Wines of the Week: American classics from Mayacamas and Beaulieu Vineyard and the latest little book whiskey

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The two manufacturers I present today are without a doubt American classics. My weekly white wine, Mayacamas Sauvignon Blanc 2020 from Mt. Veeder, in the Napa Valley, embodies so much of what this great producer has done so well and for so long: It is a wine that is deeply connected to its place of origin, and it expresses it in ways that are effervescent, yet not exceeded. It’s the kind of wine the Mayacamas have excelled at for a very long time (despite not having released a vintage of this one for almost a decade). Their roots stretch back to 1889, and even all this time later, it seems that their reds and whites are getting better with each passing year: They are characterized by consistency, balance, subtlety, and age dignity.

This Sauvignon Blanc is light and vibrant with salty grapefruit aromas, accompanied by the suggestion of spring flowers before a silky palate of exciting but generous flavors: Passion fruit, white and pink grapefruit and a touch of saltiness. This is a vibrant, immediately appealing wine, food-friendly with excellent acidity and concentration and impeccable balance. I like it a lot right now, and expect suggestions from almonds that age is likely to borrow will make this even more accomplished.

Also check out their Grenache Rosé 2020, which is delicious at this time of year – not just in the summer! Aromas of strawberry pulp, red cherries and oranges are kissed with honey and a touch of rose petals before a palate of light acidity and concentration, layers of oyster-shell minerality, cherries, cranberries, orange oils and a subtle floral lift through the finish. This is also one of those roses that will continue to develop in the basement for the next year or two — do not be afraid to age the rosé once it is so thoroughly worked out.

My red wine of the week comes from another classic name in American winemaking: Beaulieu Vineyard. They have been at it since 1900, and their George de Latour Private Reserve is considered to be among the greats of the Napa Valley, an age-old wine that is as respected by professionals as it is loved by collectors. Now they have just released the first vintage of a new wine, BV Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, and it is a worthy addition to their famous range. It grows primarily on blocks 1, 2, and 10, selected according to the release materials for their “intensely concentrated and layered fruit.”

They got it just right. This is a rich, ripe and decadent wine with generous aromas of kirsch, chocolate ganache and warm black licorice, which form the basis of a palate with a distinctly velvety texture and a particularly balanced and propulsive character with energetic flavors of black and red currants, blackberry liqueur, cigarhumidor, vanilla from well-calibrated oak and a blueberry and flower braided finish that extends out on a ridge of minerals. This is delicious at release and will continue to evolve for the next 15 years. Personally, I would drink it within the next five to get the most out of that fruit.

Finally, it sticks to the theme of American classics and is Little Book Chapter 5: The Invitation, the fifth annual release of the ever-expected whiskey blended by Freddie Noe, the 8th generation Beam Distiller. It is named after his grandfather, Booker Noe, who gave Freddie the nickname Little Book when he was a boy. This is an amazing blend, made from a combination of 2-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, 3-year-old Kentucky straight rye malt whiskey, 5-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey and 15-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. The result of these professionally selected components is an expression with a completely fascinating nose, dotted with leather, honey-roasted walnuts, caramel onions, a touch of coffee oils and a touch of orange peel and margin, all before a palate both sweet and spicy, honey-toffee flakes shot through with confident but balanced spice, even a beautiful counterpoint to the taste of brown sugar gently bubbling away on the stove. These dissolve into a lasting finish that speaks of perfectly ripe autumn apples, sweet stone fruit, candied orange peel, charred vanilla bean and suggestions from pralines. The leather notes from the nose run back to get a final bloom on a finish that is sweetened up with a grace of toffee. This unfolds in incredible ways.

It is also important to note the recent revelation of Fred. B. Some Distillery, named after Freddie’s father, the legendary 7th generation Beam Distiller. The new distillery, located on the vast Beam campus and already in operation, will be home to Bookers, Little Book and Baker’s and was built, according to the company, to mark “Fred’s contribution to the American whiskey industry and his role in growing the category. Small Batch Bourbon … ”They added that it will serve as an“ innovation playground ”for Freddie Noe, while continuing the legacy of the Beam family pushing the boundaries of bourbon, as well as the new home of audience favorites from James B. Beam Distilling Company’s award-winning Super-Premium portfolio. ”The space will enhance Beam’s already excellent hospitality and education programs with opportunities to mingle in the laboratory,” experiential learning “highlighted by seminars and distillation sessions with Freddie himself, a tasting bar that provides certain members of the whiskey trade opportunity to explore- as yet unreleased products and even a classroom for the University of Kentucky’s James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits. Its official opening will be later this fall.

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