Today marks the triumphant return of "What We Drank" after a brief late-summer hiatus.

As always, here's what our editors and contributors have been drinking.

Ameztoi-Txakolina Mark Grimaldi: Ameztoi "Rubentis" Txakolina 2010

Yes, rosé again.  But not just any rosé. 

Txakolina is always, if you can find it, the quintessential summer quaffer. Now make it a rosé and you've damn near found the key to life.

A close friend from the city brought this out to our house one weekend this spring.

That Monday after, I asked a friend who owns a local wine shop if he would order it for me, and after we all geeked out about it, he ended up getting three cases that we split among 4 of us. It's comprised of 50% Hondarribi Beltza and 50% Hondarribi Zuri from the Getaria region of Basque in Spain.

Simply put, this is hands down the best rosé I have ever had. I was floored. A beautiful light strawberry color, with a nose of peaches, raspberries and citrus.

It's perfectly fizzy, with stone fruits, sweet but tart fruit on the mid palate reminiscent of a fresh glass of cranberry juice, finished with a beam of tart, mouth-watering acid and the perfect effervescence of a club soda with tiny, palate-coating bubbles.

At an alcohol of 10.5%,  we polished this bottle off so fast that it was dangerous. Be careful with this one, it's hard to have just one. 


Bilow_Gewurz Rochelle Bilow: Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2010 Gewurztraminer

Because I am heavily involved with the release of the 2010 vintage of Finger Lakes Rieslings this month,
it seems like they’re all I’m drinking. But that’s not so! I proved it on Sunday with Stu as we took a rare
day of all play and no work in the Finger Lakes.

We set up a picnic on the lawn at Sheldrake Point on Cayuga Lake and opened a bottle of their 2010
Gewurztraminer. It has a tremendous floral and spice nose that follows through on the palate. It leans
much more toward rose and dried lavender than the often-found tropical fruits, though there was a fair
amount of lychee that cropped up after a few minutes in the glass. I find with all Gewurztraminer, but this
one especially, that spending some time with the aroma is as fun as drinking it.

I loved this wine as an early fall choice – it feels more substantial and hefty than the Rieslings I’ve been
drinking, but it’s still much more lighthearted than the Cabernet Francs and Meritage blends I’m not quite
ready for.


Hermann Wiemer 2002 Blanc de Blanc Evan Dawson: Hermann J. Wiemer 2002 Blanc de Blancs

This was one of the rare occasions when we decided to open a sparkling wine to celebrate a big occasion. Typically, we try to incorporate sparkling as a nice food wine with friends, big occasion or not.
The wine world will be better off when sparkling wine is no longer viewed by many consumers as a strictly celebratory drink.
This wine was the first I grabbed from our sparkling rack. It has filled out nicely, a kind of baked bread coarsened by tingly acidity. Ideal sparkling wine for the region.

How was it that we allowed some mass-produced "champagne" to take us down this road of reserving such wines for festive occasions?


Templeton Rye Whiskey Aaron Estes: Templeton Rye

As much as I enjoy craft beer and New York wines, I grew up a scotch and whiskey drinker. On my 30th birthday, my father gave me a bottle of 30 year old Macallan that I continue to parse out, dram by dram, slowly but surely. I am hoping that it reaches my 40th birthday, as it is probably the finest whiskey I have ever tasted.  

But I digress…  This edition of WWD is about an American tradition that is gaining traction among those that follow what is hip and trendy. I am talking about rye.

A friend of mine, actually a fellow camp-mate from Burning Man (Thanks Genie!), first spoke of the taste and amazing qualities of Templeton Rye when we were on the Playa last year. Fashioned after the original recipe back in the days of Prohibition, Templeton out of Iowa is said to be created from the same recipe that Al Capone favored back in his days as the crime lord of Chicago. It was his preferred whiskey, and what he drank throughout his days while eluding the likes of Elliott Ness and the other members of the Chicago PD.

Can there be a better endorsement?

Templeton is smooth. Really smooth. It almost evaporates as soon as it hits the tongue. There is just a hint of smoke, but not harsh even in the slightest. A touch of sweetness, a bit of caramel, and a delicate scent of cedar on the nose.

This is a whiskey to be savored and cherished. I bring it out every now and then when I have had a difficult day at the office, or a weekend to share with friends who appreciate the same. Templeton is fantastic. I urge you all to find a bottle and enjoy a taste from American history.


IMAG1475 Lenn Thompson: Ruckus Brewing Hoptimus Prime

Based on their performance, my favorite team, the Steelers, may not have realized it, but the NFL season kicked off over the weekend. I have a my myriad of superstitions tied to my watching of Steelers games — and drinking at least one Pennsylvania-brewed beer during the game is chief among them.

Although Ruckus Brewing is headquartered in New York, NY, the beer is brewed in in Wilkes-Barre, PA — not exactly Steelers country, but still within the boundaries of my home state.

Hoptimus Prime is a Double IPA style and it shows on the palate. There is some serious heft and density to the mouthfeel here.

The nose is classic American hoppiness — all grapefruit and lemon with floral herbiness and just a little pine — with some definite malty sweetness beneath.

I was actually a bit worried about that sweetness as I took my first sip, but I shouldn't have been. All those hops bring more than enough bitterness to scrub away the candy sugar and lift the citrus and pine qualities. It's a little thick for game day drinking (I started with it, but should have ended with it) but the bitterness nicely matched how I was feeling as I watched the game.


Flaherty David Flaherty: Bonnezeaux, Chateau Perray Jouannet, Les Menus Clos, Loire, 2009

I don't get to drink enough sweet wines.  Well..let me rephrase that, I don't get to drink enough good sweet wines. 

For the last ten years that I have sold, studied, swirled and slugged wine, there has been one phrase uttered over and over again by people who are breaking into the world of wine (or at least trying to pick up a bottle that will impress the girl they're trying to woo): "I don't like sweet wines."  And I get it.  A lot of cheap swill has residual sugar and has gained a whack reputation (Boone's Strawberry Hill tonight, my darling?).  But a lot of the great wines of the world are sweet…and white.

I tried a Bonnezeaux the other day at a tasting of Loire wines and was floored. 

Such nervy acidity, such depth of character. Rich, honeyed fruit and such life, this liquid treasure could age and age for years to come. It sang from the glass. 

Bonnezeaux is a tiny area of the western Loire in the Anjou region where only white, sweet wines are permitted under AOC law. It is chenin blanc at its most expressive. I took pause, sat back in my chair and zapped into the experience…and the moment. 

That is what good wines do. Let me rephrase that: that is what great wines do.