News & Events


WFH Cocktail Break with Ransom Sweet Vermouth

unnamed (1).jpg
Ransom Wines & Spirits, founded by Tad Seestedt in 1997, is an artisan winery and distillery located in McMinnville, Oregon. Tad named the operation Ransom to represent the debt incurred to start the business; Tad was paying his own ransom to realize his dream.

Ransom Sweet Vermouth harkens back to the flourishing cocktail culture of the Belle Époque, when joie de vivre filled the air, and vermouth made the evolutionary leap from charlatan snake oil and disguised refuse to a distinguished mainstay of the era’s most popular drinks: the Martinez, the Martini, the Marguerite, and the Manhattan. As a revival in the mixing of these classic cocktails encouraged us to bring such endangered spirits as Old Tom Gin back into production, we yearned for an aperitif with the aromatic complexity and grace to complement our spirits. So began the era of vermouth at Ransom.

Ransom’s production of vermouth is the great bridge between their winemaking and distilling trades. Beginning in the winery with small lots of aromatic white grapes, Tad Seestedt carefully ferments and blends wines of elegance and character. Tad employs traditional techniques to maximize varietal expression, such as fermenting Gewurztraminer on the skins, making botrytised Riesling and employing carefully controlled oxidation of wine in barrel. Taking a cue from classic European vermouth houses, they employ a solera system, which allows consistency and complexity to maintain similar across vintages.

In the distillery, he alambically distills and barrel ages brandy from the house-made base wine for fortification. Next, the vermouth is infused with a blend of aromatic botanicals divined through five years of trials. Sweetened ever so slightly with a blend of Muscat grape juice, maple syrup and turbinado sugar and gently filtered before bottling. While this is an original recipe, the Ransom Sweet Vermouth is based on the classic formula that is rooted in flavors of wormwood and quinate bark. It lends depth, complexity and elegance to cocktails both classic and modern.

Critics Choice:
Voted Top 100 Spirits for 2020 by Wine Enthusiast


The Tasting Panel - 92pts (3/1/2015)
“With a list of 24 “home-grown” and imported botanicals on its label, the dream sequence of flavors skips across the tongue. Some standout notes include sarsaparilla, cinnamon bark, black mission figs and cacao nibs. You won’t want to wake up.”

Wine Enthusiast - 90pts (11/1/2016)
“Packed with citrus and dried fruit, this bold, tawny-orange vermouth has a scent that suggests dried orange peel and dried fig, while the palate mixes grapefruit, orange and honey. The herbal finish is redolent of warm chamomile, cardamom and baking spice.”


Try it in a cocktail!
Ingredients:
1.5 oz Ransom Whipper Snapper Whiskey
1 oz Ransom Sweet Vermouth
.5 oz Bordiga Maraschino Liqueur
.5 oz fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake ‘till chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a twist of orange rind, enjoy!


Happy BOO-zy Halloween!

Though this year’s Halloween looks a little different from those of years’ passed — that’s no reason to completely give up on the holiday and on enjoying a fun adult beverage.

From a severed hand to some sparkling skulls & roses, we carry some spooky labels that are sure to make it a boozy-tiful Halloween!

HalloweenWinesofAnarcy.jpg

WINES OF ANARCHY
Did your candy plans get cancelled this year? Stay in and rock out with some punk rock sparklers from Azienda Agricola Cirelli. Nature sets the rules and dictates the rhythm of every activity at Francesco Cirelli’s organic farm in Abruzzo. The animals’ interaction with the land offers natural grazing and fertilization of the vines, which means there is no need to use harmful chemical substances. A nod to Guzzista Motorcycles and Sons of Anarchy, the Wines of Anarchy project is made with biodyncically farmed grapes purchased from Francesco’s friend and neighbor. The highly gulpable fizzy Trebbiano and juicy rosé of Montepulciano are fun and vibrant dry sparkling wines, with lively, energetic bubbles.
Cirelli NV ‘Wines of Anarchy’ Frizzante, Abruzzo
Cirelli NV ‘Wines of Anarchy’ Frizzante Rose, Abruzzo

HalloweenLabels.jpg

HADEN FIG
They say at Halloween, a witch’s companions are the cat and the owl. Follow the night bird right to the wine aisle this Halloween. Haden Fig is Erin and Jordan Nuccio’s realization of a dream to produce exceptional wines from the Willamette valley. They secure the best fruit possible from organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed vineyards. During her work at the Portland Audubon Society as a volunteer veterinarian, Jordan was enamored with the Northern Saw-Whet owl. A natural predator for vineyard pests and an essential part of a healthy symbiotic vineyard and ecosystem, the Saw-Whet owl was chosen for the label as a symbol of their commitment to sustainable agriculture.
Haden Fig 2016 ‘Juliette’ Chardonnay, Willamette Valley [AG 94pts]
Haden Fig 2018 Pinot Gris Rose, Willamette Valley
Haden Fig 2018 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Haden Fig 2014 Pinot Noir, Le Puits Sec Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills

MICROBIO
The tree is alive! Coined by some as “El Mago de las Verdejos” (Wizard of the Verdejos), winemaker Ismael Gozalo practices his sorcery in a medieval underground cellar located in his native town of Nieva. Barrels, fudres, anforas, demijohns, stainless steel…young, old, skin contact, sparkling, biological and oxidative aging…you name it, he’s got it. This 100% Verdejo has a beautiful nose that bursts with notes of white peach, orange peel and grapefruit. There is wonderful vibrancy and salinity on the palate, complemented by notes of stone fruit.
MicroBio Wines 2017 ‘Microbio’ Verdejo, Spain (Rueda) [WA 93+pts 2018 Vintage]

OWEN ROE
With a name like Sinister Hand, you know there’s got to be a haunting backstory. Back in the 17th century, two revolutionary Irish families, the O’Neills and O’Reillys, were battling over a particularly sought after plot of land. Legend has it that they turned to a rowing competition to settle their dispute; the first to touch the land would secure rule. When the O’Neill’s boat stared to fall behind, a member of the crew grabbed his own sword, cut off his hand and threw it ashore, winning his family the prize! Owen Roe’s Sinister Hand Rhone-inspired blend erupts with perfumed aromas of bright raspberry and herbal tea while the Mourvèdre brings a savory note to the nose. The palate is plush and textural with the perfect amount of tannins, acidity, and an upbeat, fruity finish that brings it all together.
Owen Roe 2019 ‘Sinister Hand’ Red Rhone Blend, Columbia Valley

DEL MONO
This ‘see no evil’ monkey wine is the brainchild of winemaker Matias Michelini. Located in the Uco Valley of Tupungato, Mendoza, Matias strives to make experimental wines expressive of the region’s cool climate and high altitude terroir. His wines are extremely low production, drawn from multiple inspirations, regions, and styles. Equal parts Malbec and Syrah, Del Mono is crafted from village fruit sourced from sustainable, local growers in Tupungato and aged in concrete eggs. Brambly blackberry, dark raspberry and spice on the nose with a rich, broad and almost chocolaty palate; this wine is a stunning bargain.
Del Mono 2019 Tinto (Malbec/Syrah), Tupungato

HalloweenGinquila.jpg

GINQUILA
We guarantee you’ve never tried anything like this. Are you brave enough to test it out? Skeptic Ginquila, made locally in Melrose Park, Illinois, is a specially infused cold vacuum distilled gin that is finished in tequila barrels. Ginquila is inspired by the cocktail called Cantarito, which is a paloma style cocktail served in a clay pot. Fusing this concept with the vibrant flavors of South America, Skeptic distillery infused a gin base with fresh tropical fruit and spices including papaya, grapefruit, orange, lime, cinnamon, thyme, and chipotle and arbol peppers. But why stop there? Just to make sure this spirit is like nothing you’ve ever seen, they finished it in tequila barrels for a few months.
Skeptic Ginquila (80 proof)


Warehouse Tasting & Sale 2020

This October marks our 20th anniversary. What a long strange trip it’s been!

Thank you for being on this incredible ride with us. There will be more fanfare (and schwag) in the weeks and probably months to come.

A time-honored tradition of ours has been to host the Illinois beverage community at our Pilsen warehouse for the annual Cream Warehouse Tasting & Sale usually held around the last day of summer or first day of fall depending on your vibe. We grill encased meats, listen to music, and showcase new and upcoming releases, dust off some old favorites, and sharpen the pencil on some overall deliciousness that needs attention, fans and good homes. We skipped last year due to office renovations. For obvious reasons, we cannot have an in-person tasting this year.

Always meant to be a celebratory tasting—our thank you to the community—we have decided to try something new. Our Warehouse “Tasting” & Sale items are going virtual and will drop 9.21.2020 (trade only)! We hope you find many items that can continue to make you profitable this fall, winter and beyond.

We appreciate your business and support now more than ever. Stay safe. Stay strong.

WarehouseTasting2020_MT_NewArrivals-2.jpg

WarehouseTasting2020_MT_Bubbles.jpg

WarehouseTasting2020_MT_Sake.jpg

WarehouseTasting2020_MT_Isole.jpg

WarehouseTasting2020_MT_Madeira.jpg

WarehouseTasting2020_MT_BigBottles.jpg

WarehouseTasting2020_MT_FallFav_MayorPingree.jpg


FEATURED: Skeptic Distillery



“I always thought most liquor tasted harsh, needing mixers or chasers to drink. I wanted fresher tasting and smoother spirits. As a homebrewer and craft beer lover, I saw that cold distillation would allow me to take the huge variety and creativity of craft beer into the whiskey and gin world, and create entirely new, fresh tasting spirits.” - Karl Loepke, President

Located in Melrose Park, Illinois, Skeptic Distillery is spearheading the future of spirits distilling. They are using a little known process called cold vacuum distillation, and are one of only a handful in the world using this cutting-edge technology.

Vacuum distillation is a process that distills spirits at cooler temperatures (around 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit), without applying high heat. High heat distillation can change the quality of many aromas. In this vacuum, ethanol distills at room temperature, allowing the delicate and otherwise unattainable botanical flavors to blossom, which then shine through in the finished spirit.

Founder Karl Loepke custom build Skeptic’s two vacuum distillation systems. One is used to craft their award-winning gin and vodka, and one is used to convert beer into whiskey. The resulting spirits are smooth, versatile, fresh, and flavorful. The vodka and gin are both corn based, naturally gluten free, and free of artificial additives or sugars.

Social Media
Instagram: @skepticdistillery
Facebook: @skepticchicago
Twitter: @skepticchicago


FEATURED: Valentina Passalacqua

We have imported and distributed the wines of Valentina Passalacqua in Illinois since October 2019.

We are aware of the arrest of Valentina’s father, Settimio and the allegations of underpaying migrant workers as well as not providing safe working conditions in his agricultural businesses. We are also aware that, while not formally charged, Valentina has been implicated for allegedly using these same workers in her vineyards as well as still having ownership and involvement in her father’s businesses in question.

Valentina maintains she runs her wine business independently and treats and pays her workers fairly.

We take all these allegations very seriously and have asked Valentina for detailed information, transparency and a plan of action going forward. We will monitor this information and process all developments, independent news and reports, as well as do our best to follow the facts and our feelings before deciding whether or not to continue importing her wines. We believe in fairness and due process.

We currently have a selection of Valentina Passalacqua wines in stock. Our sales team does not have to sell these wines if they do not want to. We also understand if our trade clients do not want to purchase and support these wines, need to pause or would like any of these wines picked up. Regardless of the outcome, we will be donating a portion of the sales of this inventory to charities of our choosing and supporting local organizations defending migrant worker and immigration rights.

To be clear, in order for us to continue a collaboration, we require all workers be treated with dignity, safety, fairness and paid a livable wage. We also ask for reparations and real leadership to help dismantle the systemic abuse of migrant agricultural workers in this region.

We are learning more about the ‘caporalato’ phenomenon, a system prevalent in Puglia, that exploits migrant workers, violates minimum wage requirements, imposes inhumane working conditions and perpetuates racial and economic segregation.

We realize sadly that this is not the only region, country or industry where worker exploitation exists. Hopefully with more awareness, accountability, transparency and collective leadership, positive changes will result around the world. As for Puglia, we hope that Valentina and her family can use their land, wealth and influence to be leaders in changing what appears to be a broken system. We are all too familiar with broken systems in the United States. We all can do better.

We believe that regardless of size or scope, every business must pay their workers a fair wage, treat them well and provide access to healthcare. Businesses must also not discriminate based on gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Anything less is not real or sustainable and should not be acceptable or tolerated in a free society.

Andy Pates
Cream Wine Co


FEATURED: New Producer Alert! The seaside ciders of Cidrerie du Leguer

CidrerieduLeguerOrchard.jpg

Cédric Le Bloas was born and raised in Brittany, France, a five hour, scenic drive west from Paris and a welcome refuge from the tourist’s beaten path. With a wild and lengthy rugged coastline, the peninsula is known for it’s pink-ish hued sands, thick forests and strong Celtic heritage. Compared to Normandy, the well-known heart of cider production in France and Brittany’s inland neighbor to the north, the more maritime, extreme climate of Brittany lends a hand in producing excellent artisanal ciders with a higher level of acidity, bitterness and ability to handle a little more residual sugar.

Cédric left Brittany to study agriculture and travel through France, but he and his wife Kate eventually made their return to the peninsula, upon which discovering a four hectare large, “almost abandoned” cider farm in the town of Lannion. Featuring granite soils with various levels of clay and a diverse mix of both heirloom and indigneous apple trees, it was here that the couple embarked on their next adventure, Cidrerie du Léguer, celebrating their inaugral 2016 vintage soon after.

Cédric and his wife (along with their trusty labrador, Goël) farm organically, but the truth is even more simple than this: they mow the law, prune the trees, and encourage natural predators for pest control. That’s it. In true Bronson Alcott, Fruitlands-era spirit, Cédric collects apples only once they have fallen, putting them in crates to further ripen. From harvest to bottling, all work is done by hand and with minimal intervention. Instead of filtering the juice, Cédric uses the old-school process of “keeving” to clean the musts and remove pectin. Apples are washed with simply water, all fermentations occur naturally and the ciders are bottled with no sulfur or other additives.

Still in the early years of production, Cidrerie du Leguer’s terroir-driven ciders already have an undeniable depth and toothsome grip. Cédric is continuing to focus on experimentation, tasting and learning. His ciders are neither totally rustic, nor polished and suave; they feel rounded and brimming with flavor, yet crystalline and direct. The key, as Cédric sees it, is learning to tame the apple’s high acidity and fine but very pervasive tannins. Early experiments with black currant (for the rosé) and hops have resulted in beautiful, integrated ciders that have more complexity, yet don’t lose their vinous quality. Cidrerie de Leuger’s first chapter has begun, and we could not be more excited to introduce these ciders to Illinois.



Cidrerie du Leguer 2018 ‘BrutBrut’ Cidre, Cidre de Bretagne IGP
Cidrerie du Leguer 2018 ‘Granit’ Cidre, Cidre de Bretagne IGP
Cidrerie du Leguer 2018 ‘Granit’ Rose Cidre, Brittany
Cidrerie du Leguer 2018 ‘Premium’ Cidre, Cidre de Bretagne IGP


Happy Presidents' Day! Drink like George Washington

This fortified wine has a longevity that is simply remarkable. Plus, it doesn’t go bad once opened! The powerful aromas and vivid flavors last for centuries, and upon open, the wine can still last for years without losing character.

Madeira has great acidity that makes it a wonderful accompaniment to any meal. Egg tarts (pasteis de nata) are a staple in any Portuguese bakery. Walk into a cafe on an afternoon, and you’ll certainly see people enjoying their custard tarts with a small glass of semi-dry madeira. (Guess what? You can try this combo at Fat Rice!) The harmony between the meal and the madeira will depend on the acidity, alcohol content, and degree of sweetness the madeira possesses, which brings us to the different kinds of madeira wine.

Madeira = The Everlasting Wine
This fortified wine has a longevity that is simply remarkable. Plus, it doesn’t go bad once opened! The powerful aromas and vivid flavors last for centuries, and upon open, the wine can still last for years without losing character.

Madeira has great acidity that makes it a wonderful accompaniment to any meal. Egg tarts (pasteis de nata) are a staple in any Portuguese bakery. Walk into a cafe on an afternoon, and you’ll certainly see people enjoying their custard tarts with a small glass of semi-dry madeira. (Guess what? You can try this combo at Fat Rice!) The harmony between the meal and the madeira will depend on the acidity, alcohol content, and degree of sweetness the madeira possesses, which brings us to the different kinds of madeira wine.

Vintage Madeira

Vintage madeira, or Frasqueira, produced by the solera system are the island of Madeira’s claim to greatness. These wines are not simply a selection of the best wines from the best years, but they are made from particular ‘noble’ grape varieties after which the wines are named. These names not only describe the grape variety, but also describe the style.

Sercial is the driest of the wines. It is light in color, full-bodied and refreshing. Try this wine with toasted almonds, smoked fish, sushi, or sheep cheese.

Verdelho is a medium dry wine. It is golden in color. Try this wine with dry fruits, fresh cream soups and mushroom dishes.

Boal is a medium rich wine. It is full-bodied and fruity. Try this wine with tropical fruits, fruit tarts, soft cheese, or with older Boal try mature cheese.

Malvasia is a rich and oily wine. It is dark in color, full-bodied and aromatic. Try with walnuts, hazelnuts, fruit tarts, dark chocolate, pralines, and blue cheese.

Two Rare Madeira Grapes

You can only find the grape Bastardo in old vintages and soleras. Many Madeira drinkers have never seen a bottle, owing to its miniscule yields and vulnerability to insects, little was ever planted and even less was ever bottled on its own. Even though Bastardo is a sweet grape, the style of the vintage wines is often on the dry side. But some glorious old vintages do exist.

The Terrantez grape is hardly grown anymore, and with many vines killed from phylloxera, the wine is also rare to come by. However, efforts are underway to replant the variety. This wine can produce two styles of Madeira - rich and sweet or dry with a certain bitterness at the end.

Madeira = A Versatile Ingredient
Madeira is a multifunctional fortified wine! It can be used in baking, similar to the use of dry sherry. We remember Fat Rice once using it to make jelly cubes for a chocolate mousse cake; we love how that restaurant experiments a lot with madeira. Similarly, the wine can be used for savory recipes like adding it to classic Beef Wellington gravy or marinating pork chops. Cocktails! If you don’t like drinking madeira neat, then try it in a cocktail. Madeira can create complex and delicious cocktails - sweet or savory.

History & Trade Winds
Were it not for the sailors traveling to the Americas, Africa, and India, this grand wine might have never been. Trade winds took their ships to the Portuguese island of Madeira along their voyage; this island did not tax wine like those levied on the French wines. The American colonies perhaps drank madeira to defy taxes! Sailors would fill their ship with wine in Madeira as well as add brandy to prevent spoilage on the long journeys. Fortification, oxidation, and something else, unknown at the time, were at work creating the madeira style we have today: the sun. The blazing heat of the sun during the voyage transformed the flavor. These wines began to be called vina da roda “wines of the round voyage” as producers sent casks of the wine on voyages around the world in order to develop greater character from heating.

Today, once fortified, the wines either go through estufagem or canteiro to become heated.


FEATURED: Unpasteurized Cream 2020: Pizza and Natural Wine

UnpasteurizedCream_offsoiftradeinvite_2020 (1).jpg

Thank you for everyone who came out to the tasting. Much love to you all!

Invite artwork by our friend Catie Olson: http://www.catieolson.com/


#lovepotion: A Dozen Rosés

If you’re like us, we’d prefer a dozen rosés to a dozen roses any day. We’ve singled out (no pun intended!) several rosés that make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Looking for a list of all our rosés? Click here.

Domaine Montrose 1701 & Domaine Montrose Prestige
These are the top rosé wines by our favorite rosé producer Domaine Montrose, established in 1701 and family-owned since. Not only are the bottles simply beautiful, the wines can technically be a 3-in-1 gift!
1. A bottle of delicious rosé
2. Glass stopper turns the bottle into a reusable pitcher
3. Peel the label off and that’s one fine looking vase

Zorzal 2018 Terroir Unico Pinot Noir Rose, Tupungato
Is it too soon to start our countdown to spring? Probably, but at least this rosé from Zorzal tastes just as good in the snow. Crisp and vibrant with notes of strawberries, raspberries and fresh cut watermelon.

Le Fraghe 2018 ‘Rodon’ Bardolino Chiaretto: Le Fraghe means strawberries and is named after the wild strawberries that grow among the vines on this organic estate. Cue “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles. Not a Beatles fan? What about Shakespeare? This estate is only 29 minutes from Verona “the city of love” where the story of Romeo and Juliet unfolds.

Summer Water 2018 Rosé in both 750ml AND 187ml

How does a rosé with the name “Summer Water” tie into a cold, Chicago Valentine’s Day? This is where the idea of a love potion really comes into play. Perhaps if you give a bottle of this, that winter relationship just might make it to summer…#rawrr

Benanti 2018 Etna Rosato & Azores 2018 Rosé Vulcanico:
About to ASH the question? Does he/she MAGMA you crazy? Is it a relationship of great MAGMATUDE? We could go on and on, but seriously these volcanic wines are delicious and unique and perfect for that special someone

Villa Creek 2018 Rosé, Paso Robles
Grow with love. We’re not sure if those are vines or tree branches on the label. We are sure that the label is soothing to look at. This organic GMS blend showcases strawberries, melons and spring flowers.

Lammidia 2017 ‘Miscela’ Rosé, Abruzzo: Dame más gasolina! As the name of the wine anticipates (Miscela means blend in Italian), we are faced with a super blend of white, rosé and red wines intended to create an explosive mixture for enjoyability and drinkability. It’s the fuel to light that fire on V-day.

Absentee 2018 ‘I Love You My Dear’ Rosé & Chateau de Beru 2018 ‘Love Joy’ Rosé
Obvious choices for Valentine’s Day as they’re basically greeting cards wrapped on a bottle.

Domaine Isle Saint Pierre 2018 Rose, Mediterranee IGP
Can’t get away to an island this winter? Isle Saint Pierre rosé isn’t a bad place to start. This rosé is produced as a blend of saignée and direct pressed wine made from 100% free run juice. It has a lively and fruity nose, with hints of red fruit, dried fig and fresh notes of raspberry and gooseberry.


Cream Cocktails: Cupid's Salty Dog

CocktailFormatCupid.jpg Ingredients
- 1.5 oz Valentine White Blossom Vodka
- 1.5 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
- .5 oz Bordiga Vermouth Rosso di Torino
- .5 oz lime juice
- .5 oz simple syrup
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- pinch of salt

Directions: Shake and double strain into coupe glass that has been rimmed with a mix of kosher salt and crushed pink peppercorn.

Events Calendar

Happening Now on Twitter

Follow Cream on Twitter