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January wine and beer news from Vine Lore

Mare Island Hydraulic Sandwich IPA Mare Island Brewing

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Before the mighty Polar Star, a 13,000-ton Coast Guard Cutter, left dry dock after months of repairs at the Mare Island Shipyard in Vallejo, California, its crew went next door—to the Mare Island Brewing Co. for a supply of their exquisitely balanced Hydraulic Sandwich IPA to toast the occasion—and to fortify them on their way to the highest, driest, coldest place on earth. 

Their mission? Plow through the Ross Sea, forcibly breaking through ice up to 21-feet thick to clear a path for supply ships to reach Antarctica’s logistics hubs. And, send a photo! 

So yes, they absolutely deserve the IPA its makers call the “black tie of beers.” And friends, so do you.  

As for the name, many a returning yardbird (shipbuilder) from Mare Island’s glory days has dropped in at the brewery and mentioned hoisting a “hydraulic sandwich” as their liquid lunch, back in the day. We’re not sure if wars were won despite such lunches…or because of them. We are sure this IPA is a winner.

Mare Island Brewery has crafted its share of over-the-top hoppy IPA’s, but the Hydraulic Sandwich recalls the days when IPA’s were more balanced, the hops more of a friendly slug on the shoulder than a punch in the mouth. 

Pouring a beautiful sunset orange with tight puffy foam, the Hydraulic Sandwich has five different hops and four malts, each contributing a unique character to the ale. Grapefruit, lemon zest and a touch of forest pine conjure a lively bitterness that lingers. 

Road 31 Wine Co. Pinot Noir
2016, Napa Valley

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Though he lends his abundant passion and talents to brewing at his Mare Island venture, Kent Fortner is mainly known for his small batches of Road 31 Pinot Noir—a Napa Valley find. The name pays homage to the gravel road outside his grandparents’ homestead back in Kansas—where he too was born—and to the (ever)green ’66 Ford truck he inherited from his grandfather, a hard-working farmer. 
Fortner handles every step of the crafting of his wine—from fermenting, barrel aging and bottling, to peddling. He describes his newly released 2016 Napa Valley Pinot Noir as “unctuous”—lush in texture, truly a wine that will caress your palate with a “depth of fruit” and beguiling expressions of oak from Tokaji and Mercurey barrels.  

Three lovely Pinot Noir clones are captured in this bottle, and the 2016 vintage is effusively aromatic: ripe red fruits surround tea leaf and rose hip. Long aging on the lees in both French and Hungarian oak adds a creamy texture, spice notes and vanilla. This complex and layered wine continues to open as it sits in the glass, offering a new experience with each sip. Look for cherry and black raspberry changing into subtle aromas of fall leaves.

Psst … Click on the item name to find at a wine & spirits store near you. Cheers!


Duckhorn Merlot
regular $56.99 sale $53.99 

Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc
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Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
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Decoy Cabernet Suvignon
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Decoy Red
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Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay
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Pendulum Red
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Willamette Valley Riesling
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Silver Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
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Silver Ridge Chardonnay
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Large Format and Box Wines

House Wine Chardonnay Box (3000ml)
regular $22.99 sale $19.99

CK Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (1500ml)
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CK Mondavi Chardonnay (1500ml)
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Beehive Organic Vodka (1000ml)
regular $26.99 sale $24.99

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Porter’s Apple Whiskey
regular $18.99 sale 15.99