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Publisher’s Wines PICKS R Tamaya 2009 Camenère Reserva, Limarí Valley, Chile ($12) Dark chocolate and roasted coffee set the stage; along comes a supporting cast of deep black cherry, a hint of cedar and an understudy of black olive. 89+ ECO VALLEY Steele Wines 2006 Stymie Merlot, Founder’s Reserve, Lake County ($45) An indulging conference of espresso and chocolate with that simple touch off blueberry that adds so much drama. Plush and delicious. 93 Spirits 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. 181 2008 Merlot, Lodi ($12) The sweet boysenberry up front plays well with the light sprinkle of white pepper. Ripe plums stride through the middle. A pleasing and vivacious value driven slice of sunshine. 90 DFV WINES Bianchi Winery 2007 Petite Sirah, Signature Selection, Plummer Vineyard, Paso Robles ($22) A giant of a sunshine-filled red; earthy notes of Paso Robles sun-baked soils and tones of roasted coffee and toasted buttery caramel back up our claim that this is a big-boy Petite. The inky black fruit is its hero: bold but lush. 91 Worthy of a smooch. French-style double bizou. Wildly infatuated. Seriously smitten. Head over heels in love. Snow Leopard Vodka, Poland ($35) This small batch Polish vodka is made from rare spelt grain, 4-5 times pricier than winter wheat. There’s a teasing nuance of raspberry and cherry on the nose and the palates opens up quickly and steadily to acknowledge the red fruit. Streamlined in texture and mouthfeel to the finish. 94 WHYTE & MACKAY RumChata, USA ($20) This Caribbean rum–based, authentic, made-from-scratch horchata recipe reminds me of the best of rice pudding and tiramisu. From its luxuriously tongue-coating satin texture to its rich notes of cinnamon and vanilla, it is a sweet dairy cream liqueur with great mixing possibilities. 90 AGAVE LOCO BRANDS Alpha Omega 2009 Unoaked Chardonnay, Napa Valley ($36) Delicate honey and melon intertwine with a stony back. But still, there’s a creamy quality (from lees stirring) that takes it from lean to melodius. 93 52 / the tasting panel / november 2010 Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha, Mexico ($18) Candy cane perfection surrounded by a coffee and mocha melt-in-your-mouth middle. 90 PERNOD RICARD USA PHOTO: CATHY TWIGG-BLUMEL

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