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The Weekly Dozen - A Very Mixed Case

I’ve always believed that wines are best at the dinner table and spirits are best for relaxation and perhaps a little reading after dinner. This week’s Dozen should help you make it through dinner and well into a cozy evening.

The wines are all reds – most for around $20 – and the spirits are all American whiskies.

2016 Rutherford Ranch Napa Valley Merlot ($17). Lively cherry and blackberry flavors with well-integrated tannins and a touch of cream in the finish.

2017 Kim Crawford New Zealand Pinot Noir ($18). A flavorful but lean Pinot with enjoyable dark cherry flavors.

2014 Clarence Dillon “Clarendelle” Bordeaux Rouge ($20). From the Haut-Brion folks, but don’t expect too much resemblance. This is an old-style, everyday Bordeaux with dried fruit, light body and a lean finish that works perfectly well with so many foods because it’s additive and not competitive.

2016 Rutherford Ranch “Two Range” Napa Valley Red Wine ($20). Nice sipping wine – bricky cherry flavors with some tang in the finish.

2016 Left Coast “Cali’s Cuvee” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($21). Somewhat lean and zesty with fresh raspberry flavors and a crisp finish.

2017 ZD Carneros Pinot Noir ($50). Big, assertive, very-concentrated, ripe cherry flavors with some savory notes and an undertone of black olives.

Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whiskey ($30). If they made Bourbon nouveau, this would be it – only six months in oak. It has a lovely fresh-grain nose, is pleasantly rough around the edges and has notes of baking spices. At 46%.

Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon ($30). I was not seduced when I first tasted this Balcones, but now it’s become one of my sipping favorites. It has notes of vanilla, a little rancio like an old Cognac (which it somewhat resembles) and cracked corn flavors with a nice salty bite. At 46%.

Balcones Texas Rye Whiskey ($36). A lot of earthy, savory notes like a root cellar, with flavors of rhubarb and turnip – a veggie lover’s drink. At 50%.

Sagamore Straight Rye Whiskey ($40). Although bottled in Baltimore, the rye was distilled in Indiana. Smooth, creamy spiced vanilla custard flavors with a bit of a bite. At 41.5%.

Balcones Texas Single Malt Whiskey ($60). The barrel notes are subtle with not a lot of toast, but it is marked by a pleasant spiciness with hints of cinnamon. At 53%.

Sagamore Cask Strength Rye Whiskey ($65). The flavors hit higher on the palate with lots of wood and vegetal notes and slightly more assertive due to the higher alcohol. At 56.1%.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from

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