Shaken or stirred: Lillet

My variation on James Bond's Vesper cocktail, using a proper dose of Lillet.

Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.”
” ‘Certainly monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

James Bond’s memorable instruction, “shaken, not stirred,” has become part of the world’s folk wisdom since the fictional secret agent first uttered it in Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel, Casino Royale. You’re probably familiar with the concept even if you’ve never read the book or watched the Bond movies.

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Lillet Blanc


Lillet Blanc French Aperitif Wine ($21.99)

Poured on its own, Lillet Blanc shows a very clear, light straw color in the glass. Intriguing aromas offer a mix of fresh, dried, and stewed white fruit and orange peel, with a subtle hint of quinine, complex and hard to pick apart. That’s fine, it’s just as well to enjoy them as their scents entwine. Full-bodied flavors follow the nose, with faint sweetness cloaked by firm acidity, and a bitter edge of quinine. It’s brisk and refreshing, perfectly fine in the winter time despite its reputation as a summer drink.

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Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for a wide variety of other styles of flavored spiced fruit wines. Read article.

Porto Kopke Fine Ruby and Tawny

Porto Kopke

Kopke’s Fine Ruby Port shows a dark purple color in the glass, with just a hint of its namesake ruby showing along the edge when you hold it up to the light. Its aromas and flavors are shy at first but open up with time in the glass to reveal dark red-berry and blackberry scents, leading into a full, smooth flavor that coats the palate. Fresh-fruit acidity and soft tannins become more apparent as you taste the wine, but it’s easy and ready to drink on its own or with cheese or nuts. As is typical of Port, its 19.5% alcohol is a brooding presence, but it doesn’t show up as harshness or heat. U.S. importer: Wine in Motion, Newark, N.J. (Dec. 27, 2020)

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Bonpas Grande Réserve des Challiéres Ventoux

Bonpas Ventoux

Startlingly good for the price, this red Ventoux wine is made from typical Southern Rhône grapes: Syrah and Grenache show themselves clearly in bright red-berry and plum fruit, fragrant black pepper, and a subtle hint of bacon on the nose and palate, with pepper and intriguing stony minerality on the palate. Mourvèdre and Carignan are also in the blend. Good acidic balance makes it a fine companion with food, and palatable but distinct tannic astringency in the finish suggests at least moderate aging potential. It’s probably above midway in the label’s 11-14% range, but it’s not hot nor harsh. This wine may not be easy to find, but grab it if you can.

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If the Ventoux Grande Réserve de Challieres is hard to find, check Wine’Searcher for the similar Côtes du Rhône Réserve de Bonpas.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for dozens of other wines from Ventoux.

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Gérard Bertrand Crémant de Limoux Brut Rosé

Cremant de Limoux

Something about a French sparkling wine named in honor of the third, French-loving American president seemed just right to me, and the proof of the bottle was in the tasting: This good, pink-shaded, Pinot Noir-laced sparkler from Limoux in the French Pyrenees hit the spot, and it’s just as good for a quiet evening at home as it is for a celebration.

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Follow this Wine-Searcher link to read more about Crémant de Limoux and browse listings for dozens of other sparkling wines from the region. Read article.