2010 Landmark Grand Detour Pinot Noir, Sonoma, California, $40
For those times you want to splurge and want a silky, soft wine that will work well with summer fare, look no further than the Landmark Pinot Noir. It starts with a beautiful nose full of bright cherries and ripe strawberries, with a touch of earthiness. As soon as the first drop hits the mouth, the strawberry and cherry flavors swirl together with notes of spicy pepper. The finish is soft and silky with ripe fruit notes and a touch of acidity that keeps everything alive and fresh. Each sip is warm and soft, letting the fruit show but still keeping that full-bodied note. This wine is terrific with grilled salmon, pork or quail, with each entree bringing out a different aspect of the wine. A true winner for the price.
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BarenJager, 70 proof, Germany, $32, 750 ml
This new addition to the Jager line is a great blend of honey liqueur and Kentucky bourbon whiskey. It starts with a nice, delicate nose of sweet bourbon and a touch of honey. The toasty oak notes, along with sweet bourbon fragrance, get your mouth ready for a big, strong full-bodied drink. But the nose is deceiving -- what you get instead is a soft honey flavor with a delicate bourbon finish. This is a real classic, not overpowering but clean and soft. The honey note lingers nicely for the next sip on the finish. This can be a rather addictive treasure served on the rocks or in a cocktail. The cocktail we tried it in was the Bourbon Berry Citrus, which is 3 parts BarenJager Honey Bourbon, 5 blackberries, 3 orange slices and soda. You take the fruit and muddle it along with the BarenJager, then top it with soda. This is a terrific summer sipping cocktail.