Oktoberfest 2010

Autumn is my favorite season, especially here in Michigan. The humidity starts to give us a much needed reprieve, the weather cools down a little, and the trees in this State start to show off their beautiful autumnal palette of woody browns, flashing yellows and vibrant reds. The cider mills start churning out their outstanding apple libations and otherworldly doughnuts. And let's not forget the beer! No other season makes me crave beer like the fall. The fact that the typical flavors of this brewing season are the kinds that made me fall in love with beer probably helps. Medium bodied, robust roasted malts, amber hues, and higher than normal ABV to fend off the chill of the evening. Marzen/Oktoberfest style is the undisputed king of autumn concoctions. Which will be the topic I cover this time out. I've made it my mission to explore this years batch from as many breweries as possible, and share with you the best (and worst) this year has to offer. I'll be delving into some classics (Paulaner, Hacker-Pshorr) and some lesser known micros in search of the best of the crop of 2010. I'm not going to cover food pairings in this post, since it would likely start sounding like a broken record given the fact that I'm focusing on a single style. Suffice it to say, pork (sausage form or otherwise), roasted or caramelized cabbage, nuts, fennel bulb and seed, berries, and cheeses like Butter-Kasse, Gelmini Gorgonzola DOP (specifically) and Havarti would pair well. I also don't feel it very necessary to include ABV (Alcohol By Volume), since they will invariably fall in the upper 5% to lower 7% range. So here are my tasting notes on the 2010 Oktoberfest offerings. Leinenkugel's: Generally not my favorite brewery, ranking somewhere in the area of Killians. Not horrible, but mediocre at best. Their Oktoberfest is par for that course. Smooth, and easy to drink, as it should be, it still fails to impress all that much. The sweet malty aroma and flavor right up front gives way to a mild hoppiness on the finish. The medium body and carbonation are what one would expect from the style. The price point makes it a justifiable buy, but if your looking for an exemplary incarnation of the style, look elsewhere. 4 "chugs" out of 10 http://leinie.com/ Sam Adams: This brewery is very hit or miss with me, usually. While if I'm cooking with beer I will reach for the Boston Lager about 75% of the time, some of their other brews are just kind of "eh". I've never had a beer from them that made me wanna spit it out, though, and in fact their hard to impossible to find Scotch Ale is probably one of the best American beers I've had (it's been years, however, I may re-evaluate that stance if I ever get my hands on it again) but a lot of their beers just don't strike home with me, and they all have a signature taste. You know when your drinking something from that brewery, which isn't always a bad thing. With a nice head and the typical reddish amber color, the Sam Adams Octoberfest is a decent example of the style. Mild aroma and medium-high carbonation with an almost creamy smooth mouth-feel right up front tapering quickly into the sweetness of caramel malts and almost imperceptible hop finish. A very drinkable beer, but the sweetness is a bit much for my taste, didn't stop me from killing the 6 pack, though... 5 chugs out of 10 http://www.samueladams.com/ Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest: Magic Hat is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries. Their quirky approach and tendency to color outside the lines (and actually do it well) have endeared them to me. Their new Hex Ourtoberfest is more of the same from an innovative brew-house. Slightly darker in color than the standard Oktoberfest, with a deeper red hue, I was not disappointed. Great malt profile that's pretty typical of the style, where they detour from the norm is the cherry wood notes on the finish and the slight berry notes in the mildly hoppy nose. The slight hint of smoke on the palate are also a diversion from tradition, though not very far from. It all works well enough that I don't think even the most hardcore Oktoberfest purist wouldn't find a reason to bitch about this offering (as I am such). This brewery is well known for canning fan favorites to do something new. Last years fall seasonal was Roxy Rolles, replaced this year by Hex. I did like Roxy Rolles, but I can't complain about their decision to move forward and explore new territory. Keep at it, guys. Doin' well so far! 7 out of 10 http://www.magichat.net/ Sierra Nevada Tumbler: While they aren't calling this an Oktoberfest, it is their Autumn seasonal, and follows the Oktoberfest blueprint for the most part. Color is a dark brown in the glass, a couple shades darker than a typical Oktoberfest, but the flavors are on par with the style. Roasted malt, caramel and a faint hop finish on the nose. Slightly viscous mouth feel with medium carbonation. The flavor is pretty much typical Oktoberfest, but a little higher on the caramel and brown sugar flavors, and (as typifies Sierra Nevada) a decent hop finish. 7 of 10 http://www.sierranevada.com/ Abita Fall Fest: I hear a lot of people tout this brewery, but I don't really get it... While everything I've had from them is very drinkable, they have yet to impress me. This offering is no different. Pale amber color in the glass, and bread with a hint of caramel on the nose. Smooth and light mouth feel with light carbonation. The flavor is heavy on the crystal malt, with rock candy notes and a faint hop finish. Not a bad beer, but maybe I'm trying to classify it wrong. They aren't trying to put it in the Oktoberfest category outwardly, but it seems that was vaguely what they were going for. 6 of 10 http://www.abita.com/ Flying Dog DOGtoberfest: First let it be said that I generally like this brewery, but I tend to like breweries that are heavy handed (but not overly so) with the hops. That said, this might be my most disappointing experience with their products. Rich red color in the glass, with a very mild aroma of faint malt and hops. Medium bodied, very smooth with medium-high carbonation. The flavor is slightly alkaline, crystal malt and brown sugar in the middle and a mild hop finish. Name aside, it's a very likable beer, but since they put an Oktoberfest insinuation on the name, I was expecting more. 6 of 10 http://www.flyingdogales.com/ Shmaltz Brewing Company Coney Island Freaktoberfest: I was not familiar with this brew-house when I picked this one up, and I doubt I will become any more so... I did an online search, but was unable to come to a satisfactory result as to why this beer has a cherry Kool-Aid red color and head... Artificial color? Strike one! Malty nose with hints of red berries, strike two! Medium body and carbonation with malt flavors right up front and raspberry/strawberry in the middle. Strike three. No real finish to speak of. While I give them credit for trying to think outside the box, they missed the mark. I'm still bothered by the unnaturally red hue, and more so by the fact that they don't divulge why. 1 of 10 http://www.shmaltz.com/ Stoudts Oktoberfest: I hate to keep panning these beers, but the best is yet to come, I promise you. That said, Stoudts Oktoberfest is yet another that I was unhappy with. Golden amber color. Malt and sugar on the nose with hints of yeast and malt extract (wtf?!). Light and smooth mouth feel with mild carbonation. The flavor is unremarkable, at best. There's a faint hint of what it's supposed to be, and under another name I might find it to be a drinkable beer, but not a good representation of the style at all. 4 of 10 http://www.stoudtsbeer.com/ Shiner Marzen-Style Oktoberfest: As German styles go, Shiner is one of the better breweries in the States. Mild nose of roasted malts and light carbonation. Amber color in the glass and very smooth mouth feel, medium bodied. In short, everything I'd expect from an Oktoberfest. While not exemplary, it's probably the best you'll find this side of the Atlantic. Add to that the fact there is much less travel and storage time involved as with imports, and this is my recommended Oktoberfest! 8 of 10 http://www.shiner.com/ Erdinger Oktoberfest Weizen (?) Generally a good German brewery, this one intrigued me. In my search for as many Oktoberfest beers as I could find I stumbled upon this brew from a producer I'm familiar with, but had never seen this one before. It managed to slip under my radar. A Weizen Oktoberfest? Had I noticed this oddity before I surely would have tried it! Wheat is generally not used in this style of beer, but being a reputable German brewery, and the Germans being pretty damn good at wheat beers, I simply could not pass this one up. After I got it home I noticed that the bottle I picked up was last years batch, but be that as it may. Reddish amber color, and cloudy (as expected of German wheat beer) with an almost, but not quite, fruity nose. With this beer you get the best of both worlds. The typical Oktoberfest flavors blend well with the light wheat beer flavors and slight yeasty character. Leave it to the Germans to make the best deviation from the traditional style! As I said, the one I had was a year old, but if you're a fan of Oktoberfest and a fan of Weizen or Heffe-Weizen, seek this one out! 8 of 10 I'll give you the link to the website, but be warned, it's all in German... So to those of you that speak the language, enjoy! This might be the norm from here on in, as I've saved the Germans for last. http://www.erdinger.de/ Kostritzer Oktoberfest: Not one I was very familiar with, though I know of the brewery. But as I said, I was on a mission. Pale golden amber hue in the glass, with light carbonation. Smooth and light mouth feel, with pretty typical nose for the style. Yet another bottle that was a year old and I didn't notice until I got it home, so this might not be the best representation. Malty and caramelly, as one would expect, no noticeable hop finish, but I could tell it was aged. A solid beer, to be sure, but one better enjoyed fresh, I'm also sure. All in all, it stands up pretty well to a year of aging, so don't let the date scare you off. Still a formidable beer, and very drinkable! 7 of 10 Didn't find an official website. Spaten Oktoberfest: Now we're gettin' into the big dogs. Reddish amber color, and light carbonation that typify the style. All the hallmarks of a great Oktoberfest are here... malty caramel nose, smooth mouth feel, nutty flavor from the crystal malts, and an ever so slight hop note on the finish. Despite the green bottle, if you get it fresh enough you can't go wrong. Look for it around the beginning of September and only at reputable beer stores simply because of the green bottle. (The photo I included is an old stock photo, it's packed in green bottles now.) Didn't see a "best by" date on the bottle, but I'm positive the one I got was a year old. That aside, a classic of the style. While not the best, nothing to turn your nose up at. If you do, you need to drink more beer, or give up on it all together... 9 of 10 http://www.spatenusa.com/ Hofbrau Oktoberfest: For the style, and being from Germany, this one was surprising, but not in a good way. Golden color in the glass, so much so that it's almost a Pilsner color. It pretty much follows all the hallmarks of a Pilsner, as well. Light nose of hops, smooth mouth feel, mild maltiness and carbonation. Yet another bottle that didn't have the "best by" date on the label, and I'm sure the bottle I got was last years batch. The green bottle didn't help matters at all... As harsh as this may sound, the "Bud" of German beers... If only they would go with a brown bottle and not call it an Oktoberfest, I may have liked it more.... I would expect more from the Germans, so my rating may be harsh... 3 of 10 http://www.hofbraeuhaus.de/en/index_en.html Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest: As soon as I raised the glass to my nose, I knew that this was the real deal! Brown bottle with an expiration date of 6/11, this is the good stuff, here. Amber color in the glass with a hint of red. Smooth mouth feel, medium carbonation. The flavor up front is pure German malt, and the carbonation enhances the mild hoppy finish. Undertones of hazelnut, brown sugar, and citrus peel. I pretty much knew which ones were gonna be my favorites from the onset, though Hofbrau shocked me a little. Hacker-Pshorr and Paulaner were saved for last for a reason. That, and I didn't want to sit down to them first and spoil the rest of the flight. 9 of 10 Again, the site is in German, so have fun! http://www.hacker-pschorr.de/ Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen: I haven't had a Paulaner in a few years, but I remember holding it as the benchmark of what an Oktoberfest should be. Like Bass with Pale Ale, Newcastle Brown, or Samuel Smith Taddy Porter, it is exactly what this beer should taste like. Amber-red in the glass, nice white fluffy head. Malt, hazelnut, mild caramel, and very faint hops on the nose. Caramel, malt, and nuts right up front, smooth going down with an almost dusty quality in the middle, and a silky hop finish all make this beer King of the Hill for it's style. And yes, they print the "best by" date on the label. This one also said 6/11. 10 of 10 http://www.paulaner.com/ You simply can't tell sometimes what year the beer was made with imports. Some print a "best by" date on the label, but not all, so with beer it's usually best to go with domestic brews in a brown bottle unless you're vigilant enough to actually look for the printed date. Beer in clear or green bottles, especially imports that are subjected to more storage and transportation, tends to spoil much faster than in brown bottles. This is due to light contamination. Light is a bottled beers worst enemy. To much exposure to light will cause "off" flavors in a beer, when this happens the odor will be off as well, having an almost sulfur/metallic tinge to the nose. A brewer or beer aficionado would call this beer "skunked" because the scent is faintly reminiscent of skunk spray. If you've ever noticed this yourself it didn't come that way from the brewery, light did it. One last tasting note, if you're a fan of Guinness, don't drink it after an Oktoberfest. The flavors in Oktoberfest are pretty much the same as the middle flavors in Guinness, so if you drink the Oktoberfest first the flavor left on your tongue cancels out those middle ground flavors in Guinness. Leaving you with nothing but the sweetness and the bitterness. I found this out the hard way. I thought I got a bad batch of the Irish Titan of beers, but when I went back to it the next day it tasted perfectly fine. Somewhat counter-intuitive to the "lighter beverages always first" guideline, I know, but I just thought I'd pass that on. If you live in South Eastern Michigan, or better yet, the Western suburbs of Detroit, you can find all of these beers and more at the Wine Barrel Plus in Livonia. They also carry (as the name implies) an astounding array of wine, liquor, several large cigar humidors, and an on-site temperature and humidity controlled wine cellar for the higher end bottles. If they don't have what you're looking for just ask Mark, he'll get it in for you if it's available in Michigan. http://www.winebarrel.com/ So to recap quickly: Best American Oktoberfest I found - Shiner Worst - Shmaltz Freaktoberfest Best German - Paulaner (with honorable mention to Hacker-Pshorr) Worst - Hofbrau These reviews are, of course, subjective. So feel free to tell me I wouldn't know a good Oktoberfest if it hit me in the face. I hope this little list helps you all out though, at the very least in what to avoid like the plague. If I missed something or you actually WANT my opinion on a beer not included, let me know in the comments. Life's too short to drink shit beer! Jack

One Sassy Sauce

Pasilla chile broth - with meat accompaniment, or just insert straw

I had always wondered about the whole cooking with coffee phenomenon, so I decided to make my Rogue Estate night coffee-themed.  The menu included beef tenderloin seasoned with coffee and cinnamon, coffee-barbecued baby backs, and coffee popsicles.  It all turned out quite well, but one item that really stood out was the accompanying sauce to the beef tenderloin – pasilla chili broth.  The whole experience introduced me to a myriad of new experiences:   I’d never made barbecue sauce, never used coffee as a spice, and certainly never made this very exquisite broth with a chile I'd never heard of.  And all I had to do was follow some simple directions from my very expensive culinary arts book.  Pasilla chile  broth Whole butter                                 ½ oz White onions, roughly chopped        8 oz. Garlic cloves, whole, peeled                 6 Pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into large pieces    ½ oz White corn tortilla, shredded                 ¾ oz Chicken stock                                      20 fl. Oz Heavy cream                                        2 fl oz Kosher salt                                           1 tsp Brown sugar                                         1 tsp Heat medium saucepan over med-hi heat.  Add butter and sauté onions and garlic until brown.  Add the pasilla chiles and tortilla pieces and sauté until golden brown.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  (See?  Easy!)
Reduce to a simmer, cover loosely and cook for ten minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool.  Puree the sauce in a blender until smooth and strain through a china cap, which are very handy if you happen to have one on hand.  If not, a strainer will do the trick.
Add cream (which will magically balance everything), salt and brown sugar and stir to combine.  It shouldn’t be thick – if necessary, thin with water or more stock if necessary, and keep warm until time to serve.  Or drink out of a silver goblet, if you’re so inclined.  It's smoky, rich and lovely as an accompaniment to beef, and may possibly make your toes curl (or your heart racing, but that might be from the butter and cream).  Just a give it a try, and you'll see what I mean when the sauce and meat juices begin to make merry in your mouth.  And then you can brainstorm with your foodie friends about what else you can pour this sauce over.  Oh, the possibilities....

Fair to Midland.

So, the actual saying is "fair to middlin." This may have been a Scottish wool-rating term, but folks in Texas and Michigan have been misquoting it for years. Anyway, this roundup of Michigan wines covers some Michigan whites that are definitely worth seeking out, but do not go to 11 (on my Spinal Tap rating scale). Let's get to it!

Bel Lago Auxerrois

Bel Lago 2007 Auxerrois 13% Alcohol (About $13) Auxerrois is a crazy grape with a confusing heritage.  Related to Chardonnay, but similar to Pinot Blanc, and named similar to a Malbec in some countries, it presents a challenge to sell.  I'm happy Bel Lago decided not to slap a cutesy name on it like many other Michigan wineries do. Similar in character and style to an Alsatian Pinot Blanc. The color is an attractive pale green straw.  A thin body, with no immediately noticable legs. On the nose, crisp apple and lemon with light oak. There is an herbal aftertaste, with some minerality, similar to Alsatian styles.  Some toffee on the finish as it warms. Pleasant (I like Alsatian styles), but as a fellow taster mused: "This is like the guy in the next cubicle that you make simple talk with, but he's not really that interesting." Rating 6/11, but better as it opens up.

Left Foot Charley Pinot Blanc

Left Foot Charley Old Mission 2009 Pinot Blanc, 12% Alcohol 2009 was a tough, cold summer for Michigan growers, and on top of this challenge Left Foot Charley's Pinot Blanc is made from a single acre of grapes.  Very risky, and only a competent vintner paying attention could make it work. First, this has been one of the few Michigan wines I've sampled with a screw cap. I applaud the use because it means less spoilage, more convenience, and has nothing AT ALL to do with the taste of the wine. The color is a clear golden white in the glass and is fairly viscous, similar to Oregon styles.  Aromas of spiced bread, apples, honeydew and lemon are all evident. There is  tart acidity, similar to unripe nectarines, coupled with an oaky dryness. A medium body and a lingering Granny Smith apple on the finish.  Very much Michigan on the flavor profile. Overall pleasant, but I would love to taste this as a sparkling wine. Rating 6/11. I need to find the right pastry and cheese dish to match, possibly a spinach pie?

Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling

Chateau Grand Traverse 2008 Late Harvest Riesling. 10.5% Alcohol (about $15) One of the more popular Michigan varietals, and one that the winery is proud of. Color is a very light gold in glass, with characteristic viscosity, clinging to the edge heavily. I noticed an off aroma initially, heavy with yeasts and a faint bilious odor, but this quickly resolves to honey, lemon and apple aromas, even graham cracker crust for a nice apple pie! As you would expect, very full-bodied, with mouth watering acidity.  Neither bright nor light, but definitely a comfort wine, bordering on dessert. Rating 6/11.  Please take into account that sweet wines and Rieslings in particular are not my bag. The Michigan wine tour continues with a few more whites, some Cab Francs and other red blends (expect me to dis the sweeter reds, which I'm trying to steer clear of).  There may even be a Fall color tour in the works with a few special purchases to share. Incidentally, tonight I found a new source for Michigan wines locally.  Westborn Market has stepped up to provide a greater variety of Michigan products, including a few bottles I haven't seen in my neighborhood before.  Thanks, Westborn!

Getting Curried Away with Ice Cream

The stars of the show.

The theme was Curry, in all it's various forms. Well, 5 of it's forms, to be honest. There are more than that, but how could you fit it all into one meal while trying to showcase each one? Masman, Red, Green, Yellow, and the one we will be focussing on today, Madras. I hosted this one. My house, my menu. The most interesting course (to me at least) was the dessert. Me, with my self proclaimed dessert indifference, had an idea for one. Being my first try at it, the original results were a little heavy on the mint, so this recipe will be a little lighter with it. Regardless, the results were amazing, and went well with both the Mango tart served with it (provided by Raquel) and the Bourbon County Stout, from Goose Island in Chicago, that was chosen to pair with it. Because the mint was so strong it fought with the beer a little bit, at least I thought it did, no one else present commented on it. Truth be told, I hijacked the base recipe from "The French Laundry" and tweaked it to get the mint and curry in. So here it is:

The Madras curry singled out

Madras Curry, Vanilla, Mint Ice Cream: The ingredients: 2 Tablespoons Madras Curry paste 1 Tablespoon Fresh Mint chiffonade 2 cups milk 2 cups heavy cream 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 vanilla bean, split 10 large egg yolks 1/2 cup honey (preferably wildflower) The procedure: In a 1 quart saucepan over medium heat toast the curry paste lightly, stirring the whole time. When fragrant and starting to brown slightly, add the cream, milk, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar to the pan. Scrape the vanilla bean and add it to the pot with the pod. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and allow the flavors to infuse for 30 minutes. Rewarm the mixture.

Madras curry/mint Ice Cream with Mango Tart.

Meanwhile, in a mixer or metal bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until thickened and lightened in color. Gradually whisk in one third of the warm milk mixture to temper the eggs. Return the mixture to the pan and stir over medium heat until the custard has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add the mint chiffonade to a bowl set over an ice water bath and pour the hot custard through a strainer over it and stir in honey to combine. Let the custard cool at room temperature, move to a container to refrigerate for at least 5 hours. Overnight will give you an even creamier texture. Freeze the cold custard in an ice cream machine. Remove to a covered container and freeze for several hours, or until hardened. Or for a shorter time if you like it softer. Scoop and serve. I've made ice cream in the past and I always wonder why people think it's so hard and time consuming. It really isn't. Home made ice cream can really add flair to a dinner party and give the guests a sense that you went all out. So give it a go! The recipe above can be tweaked to provide a myriad of variations, too! Next up I'll be reviewing this years crop of Oktoberfest options including the classics and whatever little known micros I can get my greasy paws on. So until then, make some damn ice cream! Jack

Michigan Wine: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

As promised, here are some tasting notes taken over the past couple weeks on some Michigan wines.  Looking back on my posts and comments, I realize that my own preferences for dry wines are likely to influence my ratings.  No apologies, but if you like residual sugar, increase the numbers slightly. A brief word on tasting notes:  there's no perfect rating system or format for notes, but I like to include
  • basic info about maker, varietal (or blend), vintage and price
  • appearance, including color and viscosity
  • initial aroma
  • weight and flavor perceptions
  • aftertaste, overall impressions, and food pairing thoughts
If you have never written down tasting notes on the wines you drink, please start!  This is probably the best way to gain a better understanding of your own preferences, and also get a solid understanding of value for price. I use an arbitrary 11 point system to honor Spinal Tap.  Let's go! The Good Peninsula Cellars is a 150-year-old farm that focused on apples and cherries until 20 years ago, when the growing wine trade drew them in.  They recently re-booted the wine operation in 2007.

Peninsula Cellars, Old Mission Peninsula AVA

Peninsula Cellars 2007 Pinot Grigio, 13% Alcohol (about $15) Sunlight white/gold in the glass, with heavy legs. Lemon, lime, honeysuckle on the nose, with notes of orange blossom.  A good example of the varietal, with a nice balance.  Unlike most Michigan Pinot Gris, this is a touch more Grigio than Gris.  Good news for fans of Italian styles. Medium Body, with flavors of nectarines, apricots, and a slight smoke on the finish. Rating 7 of 11 A solid Summer white at a competitive price. The Bad Established in 1968 along the Lake Michigan Shore AVA, Tabor Hill has a storied tradition, including Gerald Ford's stocking of the White House with their white wines.  To be fair, the only Tabor Hill wines available to me locally are their inexpensive table wines.  They do have better offerings, and I plan to try them. Tabor Hill Red Arrow Red NV, Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, 12% Alcohol (About $10)

Tabor Hill Red Arrow Red

A light ruby pink in the glass with nice legs. A light floral nose, just a bit tight, with lilies and violets characteristic of Cab Sauvignon Tart red cherries and cranberries on the tongue, and it seems to be lightly oaked, which may contribute to the tight aroma.  Rather unremarkable. There is a spicy but almost medicinal finish, not very pleasant.  Overall the wine seems young and unrefined. Rating 4 of 11. The Ugly I hate to do this, but there are very few occasions I have purchased a wine and disposed of it.  This was one of those occasions.

Lake Effect "Wines"

Lake Effect is a newer winery based out of Muskegon, MI.  The owner is a hobbyist fond of expanding the market for wines made of other fruits and berries.  I dove in with an open mind... Lake Effect Winery Aronia Blue Wine NV, Blueberry with Chokeberry, 10% Alcohol (about $15) A cloudy medium violet red in the glass, syrupy. Crude/homemade odors of beeswax and bile, with bad yeasts and rotted cherries. On the tongue some grape jelly, as well as rye bread. Heavy tannins, and a milky texture.  This wine was awful. I even tried to save it with toasted cheese, the miracle food for improving wine.  It still sucked. Rating 0 of 11. Lake Effect makes a "Black and Blue" composed of Blueberries and Black Currants, which was only marginally better, rating 1 of 11.  Both of them ended back in the lake via the drain. Next up?  Better wines from Fenn Valley, Bel Lago, and Left Foot Charley.  And maybe another Cabernet Franc taste-off.