by Fred McMillin
for March 28, 1997
Winery of the WeekThe Hitchhiker
Prologue: *"When brandy was first made, on the strength of using fire to extract it from wine, it was called 'vinum adjustum, ' meaning 'burnt wine.'"...by E.R. Emerson, 1908, in "Beverages Past and Present"
*"The copper pot still or 'alambic' of the Middle Ages is temperamental, demanding kicks and curses to keep it running; nevertheless it still makes all of the great spirits of Europe." ...by William Massee in "Wine and Spirits"
The Rest of the Story: Driving back to his Mendocino ranch, Dr. Ansley Coale screeched to a halt. The former U. Of Cal. classics prof opened the door for a hitchhiker who would completely change his life. In less than ten
That was all Ansley needed to hear. Six years later Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan would be sipping Germain-Robin Alambic Brandy at a summit dinner in the White House. Critical acclaim has been overwhelming. Typical is the L.A. Times' Dan Berger who suggests that the world's best Cognac is being made in Mendocino. The last time my Scott's-on-Lombard panel tried the Reserve (XO), they decided it was the best thing tasted in the entire year.
Hubert's Secret: There's a sound reason for the press saying, "tasted blind, it outclasses famous Cognacs." Those famous Cognacs are all made chiefly from a very bland grape, the Ugni Blanc. Instead, Hubert has added new aromas and flavors by abandoning the Uni Blanc in favor of much more interesting wine grapes like Pinot Noir and Gamay Beaujolais. They are more expensive, but just wait until you sniff and sip the difference.
Just the Facts
Postscript: The sky was filled with ominous clouds before the football playoff game. The coach asked if the minister would include in the pre-game prayer an appeal for no rain. Smiling, the minister refused, saying he was in sales, not operations. That applies to Dr. Coale as well. He handles the sales and Hubert the operations. Phone (707) 462-3221 for the best "burnt wine" in the country.
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