The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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72  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2018 Malene Wines 2017 Camp 4 Vineyard Rosé of Mourvèdre, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County ($35) We have been tasting many styles within this trending category, but what makes this a standout is not only its flavor profile, but its texture and what I refer to as "alertness." The tones are wideawake: fresh, clean, savory, and focused. Winemaker Fintan du Fresne's new project, Malene, explores rosé with an elevated attention to its potential, spe- cifically with Rhône varieties. This Bandol-style wine is ageworthy with a nose of mountain brush and raspberry. White plum and apricot brighten the palate and grassy, heather notes broaden it. Rose petals, paprika, and nutmeg stylize it even further. 95 Black Stallion 2016 Chardonnay, Napa Valley ($20) Apple pie and vanilla make for a patriotic nosing. The palate speaks to crisp Asian pear, stone-y undertones, brown butter, and toffee oak. A lovely acidity keeps it fresh and food-friendly. 92 DELICATO FAMILY VINEYARDS Pata Negra Cava Brut Reserva NV, Spain ($15) Made in the traditional method, this pretty sparkler offers aromas of ripe green apple, orange peel, and honey. The delicate efferves- cence carries mineral notes and crisp pear. Bread dough enters mid-palate and finds balance in a lemon verbena finish. 91 J. GARCÍA CARRIÓN Jaume Serra Cristalino Cava Brut Rosé, Spain ($11) This blend of 80% Trepat and 20% Pinot Noir has a deep cran- berry hue. A nose of raspberry and cherry pit leads to bright, fresh notes of watermelon and strawberry. Tiny bubbles are pleasant on the palate, as is an underlying middle of wet stone. This charmer is a great value. 90 J. GARCÍA CARRIÓN SPIRITS Santa Teresa 1796 Solera Rum, Venezuela ($45) This single-estate rum is made from sugarcane grown on Santa Teresa property; the blending and bot- tling is also done on-site. The slow blending of 30 rums (through three styles of distillation) come together for spirits aged anywhere from four to 35 years. The nose continues to evolve, so as we sip, we return to grab additional olfactory notes of apricot and orange liqueur, as well as a defined salinity. The palate feel is luxurious: Chocolate-covered orange peel and new saddle become a liquid jewel that melts across the mouth, and the finish has a sweet resin-y quality. This overdelivers. 95 Bimini Gin, USA ($32) From the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this juniper- forward gin has a garden mélange of aromas: lemon peel, lavender, allspice, and coriander. The garden goes full bloom on the palate, with a brininess that accents the heather and blue floral notes while also allowing a sweetness to permeate from grapefruit and verbena. 92 Broken Shed Vodka, New Zealand ($27) Crafted from New Zealand whey—the Kiwis call it "milk honey"—and a custom process of water re-balancing, charcoal filtration, and blending makes for an expressive white spirit. The nose is graceful with vanilla and tropical fruit, and the palate's buoyancy adds a wonderful mouthfeel lifting up flavors of peach and butterscotch before the salty finish. 92 BROKEN SHED IMPORTS, LLC Amaro dell'Etna, Italy ($40) More than 26 herbs went into this aromatic amaro, produced from a 1901 recipe with roots on the Mount Etna side of Sicily. The essence of orange peel is no coincidence: The distillery is located among orange groves. The satiny liquid is a paradoxically cool stream of lava that's luxurious and decadent on the palate. There's no cloying sweetness and the bitter cherry, anise, coffee bean, and black tea notes are delicately balanced. 93 M.S. WALKER Slaughter House American Whiskey, USA ($39) Featuring a nose that speaks to orange peel, almonds, and resin, this 88-proof whiskey is finished and bottled in Napa, California. An approachable easy-drinker, it has verve on the palate with lean notes of tangerine rind, heather, and honey. 92 SPLINTER GROUP SPIRITS and bottled in Napa, California. J. Lohr 2015 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles ($100) Further proof that Paso Robles has the ability to craft some of the world's finest Cabernet Sauvignons, this is the third vintage of this wine. It's a tribute to founder Jerry Lohr from esteemed blocks of Clone 337 in the high-elevation calcare- ous soils of the Beck Vineyard, located in the region's Creston District. Blended with 11% Malbec and aged for 18 months in French oak, it was then transferred to a new set of barrels for a "flash" of two months to accentuate its ageworthiness. Rich, ripe plum accents the aromas and leads to a seamless palate of dry, dusty tannins and Old World acidity. Coffee bean and dark chocolate intertwine with dark summer berries and spiced tobacco. It's a teeth gripper 'til the end. 98 PHOTO: SHANNON MCMILLEN Award of Excellence

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