By Steve Siciliano
I’m not sure how many of our readers know or, for that matter care, that last Saturday was the first day of the lunar new year. I wasn’t aware of this rather esoteric bit of knowledge myself until one of our wine reps mentioned it a couple of weeks back when we were deciding on which wines to feature at an in-store tasting. “I just remembered, the 25th is the lunar new year!” Bradford Hammerchmidt exclaimed, his eyes widening. “We should taste biodynamic wines that day.”
“The lunar new Year? What does the lunar new year have to do with vino?” I asked. “And what the hell are biodynamic wines?”
Biodynamic wines, Bradford explained, are made with a set of farming practices that view the vineyard as one solid organism. The ecosystem functions as a whole with each portion of the vineyard helping to create a self-sustaining system. Animals such as ducks, sheep, cows and horses fertilize the soil. Chemicals and pesticides are never used. The intent of biodynamic farming is to keep the land in as good or better shape for future generations.
“Okay, so what does biodynamic farming have to do with the lunar new year?” I asked again.
Bradford further explained that some proponents of biodynamic farming consult lunar calendars for recommended dates for sowing, cultivation and harvesting based on the phases of the moon.
Biodynamic farming was developed in Germany in the early 1920s by the philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Dr. Steiner believed that the soil, plants, animals and everything in the solar system is interconnected. His beliefs that growers should harmoniously work with the heavens and earth laid the groundwork for organic and sustainable farming. In fact, the term “organic farming” was coined by those who have adopted Steiner’s approach.
I don’t know if the vintners who produced the biodynamic wines that we featured in our in-store tasting last Saturday cultivated their grapes with an eye on the lunar calendar. Whether they did or didn’t, the general consensus was that the wines are very good. These wines are currently available at Siciliano’s. Their tasting notes follow. (Please note that prices and availability are subject to change.)
Weingut Hirsch Gruner Veltliner, $23.29, 750 ml bottle - Aromas of tart green apple, green melon, lemongrass, cucumber, white pepper and coriander leap from the glass carrying through on a rich wave across the palate. The acid frames the rich fruit and a saline mineral component takes over the finish.
Paul Jaboulet Aine Biographie Cotes Du Rhone, $17.39, 750 ml bottle - Aromas and flavors of dark cherry, red table grape, blackberry jelly and a touch of smoke. The mouthfeel is soft yet there's still some youthful tannic chew on the finish.
Paxton Now Shiraz, $20.69, 750 ml bottle - An explosion of berries highlighted with raspberries, strawberries, mulberries and plums. Medium bodied "drink now" style of wine. Bright and fresh red berry fruits followed by a fantastic mid intensity and topped off with silky tannins and velvety finish.
Paolo Saracco Moscato d' Asti, $17.39, 750 ml bottle - Luminous pale straw-green with golden tinges. Captivating aromas of orange blossom, lemon verbena, vanilla, sage and ripe grapefruit nectar. Dense, juicy and sauve, presenting a multilayered, complex set of flavors similar to the aromas. The finish is very long, resonating with a floral topnote and delightful vibrancy. Outstanding, concentrated, complex and very pure Moscato d' Asti.
New and Returning Beer/Cider
American Solera Peace B-One, $5.49/16oz - "DIPA brewed with Azacca, Citra, and Idaho 7 hops, then conditioned on globs of strawberries." (Source)
American Solera Terpy Citra, $5.19/16oz - Single Hop Double IPA
Anderson Valley BA Huge Arker, $4.39/12oz - "True to its Boontling moniker, “Huge Arker” is a massive force of nature that detonates on your tongue. After primary fermentation, the beer is aged in Wild Turkey® Bourbon barrels until it fully matures. The deep mahogany color is evocative of the opulence to follow. Dark luscious aromas of burnished oak mingle with candy sugar, bourbon and hearth-baked bread. The luxurious flavors redolent of honey and molasses are intertwined with the richness of dark chocolate and the ardent warmth of alcohol, underpinned with hints of coffee, vanilla and dark fruits." (Source)
Anderson Valley Funkin Nutz, $2.79/12oz - "Our Funkin Nutz IPA pours to a bright, golden yellow color with aromas of rich tropical fruit, passion fruit with a hint of citrus. Pale, pilsner, and midnight wheat malts give it a solid malt character while Chinook, Citra, and Amarillo hops impart flavors of ripe tropical fruit, peach and apricot leading to a clean hoppy finish." (Source)
Anderson Valley Hibiscus Ale, $2.79/12oz - "This beer is inspired by the Mexican family drink Jamacia (HahMy- Cah) that many of our employees enjoyed growing up here in California. It is brewed with the hibiscus flower Roselle. This flower is used throughout the Caribbean, central America, Asia and in parts of tropical Africa for making an array of beverages and in local cuisine. The hibiscus imparts a distinct floral aroma, a magnificent deep ruby color and a tangy flavor reminiscent of cranberries. This new beer has a mild hoppiness to help enhance its balance and we use a touch of oats to bring our a smooth silkiness in the finish. Agreeably mild in Alcohol, this beer is like no other beer you have had before it. It was made to quench the thirst of the parched traveler longing for the flavors of the tropical latitudes." (Source)
Bells Light Hearted, $1.99/12oz - "Enjoy all the benefits of a light beer, with the flavor and quality you would expect from Bell’s. Light Hearted™ is aromatic, balanced, and incredibly easy-drinking. Only 110 calories, yet all the Heart." (Source)
Birds Fly South Apologize Less, $3.59/16oz - "Hop heads get thirsty. The first release in our Apologize Less Double Dry Hopped series is hazy and strong. A bright, golden IPA that’s resinous, fresh, and earthy with a full mouthfeel and creamy body thanks to gentle conditioning. Dry-hopped, juicy, and super dank." (Source)
Birds Fly South Fat Ma, $3.59/16oz - "As a tribute to our Cripple Creek neighborhood, we proudly introduce Fat Ma. This clear golden brew was lagered for over two months and hopped with Topaz and Sterling. Notes of stone fruit are balanced by a floral, peppery and crisp finish. Effervescent and refreshing." (Source)
Birds Fly South/Speciation The Good Son, $19.59/500ml - "A very special annual collaboration with a rotating lineup of our closest friends. This Bourbon Barrel-Aged Golden Strong Ale is available in several flavor variations. The only non-dark beer to release at our yearly Black Sheep event, The Good Son is a big, malty and slightly sweet celebration of the season." (Source)
Brewery Vivant Jamocha Love Shadow, $7.19/16oz - "Taking up his (or her) mash paddle on brew day, the brewer has his (or her) eye on the future months when flavors all come together. However, there is always a shadow of mischief that comes in the forms of fermentation, wooden barrels, grain terroir or water pH. Still, guiding this magical elixir from start to finish is the brewer's duty. With Jamocha Love Shadow, we have guided a powerful Belgian inspired Imperial stout through the bourbon barrel aging process and come out the other side with a full bodied behemoth with added chocolate, vanilla, coffee and lactose. Drink Up."
Broadleaf Hazy J, $4.39 /16oz - "Broad Leaf Local Beer in Kentwood has teamed up with Grand Rapids-based Koeze to make a beer version of Koeze’s Cream-Nut Peanut Butter Cluster candy." (Source)
Nowhere in Particular Batch 38, $2.99/12oz - "Exotic Hopped Double IPA In our quest to find new a fun beers we took our sight to the Balkan peninsula, all the way to Slovenia. This big, juicy, and citrusy IPA is pumped full of Slovenian hops. Flavors of tangerine and mango are complimented with a mild bitterness and smooth body. The alcohol is well hidden among the dancing and complex flavors, so you'll be ready to take on whatever 2020 throws your way after a couple of these. Get out and enjoy some with friends and new adventures, and as always drink promiscuously friends!" (Source)
Nowhere in Particular Batch 39, $2.99/12oz - "We all know those delicious chocolate oranges that you get to smack around a bit before you get to eat them, well this is that in beer form. This is a just a delicious beast of a beer. Velvet smooth on the palate with big bold flavors and well hidden alcohol notes. This guy is a chocolate orange monster, ready to gobble up all boredom and mediocrity in its path. Get some while it lasts friends and as always drink." (Source)
Prairie All Y'all, $3.79/12oz - "Bringing “All Y’all” together for our collaboration with American Solera. For this DIPA we picked a mix of our favorite juicy and tropical hops that we’ve brewed with over the years. This combo hits all the right spots. Orange, pineapple and passion fruit dominate the flavor and aroma on this 7.5% beer." (Source)
Prairie Funky Gold Mosiac, $3.29/12oz - Dry hopped sour ale
Schramm's Valentine, $41.99/375ml - Mead made with Black Currants and Maravilla red raspberries.
Surly Blond Ambition, $4.89/16oz - "Brewing a bold and flavorful blond lager is an ambitious task, but we’ve never shied away from a challenge. This doppel (double) heller (bright) bock (strong) combines a few of our favorite things: clean malt flavor, a slightly sweet body, and a touch of vanilla-like wood flavor from hickory honeycombs. Ambition never tasted so good." (Source)
Tapistry Milkbama Blackberry, $3.59/16oz - IPA brewed with blackberries and vanilla
Two K Farms New World Hard Cider, $2.59/12 oz - "American orchards once boasted hundreds of apple varieties spread throughout the America’s by Johnny Appleseed. Prohibition brought about the demise of this great diversity of cider apples dating back to before the Constitution. Two K Farms’ New World cider embodied this era. It is a blend of American sweet and bittersweet cider apples 100% grown at Two K Farms. Cider crafted in this tradition brings forward the fresh apple flavors and aromas with a touch of sweetness. Even Benjamin Franklin would cheer to this scrumptious American cider." (Source)
Two K Farms Old World Hard Cider, $2.59/12oz - "From the shores of the British Isles and Normandy, comes the inspiration for this blend of 20 English and French cider apple varieties grown in Two K Farms’ orchards. It is a blend of more than 20 distinct English and French heritage cider apples. This cider brings forth a bold aromatic and soft tannins with a crisp sweet apple finish. The pubs of Britain and the cafes of France would delight in this European style cider." (Source)
Two K Farms Sangria Hard Cider, $2.59/12oz - "Sangria cider is the perfect blend of select American apples. Only those apples that are bursting with fresh flavors are chosen and blended with natural fruit flavors of tropical fruits, berries, and spice." (Source)
Two K Farms Cherry Hard Cider, $2.59/12oz - "In the land of Michigan Cherries springs forth the perfect cherry cider. Using traditional American apples that are carefully blended with locally grown cherries. Two K Farm’s cherry cider is a burst of cherry flavors and aromas that are sure to please and cherry lovers’ discriminating palate." (Source)
Two K Farms Hopp'D Hard Cider, $2.59/12oz - " A blend of American apples infused with our proprietary hop variety. Citrus and pine notes come forward with a crisp apple finish." (Source)
Two K Farms 2018 Kingston Black, $18.69/750ml - "The Kingston Black hard cider is a rare offering. It is a full-bodied, single varietal cider with a nice blend of acid, tannins, and fruit. Classified as “Bittersharp” apple, it is traditionally grown in the cider producing regions of Great Britain. The English consider Kingston Black as a standard to achieve high quality single variety ciders." (Source)
Two K Farms 2018 Golden Russet, $16.49/750ml - "Golden Russet origins are from upstate New York in the 19th century. Known for its rough skin or “russet” appearance, it is a versatile apple, ideal for eating, cooking, or making exceptional juice. The Golden Russet has notes of banana, baked spice, and ripe apple aromas. It is a delightful well-balanced single varietal cider." (Source)
Two K Farms 2018 Rosé Cider, $15.59/750ml - "Rosé is made with 100% real red fleshed apples and has no artificial colorings or shortcuts. Made from varietals including Otterson and Redfield, this cider has a character of its own. Striking maroon and eloquent red hues show of the depth of this cider. It has notes of Jolly Rancher, candied fruit, and a crisp apple finish that comes through to the last drop." (Source)