

“I have always been enamored by the power of nature’s flavors and aromas at the peak of summer and for this new expression I’ve

Hendrick’s Midsummer Spritz Cocktail – Photo by Jasmine Van T Photography

hand-selected each floral essence to capture this intensity,” says Gracie. “Midsummer Solstice represents years of experimentation joining an exciting line of innovations from Hendrick’s, and I’m thrilled to not only create new liquid at the Gin Palace, but also share them with curious tasters and gin explorers all over the world.”

The recently completed Gin Palace provides a $17 million expansion to the Scotland-based distillery that features two new still houses, a walled garden, two state-of-the-art botanical greenhouses and endless opportunities for creativity.

The Gin Palace will double their capacity for production, enough to meet rapidly growing demand well into the future, but to artisan Gracie, it’s like adding colors to an already abundant palette and working with a large blank canvas. “It’s a major step forward in terms of potential for innovation,” she says.

Lesley Gracie has been with Hendrick’s since its 1999 inception and in the industry for over thirty years.  An educated chemist, her flavor infusing foray into spirits production began by trying to disguise the awful taste of arthritis medicine.  While Hendrick’s has always valued consistency, Gracie’s passion, similar to a fine

Master Distiller Lesley Gracie

winemaker, is to create a sensory experience from her innovated specialty gin releases that often use botanicals

In a recent Robb Report interview, she said, “When I’m gardening, I like to take walks and I’ll often stop to take a leaf and smell it. I’ll think, ‘Oh, that’s interesting; that might work really well.’ It’s a process that can really take over me.”

The Lesley Gracie Cocktail consists of 50 ml Hendrick’s Gin, 15 ml elderflower, soda water and three thinly sliced cucumber rounds.  However, the excitement at the preview party was the unveiling of the Midsummer Spritz that combines Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice Gin, Lillet Rose’, Bordiga Apertivo and gooseberries.

Admittedly, sitting around a fire pit at Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar & Lounge, 1100 Market Street, looking out across the eastern skyline

Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar and Lounge-Photo by David Perper

provided a welcoming ambience, but I found the Midsummer Spritz to be an exceptionally balanced, refreshing cocktail while David, my “spirits wingman” thought that the floral qualities of the gin were extraordinary. 

“Hendrick’s is no stranger to the power of florals, thanks to the infusion of rose and cucumber in our original house style gin,” said Hendrick’s national US brand ambassador Sebastien Derbomez. “But the creation of Midsummer Solstice offers an exemplary amount of opportunity for new efflorescent cocktails. I am personally excited for the Hendrick’s Midsummer SuperBloom Punch, a bright, blossoming, and botanic punch which is easy to make at home and perfect for responsible midday consumption.”

San Franciscan Mark Stoddard, our bartender for the evening, has been spreading the gospel of Hendrick’s Gin since 2012.  As a world champion mixologist and business owner, he is described as “an

Bartender Mark Stoddard-photo by Jasmine Van T Photography

attentive student of cocktail history and lover of all that is out of the ordinary.”  

In addition to the Midsummer Spritz, Mark mixed an elegant drink called the Butterfly Effect that consists of Hendrick’s Gin, Chareau Aloe Liqueur, Jasdesca Apertivo (a wine-based aperitif), Lemon and Butterfly Blossoms and a Hendrick’s Pimm’s Cup, the number one selling cocktail for Charmaine’s techno-millennial crowd.

 

The preview event also afforded us the opportunity to sample a taste of the exceedingly small Hendrick’s production Orbium, another Lesley Gracie creation, instilled with extracts of Quinine, Wormwood and Lotus Blossom to complement the traditional cucumber and rose essences and provide a rounder mouthfeel.

 

The Midsummer Spritz and a few other Hendrick’s Gin cocktails will be available at Bottlerock Napa Valley, May 24-26, billed as the “first taste of summer,” a weekend featuring top musical performers, food, wine, brew and spirits.

Tired of crowds.  The Hendrick’s Gin website provides several cocktail recipes to be enjoyed at home.

Advertisements

The Vintage Port 2017 wines mark consecutive years of excellence

 

The 2016 Vintage Ports from the Douro region in northern Portugal were designated after a five year drought. Now, the 2017 Vintage, although different in style, have also been declared a Classic.

Representatives from the Fladgate Partnership, Symington Family Estates and Quinta Noval, all major producers of port from the region, gathered in the Nikko Hotel recently to present updates of the Vintage 2017.  In all, we tasted sixteen wines from eleven different port houses.

Terroir is a combination of climate, soil and human intervention that influences the wines.  The 2017 growing season in the Douro was exceptionally hot and dry, resulting in grapes that budded, ripened and were eventually harvested much earlier than normal.

Graham’s “The Stone Terraces vineyard

Old, deeply rooted vines do well in dry years.  It is these low-yield vines producing concentrated flavors that have distinguished the elegance and finesse of the 2016 Vintage from the richness and intensity of the 2017 Vintage.

From the Fladgate Partnership, the austere Taylor Fladgate 2017($100) exuded its trademark floral (violets) bouquet.  The complex flavors were rich, full and lingering.

Vineyards in the Quinta de Vargellas are century-old, north facing vines with ample hours of sun.  The Vargellas Vinha Velha 2017 ($220), described as a “Taylor Fladgate on steroids,” is a limited production blend from the oldest vines on the estate.  It is handsomely scented and there is a density to the layered flavors of dark fruit with herbal notes.

Croft, another port house under the Taylor Fladgate Partnership, presented two Vintage ports including the Croft Roeda Serikos 2017 from an estate that nearly became one of the world’s finest silk farms. Vines in the Quinta da Roeda were devastated in the 1870s by phylloxera which prompted the planting of mulberry trees. With the phylloxera problem solved, current vines were re-planted on the property around the turn of the century, and in a dry, hot year, drew from the minerals in the soil and performed exceptionally.

Croft Quinta de Roeda Serikos 2017

Estimations are that it takes four of these low yield vines to produce one bottle of port, the reason only 200 cases of the Roeda Serikos 2017 were produced.  Floral aromas open up in the glass for a delightful introduction to deep, concentrated flavors of red berry, black fruit and herbs. 

Dow’s has been among the great Port houses for over 200 years and the Symington Family for the past five generations.  Wine Spectator magazine named the Dow’s Vintage Port 2011 their wine of the year in 2014. The Dow’s Vintage Port 2017 comes from a marraige of two powerhouse quintas (vineyards)and provides lavender on the nose, deep colors and high viscosity on the palate. 

Under the Symington Family for fifty years, Graham’s was founded in the early 1800s and consists today of the Quinta

Dow’s Vintae Port 2017

dos Malvedos, one of the region’s finest vineyards and Quinta do Tua, known for its unique stone terraces.

With a dry year in normally hot climate, harvest for the Graham’s 2017 began early on August 28th and finished by September 15th.  Present floral aromas with complex flavors were described by Johnny Symington to include rose water, Turkish delight, mint and eucalyptus.

In only its fourth release, Graham’s The Stone Terraces 2017 is a micro-terroir wine from two original, north-facing vineyards.  It expressed aromas of tropical fruit and orange blossom and was flawlessly structured.

Cockburn’s, another port house under the Symington Family with south facing vineyards in the hot eastern Douro, produces the Cockburn Vintage Port 2017($80-90) that consists mostly of touriga nacional and delivers a luscious mouthfeel,

Graham’s Vintage Port 2017

velvety tannins and length.

Quinta Do Noval, located in the heart of the Douro, near the small town of Pinhão, consists of a 360-acre vineyard that is divided into several parcels.  The grapes selected for the Quinta do Noval Vintage Port($105) represent only a small portion of their total production. Powerful and balanced, this wine has a spice and floral quality with full black fruit flavors and significant tannins. 

Quinta Do Noval

The story of the Quinta Do Noval Nacional 2017 ($820) lies with a small parcel of ungrafted vines that were never impacted by phylloxera.  They are native Portuguese vines with no foreign root stock. This wine, with grapes still crushed using the laborious process foot treading in stone lagares, was remarkable in its complexity, balance and rich expression of fruit with a licorice component.

Tasting the Vintage Ports 2017 was an extraordinary experience.