Winter wines, beers of spring

BY JIM BEAUREGARD February 18. 2014 3:00PM

Today we'll finish up our review of wines offered at last month's Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular and also take a look at some newly arrived Sam Adams varieties for spring.

Spellbound 2012 Petit Syrah, California, Spellbound Wines. From no less than Rob Mondavi Jr., the Mondavis of California now being in their fourth generation of winemakers. Purple with a light purple rim that lightens to clear at the very edge, suggesting youth, the nose is rich in black fruit and pencil shavings. The palate is dry, with good tannin, food acidity, medium body, and medium-plus flavor intensity of blackberry, hints of current, and dark berry notes, hints of pencil shavings again, and a long, consistent finish. Very good. 88 points.

Wente 2012 Riva Ranch Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco, Monterey, Calif. From vineyards established in 1883, one of the first California wineries. The grapes live through a long cool season before harvesting. Golden in the glass, medium-deep intensity and rich hue, the nose is clean and crisp with citrus and hints of tropical fruit. Dry, medium-minus acidity (typical for a Chard), low tannin, medium-plus body with some nice heft, medium-plus flavor intensity. The palate bursts with tropical fruit, banana, melon and citrus in the background, with a little mango to boot. Long finish that stays with you. 86 points.

Duval Leroy Champagne, Brut, France. If you are a lover of French wines, you know that anything with the word "Champagne" on the label must come from the actual Champagne region of France (otherwise the wine police are out to get you). Yellow gold, with a rush of bubbles, a clean, crisp nose of white fruit, and a dry (Brut) palate with good acidity, medium alcohol, medium body, and medium-plus flavor intensity of white fruit including peach, apple, pear. Yum. 88 points.

Pol Roger Extra Cuvee de Reserve Champagne Brut, Eperney, France. A little lighter gold hue than the one above, and more delicate aromas on the nose, which also offers white fruit. The palate is dry, in keeping with the "brut" on the label, with good acidity, medium alcohol, medium body and continued delicate flavors of white fruit, apple, pear, slight hints of citrus, and bread from the yeast, the kind that's just about to come out of the oven. Long finish, excellent quality. 89 points.


So, for you beer lovers who have been drumming your fingers on the table while reading this, here's some news: Samuel Adams is getting ready for spring:

Samuel Adams Escape Route is a new limited-release beer made in the Kölsch style from Cologne (Köln, in German), which employed nontraditional yeast strains.

The Sam Adams version is made from pale malts and flaked barley. Suggested retail price is $14.99-$17.99 per 12-pack. Yellow-gold in appearance, with a medium-sized white head, cloudy (it's unfiltered). The nose is a blend of both hops and malt. 5% alcohol by volume. The palate is also a malt-hops blend, lemon, floral notes, blossom, hints of caramel. The malt slightly outpaces the hops along the finish - no complaints. Perfect for spring - if it ever comes to New Hampshire.

Samuel Adams Cold Snap is another seasonal designed for spring, a Belgian-style white ale made from wheat, with spices added, which was typical in the past before hops came into wide use. Gold, white frothy head, medium in size and lasting, with a delicate grainy nose. The flavor profile is hops and light malt, cereal, grain, and lemon. Refreshing and ready for spring (will it ever come?).

And, with another winter storm brewing as I write this, the return of Sam Adams Double Bock. Sam Adams has been making this beer since 1988, a deep lager, brewed with more than a half pound of malt per bottle (same as a loaf of bread) - two-row pale malt and Caramel 60 Malt, if you want to know - and the hops are Tettnang Tettnanger and Hallertau Mittelfrüh (Noble hops all). Bocks have been brewed, often by monks, since the 1200s. Deep amber beer under a huge frothy tan head, the malt leaps out of the glass, along with some hints of sweetness. Malt predominates on the palate, which has a little sweetness, light bitterness, medium-plus alcohol (9.5%), full body for a lager, creamy texture and a palate of bread - bread, molasses, caramel, toffee hints. Delicious and perfect for a winter that won't let us out of its grip. Suggested retail is $6.99 for the 22 oz. bottle.

So there you have it - plenty to keep you warm through the next storm while also dreaming of spring.

Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at


Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow our RSS feed
Union Leader app for Apple iPad or Android *
Click to download from Apple Apps StoreClick to download from Android Marketplace
* e-Edition subscription required