Vina Montes epitomizes Chilean quality

Viña Montes in Chile has been around for 25 years now. In that time, they’ve been a part of the Renaissance that has occurred in Chile, with quality and diversity rising dramatically year after year, and meeting with what was already a wine region that offered value. As with most Chilean brands, they offer a broad range of wines at numerous price points aimed at a varied consumer base with a multitude of needs. This vast range of wines is produced with a multitude of intents. All told, they make close to a million cases of wine, some in small lots and others in large quantities. Here’s a look at three current releases that are widely available across the country.

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First up is the Montes Alpha 2011 Chardonnay. The fruit for this offering was sourced in the Casablanca Valley. This Chardonnay is a 100 percent varietal wine. Aging took place over 12 months with 40 percent of the wine seeing time in French oak, the balance in stainless steel. This wine has a suggested retail price of $25. The Montes Alpha Tier of wines was on the forefront of Chile’s entry and innovation into to premium wine space. Pineapple aromas light up the nose of this Chardonnay, with pear and apple characteristics as the dominant fruits on the palate. Toward the back end, the apple quality picks up a bit of lovely green tartness. This is accompanied by baker’s spices, star anise and a gentle kiss of crème fraiche. Here’s an example of Chardonnay that is absolutely studded with lively fruit and true varietal character. The barrel treatment enhances those flavors, adds complexity and never detracts. This is an elegant Chardonnay for the money. I recommend serving a few degrees warmer than the typical white wine as it shows off more of its charms that way.

The Montes Alpha 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from fruit sourced in Colchagua Valley, one of Chile’s best Cab regions. This wine blends together Cabernet Sauvignon (90 percent) and Merlot (10 percent), one of its most natural partners. After fermentation this wine was aged in a combination of new and used French oak barrels over a period of 12 months. About 100,000 cases of this wine were bottled and it has a suggested retail price of $25. Plum and bramble aromas leap from the nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark fruits rule the day here and blackberry, black raspberry and more fill out the palate, while little wisps of red fruit do pop through every now and then, adding to the depth. Espresso and black pepper spice are both prominent on the finish, which has good length. Firm tannins and solid acidity lend to the overall well-proportioned nature and structure of this wine. For $25 or less this is very good value in Cabernet Sauvignon. Some lesser examples from other regions often sell for close to twice the price. Grab up a case of this wine and drink it over the next five years and enjoy its evolution.

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App of the Week: Boson X

Developer: Ian MacLarty

Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch,

Requires: iOS 4.3

Price: $1.99

Available: here

Puzzle games and endless runners.

Despite the numerous advancements in mobile gaming technology (this week’s slightly pricey, slightly buggy “Shadowrun Returns” is a great example of all of them), it always seems to come back to endless runners and puzzle games when defining the mobile gaming scene. We’ve all downloaded one or several of them and, much like zombie games, you can swear up and down that the last one is the last one you’ll ever play, yet be back again to find yourself oddly addicted to another entrant in two genres that have become insanely refined.

“Boson X” is an interesting case of this phenomenon, as it does combine a lot of elements of both puzzle games and endless runners, yet doesn’t feel quite at home in either genre, considering its fast pace style and the fact its running is not necessarily endless, among other things. In it, you are tasked with navigating the constantly shifting platforms of a continuously building structure that somewhat resembles a cylinder consisting of varying sides, but is filled with so many gaps and other twists to navigate that it’s hard to define its exact shape. Only by spending enough time running on special blue blinking areas can you fill up a meter that allows you to proceed to the next level upon your next death.

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The game’s most popular comparison is to the mobile sensation “Super Hexagon,” and the comparison is an apt one in several respects outside of whole navigate your way out of a rotating geometric structure bit. For one thing, much like its infamous spiritual predecessor, “Boson X” is really, really hard. Like any good puzzle game, however, you won’t get a feel for how difficult it is until you get past the initial getting to know you phase, and see how it uses its easy to grasp concepts in an increasingly challenging series of ways. Also like “Super Hexagon,” it knows how to use this challenge not as a deterrent, but as an irresistible draw.

“Boson X” differentiates itself in important ways from “Hexagon” though, with the biggest difference being the move to 3D. Not only does this make the game much more visually appealing (visuals which are enhanced and complimented by a truly great soundtrack), but adds to the gameplay as well, as you’re goal of jumping from platform to platform while rotating the game world makes you question things like time, space, and distance when trying to survive more than you usually do you in these types of games. “Boson X” knows this, and adds unique tricks to its levels that prey on those additional perceptions, and challenges them. For instance, one level may make platforms move and shift on their own momentum, while another may present escapes not apparent until the absolute last second. The way the games uses this visual freedom makes for a much more compelling experience than the one way solution found in “Hexagon” and other similar titles.

If you’re desperate to classify “Boson X” an argument could be made for it being a runner or a puzzle game (or you could just settle by calling it a puzzle runner), but it feels cheap to classify a game that toys with your expectations from the outset, and only continues to do so by providing you a dynamic experience that challenges your every skill and provides that elusive sense of genuine satisfaction for having bested it. Taking all the game offers into account, the once label it is easy to slap on “Boson X” is app of the week.

  

Picture of the Day: Jillian Beyor shows off her curves

Jillian Beyor flashes her incredible body.

Jillian Beyor shows off her curves

  

Drink of the Week: The Flip

The (Gin) Flip.If you read up on your truly classic cocktails, you’ll find that, like sours and highballs, a flip is not just one drink but an entire category of drinks. The Egg Sour, for example, is actually a delicious hybrid of a sour and a flip. A sour, you see, always contains fresh lemon or lime juice. A flip always contains a raw egg.

Even if you’re a reasonably sophisticated cocktail sipper, odds are, the closest you’ve gotten to a flip is freshly made Eggnog, which is actually closer to a flip than you might think. Usually called a Gin Flip, Whiskey Flip, Port Flip, etc. the recipe really doesn’t change a whole lot, because it doesn’t really have to. I’ve gone on and on here about the wonders of egg white in cocktails; it’s no surprise, then, that a whole egg is no less delicious. Imagine a lighter, fluffier, more refreshing and somewhat less fattening version of Eggnog and you’ll be on the right track.

The Flip

1 whole egg
1 1/2 – 2 ounces gin, whiskey, rum, port, sherry, etc.
1-3 teaspoons sugar or 1/4-1/2 ounce simple syrup
Grated nutmeg (fairly mandatory garnish)

Combine the egg, booze and sweetener in a cocktail shaker. Use less sugar/simple syrup — one teaspoon or 1/4 ounce of syrup –if you’re booze is something sweet, like port or sherry. You can also use less sugar if you’re simply allergic to sweet drinks. (Cocktail guru Robert Hess, whose taste sometimes leans towards the austere, calls for just one teaspoon of sugar, even when your base liquor is gin; I think that’s going overboard, or underboard, as the case may be.)

Shake vigorously without ice to properly emulsify the egg. Add lots of ice and shake again, even more vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, smallish rocks glass, or a wine glass. Top with nutmeg and toast our fine, feathered egg producing friends.

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I’m giving you a fair amount of range on how to make this, but you’ll have to use just a little bit of your own common sense about your taste buds to make the very best of this. Since I have an admitted sweet tooth, the most surefire version of this for me involved only 1 1/2 ounces of a spirit and an entire tablespoon (three teaspoons) of sugar or the liquid near equivalent of 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.

In the case of port, however, I found that one teaspoon of sugar was plenty of additional sweetness. Flips have also been made using ordinary wine which presumably is less sweet than port, so I’d suggest using maybe two or three teaspoons with all but the sweetest wines.

I did find that using the full 2 ounces of whiskey with a tablespoon of sugar did result in a wonderfully balanced drink that was a bit less of a dessert, but that using the same amount of gin wasn’t as much fun as it should have been. At least when I tried it with some Plymouth Gin I’d just purchased, the boozy, tangier aspects of the gin overwhelmed the sweeter, very refreshing aspects of the concoction.

I had a similar problem when I tried a flip with just 1 1/2 ounces of 100 proof Knob Creek bourbon, which was simply overpowering where even 2 full ounces of 80 proof Basil Hayden had been just about perfect. On the other hand, the 94 proof Redemption Rye I tried, which is maybe a bit sweeter than other ryes, was also pretty perfect. I’m sure less expensive brands like Jim Beam, Evan Williams, or my old pal, Canadian Club, would also be pretty awesome.

Leaving aside the booze and getting to the real nitty gritty, I used a large supermarket egg in all of my adventures. While I have to note that all the usual raw egg provisos apply (if you’re immune compromised in some way, please use pasteurized eggs), I should also add that some of the older recipes call for a small egg, which are pretty hard to find these days. For me, however, while an extra large and certainly a jumbo egg would probably be too much of a good thing for a drink this size, a large egg is about perfect.

Also, a lot of recipes insist on using freshly grated nutmeg for the garnish. I have no doubt that any flip would be better that way, but I’m too lazy/busy to bother with that and I suspect you are too.

It’s perfectly fine to use regular grocery store nutmeg, which is what I did. I’d hate to think of anyone being intimidated into not making this drink, which is for the most part not much harder to make than a Martini or a Manhattan. Touches like fresh nutmeg are why we spend borderline absurd amounts of money for a drink in a great craft cocktail bar; they aren’t a requirement at home.

Finally, readers who read a lot cocktail recipes will notice I haven’t made any mention of adding cream to a flip. I contemplated trying this drink that way, despite the calories, because I’m sure it would be delicious. I decided not to, because I’m even more certain it would have been Eggnog.

 

  

Picture of the Day: Briana in a funky bikini

Briana seems to like this funky bikini with a very unique cut.

Briana in a funky bikini

  

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