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Archive for the ‘Wine, Beer & Spirits’ Category


Trac

Whiskey – You Deserve It

Whiskey’s been rising to dizzying heights of popularity these days. Each year, we’re seeing more and more of our guests buying as much whiskey as we can stock our shelves with.

It’s not just here in San Francisco either- nationwide, demand has escalated so quickly that producers are struggling to keep up with the demand. Given the rise of pop culture like Mad Men, the resurgence of the high end artisanal distillery and the plethora of mixologists across the country crafting and highlighting innovative whisky cocktails, it’s an exciting time to be (or become!) a whiskey lover! Today, every bar worth its salt in San Francisco will feature a handful of cocktails using whiskey as their base.

We’ve been wanted to dive headfirst into our favorite whiskeys for a while now, and this time of year, we all deserve a little whiskey boost. Our favorites at the market range from sweeter Bourbons to peaty Scotches to elegant Japanese whiskies, with so many incredibly options, we’re confident we can help you find the right whiskey to suit your style.

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Scotch

Edradour 10 yr – Edradour is from the Scots Gaelic phrase Eadar Dhà Dhobhar, meaning “between two rivers.” This is an old distillery, rumored to be the the smallest in Scotland, producing only eighteen casks per week (whilst this may sound like a lot, trust us, it really isn’t). They also claim to have the smallest stills and keeping with tradition, employ just three men.The vast majority of their Scotch are of limited release and rarer than a hot day in the Richmond District. This 10 year has aromas of sherry and marzipan with flavors of butterscotch and a sweet, grassy finish.

Irish

Green Spot Irish Whiskey – Originally produced specifically for Mitchell & Son of Dublin by Irish Distillers- it is finally available outside of Ireland! A wonderful single pot still whiskey that is aged 7 to 10 years in bourbon and sherry casks. Loaded with flavor and aromas of unripe banana, light honey, and grains.

Japanese

Hibiki Harmony – Hibiki Japanese Harmony is made with malt whiskies from the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries, as well as grain whisky from the Chita distillery. The whiskies are drawn from 5 different types of cask, including American white oak casks, Sherry casks and Mizunara oak casks. The blend itself was crafted by the Suntory Whisky blending team, led by Master Blender Shingo Torii. An elegant expression, with wafts of honey, orange, a herbaceous touch or two and light oak.

American

Buffalo Trace Bi-Rite Single Barrel– Made from the finest corn, rye and barley malt, this whiskey ages in new oak barrels for years in the famed century old warehouses until it reaches peak maturity. The taste is rich and complex= with hints of vanilla, toffee, and candied fruit.

Noah’s Mill Bourbon – A small batch bourbon bottled in Bardstown, KY as part of the Willet family of bourbons. It’s aged 15 years and is a great value for a bourbon aged this long. Aromas of toffee, coffee, and caramel with flavors of vanilla and cream. This is a top notch, classic American bourbon.

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Because late-summer is synonymous with porch sitting and dusky sunset drinking, we asked our resident bartender, Kitty Galisia, to create a whiskey cocktail to help us celebrate, hard-earned whiskey in hand.  A seasoned bar veteran and mixologist, Kitty learned the art of mixology at the hands of local cocktail legends like Thad Vogler, Erik Adkins, and the team at NOPA (where Kitty tended bar for nearly a decade). Kitty’s cocktail philosophy is to make each drink its own, so that every sip takes you to a special time and place. Visit our recipes page to learn how to make yourself an Eastern Nectar, a honeyed concoction of Hibiki Harmony whisky, subtle Rooibos and citrus on the rocks.

 


Trac

Oktoberfest! Beer! Sausages! Prost!

Oktoberfest, which originated in Munich in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of the Crown Prince of Bavaria, has transformed over the years into a month long celebration of German food and drink. This year Bi-Rite will be joining in on the Oktoberfest festivities by putting some shine on our German inspired sausages and traditional beers.

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The Germans are serious about their beers, going so far as to passing a “Beer Purity Law” called Reinheitsgebot to regulate the ingredients that can be used in beer making to only water, hops, and barley. Of course, this law is 500 years old and clearly dated but it did lead to brewers in Germany creating some of the best tasting purist beer in the world. We will be offering a number of German beers, including Paulaner Oktoberfest, the original beer brewed for Oktoberfest in Munich. If you’re a fan of Kölsch, try Riessdorf, a cult producer from Cologne, the birthplace of the Kölsch-style beer. If you’re a fan of Berliner Weiss, currently one of the trendiest beers in the US currently, we love the Prof. Briem “1809”. It’s complex lactic tartness and fruitiness is the benchmark for this style.

In addition to the awesome assortment of sausages that our butchers regularly craft in house we have also added three new links to the mix: a frӓnkische, a currywurst, and a chicken bockwurst. The frӓnkische is a traditional Franconian pork sausage flavored with marjoram.  The currywurst is a tasty spin on a classic bratwurst with added zing from an aromatic blend of curry spices.  Finally the bockwurst takes an Oktoberfest favorite and substitutes the traditional veal and replaces it with chicken which makes a great canvas for its subtle spice mix.

Grab some beer, a pack or three of sausages, and a jar of mustard and join the Oktoberfest party! If cooking sausages intimidates you, we’ve got you covered! The path to sausage success is as simple as simmer, sear and eat!

Prost! 

– Trac Le (Alcohol Buyer) & Chili Montes (Meat & Seafood Buyer)


Trac

A Taste of Spain

Back in May, I went on a buying trip to Spain with a few San Francisco wine buyers and wine directors. We covered a lot of ground, from San Sebastien in the north, east to Rioja, down south to Madrid, and back to up Barcelona. This trip was eye opening and changed my entire perspective on Spanish wines and spirits. I wasn’t aware of how truly diverse the wine regions of Spain are, and how regional are their drinking cultures. Like most, I thought Spain was mainly big oaky wines like you find in Rioja or Priorat, and what are grown are more international varieties like Garnarcha (Grenache) – how wrong I was!

MarcIsartMalvarSpain is very diverse with a long and proud history of wine making, and the more obscure regions and styles are starting to make their way to the U.S. market. I met with Juan Antonio Ponce who is championing Bobal, a red varietal grown in Manchuela, a region just west of Valencia. Bobals are known to produce wines that are similar to Beaujolais, the of-the-moment region of France that sommeliers are falling in love with again. I also met with Marc Isart in Madrid, where he’s making amazing wines from a white varietal called Malvar. This grape is rarely planted anymore and is only made by just a handful of producers.

However, it isn’t all wine in Spain – their spirits culture is alive and thriving. Gin and Tonics are ubiquitous at bars, and there are even establishments dedicated to vermut (Spanish vermouth). I discovered the unique flavors of Spanish brandy, made from sherry wine to give it a nutty counterpart to the normally sweet spirit.

We’re so inspired by this thriving drinking culture, we invite you to make the most of the end of summer (and hopefully warmer SF days soon) with a taste of Spain! Stop in and chat with us – we’re happy to recommend a Spanish tipple for however you like to imbibe. And don’t forget to pair it with a tapas or two…

DSC_0533Wines:
Marc Isart “El Malvar de la olla” Madrid, Spain 2013 | $19.99

Malvar is indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula, and while not known for outstanding quality or distinctive character, Marc Isart is the lone exception. Organic farming and careful fermentation give this wine great charisma and freshness.

Ameztoi Txakolina “Rubentis” Rosato Galicia, Spain 2015 | $21.99
Everyone’s favorite geeky Rosé from Basque Country, this pink sibling of Amestoi’s flagship white is vibrant and a little spritzy. Made from a mixture of white and red grapes, the Rubentis is briny with hints of watermelon and strawberry. Absolutely thirst quenching!

Bodegas Ponce “P.F.” Bobal Manchuela, Spain 2013 | $22.99
P.F. stands for ‘Pie Franco’, roughly translating to ‘on its own feet’ and is a reference to the fact that the vines for this wine are ungrafted – a true rarity, since phylloxera destroyed most vines on old rootstock in Europe. This red is made from a native grape of the region, Bobal, and is aged in old French oak barrels.

Gin:
Xoriguer “Mahón” Gin 1L Menorca, Spain | $49.99
A cult gin from Mahon in Menorca, Xoriguer is one of the only gins in the world (alongside Plymouth) to have a geographical indication, Gin de Menorca. Gin has been made on Menorca since the time of the British occupation in the 18th century, and Xoriguer commands a devoted following of happy travelers. Unusually, Xoriguer is made in wood-fired potstills from distilled wine (eau-de-vie) rather than the more usual grain-based distillate, and is rested in American oak barrels before bottling.

DSC_0571Vermut:
Destilerías Acha Vermouth Blanco Atxa | $19.99
Founded in 1831, Destilerías Acha has been at the forefront of distillation in the Basque Country for years. Acha’s Vermouth Tintois made in accordance with an early 19th-century recipe passed down through the family. It is made from a blend of a neutral wine and alcohol macerated with a selection of traditional herbs, fruits and roots, including wormwood, gentian and cherry.

Brandy:
Navazos-Palazzi 50 Year Old Single Cask Montilla Brandy | $109.99
One of the more unique artisanal brandy producers in the world, Navazos-Palazzi only bottle their brandy from a single cask. This particular one is at least 50 years old  and aged in ex-Oloroso sherry cask. This bottle was bottled in 2013. Masculine and feminine at the same time, this is a sipping on a snapshot of a time long gone and one that will never come again.


Trac

Tequila & Mezcal: Your New Fun Friends

The popularity of tequilas and mezcals in San Francisco is amazing right now. With hot restaurants like Loló and La Urbana focusing their bar program on Mexico’s agave plants, it doesn’t seem to look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. For the novice though, mezcals and tequilas seem like the same spirit. This is true in that they are both made from the agave plant, but their production method and their varieties of agave are very different.

So, what are the differences between tequilas and mezcals? There are three major differences:

  1. Regionality: Tequila has to be made in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Tampaulipas, with the majority of tequila production happening in Jalisco. Mezcal can be produced in most Mexican states, with Oaxaca being the main production center.
  2. Agave: Tequila can only be made with Agave Tequilana Weber, aka Blue Agave. Mezcal, however, can be made from over 30 different varieties, including Espadin and Blue Agave. Because of this, mezcals vary in flavor much more than tequilas do.
  3. Process: The agaves used in tequila are baked in steam ovens, or what is essentially an industrial pressure cooker. With mezcal, the agaves are roasted in an underground pit filled with wood and volcanic rocks, which gives mescal its distinct smoky flavor.

Because summer is synonymous with porch sitting and park picnic-ing, we asked our resident bartender, Kitty Galisia, to create two seasonal cocktails to celebrate these special spirits.  A seasoned bar veteran and mixologist, Kitty learned the art of mixology at the hands of local cocktail legends like Thad Vogler, Erik Adkins, and the team at NOPA (where Kitty tended bar for nearly a decade). Kitty’s cocktail philosophy is to make each drink its own, so that every sip takes you to a special time and place. Visit our recipes page to keep your summer weekend vibes rolling with these two agave-inspired cocktails, and picture yourself out with your friends,  sipping these fun, flirty drinks.

Bit of a bartender yourself? Check out our favorite tequilas and mezcals in the Markets:

MezcalVagoEnsamble*Mezcal Vago Ensamble en Barro Bi-Rite | $99.99*
Our first-ever exclusive mezcal made for us by Mezcal Vago in limited quantity! This is one-of-a-kind ensemblage (blend) made with three agave sub-varieties. They are roasted, fermented and distilled together in Olla de Barro (clay pots) to produce a wonderfully complex mezcal.

Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal | $74.99
One of the top villages in Oaxaca, Chichicapa shows beatutiful vegetal notes with flavors of green citrus rinds, pepper, and smoke.

Cimarón Reposado Tequila | $21.99
Single estate agave from one of Jalisco’s largest and renowned farmers means the best value in traditional tequila. Three to six months in white oak barrels takes the purity of blanco and splashes it with the nuance of age.

Tequila Ocho Blanco | $54.99
Tequila Ocho are vintage designated tequilas that come from a single estate with its own micro-climate, making these the most terroir-driven tequilas in the market. Pair this with Combier Triple Sec for a top shelf margarita.

 

 


Trac

The Prodigal Zin Returns!

Summer is here, which means it’s time to dust off the grill and get ready for some backyard bbqing (even with all this fog). Along with rosés, no other wine complements baby back ribs, hot dogs, or steaks better than Zinfandels. However, Zinfandels are not known to be food friendly, because many of them are huge and monstrously powerful wines. The blast of rich, sometimes pruney fruit can be overbearing, and the hammer blow of the alcohol can be unpleasant. Zinfandels now commonly reach past 15% alcohol, often conveying an impression of sweetness that, combined with a thick texture, tends to blot out food. Sometimes they are actually sweet.

So why would we recommend Zinfandels with food then? Well, it is a uniquely American wine and nothing is more American than backyard bbqs. We want to feature the producers who we believe are making a more restrained style of Zins, lighter in body and lower in alcohol. This is often called the claret style, and we are celebrating these producers who are bringing Zinfandels back into the spotlight.

While you’re grabbing provisions for your summer grilling, check out these Zins to warm up those foggy grilling nights:BrocZin

Broc Cellars “Vine Starr” Zinfandel  Sonoma County, CA 2014 | $29.99
Chris Brockway has redefined what’s possible with Sonoma Zin. The Vine Starr shows the fresh and elegant side of Zin, with flavors of raspberry, pink peppercorns, and thyme. A Zinfandel that’s more like a fresh summer market than opening a jar of jam.

DasheZinDashe Les Enfants Terrible “Heart Arrow Ranch” Zinfandel Mendocino, CA 2015 | $24.99

Mike and Anne Dashe use organically grown grapes for their les Enfants Terribles series. This Zin is from a single-vineyard in Mendocino and complements its inherent fruitiness with rocks and wild herbs. Excellent with grilled meats.NalleZin

Nalle Zinfandel Dry Creek, CA 2014 | $39.99
This wine is a step back in California time with dusty Dry Creek roads, candied violets, and potpourri on the nose, followed by cherry pie, molasses, and orange rind on the palate.


Waverley

Go 4th & Celebrate with Good Food!

It’s that time of year when the grills are hot, the beer is cold! 4th of July is just around the corner and whether you’re traveling afar or celebrating at home, our Markets and Creamery have what you need to fete the 4th with ease.

Fire up your grill because we have a hot deal on Niman Ranch Baby Back Ribs ($7.49/lb, normally $8.99/lb) through July 4th. Smaller and leaner than traditional St. Louis ribs, these little guys pack a punch on the grill! Pro tip? Pair your meats with our incredible selection of marinades and condiments! Season your meats with local favorite SFQ, the original San Francisco-style bbq sauce and staff favorite Omnivore Salt.  Swing through the produce aisle for some sweet summer corn, mixed-berry three packs, watermelon, stone fruit, and more. Stop by the Markets for all of your snacks, dips, pickles, and accoutrements, or shop our Summer Favorites aisle on Instacart and have everything delivered!

For those SF-livers with no space for grilling, our chefs have pulled together the perfect combination of Americana classics and new favorites in our House-Made 4th of July menu. From fried chicken to cole slaw, cornbread to 7-layer dip, we’re cooking up the best of your favorite comfort foods, ready for all of your 4th festivities.

MixedBerrySquareIt wouldn’t be a patriotic meal without pie! Bi-Rite Creamery’s Strawberry & Blueberry Pie is the perfect partner for our seasonal ice cream flavors, like Balsamic Strawberry and classic Vanilla. Our bakers have also created a special Blueberry Buttermilk Cake for the occasion!

Our Alcohol Buyer, Trac, has selected some perfect summer sippers to round our your bbq.  If you’re mixing up cocktails, try a Moscow Mule with organic and non-GMO corn-based vodka from Dogwood Distilling. For those of you who love a cold brew, we’ve got a special on Firestone Walker Brewing Co.‘s “Easy Jack” 6-packs (only $9.99!). For the wine lovers, try our food-friendly featured Zinfandels.

Go 4th and celebrate with Good Food!


Trac

Say Yes to Riesling!

Americans love sweet things – from Frappuccino to Coca Cola, we can’t get enough of them. But when it comes to wine, we turn our noses up at it, always wanting something “dry.” And that’s too bad, because anyone who dismisses Riesling is missing out on what just might be the most versatile and complex white wine in the world. This grape can be made completely dry with racy acidity or with rich, full bodied nectar that can stand up to steak, which is why it’s an incredibly easy wine to pair with any cuisine, whether it’s Sichuan or delicate seafood.

Finding the right Riesling for your taste can be tricky because Riesling labels can be hard to read, especially the German labels with ripeness level classifications like Kabinett (light and fresh) to Auslese (high in sugar, usually for dessert), which can take months to study.

We’re here to help! If you want a dry Riesling, look for the work trocken on German bottles or pick up an Alsatian or Austrian Riesling, as most are generally dry. Look for alcohol percentage on the bottle: if it’s 12.5% or higher, 99% of the time it will be a dry wine.  Don’t hesitate to ask folks on our wine team, who’re on a mission to make Riesling more widely quaffed.

Here are some of our favorites you can shop at the Markets:

Domaine Ostertag Riesling “Vignoble d’E” Alsace, France 2013
Made by revolutionary Alsatian producer, André Ostertag, this cuvée is made to express the essence of Riesling in Alsace instead of terroir. It’s delicate with notes of white flowers and peach, and delicious with shellfish and fish.

Tatomer Riesling Vandenberg Santa Barbara, CA 2014
Winemaker Graham Tatomer shows us that Rieslings can shine in California. Having studied at one of the best wineries in Austria, Tatomer’s Vandenberg Riesling has rich fruits with pure mineral notes.

Von Hövel “Hutte Oberemmel” Spatlese Riesling Saar, Germany 2014
A family-owned estate now operated by seventh-generation winemaker, Max von Kunow, has some of the best vineyards in the Saar region of Germany. This classic Spatlese has typical Saar notes of savory herbs like mint and tarragon with a long and juicy apricot finish. Try this with a Peking duck – stunning!


Trac

Live Vivaciously, Drink Herbaceously

GinHeaderIf you’ve been to any of the new hot spots in San Francisco, you’ll notice there’s a revival of sorts for gins and gin cocktails. Places like White Chapel and Aatxe are committed to gins as the centerpiece of their bar program, and we can’t get enough of it. We can understand gin’s rising popularity – today’s gins are better than ever, with a growing group of artisanal distillers putting their own spin on the classics. Each craft gin now has its own distinct flavor, with a fascinating story behind each gin as well. People are realizing that while there isn’t a great deal of variation in tastes between different types of vodka, with gin you get huge flavor distinctions and nuance.

With all the different types of gins being made now, we’re very spoiled with the fact that there are so many wonderful cocktails to accompany them. At Bi-Rite, we carry over five different brands of tonic water and syrups alone, that you can use to experiment with the diverse gins we’re featuring. Mix and match the tonics and gins to find out your favorites.

Check out these great new gins next time you come in – try out our pairing suggestions or concoct your own!

Rutte Dry Gin Celery Dordrechet, Netherlands | $32.99CoralGablesPhotowTagline

The celery gin was inspired by one of Rutte’s original recipes dating back to the 1800s for their highly regarded genever which uses celery as one of itsbotanicals. It’s great in a Bloody Mary.
Pro Tip: See Coral Gables Cocktail recipe

Far North Spirits ”Solveig” Hallock, Minnesota | $49.99
Far North is a farm-to-bottle spirit company. The Solvieg is made from AC Hazlet Winter Rye planted and harvest by the Swanson family, and every step of production is done by hand.
Pro Tip: Pair with Fentiman’s Tonic Water

Sipsmith London Dry London, England | $39.99
Produced in a workshop previously used by the late, great whiskey writer, Michael Jackson, this super small-batch gin is flavored with 10 botanicals carefully selected for a drier balance than a classic London Dry Gin.
Pro Tip: Pair with Bitter Milk No. 2 Tom Collins mix

Caledonia Spirits “Barr Hill” Reserve Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin Hardwick, Vermont | $34.99 Aged in new, charred American white oak, Tom Cat is a completely unique gin with whiskey-like notes of oak, spice, juniper, and raw honey. This is a HarvestMoonPhotowTaglinemodern day adaption of 18th century England’s most revered spirit, Old Tom gin.
Pro Tip: Pair with Jack Rudy’s Tonic Syrup

Rutte “Old Simon” Genever Dordrecht, Netherlands | $44.99

Named after Simon Antonius Rutte, who founded the distillery where this genever is still made based upon his original recipe from 1872, which included 13 herbs and spices. This gin is popular with cola and a squeeze of lemon or lime in the Netherlands.
Pro Tip: See Harvest Moon Cocktail recipe


Waverley

Treat Mama Right!

Though technically every day you show you care (right?!), treat mama right this Mama’s Day with some TLC in the form of Good Food! Brunch or dinner, a picnic in the park, we’re here to help you treat mama like the hero she is.

MamasBrunch_WebOur chefs have crafted a light, fresh, spring menu that is sure to wow, featuring our Shrimp Louie with Oregon bay shrimp, butter lettuce, avocado, and cherry tomatoes with creamy Old Bay thousand island dressing. Pair it with our new, house-made Wild Salmon Rillettes with lemon and aleppo pepper, and our seasonal Quiche Maman with asparagus, Marin French “Petite Breakfast” Cheese, spring onion, and fines herbes. View the complete Mama’s Day menu here, available in the Markets and online for delivery May 6 through May 8.

Our bakers have whipped up something truly special for the truly special mamas in your life, the Creamery’s new Tarte aux Fraises. Made with peak season, farm-direct strawberries and almond frangipane, studded with pistachios, it’s a decadent and unique treat.

To complement this colorful spread, our cheese team is featuring brunch-friendly cheeses, like Marin French Cheese’s Petites (on sale now for only $3.99), plus an assortment of favorites like Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam and Fromagerie Onetik’s Tomme Brebis Chevre.

Gifts for mama? We’ve got some great Good Food ideas:

  • DIY Strawberry Shortcakes: Give mama a sweet treat, plus get the ingredients delivered to your door!
  • Gorgeous farm-direct flowers: Our florists will be creating custom bouquets in front of both Markets Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8, 9am to 5pm; or, order farm-direct flowers from Instacart for delivery within an hour.
  • Seasonal Craft Cocktails: Our friends The Bon Vivants have created two beautiful, seasonal gin cocktails perfect for brunch or a day in the sun.
  • Handcrafted Chocolates & Truffles: Our Grocery Team has brought a collection of beautiful, handmade confections, truffles, and more so you can wow with chocolate.  Highlights include Chocolate Moderne’s Champagne Chic (chocolate-covered bonbons with double chocolate ganache in a champagne truffle), and Recchiuti’s Classic Truffles (traditional French-style rolled truffles).

StrawberryShortcake_WebFullSizeRenderMothersDay2016MixedBouquet


Trac

Spring Wine Blitz is Back – come taste it!

Our annual Spring Wine Blitz is just around the corner! To tempt the taste buds, we’re throwing a preview tasting at 18 Reasons starting at 6pm on April 21. We’ll be pouring over 25 of our favorite wines to give our guests a taste of our diverse selections. Wine Blitz starts on Monday, April 25th through Sunday, May 1st, and we offer 20% off when you buy 12 bottles or more.

Our expert wine team will be on hand at Thursday’s Preview Tasting to help customize a case (or two!) for you. It’s a fantastic opportunity to pick their brains about their favorites this season, and there are still a few tickets left for purchase!

Check out some of the wines we’ll be pouring Thursday night:

Grossot Chablis Burgundy, France 2012

A stellar Chardonnay from Chablis, this is an incredible value from a great vintage in the region. Oysters would be a tasty decadence with this wine. Reg: $24.99 Blitz Price: $19.99

Skylark “Pink Belly” Mendocino, CA 2015

A Bi-Rite favorite, this Rosé is made by local San Francisco sommeliers Robert Perkins and John Lancaster of Boulevard. It’s dry, crisp, and ready for a picnic. Reg: $19.99 Blitz Price: $15.99

Baker Lane Syrah Sonoma Coast, CA 2012

A beautiful Syrah sourced from Stephen Singer’s impeccable vineyards. Black fruits with a spicy savory finish, this is great with burgers and grilled meat. Reg: $24.99 Blitz Price: $19.99

Fredi Torres Priorat “Classic” Catalan, Spain 2014
Fredi Torres is a rising star in Catalan and this Priorat is the reason why. Elegant, complex, and food-friendly are three descriptors Priorat was not previously known for. Reg: $24.99 Blitz price: $19.99