The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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Page 72 of 148

Publisher's HOTO: LEIGH CASTELLI In each issue THE TASTING PANEL's Publisher and Executive Editor, Meridith May, selects her favorite wines and spirits of the month. Check here for the latest arrivals in our offices, the hottest new brands on the market and an occasional revisited classic. PICKS WINES Anaba 2010 Chardonnay, Gap's Crown Vineyard, Sonoma Coast ($37) A paradigm, subdued yet dominant . . . steely, juicy and vibrant— the mineral complexity seasons the fleshy fruit while a subtle creaminess hints at caramel and vanilla. There is a resemblance to Puligny-Montrachet excellence. 94 HOLLYWOOD & WINE Riverbench 2010 Estate Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley ($26) It's dessert up front: buttered coconut, while a hint of oak melts on the tongue. Bright fruit and an elegant mouthfeel lends a charmed finish. 93 STRANGE WINES The initial supercharged strike of acidity is flavored with tea tannins and unsweetened cranberry. The scenery amazingly takes a different shape: A silkiness evolves, with cherry and rose formation becoming a fashion-forward Pinot. 93 KOBRAND Melée 2010 Grenache, California ($35) Superstar grower and winemaker Tuck Beckstoffer was inspired by the Grenache of Southern France to purchase fruit from Paso Robles (and some from Mendocino) to create this blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah, which enhances the rose petal, blue floral aromatics, concentrated plums and new leather that he sought. Henry Beylin, Sommelier at Gjelina in Venice, CA, tasted with us and noted, "Wonderful fleshy fruit with defined notes of cinnamon-cherry and rhubarb; chocolate and sweet tobacco on the finish. A great expression of this style." 92 VINTAGE POINT Riverbench 2010 Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, ($28) Strawberries push up through the earth and are spotted with clove and cinnamon. A straw of cocoa pulls through, weaving into the ripe red fruit again and again. Wonderful mouthfeel. 91 Worthy of a smooch. French-style double bizou. Wildly infatuated. Seriously smitten. Head over heels in love. 72 / the tasting panel / may 2013 STRANGE WINES Benziger 2011 de Coelo Pinot Noir, Quintas Vineyard, Sonoma Coast ($50) The 25-acre certified Biodynamic estate vineyard, divided into two blocks, sits on a rugged hilltop five miles from the Pacific. Unfiltered and fermented with native yeast, de Coelo rests in French oak for 16 months. Therein lies some of the story behind this startling and changeable red. Buccella 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($140) Sourced from small vineyards in Rutherford, Oakville, Stags Leap, Yountville and Coombsville, Bucella—the name means "mouthful" in Latin—is just that. Candied grape notes come alive in a luxuriously rich setting, under a wash of extremely supple tannins. Espresso notes develop a roundness, and for a Napa Cab, a unique occurrence: A garden of violets bloom and cherries blossoms. Rhubarb pie is smattered with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. I was lucky enough to enjoy this on my birthday. 96

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