Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Straight Shooting Whiskey: Bulleit Bourbon Review

The History:
It was 1830 when saloon owner Augustus Bulleit decided to create a whiskey with a unique flavor. Using two-thirds rye and one-third corn, Augustus made a mighty tasty rye whiskey that was popular until his death in 1860. Then, in 1987, Augustus’s great-great grandson, Thomas E. Bulleit, Jr. stepped up to begin crafting his version of Bulleit Bourbon. Bulleit, Jr. used 68% corn, 28% of rye and 4% malted barley in the mash bill for an exceptional flavor. Ten years later, Seagram’s purchased the brand. 

In 1999, Diageo bought the Seagram’s brands and Bulleit Bourbon was produced at Four Roses Distillery. In March of this year, Diageo opened the Bulleit Distillery in Shelby County, Kentucky. Now part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience is located in the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, five miles from downtown Louisville, Kentucky. 

The Bulleit Bourbon Profile:
Open a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon and you will notice the aromas of vanilla, honey and oak that tempt you to taste. The flavor profile is spicy with vanilla, caramel and hints of wood that trail into a long smoky finish. With a proof of 90% and ABV 45% (alcohol by volume), this bourbon retails for under $50 a bottle.

How to Enjoy:
Bulleit Bourbon is versatile – serve it straight, on the rocks, with water, club soda or ginger ale. The distillery offers tours and tastings from 10am – 4pm Monday, and Wednesday through Saturday. Sunday tours are from 1pm to 4pm. Cost is $10 for adults over 21. Visit Bulleit Bourbon for more information.

Joy Neighbors

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide is out in bookstores across the country. Click here for more information. (FYI: Goes well with a glass of Bourbon!)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Eight Wines for Rosh Hashanah

The Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah begins today at sunset and ends on Friday, the 22nd. The Jewish New Year offers a chance for reflection on the past and hopes for a brighter future. Here are eight Israeli wines to enjoy during the Rosh Hashanah celebration.

Galil Mountain Winery
Galil Mountain produces several wines grown in the highest elevations of the Upper Galilee region along with the Central and northern Golan Heights. Here are a few that are fitting for Rosh Hashanah.

The Galil Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is fermented in stainless steel for six months to bring forth its fruity character. This full-bodied wine pairs well with leg of lamb or a juicy steak. Price point - $16

Galil Mountain Merlot is crafted with heavy berry flavors that pair nicely with burgers or Sambusa. Price point - $15.
Galgal Sangiovese is grown in the central and northern Golan Heights region. The wine is aged in French Oak for 12 months and has a spicy flavor. Serve with pan-roasted chicken and Tabbouleh. Price point - $14.

Golan Heights Winery
Golan Heights Winery is the home of Yarden wines. With conditions similar to Tuscany, the region is known for producing renowned wines. The winery is one of Israel’s leading producers.

Yarden Malbec is grown in Yonatan Springs in the central Golan Heights. The wine is aged for 18 months in French Oak barrels and offers a spicy, berry flavor. Serve with BBQ ribs or spicy sausage. Price point -$33.

Yarden Oden Chardonnay is from the Odem Vineyard in the Northern Golan Heights. The wine is fermented in French oak barrels and aged on the lees for seven months. The wine boasts tropical flavors alone with hints of wood and minerals. It can be aged for up to eight years after harvest. Serve with Roasted Chicken with Sumac and Falafel. Price point - $21.

Blanc de Blancs
Yarden Blanc de Blancs is a sparkling wine crafted from Chardonnay grapes using strict, traditional methods. The grapes are pressed as whole clusters and aged for a minimum of four years with tirage yeast. With delicate notes of tropical fruits and minerals, the wine can age for up to ten years after harvest. Pair with Kanafeh or Baklava. Price point - $31.

Mount Hermon 
The Golan Heights Winery is also home to the Mount Hermon brand. The volcanic soil and cool high-altitude climate creates the perfect conditions for this new wine region in Israel.

Mount Hermon Red is a blend of several Bordeaux-style grapes. Grown in the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation but is bottled without sterile filtration. Ripe fruit with a hint of herbs makes this wine a great partner for grilled meats. Price point - $12.

Mount Hermon White is grown in the Northern Golan Heights. This blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Semillon is cold fermented to preserve the lively flavors of citrus and green apple. A perfect partner when served with grilled fish. Price point - $12.
~ Joy

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide is out in bookstores across the country. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Get an MBA in Bourbon

September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, a month-long celebrations designated in 2007 to honor America’s “Native Spirit.” For bourbon lovers, this is the perfect time to pour a glass and relax around an autumn fire. But here’s something to consider as you sip and savor this month – you can now get an MBA in Bourbon Education! 

Midway University in Midway, Kentucky offers a degree in Tourism and Event Management with courses in Bourbon history, distillery operations, Bourbon hospitality and a special opportunity to travel to Scotland to visit the Malt Whiskey Trail. Plus there are special independent courses that are focused on the Bourbon industry in Kentucky.
According to Dr. Tricia Day, Tourism & Event Management program coordinator at Midway, “Our goal is to take Bourbon education to the next level. We want to bridge the gap between the manufacturing side of the industry and the enthusiasts’ interest in bourbon as a craft.” 

Students can take the classes online. Only a few courses have an in-seat attendance requirement. Those that do include hands-on experiences like trips to area distilleries for tastings.
Courses offered include Bourbon Women: Craft to Consumption, Fermentation, Distillation and Maturation, Kentucky Bourbon Tourism and Distilleries and The Bourbon Experience and Hospitality. Of course, there are the required core business classes like Strategic Management, Business Law and Global Business, but to have an MBA in Bourbon in 18 months – I’m thinking this is one crafty degree.

Of course, the education will be fantastic but will the degree prove to be useful? Yep! The Kentucky Bourbon Industry generated 15,400 jobs in 2015 (That’s a 77 percent increase from just a few years ago.) with an annual payroll of $700 million. Bourbon in on the rise and this could present the perfect opportunity to get into the industry. And you can begin classes at any time. For more information contact Midway at 800-952-4122 or visit Midway University.

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide will be hitting bookshelves across the country this month. Click here for book information.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Two End of Summer Wines

Nothing says summer like a well-chilled white wine served with a fresh salad and grilled seafood. These two offerings from Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône put the perfect examination point on the end of summer wining and dining.

Ferraton Père & Fils began in 1946 when Jean Orëns Ferraton purchased a vineyard in the Southern Rhone area of France. Ferraton’s son, Michel expanded the vineyards located in the appellations of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph Ferraton. He converted them to organic viticulture and had them certified in 1998. Michel Chapoutier purchased the estate in 2004 and oenologist Damien Brisset now crafts the wines. If you’re visiting in the area, the tasting room is located in the village of Tain-l'Hermitage, France.

Both Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns are grown in a vineyard soil comprised of limestone and clay, which adds a mineral component to the taste. The wines are cold stabilized after pressing for 48 hours and fermented in stainless steel tanks for bottling at the end of winter.

Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc 2016
This Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc is a crisp white wine that includes a blend of Roussane (35%), Viognier (30%), Grenache Blanc (25%), Clairette (5%) and Marsanne (5%) grapes. Light straw color in the glass, green apples and orange blossoms are heavy on the nose. Nicely acidic in the mouth with the flavors of citrus, fresh grass and minerals on the palate, and a fresh, lingering finish. We served it with fresh seafood and received rave reviews. (This was my favorite of the two wines.) Sells for $14 a bottle at wine shops in the U.S.

Ferraton Pere & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Rosé, 2016
The Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Rosé is a blend of Grenache (50%), Syrah (30%) and Cinsault (20%). All three of the grapes are used in this classic rosé blend attributed to the Southern Rhone region. The bright coral color attracts attention in the glass, and the aromas of  cherry and red berries tempt you to taste. The flavor profile includes raspberry, strawberry, and flint with a hint of tea on the finish. Good acidity makes this an enjoyable late summer vino that pairs well with tacos or burgers. This wine sells for $14 per bottle in the U.S.
~ Joy

(Editor’s note: Both wines were received for media review.)
My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide will be hitting bookshelves in September. Click here for book information.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Five Fast Wine Chilling Tricks

There’s something wonderful about a perfectly chilled glass of wine on a sultry August day. But if you forgot to put that special bottle in the fridge, there are other ways to cool it down.

Here are five ways you can sip chilled wine in minutes.

Salt of the Earth
Remember watching an adult putting ice in the ice cream machine when you were growing up? That was to help it freeze faster, and it's a trick that works well with wine. Simply grab an ice bucket or a deep pan, place the wine bottle in it and fill with ice. Toss in a couple handfuls of salt and fill with cold water up to the bottleneck. The salt melts the ice, which makes the water get colder faster. (It works like putting salt on an icy sidewalk.) Let it set about 15 minutes before serving.

Freeze In
It seems I rely on this method most of the time. Take that room-temperature bottle and place it in your freezer. (Better yet if you have a large chest-type freezer where you can place the bottle down among bags of frozen veggies.) Wait 15 to 20 minutes, pull it out and pour. (Just don’t forget and leave the bottle in there.)

Frozen Fruit Fix
Grapes work best for this trick although other fruits can be used. Freeze red grapes for red wine and white grapes for white wine. Just drop a few in the glass and pour your room-temp wine over them. No more ice cubes in the wine. Now you have a classy alternative that looks and tastes great. You can use other fruits, just be sure to pair with the wine grape with the frozen fruit used. For example, serve Chardonnay with frozen peaches.

Beverage Stones
These little jewels may also be marketed as wine pearls or whiskey stones, but the moniker doesn’t matter. Simply keep the stainless stones in the freezer until needed. Place a couple of cubes in your glass for a quickly chilled vino. Now, how cool is that?

Prep the chiller by filling the inner and outer stainless steel chambers with water, twist in place and place in the freezer overnight. Pour your room temp vino in the top, swirl and you’ll pour out a nicely chilled wine in less than 60 seconds – with no dilution. This chiller will also work with whiskey, juice, even hot coffee.

Best Wine Temps for Serving White Wines
Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Moscato and sparkling wines should be served around 45º degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius)
Chardonnay is best served between 48 - 52 degrees Fahrenheit (9 - 11 degrees Celsius)

Best Wine Temps for Serving Red Wines
Merlot, Pinot Noir and Red Blends serve at 62 - 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 - 18 degrees Celsius)
Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet chill to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius)
Now pour a glass of wine and chill.
~ Joy

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"After Dark" Sips for the Summer Eclipse

The Great American Eclipse takes place this Monday, August 21. During the afternoon, the sun, moon and earth will line up to give some of us a rare glimpse at a total eclipse – in other places, we’ll see a partial eclipse, which still means a great show!

A total solar eclipse is a unique visual occurrence and not only is North America in the path, Western Europe, Northern and Eastern Asia, Northern and Western Africa, a large section of South America and the Arctic along with islands in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans will experience the eclipse in some form.

Solar eclipse parties are planned around the world and Frontera saw the perfect opportunity to celebrate with their After Dark wines. Parent company Concha y Toro is Chile’s best-selling wine brand, and the company is now targeting directly to millennials with a new look on the shelf. The classy black and gold label is appealing and stands out in a sea of typical wine labels. In fact, the dark trend has registered an almost 30% sales increase over traditional white and cream labels, so look for store shelves to become more intriguingly mysterious with those darker labels. The new Frontera tag line says it all: “The day starts to come alive at night!”
My tasting panel, which included two millennials, sampled two of these newly released wines, both bearing names that befit the coming lunar event. 
After Midnight
This wine is a blend of Cabernet (55%) and Syrah (40%) with a hint of Merlot (5%), and is very approachable for the new wine drinker.
True to the name, the grapes are harvested after midnight when temperatures are lower to preserve the flavors of the grapes. The juice is aged in stainless steel and then put into oak barrels.
The wine is dark purple in the glass with berry and cherry on the nose. This medium-bodied vino was a bit sweeter than I expected, but appealed to my millennial tasters and that’s the market its targeting, so kudos. Dark berries on the nose with a flavor profile of cerise and elderberry along with a hint of vanilla and spice. A lingering taste of strawberry rounded out the experience. Great with burgers or pizza. Or plan to enjoy a glass during the darkest part of the eclipse.
This white blend is comprised of mainly Moscato with a small amount of other white grapes. (Possibly Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris?) Again, the grapes are picked at night when temperatures are cool.
Moonlight is a straw-colored semi-sweet wine with a fruity, floral aroma. The palate consists of ripe fruit in the mouth with a touch of honey and a citrusy finish. This was a bit too sweet for me, but the younger crowd loved the wine. Serve with a nice curried chicken to balance out the sweetness, or revel in it and enjoy with pork chops.
Another idea, pour a glass as the eclipse starts and watch the show unfold.
Both wines are very budget-friendly and retail around $6 a bottle, and are available at wine shops across the country.
~ Joy

And a note: My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide will be shipping out next Tuesday for early orders. Click here for more.
(Editor’s note: Both wines were received for media review.)