Bar Tab: 4 Swigs for Right Now
by Erin James

Welcome back to Sip Northwest’s Bar Tab, our editor’s bi-weekly list of what to drink in the Northwest now. We don’t know about you, but this week has been a long one. Rain showers, random sprinklings of snow at sea level and chilling wind, the weather alone gives cause for starting this weekend early. Come on in, belly up to the counter and order a digital drink on us.

Flight of the Kiwi | 2 Towns Ciderhouse | Fresh off the barrel spigot, these masters of seasonal fruit cider have released their latest culinary creation: barrel-aged kiwi-infused cider. The small batch cider is cold-fermented with Sauvignon Blanc yeast then is greeted post-fermentation with hardy Northwest-grown kiwi berries (a smaller relative to the kiwi) and tangy gooseberries. All ingredients add up to an aromatic profile almost mistakable with Sauvignon Blanc itself, with apple’s juicy fruit and zippy acid cutting through the core of the palate — confirming the off-dry, fruit-forward sip is cider after all. Fun fact: the kiwi is an odd duck and does not not actually fly. Just drink it, no more thinking necessary.

Huckle Bière Grand Cru | 10 Barrel Brewing Co. | From the “Fancy Beer Series” of limited production beers, this Belgian-style wild sour age proudly wears all of its details on its sleeve — the label tells of its inception date (2013) and its release date (2016), the brewer (oh hey, Jimmy Seifrit!), clarifies the bottle size (750-milliliter, like wine) and its origin story. Aged for three years, the ale was brewed with two types of wild yeast and Northwest-grown huckleberries. Tart and berry lambic aromas build from the glass up, mounting into warm huckleberry pie, cola and umami mushroom aromas. Tangy fruit and sour flavors strike the palate and persist, finishing long and flavorsome. Warning: this fancy beer is corked and coated with sturdy wax, a steady hand and on-call finger bandages might be mandatory.

Oaken Gin | Victoria Distillers | Barrel-aged gin has been an internationally trending spirits category for the past few years — harking back to barrel-aging methods of yore, stirring up other oldfangled recipes like Old Tom and Genever gins — but it hasn’t quite exploded in Canada like it has across the United States. Quick to remedy that, this Vancouver Island-based distillery took its well-known unaged gin and tossed it in a barrel. The juniper-forward spirit takes on an additional profile of vanilla, caramel, butter and coconut. Silky yet crisp, the medium-bodied gin finishes with spice, wood and savory herbs, allowing it endless cocktail variations. Insider tip: this tenured distillery is located on the Sidney, British Columbia, waterfront, complete with a cocktail lounge for sipping and viewing.

2015 McAndrew Chardonnay | The Walls Vineyard | As Burgundy has distinct and divergent Chardonnays, deeply dependent upon the varying terroirs within the motherland of the grape variety (Bourgogne Blanc vs. Mâconnais or Chablis), so, too, can Washington State as it matures as a wine region. Although the Columbia Gorge AVA straddles both Washington and Oregon, this Chardonnay site was the first planting of the grape in the area, set above the river in Underwood, Washington. Named in honor of “Doc” McAndrews who oversaw this cultivation, this Chardonnay reveals the Chablis-esque style the Gorge can produce. Fermented and aged in Burgundian-imported concrete tanks, the near-translucent wine offers soft aromatics of Bartlett pear and Meyer lemon, generously providing scents of mineral and apple with air and warmth in the glass. Lean and focused, the light-bodied wine continues its soft touch with gentle acid and flinty mineral on the palate, adding more citrus and pear in the savory finish. Pairing note: seize the season while it still lasts and get yourself some oysters in the half shell for this.

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