What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 20
L’Apero les Trois
Three women of three different generations in Winters, CA have joined forces to create a delicious new product that celebrates not only the agrarian bounty of Sonoma County, but a time-honored French tradition.
The result is L’Apero les Trois, a line of fruit-based, lower alcohol spirits known as aperitifs, which the French have enjoyed for generations as a pre-lunch or pre-dinner libation.
They are the brainchild of Georgeanne Brennan, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author who taught cooking classes in France for years; Corinne Martinez, co-owner of Berryessa Gap Vineyards; and Nicole Salengo, Berryessa Gap’s winemaker.
As with all aperitifs, they are meant to be served chilled, sometimes with a few ice cubes in the glass, and topped off with sparkling wine or fizzy water, if you so choose.
The L’Apero les Trois line, of which I received samples, consists of six different aperitifs, all made with locally grown fruit, even some from Brennan’s own backyard. The small-batch offerings contain minimal sugar, and sport an ABV of 15.5 to 16.5 percent.
The Meyer Lemon is so bright and sunny tasting. You taste the subtlety of zest and rind, plus an herbaceous note. It’s not so potent that you can’t drink it neat. Add a sprig of fresh thyme to your glass to really bring out a minty-lemony quality.
The Rosemary Orange has the taste of marmalade, with the rosemary giving it a whiff of the forest. The aroma reminds me of oranges studded with cloves during the winter holidays.
The Quince evokes mulled spiced cider made with pears and apples. It’s the one you want to cozy up with before a roaring fireplace.
The Black Mission Fig is as saturated in color as red wine. Its flavor is a lot like a fortified red wine, too. It’s full of jammy fig taste, plus fall baking spices, and a little green leafiness.
The Blenheim Apricot is pure yum, redolent of juicy, tangy stone fruit. It’s like the concentrated taste of a perfect apricot that still has the tiniest tinge of green at its stem end so it’s not cloying but just a little twangy on the finish.
With a purple hue, the Green Walnut is nutty and sweet, almost like port.
Bottles of L’Apero le Trois ($40 each) can be purchased on the company’s web site. Or at the L’Apero le Trois tasting room in downtown Winters, where you can also enjoy glasses, flights, and appetizers.
Taylor Fladgate Chip Dry White Port
For more aperitif fun, there’s also Taylor Fladgate Chip Dry White Port ($20). If all you’re used to is dark, viscous and quite sweet port you sip after dinner, this white version will definitely surprise the taste buds.
Taylor Fladgate was is the pioneer of dry white aperitif port, first blending its Chip Dry White Port in 1934. It is a blend of grapes grown in the eastern area of Portugal’s Douro Valley.
Like all other ports, brandy is added to the must to halt fermentation and leave some residual sugar. However, with the Chip Dry White Port, the brandy is added much later, after most of the sugar has been converted to alcohol, thus producing a much drier port.
Yes, this one is meant more as a sip before meals to open the palate. It’s best served chilled, and even over ice, if you like.
I had a chance to try for myself. Although there is still a delicate fruity sweetness on the palate, this port does not have a heavy syrupy quality. Straw colored, it tastes of lemon, oranges, a touch of almond extract, and a faint medicinal-like note.
Cheers: Sub in the Chip Dry White Port in place of gin in your next G&T for a P&T instead. It will be equally refreshing, but offer up a slightly mellower and smoother sip.
Epicentro Nero D’Avola Riserva
Take a special taste of Italy with Epicentro Nero D’Avola Riserva ($31).
This wine takes its name from the Italian word that means “epicenter.” It pays homage to the devastating earthquake that destroyed the western area of Sicily in the late 1960s, which forced so many to flee. Among those who stayed, though, was a group of nine young winemakers who dedicated themselves to bringing life back to that land. They worked to form Cantine Ermes, which is now thought to be the largest wine co-op in that region.
I had a chance to try a sample of this deep garnet-colored wine, made with what is considered the most important wine grape in Sicily.
This big, full-bodied wine is lush with deep dark cherries and plums, as well as cocoa, coffee, and sage.
Cheers: This isn’t an easy wine to find, but if you are lucky enough to do so, be sure to enjoy it alongside grilled or roasted beef, lamb, pork, or duck; or strong cheeses.