Paso’s Peachy Canyon closes in on 30 years

Since 1988, Peachy Canyon has been producing distinct wines from Paso Robles. As with many wineries that have been in Paso that long, Zinfandel stands at the core of what they do. Over the years, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rhone varieties, and in a couple of cases, fine Pinot Noir have popped up and made a stand in Paso. However, Zinfandel remains the grape that many people think of and drink when they pop the cork on a bottle of Paso wine for the very first time.

That’s a good thing, too, because Paso Robles has a ton of producers growing and bottling distinct examples of Zinfandel. Some are single vineyard efforts, others Paso wide cuvees, and still more focus on a sub appellation. Peachy Canyon has their fair share of Zinfandels in a wide portfolio. Here’s a look at some current Zinfandel releases, as well as a couple of other fine wines from Peachy Canyon.

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Peachy Canyon 2014 Incredible Red ($14)

This is mostly Zinfandel (98%) with a splash of Petite Sirah (2%) blended in. If you’re looking for that everyday house red that provides lots of hedonistic drinking pleasure for a reasonable price, here’s a more than solid option. Black fruit aromas and Mexican vanilla bean are evident on the nose. The palate is full flavored, juicy and loaded with red and black fruit flavors. Boysenberry, bits of brown sugar and more are evident on the above average and somewhat lusty finish.

Peachy Canyon 2012 Cirque du Vin ($19)

This blend is comprised of Syrah (60%), Petite Sirah (28%), Zinfandel (5%), Merlot (3%), Malbec (2%) and Tannat (2%). Violet and plum aromas lead the nose. The palate is filled with bits of savory herb, dried cherry, raspberry and more. A touch of bacon fat leads the finish along with bits of toast and continued fruit flavors. This seamless blend will satisfy a crowd with varied tastes. The under-$20 price point makes it a no-brainer purchase.

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Drink of the Week: The Smokey Martini

The Smokey Martini.It’s the day after Thanksgiving or Black Friday, if you must. That means you’ve likely overindulged in fowl, carbohydrates and possibly heated political arguments with family members. You also might have had a drink or two, but if you’re reading this, you’re definitely on your way to contemplating another one. It’s possible you’d rather have something that wasn’t too caloric, a bit dry and potent but also kind of interesting.

Well, maybe it’s a good day to consider one of the simplest of drinks I’ve ever presented here. It’s definitely more of a classic martini than, say, a Chocolate Martini or, lord help us, an Appletini. Basically, we’re talking about two great hard liquors that go surprisingly great together. This one’s only for grown-up boozers.

The Smokey Martini

2 1/2 ounces dry gin (vodka might also work)
1/2 ounce Scotch
1/2 ounce dry vermouth (very optional!)
Lemon twist, olive, or cocktail onion (desirable garnish)

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and stir — or shake if you must go full Ian Fleming, but I can’t say I suggest it. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and contemplate how a cocktail can be both simple and challenging at exactly the same time.

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Drink of the Week: The Communist

The Communist.Okay, so we’ll conclude our series of politically themed drinks with, er, the Communist. And yeah, I forgot this was going to be my last post before Thanksgiving. I won’t even try to connect this one to the holiday.

Indeed, I’m really not in a mood to explain just what a communist is and how that’s not the same thing at all as being a socialist like H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw or Bernie Sanders. Suffice it to say, I’m pretty strongly opposed to Leninist/Stalinist/Maoist-type communists (there are a million other flavors, some of which may be more benign) and I pretty much am a socialist. You can look up the rest for yourself. I’m frankly exhausted and a little bit nervous, though hopefully the turkey and starch will be calming me down next week.

Fortunately, we have a drink that could be just the right thing for a case of nerves and for health, whatever it might be called. It’s got a relatively high fresh juice content with a fairly modest amount of sugar and less alcohol than your average classic-era mixed drink. This one comes directly from the pages of “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails” by Ted Haigh, aka Dr. Cocktail. During this still somewhat tense and unwholesome week, it might be just what the doctor ordered.

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Pace Car Racer: A Session IPA from Bear Republic Brewing that floods your tastebuds, not your BAC

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What if I just want to drink a few full-flavored beers and not commit to getting overly buzzed or burdened with thousands of empty calories?

It may be rare, but if you’ve ever stared down a beer aisle and contemplated this question, there’s good news: other people have too. In fact, there just so happens to be a killer beer style for this very conundrum, the Session IPA.

If there’s one thing we can take away from America’s craft beer revolution, it’s that commercial beers have generally became more intense, both flavor-wise and in terms of ABV. Many dejected lager drinkers welcomed this evolution, yet it’s undeniable that consuming much of today’s craft beer requires added restraint.

Don’t get me wrong, I love strong suds, but there’s something amazing about enjoying pint after pint of delicious brew and not getting sloppy — it’s like having superpowers.

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Drink of the Week: The New Deal

The New Deal.I begin writing this week’s post just a couple of days before an election that will probably increase the per-capita liquor consumption nationwide among a great many of us, myself very likely included. Even in this cocktail column, I’ve never kept my political leanings any kind of a secret and I’m certainly not going to start now. Don’t worry, though, I’m not about to go into some political tirade — you can see those on my Facebook page any time you want! — but just to say that, among the things I am going to keep fighting for is the ability to enjoy your life as you see fit. Cocktails are a part of that.

The name of today’s cocktail, the New Deal, almost certainly comes from the name given to the various efforts by Depression-era U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt to make for a society less controlled by the highest realms of the economic system. The idea was to fight the extreme poverty of the time, but also to head off more radical proposals coming from both the far left and the far right. These changes included the creation of Social Security, the longevity of which will definitely impact your life if you live in the United States, and if you live long enough.

Sadly, I don’t know anything about why today’s cocktail in particular is called the New Deal. It comes to us, once again, from “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.” It’s true that New York attorney David Embury’s 1948 cocktail classic comes from the time when the country was first getting to truly enjoy it’s post-World War II prosperity. Beyond that, however, I haven’t a clue where the drink comes from or what about it might have seemed like it was somehow related to FDR’s famed preference for Keynesian economic policies. I do know, however, that it’s a dandy drink that will appeal to those of us who like our beverages sweet but with a hint of floral bitterness.

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