2009 Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Pinot Noir, California; $18
The Reserve Blackstone Pinot Noir is sourced from Carneros and Sonoma, some of the finer areas for growing pinot noir. This wine has a beautiful aroma of chocolate-covered cherries and a light smokiness. The flavors are elegant and smooth. Rich, soft notes of strawberries, roasted coffee, toffee and vanilla bean coat the mouth with each sip. The finish really shines, letting the original flavors linger and introducing new notes of caramel and oak with a subtle acidity to keep everything fresh. It's a perfect wine with pork loin or flank steak.
New Amsterdam Gin, United States; $18
This is a great value-priced gin. It has a nose full of layers of orange and light whispers of juniper. The flavors are layered well, with the most intense being the orange zest and citrus. The herb and juniper add a very subtle undertone. Overall, this is a sweet and tangy gin with a medium-dry finish. This is an extremely good gin for mixing, especially in fruit-based cocktails or as an alternative to vodka in cosmopolitans.
Lain Bradford is a wine writer and reviewer who has achieved his first level master sommelier certificate and is working toward his Certified Wine Educator degree. He only writes about beverages that are available in South Carolina and Georgia. Follow him on Twitter under the name "winereview."