Experience Italy Wine Tasting

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Castello di Bossi Estate

Our Experience Italy Wine Tasting is on for tomorrow, and we’ve finalized the list of wines we’ll be sampling. This tasting will feature a dozen wines to represent many of Italy’s most renowned wine making regions. Here’s a little information about each wine:

The whites:

Cleto Chiarli Blanc de Blancs Brut (Modena). 50% Chardonnay, 50% Grechetto Gentile. Dry and beautifully sparkling with lychee fruit and floral notes.

Cantini del Taburno Falanghina (Campania). 100% Falanghina. Ripe and full-bodied with notes of pineapple and pear.

Tenuta Lisciandrini Cataratto (Sicily). 100% Catarratto. Full-bodied and bold with distinct lemony acidity.

The reds:

Giacomo Fenocchio Barbera d’Alba (Piemonte). 100% Barbera. Dry with notes of dark chocolate and plums. Aged for 6 months in stainless steel, then 6 months in Slavonian oak.

Paolo Scavino Dolcetto d’Alba (Piemonte). 100% Dolcetto. Dry and medium-bodied with bright acidity and cherry, blueberry, and spice notes.

Morgante Nero d’Avola (Sicily). 100% Nero d’Avola. Strikingly ruby-red in color with notes of vanilla, cherries, blackberries, and a hint of smokiness.

Argiolas Costera (Sardinia). 100% Cannonau. Full-bodied with lots of fruit and ripe strawberry, black cherry, and herbal notes, along with some spice. Cannonau is also known as Grenache or Garnacha.

Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico (Tuscany). 100% Sangiovese. Medium-to-full-bodied with notes of cherries, plums, and a bit of vanilla from its 6 months in oak. One of Italy’s most iconic wines, Chianti is famously food-friendly.

Zenato Alanera Rosso Veronese (Verona). 55% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich and full-bodied with notes of cherries, prunes, tobacco, and coffee.

Galardi Terre di Lavoro (Campania). 80% Aglianico, 20% Piedirosso. Big, bold, and structured with notes of cherries, cassis, tobacco, and leather. Would pair perfectly with a too-big ribeye.

Falesco Montiano “Trentanni” (Lazio). 100% Merlot. Full-bodied and elegant with notes of berries, vanilla, tobacco, and spice. Aged 18 months in French oak.

Felline Primitivo di Manduria (Puglia). 100% Primitivo. An ancestor of Zinfandel, Primitivo makes big, ripe, fruit-forward wines, with a little more earthiness than their new world counterparts.

This tasting will take place tomorrow (Saturday, 3/11) from 2-7 p.m. – we hope to see you there!

(Image source: Winebow.)

 

Top 5 Cold Weather Cocktails

cocktail-1705561_1920As much as it depresses me to admit it, especially after the two weeks of balmy, summer-like temperatures we just had here in the Hudson Valley, it looks like we’re in for a cold weekend. But don’t disappear into your blanket cocoon just yet, because nothing helps to keep out the chill like a strong, boozy, winter cocktail.

Don’t get me wrong – no one is saying you can’t drink a Manhattan on a 90-degree day, but sweating profusely over a glass of bourbon is as deeply unpleasant as it is a great way to give yourself a headache. Cocktails like the ones I’m about to mention are best enjoyed while sitting by the fireplace after shoveling the driveway or after a long day of cross-country skiing.

Anyway, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are 5 cocktails that are perfect for when it’s too cold to do anything but sit inside and have a drink.

Manhattan
Having been around since the 1800s, the Manhattan is about as classic a cocktail as you can make. There’s a lot of debate about which whiskey and which vermouth make the best Manhattan – some swear by rye whiskey, while others use bourbon for a slightly sweeter cocktail. Then there’s the question of whether it’s wasteful to make a cocktail with top-shelf whiskey. The bottom line is cheap whiskey won’t ruin your Manhattan, but good whiskey will make it that much better.

Ingredients
2 oz. Rye whiskey (Tuthilltown Spirits Manhattan Rye is fantastic)
1 oz. Sweet vermouth (extra points for Carpano Antica Formula)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry (optional but highly recommended)

Directions
Combine the rye, vermouth, and bitters in a shaker with ice. Shake or stir well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. (Variations: swap out the rye whiskey for scotch, and you have a Rob Roy. Use 1/2 oz. sweet and 1/2 oz. dry vermouth and it’s a Perfect Manhattan.) [Recipe from Chowhound.]

Suburban
I stumbled across this cocktail while researching variations on the Manhattan, and by the time I finished drinking my first Suburban, I continued to stumble for the rest of the night. This heavy hitter got me through the brutally cold winter of 2014 and is still one of my favorites.

Ingredients
1 1/2 oz. Rye whiskey
1/2 oz. Dark rum (try it with Albany Distilling Co Quackenbush Stillhouse Rum)
1/2 oz Port
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters

Directions
Stir all ingredients with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (Variations: none. It’s perfect – don’t mess with it.) [Recipe from Esquire.]

Hot Buttered Rum
Hot Buttered Rum might be the quintessential winter cocktail, right after Robitussin in Gatorade and Swiss Miss hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. While it’s delicious in its classic form, the nice thing about it is that you can replace the rum with pretty much whatever brown spirit you have in your cabinet.

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
2 cups water
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup dark rum (Myers, Gosling’s, or Appleton Estate work great)

Directions
Combine water, butter, brown sugar, and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. (Variations: replace the rum with bourbon, rye, scotch, brandy, or añejo tequila.) [Recipe from Epicurious.]

Moscow Mule
This spicy cocktail is especially effective at getting the chill out if you use a good, spicy ginger beer, like Reed’s Extra Ginger or Natural Brew Outrageous Ginger Ale.

Ingredients
2 oz. Vodka (Peace Vodka from Catskill Distilling Company is a great option)
1/2 oz. Fresh lime juice
3 oz. Ginger beer
Lime wedge for garnish

Directions
Combine vodka and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a mug filled with ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime slice. [Recipe from The New York Times.]

Lagavulin, neat
While not for everyone, Lagavulin is undoubtedly one of the quickest ways to warm up on a blustery winter night. This cocktail is by far the most challenging on this list to make, so read the directions carefully.

Ingredients
Lagavulin 16 (amount may vary)

Directions
Pour Lagavulin 16 into your favorite glass. Add nothing. Sip slowly. [Recipe from Ron Swanson.]

Is your favorite winter cocktail missing from this list? Let us know in a comment or give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter!

Spain & Portugal Wine Tasting

 

Our Spain & Portugal Wine Tasting is tomorrow afternoon (Saturday, 10/22 from 2-7 p.m.), which means we’re about to open up twelve wines for you to taste, many of which are brand new to our store. Here’s a little bit of information about each one!

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Vineyards in Rioja, Spain (photo by flickr user colhou)

 

Fado White (Portugal – Alentejo) – dry, crisp, and minerally with notes of tropical fruits. The name “Fado” refers to a genre of music that originated in Portugal in the early 1800s.
Cortes de Cima Chaminé White Blend (Portugal – Alentejo) – soft and fruit with crisp acidity and notes of pear and orange peel. Would be perfect with veggie dishes or white fish.
Bodegas Tobía “Oscar Tobia” Reserva Rioja (Spain – Rioja) – oaky and spicy with hints of dark cherry, blackberry, and tobacco. A blend of Tempranillo and Graciano The “Reserva” designation means the wine has been aged for three years, at least one of which is in oak.
EGO Bodegas Infinito Red Blend (Spain – Jumilla) – bold, oaky, and full-bodied with hints of red and black fruit and tobacco. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Monastrell, this wine has been aged in French and American oak barrels for 18 months.
Vinos de Arganza Encanto (Spain – Bierzo) – oaky and balanced, this wine’s notes of blackberries and blueberries would make it a perfect match for grilled meat, though it would not overpower some heavier fish dishes. Aged for 3 months in American oak barrels.
Perescuma Red Blend (Portugal – Alentejo) – ripe and oaky with plum notes and silky tannins. A fine-tuned blend of Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez (Tempranillo), and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Syrah (Portugal – Lisboa) – notes of dark berries and chocolate with silky tannins and a long finish. Aged in French oak for 15 months before bottling, then bottle-aged for another 12 months before its release.
Bodegas Juan Gil “Bluegray” (Spain – Priorat) – notes of black cherry and star anise with firm tannins. This blend of Garnacha, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in French oak for 12 months.
Vino Guerra “Armas de Guerra” Mencia (Spain – Bierzo) – made from the Mencia grape, this medium-to-full-bodied wine is loaded with floral and berry notes with a hint of smoke on the finish.
Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco Crianza (Spain – Rioja) – notes of red fruit, liquorice, and spice, with a little bit of smoke. Aged in 16 months in French and American oak. The “Crianza” designation means the wine was aged for 2 years prior to its release, at least one of which was in oak.
Cabeça de Toiro Reserva Red (Portugal – Ribatejo) – this hearty wine is a blend of two of Portugal’s most famous grapes, Touriga Nacional and Castelao. Expect big, jammy fruit with notes of ripe berries, flowers, and chocolate.
Teorema Old Vines Garnacha (Spain – Calatayud) – full-bodied and smooth with notes of ripe strawberries, plums, and cocoa. This 100% Garnacha wine was aged in French oak for 9 months.

And there you have it  – we hope you see something you’d like, and we hope to see you at the tasting!

Wine Review – June’s Best Values

quadreviewFinding a great bottle of wine for $8 or $10 can sometimes feel even better than finding one for $50. If you’re spending that kind of money, the wine will most likely be excellent, but really, it had better be. On the off chance that it isn’t, it’s just a huge disappointment. On the other hand, if an $8 bottle of wine turns out to be really good, it’s a pleasant surprise (and if it’s awful, it only cost you 8 bucks).

It’s been a while since we posted our last review, so we picked out four of our favorites from our $7.99, $9.99, and $11.99 bins for an extra-special quadruple review. So in price order from lowest to highest, here are our thoughts on these tasty picks from our discount bins:

Porta do Castelo Vinho Regional Alentejano 2013

Portugal – Alentejo

($7.99 + tax; 40% Trincadeira, 40% Touriga Nacional, 20% Tinta Caiada)

This rustic red blend is made from two of Portugal’s best-known grapes, Trincadeira and Touriga Nacional, along with Tinta Caiada, which is primarily used as a blending grape. This medium-dark, purplish red boasts aromas of black cherries, chocolate, and a hint of licorice. On the palate, the Porta do Castelo delivers notes of black currant, spicy oak, and cocoa powder, with a little bit of sour cherry on the finish. Portugal has a reputation for producing fantastic value wines, and this is certainly no exception. This wine would pair beautifully with some ruby port-braised short ribs.

Nicolas 2012 Pinot Noir

France – Pays d’Oc

($9.99; 100% Pinot Noir)

While France is generally known for its lighter, softer Pinot Noirs, the Nicolas 2012 Pinot Noir behaves a bit more like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Cabernet Franc. A bit rough around the edges and just a smidge past medium-bodied, this surprisingly dark red starts with a nose of spicy oak and blackberries and boasts notes of oak, dark plum, and a bit of smoke and fresh mint leaf on the finish. This is a rare find: a $10 Pinot Noir that could easily stand up to a grilled steak.

Roberston Winery 2012 Pinot Noir

South Africa – Robertson, Western Cape

($9.99; 100% Pinot Noir)

If you’re looking for an easy-drinking, light-as-can-be, summertime red, look no further than the Robertson Winery 2012 Pinot Noir. This South African Pinot Noir is on the opposite end of the Pinot Noir section from Nicolas’ take. It pours translucent red with dark accents and boasts substantial aromas of black peppercorns, fresh blueberries, and sour cherries. On the palate, however, it is much milder, with notes of ripe strawberries, sour cherries, and a nice amount of acidity that balances out the teeming fruit. You won’t find any of the smokiness that is typical of South African wines, so it wouldn’t overpower a salad with arugula, grilled chicken, goat cheese, and sliced strawberries.

Aveleda Follies White

Portugal – Minho

($11.99; 50% Alvarinho, 50% Loureiro)

One of our favorites year after year, Follies White is made from Alvarinho (see: Albariño) and Loureiro. This wine is exceptionally light in color, yet deceptively full in body, with focused, citrusy fruit, along with a some floral overtones and a refreshing snap of acidity. While great on its own, this crisp white blend goes nicely with spicy Thai green curry.

Given their high quality-to-price ratio (and nice labeling), all of these wines would be perfect for a party or event. As with all the wines in our discount bins, they enjoy a 15% half case discount (6 bottles) and a 20% full-case discount (12 bottles), even on mixed cases, in case you want to try all four.

Tim’s Top 5 Barbecue Wines

Memorial Day weekend is almost upon us, and we’re willing to bet that most of you are either going to barbecues or planning your own (weather permitting, of course). To help you pick out the best wines to pair with cookout classics, we had Tim Sweeney, owner of Stone Ridge Wine & Spirits, pick out his top five barbecue-friendly wines. Whether you’re slow-cooking some ribs in the smoker, searing steaks over some red hot coals, or just enjoying a few glasses of wine with some friends, these wines will be a sure hit at any Memorial Day party. Here they are, in no particular order:

The Messenger White Wine #1The Messenger White Wine #1 (NV)

($17.99 + tax; 13.4% alc)

Ripe, refreshing, and slightly off-dry, The Messenger White Wine #1 is a blend of 69% Sauvignon Blanc, 18% Muscat Canelli, and 13% Riesling. While it would pair perfectly with spicier dishes thanks to its slight sweetness and notes of tropical fruit and spice, this multi-vintage wine is also excellent on its own.

Fiddletown Cellars 2011 Old Vine ZinfandelFiddletown Cellars 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel

($21.99 + tax; 14.5% alc)

Zinfandel has always been one of my favorite grapes, so when Tim picked out the Fiddletown Cellars 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel for this list, I had no complaints. This full-bodied, jammy beauty of a red is bursting with berry and black cherry aromas and a noticeable hint of fragrant vanilla on the finish, making it a great match for your favorite barbecued rib recipe.

47 Friends California Table Red Blend47 Friends California Red Table Wine (NV)

($11.99 + tax; 13.8% alc)

47 Friends California Table Red Blend was created to take the guesswork out of finding a high quality, affordably priced everyday wine. This fruit-forward, easy-drinking red is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 20% Zinfandel, and 10% other grape varietals, and would pair perfectly with burgers, steaks, chicken, or whatever else you happen to be grilling.

Orlana Rosé Vinho Verde (NV)Orlana Rose Vinho Verde

($9.99 + tax; 10.5% alc)

Vinho Verde (“green wine”) is a style of wine that originated in Northern Portugal. These young, fresh, and slightly fizzy wines are available in white, rosé, or (less commonly) red, and are made from a host of Portuguese grape varieties. Orlana Rosé Vinho Verde is exceptionally light and fruity with fresh berries on the palate, and is a fantastic all-day sipper for a barbecue. At $9.99 a bottle (and 20% off cases!), this is the ultimate summer party wine.

Lava Cap 2011 El Dorado Cabernet SauvignonLava Cap 2011 El Dorado Cabernet Sauvignon

($19.99 + tax; 14.5% alc)

Sometimes called the “King of Grapes,” the California Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most recognizable wines in the world. Lava Cap Winery’s take on this legendary style is a full-bodied yet incredibly smooth wine with notes of black cherry, vanilla, and a hint of spice. This dark and silky red is just begging to be served with a seared ribeye.

From now until the end of the long weekend (let’s call it Monday at 9 p.m.), all of these wines are 10% off individual bottles, so it’s easier than ever to make sure your party is fully stocked.

On a more somber note, with all the grilling, drinking, and celebrating going on, it’s easy to forget what Memorial Day is really all about – it’s about remembering the brave men and women who lost their lives in defense of our country. In honor of those fallen heroes, we hope that you celebrate safely and have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Introducing Saturday’s Tasting Wines, Round 2

 

(Mostly) accurate depiction of this Saturday's tasting wines.

(Mostly) accurate depiction of this Saturday’s tasting wines.

Are you a fan of big wines? And by big wines, I mean wines that you’d pair with a grilled ribeye, or a spicy bowl of chili con carne, or some ultra-pungent blue cheese? Then this Saturday’s Ridiculously Big Wines Tasting is for you. Here’s a little bit of background on each wine we’ll be pouring:

Olivier LaFont Ventoux Blanc 2013

A blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Bourboulenc, this full-bodied white is fruit-forward with citrus, peach, and subtle floral notes.

Scott Family Arroyo Seco 2012 Chardonnay

This California beauty is produced from vine clones from Dijon, the birthplace of some of the Burgundy’s most prestigious wines. Full-bodied with notes of apricot and tropical fruit, this wine is oaked, but not overly so; 8 months of sur lies aging in French oak impart a subtle creamy vanilla note. 

Honoro Vera 2013 Monastrell

Produced by Gil Family Estates, the folks behind Ateca, Juan Gil, and the highly-rated Clio, Honoro Vera 2013 Monastrell is made from 100% organic grapes from the northwest of Jumilla. The wine is dark, rich, and aromatic with notes of ripe berries, fresh herbs, and a hint of peppery spice.

Marchesi de’ Cordano Trinita 2007 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Closer to black than to red in color, this well-aged, perfectly balanced Montepulciano d’Abruzzo defines “big.” Pronounced notes of ripe berries, dried flowers, and pleasant spice are rounded out nicely by 12 months of oak aging and an additional 12 months of bottle conditioning.

Tertulia Cellars Redd Brand NV Syrah Blend

Part of a highly limited release of 322 cases, Redd Brand Syrah is a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre. This hearty Washington state red is described by the winemaker as vibrant and muscular with notes of blueberry, smoked game, cassis, and lemon peel.

Château Fougas Maldoror 2005

2005 in Bordeaux is widely regarded as a spectacular vintage, and the Château Fougas Maldoror 2005 is certainly no exception. Complex and layered with notes of blackerry, cassis, and cedar, this wine is drinking beautifully, but will continue to develop with age, if you can resist opening it now!

Domaine Thunevin-Calvet Cuvée Constance 2010 Roussillon

Hailing from the Côtes du Roussillon AOC, Domaine Thunevin-Calvet Cuvée Constance is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Carignan. The wine has been aged for just over a year in concrete tanks, rather than oak, allowing for bright, fresh, pronounced fruit character and hints of stone and minerality.

Sean Minor Wines 2009 Napa Red Blend

This classically huge California red blend is made up of 30% Merlot, 23% Petit Verdot, 17% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 10% Syrah, and 4% Malbec. The result is a hefty yet smooth wine with hints of cherries, blueberries, black currant, and vanilla, along with some woody undertones, thanks to careful aging in French and American oak.

Liberty School 2011 Merlot

California’s 2011 vintage was a tough one; rainfall was lacking, so yields were considerably lower than in previous years. But that didn’t stop Hope Family Wines from creating the standout Liberty School 2011 Merlot. Fermented in stainless steel and aged for 12 months in 50% French and 50% American oak, this dark, silky red is fruit-forward and well-structured with notes of dark plum, cherry, and bright, ripe berries.

Curtis Winery 2012 Cuvée Red

Having featured their 2010 Mourvedre in a previous tasting, we’re already big fans of Curtis Winery. Their 2012 Cuvée Red is a blend of 39% Grenache, 26% Mourvedre, 19% Cinsault, and 16% Syrah, resulting in a rich and smooth Rhône-style wine with notes of black currant, warm spice, and a long finish.

Hope Family Wines Candor Lot 5 Zinfandel

Since we enjoyed the Liberty School 2011 Merlot so much, we decided to feature another wine from Hope Family Wines. The Candor Lot 5 Zinfandel is a blend of several of their best vintages, which results in the perfect expression of the California Zin – robust, jammy, and smooth with lots of berries and a hint of spice.

90+ Cellars 2013 McLaren Vale Shiraz

If you’re not familiar with 90+ Cellars, you’re in for a treat. This Boston-based company buys the unsold wines from top-rated wineries, rebrands them with their own label, and sells them for a fraction of their original price. Boasting notes of dark plums, substantial spice, and a hint of vanilla on the finish, the 2013 McLaren Vale Shiraz is a veritable behemoth of a wine, and a perfect example of the style. You’ll be glad this one arrived just in time for barbecue season.

And that’s the lineup, as it stands – to taste any or all of these wines for FREE, stop by this Saturday anytime between 2 and 7 p.m., and tell as many of your friends as you can! As always, this lineup is subject to change, but that just means there might be a few pleasant surprises on the way.

Spirits Review: Roggen’s Rum

This bottle was full when I started this review (just kidding, I can still type).

This bottle was full when I started this review (just kidding, I am still able to type).

If you haven’t heard of Tuthilltown Spirits by now, you should stop reading this post, go to the nearest liquor store (preferably ours), and get yourself a bottle of literally anything they make. The prices are by no means low, but the quality of everything they make is outstanding (don’t believe me? Ask the New York Times’ Eric Asimov), and Roggen’s Rum, one of their more recent releases, is no exception. Here’s a bit of information on Roggen’s Rum, straight from Tuthilltown Spirits’ website:

Tuthilltown Spirits has teamed up with the Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz to produce a limited run of aged rum celebrating the history of the Hudson River commerce and the early pioneers of the Hudson Valley. Made from Louisiana blackstrap molasses and aged in a combination of new and former whiskey casks of American oak, this rum is rich and flavorful and has been compared to Cognac in its overall demeanor. The Roggen brothers emigrated to the Hudson Valley from Switzerland and opened a mercantile that serviced communities up and down the river trading in various commodities including rum. Each bottle sold generates a donation to the Huguenot Historical Society.

In addition to that, the label for this rum is based on the original bill of lading from the Roggen brothers’ mercantile, which was reproduced with the help/permission of the Huguenot Historical Society, according to Don, our sales representative for Tuthilltown Spirits.

And with all that said, it’s time to taste this rum; but first, here are some specifics.

Stats

Packaging: 750ml bottle

Alchol content: 40% (80 proof)

Price: $38.99 + tax

Aging: Aged in new and former whiskey casks; no age statement.

Appearance

This rum is a slightly cloudy deep golden color; on the glass, its legs are numerous and move at a moderate pace.

Aroma

Charred oak, butterscotch, black peppercorns, and a hint of apple pie spice.

Taste

Okay – when I said it was “time to taste this rum,” I half lied. I’ve tasted this many times before, so what I meant was, it’s time to enjoy a hefty pour of one of my favorite spirits. When I first tasted Roggen’s Rum, I could have mistaken it for a bourbon – whiskey barrel aging imparts a very whiskey-like taste to this spirit. The molasses, however, delivers a pleasant musty sharpness that you could either associate with rum, or, as Tuthilltown Spirits suggested, Cognac. This is nowhere near as sweet as many of the South/Central American and Carribean rums I’ve tasted. Tasting notes include charred oak, red pepper flakes, grape must, and burnt sugar, with an incredibly long, oaky finish.

Final Thoughts

I have yet to try a product from Tuthilltown Spirits that I wasn’t impressed with – I even love their vodkas, and I am not normally the biggest vodka fan. This is a rum for a diehard bourbon drinker – it’s dry, smoky, and spicy, and at 80 proof, it’s not too fiery to drink neat. While I personally prefer it on its own (or with a cigar), I have a feeling it would do wonders for a Suburban.