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Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: Some Valentine's chocolate from Patron


I know Valentine's Day is coming - not by the calendar, but because the price of roses is rising, and because my daughter turns 15 1/2 - and gets behind the wheel.

So, in preparation for the day, I turn to the package that arrived this week - Patron XO Café Dark Cocoa coffee liqueur.

In the accompanying publicity materials, Patron reminded me that giving chocolates on Valentine's Day is a tradition dating back to the 1800s, so they've created "Patron Tequila's version of Valentine's Day chocolates."

Indeed it is made with tequila. Here's how it tastes: Deep brown core, with a light brown rim and long tears, thin but very slow (due to the higher alcohol content - it's tequila, after all). The nose is all kernel favors - chocolate and coffee. On the palate, it's medium on the sweetness scale, some noticeable acidity, full body with a rich, creamy mouth feel, and pronounced flavors of chocolate, hints of hazelnut, and it's on the palate that the coffee comes through, with a hint of vanilla in the back. Long finish, good concentration.

Good for drinking on its own or for mixing; here's one they suggest:

Nutty Cocoa

2 ounces Patron XO Café Dark Cocoa

1/2 ounce amaretto liqueur

1 ounce cream

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with almond shavings.

Back to beer

And now that Wine Week has come to another successful conclusion, I want to let you know that Sam Adams is at it again.

They've teamed up with craft brewing pioneer Jack McAuliffe for a rebrewing of New Albion Ale, a pale ale that was one of America's first craft beers. Jack, a naval veteran, was stationed in Scotland in the 1960s and got to like the beer there. When he got back home he started home brewing and the result was one of America's first craft breweries, launched in 1976.

And what a trend he started. The stats: eight microbreweries in 1980, 537 by 1994, and today, there are almost 2,000 craft breweries in America. No wonder the shelves are full!

The New Albion is a pale ale with a large off-white creamy head over yellow-gold beer, with hops predominating on the nose. Citrus and floral notes come through right away. The palate is dry, with medium bitterness (the hops speaking again), lower acidity, medium carbonation, medium alcohol at 6 percent, medium body and texture, and flavors of citrus (lemon and floral notes again) with a long, steady finish.

"A sit-down-on-a-hot-summer-day-and-drink-it kind of beer," my wife said on the first sip. And she's right. It leans toward the light-beer end of the spectrum, good for hot weather quaffing.

I'll keep you posted on Valentine's wine and beer events as we get closer.

Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com.

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