Shake Before Serving: Mollydooker “The Boxer” Shiraz

If you’re a Shiraz fan, it’s likely you’ve heard someone rave about Mollydooker at some point. At the wine shop where Half-Past’s Kristen works, customers rush in whenever they hear a new case has shipped, anxiously stocking up on the Australian Shiraz. Even when we went to a local wine outlet and snagged a bottle of “The Boxer” ourselves, the cashier got wide-eyes and remarked, “You know your wine.”

So, what’s the hype? And what is Mollydooker, anyway?

We had quite the adventure getting to know this wine. Read closely: the way you drink this wine heavily affects its taste and texture. 

Not yet knowing any better, we poured our glasses through an aerator, like we would any other full-bodied red. The wine had a strong alcohol smell, and a bit of a burn on the palate in the aftertaste. We noticed a peppery aroma and loved its dark garnet color.

With our aerated glass, we noted a smooth start and a stinging finish. The wine had light spices and even slight notes of mocha among the prominent dark berry flavors.

But this is where things get interesting: the bottle is actually supposed to be shaken, not aerated, before serving. 

While drinking, we noticed a note on the side of the bottle leading us to the winemaker’s YouTube channel. Here, there was a video tutorial on how to properly serve the wine. We’ve shared the video below.

 

The ‘Mollydooker shake’ will create a foam layer of nitrogen in the bottle. After shaking, the nitrogen releases flavor back up to through the wine that it had been preserving previously. This process is also part of the winemaker’s efforts to reduce sulfides, which naturally occur in wines but can cause adverse side affects to some drinkers.

With this method instead of aeration, many of the spicy and mocha flavors we’d noted before were no longer present. It was smoother on the palate and easier drinking in general.

We hope that when you try out Mollydooker Shiraz, you’ll get it right the first time, unlike us!

Happy drinking!

Color Me Purple: Petite Petit

Elephant brothers, Petite Sirah (a red grape) and Petit Verdot (normally a French blending red grape), completely steal the show in this circus themed wine from Michael David Winery.

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As you may remember, we at Half-Past already fell in love with this winery’s Seven Deadly Zins – and their Petite Petit red blend was one for the record books. Get ready to be entertained by this dark purple wine.

This bottle is the definition of jammy. It’s silky smooth with almost creamy tannins and a  slightly gamey finish (no doubt thanks to the 16 months it spends in French Oak barrels). The wine is juicy in the front, smokey in the back, boasting straight up plum flavor with currant ripeness. Petite Petit has a bold and luscious full body with a hint of spice.

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Dear Red lovers, If you have never tried Petite Sirah or Petit Verdot we highly recommend you taste this wine; however, make sure you are not in public! The wine won’t be the only elephant in the room: after one glass of this wine, your friends will wonder how to politely ask you to brush your teeth. The pictures don’t do it justice.

 

Enjoy the circus! Let us know what you thought!

Feature image from lodiwine.com

Rare find! – Ancient Peaks Winery

Picture owning a large cattle ranch in central California…and one day some big wine conglomerate comes by and wants to buy patches of your land to grow grapes. Three years later, the grapes are finally ready to be turned into wine, but the conglomerate wants to leave – What luck! Buy the land back, and now you have perfectly managed wine fields that are yours for production. This is the lucky story of Ancient Peaks Winery at the Santa Margarita Ranch.

Don’t worry: they are still a cattle ranch too,but now produce a line up of over 8 different wines each growing in 5 different kinds of soils. Each bottle specifies which soil the grapes were grown in the back label. Did I mention that one of their soil types in an ancient sea bed? Picture massive fossilized oyster shells popping up among the grape vines!

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Why is this winery a rare find? The inside scoop is that only 6 different wine shops in the whole state of MA have been presented with the Ancient Peaks wines. We don’t have any information about other states, but so far the number of places to possibly purchase this wine is limited.

So stay on the lookout! If the search doesn’t prove fruitful, check out their online store to see if they ship to your state. Kristen was lucky enough to try their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Zinfandel.

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Cabernet Sauvignon  

It’s a rare day where I enjoy all of the wines that I try in one sitting. This cabernet was a perfect balance of everything we love about the grape. It wasn’t overly fruity or tart, it was smooth with softer tannins with medium body weight. Showing flavors of dark berries and even very subtle hints of cocoa on the mid palate. Perfect for dinner or just stand alone drinking.

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Merlot 

Now, Merlot I am very skeptical off because normally it is not my favorite grape. But this bottle was wonderfully produced.  It was velvety, rich, with black cherry and plummy notes and it included that signature mocha smell that you can expect from the grape. This bottle advertises that it was grown in the ancient sea bed, which might have something to do with its subdued quality. It’s a must for red meats or even game meats if you want to take the flavor up a notch.

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Zinfandel 

This has to be one of my favorite zinfandels yet. It was juicy, refreshing, quenching, and yet the fruit flavor was controlled in a way that made it enjoyable sip after sip. With bright berry notes in the front and a slight tart and pepper zing at the finish, this wine is a fun ride for your palate and I hope you get the chance to nab this bottle.

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Just in case giant sea shells wasn’t enough of a draw, the next time you are in CA I would recommend stopping by their site. Not only are there cows, a cafe, tasting room, and tours but they now host a 2.5 hour long zip line experience across their property!

Happy Wine Hunting!

Vineyard Header Photo from ancientpeaks.com

Tilia: A Malbec for any occassion

We’ve all been there: craving a glass or two of red wine after work, but not wanting to crack open that delicious bottle we’ve been saving because we know it’ll go sour after a few days exposed to air. You don’t want to settle for a bad brand just because you won’t feel bad when it turns, but you don’t want to risk spoiling your favorite, either.

Thankfully, Tilia Malbec has us covered.

 

Tilia has all the basics for a perfect Malbec, and with an affordable price to-boot (ranging from $7.99-9.99). The grapes grown in the world’s Malbec capital (Mendoza, Argentina), and like many Argentinian wines, the bottle comes with a screw cap.

The bonus from that? The wine lasts significantly longer than other red wines, because the re-usable cap prevents air from reaching the wine. This makes Tilia the perfect wine for a casual night during the week; you can have a glass or two by yourself without fearing it’ll spoil by the weekend.

With an aroma bursting with plum, the wine delivers both plum and black cherry flavors. It’s smooth, easy-drinking but holds its own, carrying bold and juicy flavors through to the last sip. It’s great with dinner, or as a solo glass in the evening.

But what’s with the tree, you’re wondering?

The gorgeous design on the bottle is meant to represent a native tree in Mendoza whose leaves make a relaxing herbal tea. The wine makers hope this will relay the Argentinian spirit for hard work and close families.

And the wine is quite relaxing – perfect for a glass or two to take the edge off of a weekday.

Cheers!

Have You Seen the Black Sheep?

You may have heard of Mouton Noir from this little commercial right here…..

 

 

Mouton Noir, a garage wine company, was created in 2007 by famous sommelier André Hueston Mack. After working for some of the best restaurants in America like The French Laundry and Per Se, Mack left the food scene to create a ‘black sheep’ wine company that sets itself apart by combining the finer arts of the wine world with the hip hop, skateboard, and punk culture of the 1990s. Garage wine is the industry term for wineries that outsource their grapes for other places (do not grow their own grapes).

Okay, so now you know the company but have you TRIED any of their wine before? We know the bottles may seem like a designer t-shirt but Mack’s years in the wine industry show up in every grape combination. Don’t let the fun labels fool you: Mouton Noir produces very elegant wines.

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Kristen came across one of their bottles at work and gives it a bright green light to any deep red wine lovers: Horseshoes and Handgrenades.

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Aside from the adorable cork, the reviews online will tell you that the wine is big, cherry-like, leathery, with tar notes. We found this Syrah, Cabernet, and Merlot blend to be fruity, chocolate notes on the nose and finish, and easy to drink yet it still had that signature spice or bite from the Syrah. It’s an exciting wine to try for those of you getting into the big bad red wine scene.

We promise its unlike other red blend you have tried in the past. We recommend drinking it alone to start and then have fun with pairings afterwards so you get the full affect. Remember with bold reds that a little time to breath goes a long way so let the bottle air out for a while before drinking. Mack says “Think cherry pits and leather whips!”

For more information about this amazing wine company check out their website! You might even want to buy one of their killer wine nerd t-shirts while you’re there.

 

No One is Smoother than Michael David

Sometimes, nothing says it better than a cliche – and with Michael David Winery’s Ancient Vine Cinsault, there’s no better description than “smooth as silk.” This red wine is lighter bodied than most and is easy drinking – almost too easy drinking. We drank half the bottle just taking tasting notes alone, with absolutely no difficulty (or food needed!)

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The wine boasts plum flavors, but not the plummy jam tastes you get from a Syrah. Michael David’s Cinsault offers flavors of freshly picked plums and finishes on a slightly acidic note, causing a vague tingle on the tongue towards the end of a sip.

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It’s also interesting to note the smell of toast that lingers strongly on the cork and vaguely in the glass after the wine has breathed.

The 2014 vintage was part of a small production that we hear is not normally offered in the Michael David tasting room. The new vintage became available this fall and we highly recommend you track down a bottle for your thanksgiving table. Maybe two if you drink like we do! Use the Michael David ‘Find Our Wines‘ page to help track down their wines using your zip code!

Drink up Wineos!

Wine Pairing for Debate #3: Great American Zinfandel

After months of political  insanity, it’s not easy to feel patriotic. Thankfully, a bottle of The Great American Wine: Zinfandel has all the patriotism you’ll need to get through Presidential Debate #3.

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There are a slew of drinking games surrounding the debates, as well as Tweets calling for a a glass of wine to survive the 90 minutes. With a title boasting to be “The Great American Wine” and a star-spangled bottle design, this wine just might do the trick!
While the debate itself can be zingy and spicy  – perhaps even difficult to swallow – this Zinfandel is smooth and jammy with ripe flavors of plum. This 2013 red has another bonus: with each bottle sold, the winery donates to veteran’s organizations!

Ranging between $6.99-12.99, you should be able to snag a bottle at your local liquor store!
We at half past love you all and humbly remind you to vote on November 8th.

United We Stand.

Cheers!

 

Featured image: Los Angeles Times

A Summer Blush You Can’t Resist!

Hey Wineos, it’s Kristen here!

I want to share a fun wine I found for these last few weeks of summer. I know so many of you red wine lovers out there are counting down the days until rosé season is over, but I have an exciting red summer wine find for you!

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Introducing Tess, the first red wine that can handle the hot summer. Technically, Tess is classified as a ‘blush’ or ‘rosé’ wine. However, it has a much darker hue of red than other wines in its category.

This is because Tess is a blend of red and white grapes, crafted to bring the best characteristics of white grapes and the flavorful aspects of red to the table. THis bottle shouts “Crisp like a white, complex like a red.”  It is even meant to be served chilled!

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Tess, meaning ‘harvest,’ is from a winery founded by two Napa Valley natives who loved experimenting with wine blending as kids on their family’s vineyard. Now the sisters have grown up and started their own winery using their unique wine blend that they invented back in 1987. Check out their website or facebook to learn more.

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I recommend red wine lovers try this label or bring it to parties that are a bit heavy on the traditional rosé craze. The wine is juicy but not heavy on the palate. It bursts with cherry and watermelon flavors but still flirts with the white grape typical apple flavor and light acidity. Tess can range a bit in price depending on the store but traditionally ranges from $18 to $20 a bottle.

Let’s all raise a glass to those fleeting few days of summer. Don’t worry – we here at half past have got you covered in the wine department for the seasons to come.

Cheers!

Tess wine picnic image credit from Tesswine.com

Tess bottle and glass image credit from Tess Winery Facebook or https://www.facebook.com/tess.winery/photos

 

Introducing Contour, Millennials Wanted!

Hey wineos!

We have such great news and an uplifting story to tell you about. Our Chief Wineo Kristen, yours truly, has landed a job at a local wine shop to further her career in wine! Check out the Masthead for the shop name.

Through this job, I was able to meet the man behind the new wine brand Contour Pinot Noir, Justin Shaw. Why does that brand sound familiar? Remember this?

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For those of you who went to Wine Riot or read our post about the event, you may recognize this label. Contour was the top rated wine as voted by rioters all weekend long. That’s a MAJOR success for the new brand. Shaw tells us that he hopes the marketing success at Wine Riot will welcome our generation into the wine world. The Wine Riot proved that millennials aren’t just paying attention to free booze and cute tote bags, we know how to pick good wines from the bad.

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So, obviously we still loved the free merch and I used my Contour wine bag long past the Wine Riot. When Shaw came to visit the shop, I proudly showed off my well worn Contour bag as proof of support for the label. Shaw was shocked and excited over the brand awareness and we quickly started talking about the major role millennials play when in spreading awareness of great wine.

Shaw offered me his professional Contour vendor bag in gratitude for the support of the brand. I still shake in excitement when I recount the story! It was like my version of meeting a celebrity.

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Okay, so HOW is Contour getting us millennials involved? Well first of all, they thought of us when it came to pricing. Contour was literally invented because the world is in need of an affordable pinot noir.  Granted, there are cheap ones on the shelves already, but this pinot is this one different. For the love of all things grape, Contour aimed to make a great wine and a great price. Briana and I tasted it again after the riot to make sure. Its a middle of the road pinot. It’s not too sweet or overly fruity, it has a medium body so its not red water, and it has a unique tang that makes it original.

Let me take you through the tasting. At first, I swear you will smell mocha or chocolate covered espresso beans in the glass before you taste. Then its like juicy cherries and velvet before it changes to orangy citrus tang as you swallow with a lingering finish. It’s definitely easy drinking and will please any pinot noir fan. It can now be found at more locations across the east coast including Boston and the Northshore. The wine comes in at an average of $14 to $16 dollars a bottle. And did we mention it’s got a twist cap?

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Moral of the story is that millennials like us need to know our worth. You – yes we’re talking to you – are already making a huge impact on the wine industry. Many companies like Contour are reaching out and taking the time to teach us about wine. It’s no longer the intimidating, snobbish, white table cloth kind of industry anymore, and brands like this need your help at spreading the word. We can’t stress enough that if you fall in love with a wine, don’t forget to support it. It’s finally time for the wine that loves you back!

CHEERS!

California county image credit to http://www.drinkcontour.com/