Premier Group Sales Associates are experts when it comes to helping customers navigate our huge selection. Making recommendations that satisfy a wide range of consumer tastes, budgets and preferences takes years of dedicated study and a thorough understanding of our complete inventory. But how do they apply that knowledge when choosing something for themselves?
In this continuing look into the personal selections of our staff, Leslie Crane provides insight into the wines she’s enjoying and how she arrived at making those selections. Get to know Leslie’s personal preferences in this post.
I love learning and experiencing new things! Whether it’s reading the memoir of a WWI solider, watching a live stream of a deep sea dive, or traveling to a new place/country, I am always trying to pick up new information to satisfy my curiosity. If someone were to look at the wines and spirits I have amassed over the years, they would not necessarily be able to pick out a specific theme or preference. It is very eclectic; including wines from all over the world in different styles and spirits that could be considered a-typical for their type.
The one thing that connects them all are the stories of where they came from; the country they originate from or the interesting fact I learned from it. I am always willing to try new products that come in, especially if they have some quality that has caught my attention. A white Malbec? Sure! A dry Yellow Muscat from Greece? Sounds interesting! A floral light gin that changes color? My favorite!
Each wine/spirit that I have included in my list are ones that are either from places that I love traveling to (like our Finger Lakes region or Portugal), or ones that have taught me something about a time period, a grape/spirit variety, a location, or just caught my interest. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I have. Cheers!
2018 Sheldrake Point Gamay Noir
Over the years our Finger Lake wine region has undergone a metamorphous and I feel that I had the wonderful experience of maturing with it, giving it a special place in my heart and in my wine racks. More often than not when people think of the Finger Lakes wine, they think of white wines like Riesling and Niagara. While many wineries showcase these varietals, a good number of fantastic red wines can also be found. This is an example of one such wine! Sheldrake Point’s Gamay Noir is a wonderfully light dry red that can be subbed in at any occasion you would use a Pinot Noir (Fun fact: the Gamay Noir grape is a cousin of Pinot Noir). With a swirl around the glass, aromas of currants, iris and herbals notes of clove and light white pepper are detectable on the nose. On the palate, tart cranberry and other red berries are fist to greet you, leading to a wonderful herbal/earthy tone, similar to the nose. These flavors, along with the bright high acidity keeps the finish light and elegant. It may be easier to list what this does not go with! Gamay in general pairs with a lot of different types of food, making it an easy grab for me when I am off to a party and want to bring something to pass. Roasted chicken or turkey with an herbal rub is one of my favorite pairings but this will also go with fish, pork, a huge selection of cheeses, olives, dried nuts and fruits, earthy mushrooms and rich squashes… the choices are endless! Este Vinho Verde
2017 Este Vinho Verde
Not long ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel around the country of Portugal for about a month and a half. Being so immersed in the culture and the country, when I left, I believe that a small part of me was left behind. This may be the reason that so many of personal wine choices are from Portugal. One interesting wine I found when I was up in the Douro area (Fun Fact: This is the region where Port, a well know fortified wine made in Portugal, is produced) was the vinho verde, a very young “green” wine with a slight fizz and crisp nature. When I returned to the US, I was very happy to see that I could get a decent version state side. This slightly fizzy dry white wine is somewhat of an anomaly when compared to the other wines, while it could be paired with food, it really is best as a sipper when out in the sun enjoying a break in your day. The Este is not much on the nose but the bright green apple notes and some other green fruits are hinted at and then intensified on the palate. While there is a high level of acidity in this white, it is not cutting or sharp and is quite wonderful and refreshing on a hot day. I like this sitting on my patio reading, pool-side, or at a party where something to clean off the palate between different finger foods is better than trying to specifically pair things together. Casa Do Valle Rosé
2018 Casa do Valle Rosé
I am slightly a geek when it comes to trying something new and different, especially with wines. This wine being Portuguese, on top of being made from an interesting grape, just makes it even better. This rosé is made from the Vinhão grape... don’t be alarmed if you don’t recognize the grape, that’s actually good when buying Portuguese wines. Most of the grapes grown and produced are ancient varieties native to Portugal that were able to survive the blights that killed many European varieties. This grape is even more special in that it is one of the few varieties that has a red skin and red flesh (Fun Fact: this type of grape is called a Teinturier grape, meaning dyed or stained in French) instead of white flesh. In most roses the color comes from the grape skins, while for this wine it comes from right from the juice pressed from the grape. This dry rosé is one of my top summer wines! I love this wine, to the point of making sure there is always a bottle in the house during the warmer months into the fall. The fantastic strawberry and red fruit aromas are enticing. Elegant red berries are picked up along with these flavors on the palate, with a touch of a floral note. This is a dry rosé and relatively light, with a higher acidity, but the opulent fruit flavors and rounded mouth feel ticks the mind into thinking this wine has just the slightest touch of sweetness.
Suntory Roku Gin
I love Gin! My favorite go-to spirit out of my bar is a gin, even during the cooler/colder times of the year. I find them versatile and perfect for any occasion. Some have the misconception that gin is only a heavy medicinal pine/juniper flavor and a nasty burn. Unfortunate early life experiences keep them from really giving gin a chance. There are so many different types and flavors to experience. The Roku gin is made by Suntory, a Japanese distillery that has recently gained fame in the USA for their Toki whiskey. The creative inspiration behind this gin was the changing of the seasons in Japan. Each ingredient was harvested at the peak of ripeness to get the greatest concentration of flavor. The core botanicals being used are sakura flower, sakura leaf, sencha tea, gyokuro tea, sansho pepper, and yuzu peel. These give the gin a wonderful light air and individual flavors. To complement this, eight more traditional gin botanicals are also used such as juniper berries, coriander, and angelica root. The base of this gin is made out of rice, and it is detectable even on the nose intermixed with floral notes. The rice base also gives the gin a rounder, richer feel and taste on the palate adding a level of sweetness and earthy complexity. Citrus and tea notes add depth and the bamboo charcoal filters the gin is feed through to remove impurities creates a clean smooth finish. This gin has so much going for it, making this more of a gin and club or gin on the rocks type of drink. The tonic sometimes crowds out the delicate flavors so pick cocktails that showcase more of the gin, like martinis and gimlets.
Garnish Island Gin
When some people think of gin, sometimes the flavor they think of is not so flattering. This is somewhat upsetting, as gin has many different flavors depending on the botanicals used in it. I find that the best comparison to gin is tea. Many people think of green tea or black tea, but if someone adds another ingredient, for example dried tangerines, to the tea the flavor completely changes! Gin is the same way! There is a core of common flavors but as soon as a new or different botanical is added into the basket at distillation, the flavors completely change. West Cork Irish distillery has a gin that shows this off pretty well. They harvest herbs from a local island, Garnish Island, and use it fresh in their distillation. Because of the very different climate in this area, a more Mediterranean collection of flavors can be found. This gin has iris, rose, hibiscus, rosemary and thyme used in its production. The result is a really green, lively gin with wonderful early and floral flavors. The fresh tones of the ingredients shine through and is accompanied by a subtle spice on the finish. This gin is quite smooth, making it a well-crafted and balanced gin. This is perfect, both in taste and with price, for gin and tonics. Throw in a sliver of lime and you have a perfect cocktail.