Monthly Archives: August 2010

Hats Off to Magic Hat

Last week we hosted a tasting showcasing the wonderful beers of Magic Hat Brewing Company.  Magic Hat representative, Jessie Morris enthusiastically discussed the seasonal releases and brewing techniques of the off-the-wall company located in Burlington, Vermont. Magic Hat is unique in the sense that they like to keep things interesting, releasing beers that are never again to be recreated. Once they are out, that’s it, that beer will never be made again. I don’t know about you, but that makes for a great incentive to drink some Magic Hat and try something new. Magic Hat prefers to go against the flow, basically doing the complete opposite that the masses are doing. None of their beers fit into a formulated style category and that’s what sets them apart.

Their summer variety pack sampler consists of the staple not-quiet-pale-ale #9, but the other three always rotate, coming and going with the changing of the seasons. This summer brings about Blind Faith, a balanced IPA with a medium hop character; Wacko, the summer seasonal brew, made with beet sugar which gives it a lovely pinkish tint; and their Odd Notion which changes each season. This summer the Odd Notion is a “wild ginger ale” made with ginger root and Belgian yeast. The Summer ’10 Odd Notion is crisp, refreshing and full flavored. I’m am definitely sad to see this one go!

The summer pack is on its way out, but here comes the fall selection. Last Wednesday we were lucky enough to be some of the first to sample Hex, the fall seasonal. Hex had never been tasted before – other than the brewers in Burlington. The beer was delivered to our distributors at 4am and we were sipping on it our tasting by 5:30 pm. Hex is an Ourtoberfest, a German Oktoberfest style beer, made with ale yeast instead of lager yeast. Amber in color with hints of toffee and caramel. Toasted malts give a smoky finish. While I am sad to see the Odd Notion Wild Ginger Ale go, Hex duly steps up to the plate.

You can find Magic Hat beers, including plenty of the new fall seasonal Hex, at Decanted Wines, 1410 Pine Ridge Rd, Naples, FL or at

Our next beer tasting will showcase Southern Tier Brewing Company’s collection. September 16th, 2010 $5 per person.

The Future of the Wine World

Ever since the idea of a Decanted retail store even entered our minds, Al and I have were consistently evaluating the market conditions not only in Naples, Florida but the entire wine world.  Who would we cater to?  In Naples, it is almost expected that you cater to the old generations like the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation (prior to the Baby Boomers).  However more and more we read and experience a strong interest in wine from the younger generations…namely the Millennials (1980 – 2000).

As W. Blake Gray aptly describes in his latest post, this Generation’s growing interest and excitement for wine, he also identifies how wineries have begun catering to this crowd more than ever.

What’s the secret?  They’ve ‘de-mystified’ wine if you will.  The belief that you have to have a Sommelier’s palette in order to enjoy a good bottle of Bordeaux no longer exists.  Consumers like what they like, no questions asked.  Wine tastings are like a day occurrence in most towns now (including Naples…just visit to get the full list) and allow a fun atmosphere for this new generation to learn and develop their palettes and knowledge.

I look forward to this generation growing in their wine development and continuing to explore new varietals and regions.  They are refreshingly laid back, admittedly still learning and willing to try virtually anything.

Wine Review: Block Nine Pinot Noir

Looking for a great Pinot Noir under $20?

Caiden’s Vineyard’s Block Nine is a small production winery focused solely on Pinot Noir. Their niche: quality Pinot Noir at an affordable price. If you aren’t particular where your Pinot grapes come from, this non-AVA California Pinot Noir based in St. Helena, Napa Valley encompasses all of the bright red fruit and toasted oakiness one comes to expect from a California Pinot.

I am personally wary of the value Pinot’s. I feel like it is very hit or miss. Oftentimes you have to know what you are buying in order to get something with some stamina, as you can end up buying something that is so light it tastes like simply essence of fruit rather than any sort of mouthfeel and complexity. This wine is the perfect balance between full and voluptuous and light and elegant.

Never heard of Block Nine? This winemaker surely isn’t new to the wine scene.  For the past nine years,  Larry Levin has been head winemaker for Icon Estates where he oversaw the Franciscan, Mt. Veeder, Robert Mondavi, Estancia, Ravenswood and Quintessa brands. His wines have been on the cover of Wine Spectator and featured in their Top 100 Wines of the Year list. Although Block Nine may be a new venture for Levin, the care and quality of his Block Nine label shines through with full intensity.

Tasting Notes:

The Block Nine Pinot Noir shows a deep, rich color. The aromas show generous bright fruit with a mix of strawberry, violets, dark cherry and hints of leather. Flavorful in the mouth with good body and a velvety texture, this wine shows wild strawberries and a hint of toasted French oak to complete its elegant finish.

Block Nine Pinot Noir 2009 – $15

Decanted Wines is located at 1410 Pine Ridge Rd in Naples, FL. For more information and online ordering visit

Washington Wine Trail

Columbia Valley vineyards

If you are headed out west this summer, you can’t miss a scenic drive through Washington State’s wine growing region.

Washington is the second largest wine producing state in the United States with over 400 wineries and 30,000 acres of vineyards. The Columbia River meanders along through Eastern Washington, separating Washington from Oregon and providing much needed irrigation to both states. Unlike the saturated, gray weather of Western Washington, Eastern Washington boasts 300 days of sunshine and hot, dry summers. The population drops dramatically in the rural farmlands too. Expect sweeping views of the Columbia River, quaint bed and breakfasts, friendly locals, and great Pacific Northwest cuisine (and fantastic wine, of course).

Map of Washington AVA's. The yellow zone indicates the Columbia Valley.

Although you will find many wonderful wines from the smaller AVA’s of Horse Heaven Hills, Red Mountain and Rattlesnake Hills, your best bet to discover a wide array of wineries is the Columbia Valley. Columbia Valley is the largest wine growing region in Washington. It spans over 11,000,000 acres; 17,000 of which are planted vineyards. Don’t be overwhelmed by the expanse of the Columbia Valley however, as many of the vineyards are within a short drive of each other and located just outside of the Tri-Cities. If you feel like splurging, there are numerous guided wine tours that will tote you and your friends to your favorite wineries without the worry of nominating a designated driver or getting lost on the back roads.

If you don’t have the time to make it over to the East Side of the state, a quick 30 minute drive north of Seattle to Woodinville in the Sammamish River Valley is a great weekend diversion. In Woodinville you will find over 60 wineries, large and small, most located within a 5 mile radius of each other. Since most of the grapes are sourced from the Columbia Valley, you can get a great feel for the wines of the East Side without having to venture too far from civilization.

Must See Columbia Valley Wineries:

K Vintners – The tasting room and winery are located in Walla Walla, but the majority of their grapes are from Columbia Valley. You can’t miss the big K on the barn door as you drive up the driveway. Make sure to visit in summer as they close up their tasting room during the winter months.

Barnard Griffin – Just outside of Tri-Cities off Highway 182, this family owned winery will make you feel right at home. After a tour of the winery be sure to check out the fine art gallery showcasing Deborah Barnard’s glass art.

Milbrandt Vineyards – Located in the small town of Prosser, their tasting room is newly opened in 2008. While the property has been in the family since the 1950’s, their main business was producing grapes solely for other vineyards. In 2006 they started producing their own wine with their own sought-after grapes.

Wines You Are Likely To Sample in the Tasting Rooms:

Merlot, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc

Getting there:

Major airlines fly into Seattle/Tacoma International Airport. From there you can hop a short flight to Tri-Cities Regional Airport, or rent a car and take the scenic 3 1/2 hour drive over the Cascade Mountains into Eastern Washington.

Where to Stay:

If you are looking for a historic, laid back town, check out Walla Walla. Sunset Magazine voted Walla Walla’s Main Street, “Best Main Street in the West”. Officially in the Walla Walla AVA, but surrounded by the Columbia Valley. Check out for lodging information.

Decanted Wines is located at 1418 Pine Ridge Road in Naples, FL. For more information please visit