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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Kulers Uncorked: A Proper Claret

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2012 Bonny Doon Vineyard, A Proper Claret, California

2012 Bonny Doon Vineyard, A Proper Claret, California

  • $16
  • Two Thumbs Up
  • Pleasant aromas of red cherry with abundant notes of violets, cinnamon, clove and mocha. Flavors of tart, fresh, red berry fruit with an earthy touch of cola nut and leather.

The Panda-Cam at the National Zoo has gone black. The New York Football Giants start the season 0-6. The McRib sandwich is available for a limited time only.

All temporary aberrations for sure. But then it came—a sure sign the world has spun off its axis. A man dressed in brown handed me a non-descript, cardboard box just big enough to hold one bottle of wine. I closed my front door and the room was quiet except for the slitting of packing tape. As I freed the bottle from its gray packing material, I felt a chill. My eyes couldn’t—or refused—to focus. A bird chirped.

Randall Grahm—champion of Rhône Valley varieties, winemaker for the underdog grape, friend to the screwtop—has made a cabernet sauvignon wine.

Some four …

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Beer Town: Jekyll Brewing bringing Southern style to Alpharetta

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Mike Lundmark and Josh Rachel.

Named for Jekyll Island, believed to be the site of the first brewery in the Deep South, circa 1738, Jekyll Brewing lays claim to being the first packaging brewery in Alpharetta.

Hidden away in a nondescript building on Marconi Drive, near Big Creek Greenway and a slew of high-tech companies, the brewery opened to the public for tours and tastings in August.

It was funded in part by Kickstarter donations. Founder Mike Lundmark and co-owner/brewer Josh Rachel launched the campaign in early 2013 to raise money to pay for the electrical and plumbing work.

“We’ve run out of money about 73 times, so far,” Lundmark said during a recent tour. “But somehow, we keep getting more. With Kickstarter, we raised $37,000 in 28 days.”

Compared to some of the new breweries that have opened around Atlanta, recently, Jekyll is a modest operation. The 10 barrel brewhouse is packed into a tight warehouse space, and is absent  electronic bells and, whistles, except …

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Kulers Uncorked: Yonah Mountain Genesis

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

Yonah Mountain Vineyards Genesis 4, Georgia

Yonah Mountain Vineyards Genesis 4, Georgia

  • $36
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Pleasant, perfume-like aromas of violets, raspberry, blackberry, mocha and a hint of smoke. Bright flavors of dark cherry, toffee, blackberry cobbler, coffee and a lingering note of black licorice.

The last time I wrote about Yonah Mountain wines, I recounted how I (and a room full of people, including some pretty talented, experienced tasters) picked Yonah’s flagship wine, Genesis, over two acclaimed California wineries, which included Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley Calif.

The unexpected victory for Yonah, as far as I can tell, has not influenced the ever-popular Jordan Cab. And while Yonah did make a little hay in the press and in their own promotional pieces, most of you I know are saying: Yoh-Who?

Why is that?

Thomas Jefferson, famous for his attempts to grow European-style wines on his Virginia plantation, advocated for limited government. Our third president might have …

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Beer Town: “Atlanta Beer” a heady history of local brewing

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Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle at Five Seasons

Did you know that in 1885, Atlanta had 118 saloons in the city doing $2 million of business annually?

In their book, “Atlanta Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Hub of the South” (American Palate, $19.99), Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle delve into a colorful past that begins in frontier times and extends to the stories of early taverns and saloons, religious zeal, prohibition and the roots of the current craft beer boom.

There are tales of places such as Whitehall Tavern, which existed before the city of Atlanta, and people such as Mayor Moses W. Formwalt, a member of the Free and Rowdy political party, who opened the first recorded Atlanta saloon.

Early pre-Prohibition breweries include the Fulton Brewery, which produced lager and ale for the Fulton Brewery Saloon; the Atlanta Steam Brewery, which may have been named for both the method of cooling and the style of beer it produced; and the Georgia Spring Brewery, famous for its …

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Kulers Uncorked: Stonestreet Winery

  • Gil Kulers, CWE

    Gil Kulers, CWE

    2010 Stonestreet, Monument Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Calif.

    2010 Stonestreet, Monument Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Calif.

    $48

  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Abundant, rich aromas of blackberry, fresh ground coffee, dark chocolate and a hint of smoke and cedar. Bright, tart flavors of dark berries, dark chocolate, mincemeat pie and fine, well-integrated tannins.

Some time ago, I saw a report on the surge in popularity of craft beer and how large breweries have been slow to react to this segment of the market, which is experiencing double-digit annual growth. Of course, if you have the funds, you can buy your way of any hole. In 2011, for example, Anheuser-Busch bought Goose Island Brewery, a well-regarded craft brewery in Illinois.

The underlying questions of the piece were: Can Goose Island maintain its standards and is it truly a craft brewery when it’s owned by a beer-making behemoth?

Americans love the scrappy, little guy who sends the long-time champ reeling. Nobody roots for Goliath when David lets fly his …

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Beer Town: Craft beer gets a close-up in ‘Drinking Buddies’

“Kate and Luke work together at a craft brewery.” So begins the synopsis of “Drinking Buddies,” a new movie starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston that features scenes shot on location at Revolution Brewery in Chicago.

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Magnolia Pictures – Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are 'Drinking Buddies' and sleeping buddies.

Whatever you think of this hip romantic comedy directed by small-budget “mumblecore” main man Joe Swanberg, it feels like a major score for craft beer.

A Time magazine Money & Business story suggested that “Drinking Buddies” could “go down in cinematic history as the ‘Sideways’ of the Chicago craft beer scene.” And in interviews, Swanberg, who’s a home brewer and a beer geek, has talked about the connections between indie filmmaking and craft brewing.

Instead of out-and-out product placement, Swanberg begged area breweries for samples and swag to feature in the film. Besides beer from Revolution, good stuff from Bell’s, …

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Kulers Uncorked: Anne Amie Dry Riesling

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2012 Anne Amie Estate Dry Riesling, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon

2012 Anne Amie Estate Dry Riesling, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon

  • $23
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Aromas of jasmine, yellow peach, mint and apricot. Juicy, tart flavors of peach, apricot, tangerine and lime zest with a spicy, long finish that makes your mouth water.

As any wine geek worth his or her tastevin knows, riesling is one of the world’s most food-friendly wines and is the wine kingdom’s equivalent of a shapeshifter. Riesling comes in, but is not limited to, the following styles: bone dry, decadently sweet late-harvest, decadently sweet ice wine, beguilingly complex off-dry, sparkling … You get the picture.

And us wine geeks have forever been trying to charm the collective palates of the wine drinking public, enticing them to experience the beauty of riesling. (This is the third column I’ve written about riesling this year.)

I’m sensing, however, an attitude change in the wine industry’s push to get consumers on board. The riesling industrial complex is preparing to …

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Beer Town: Celebrating the Belgian connection

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When I first started writing about beer, most of the “Great Beers of Belgium” celebrated in Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking 1991 book weren’t available in Atlanta. In fact, they weren’t common anywhere in the U.S.

Jackson was the late, great British writer who elevated beer to a status once reserved for fine wine and spirits. “Great Beers of Belgium” gave new life to brewing in Belgium and Jackson’s work inspired beer lovers on both sides of the Atlantic, people who not only explored and savored the breadth of Belgian styles, but began brewing new versions of the classics.

Ommegang, New Belgium, New Glarus, Boulevard, Allagash, and Lost Abbey are well know for creating Belgian-style beers and both New Belgium and Boulevard employ Belgian brewers.

But nowadays, most American craft breweries are making some sort of Belgian-inspired beer, from wheat and pale ale to dubbel, triple and quad styles. And takes on Belgian sour beers are arguably the hottest trend, though I doubt …

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Kulers Uncorked: J Pinot Gris

Gil Kulers, CWE

Gil Kulers, CWE

2012 J Pinot Gris, California

2012 J Pinot Gris, California

  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • $15
  • Enticing aromas of white flowers, lime zest, fresh linen and a subtle note of marzipan. Fairly rich but with equally racy acidity, it has flavors of ripe apricots, yellow plums, grilled pineapple, Rainier cherries and nectarines with a smoky, mineral, toasted almond note.

Back in the spring of 1997, I had the good fortune to work in the kitchen of Nöel Dontenville, the chef and owner of Restaurant Les Acacias. His cozy, elegant establishment, which he ran with his wife, Claire, overlooked the picturesque town of Niederbronn-les-Bain in France’s Alsace region. A contemporary of Paul Bocuse, Dontenville put me in touch with my inner Auguste Escoffier—the Elvis Presley of French cuisine.

From various styles of pâté de foie gras to coq au vin (Burgundy and Alsatian styles, of course) and everything in between, Dontenville patiently explained the techniques, ingredients and history of these famous dishes to me, a …

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Beer Town: TV or Not TV in Your Favorite Beer Bar?

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TV or not TV? That’s the chronic question that becomes acute for me this time of year.

Among my obsessions, count good beer, convivial bars, Braves baseball and Florida State football. And those things all come together in late summer and early fall.

I have great memories of watching the ’90s World Series Braves at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club. And I’ve always loved getting together at Manuel’s to cheer the Noles with a ragtag group of FSU grads, even when our team wasn’t doing so well.

But here’s the thing. Almost any other time, I prefer a pub with no TVs, especially if what’s on is an endlessly annoying loop of cable sports and news shows.

At some of the best beer bars in Atlanta, no TV is a statement of what’s important to the owners. At others, yes TV is part of a larger context that includes a sports-loving community.

When co-owner Dave Blanchard and his partners opened Brick Store Pub in Decatur 16 years ago, a pub without a TV was a rarity.

“We decided to eliminate …

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