The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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68 / the tasting panel / february 2014 WINES Valley of the Moon 2012 Pinot Blanc, Sonoma County ($18) Dan Zepponi and Tony Stewart purchased the historic Valley of the Moon winery more than a year ago and immediately decreased production to focus on Sonoma's unique terroirs and work with select grower families. The look of the label has been updated, and I fell for this aromatic and pleasantly fruity-sweet white. White melon, honeysuckle and lanolin come in from the start, while lychee, white chocolate and lime line up next. Wonderful acidity. 91 WEST COAST WINE PARTNERS Carabella Estate 2010 Chardonnay, Dijon 76, Chehalem Mountains ($27) From the southeast flank of Oregon's Parrett Mountain, this wine is enveloped in glistening minerality, searing acidity and luscious fruit. Melon, papaya and butterscotch from nose to palate. 92 Michael David Winery 2011 Petite Petit, Lodi ($18) A huge, smart and memorable wine that blends 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot. In the center ring is a match of dry, powdered cocoa tannins. Orange peel zest, rasp- berry and blackberry are merry under the big top, rich with vanilla and a surprising dry finish. 90 Shafer 2011 Chardonnay, Red Shoulder Ranch, Carneros ($50) Nectar of the Napa Valley Chardonnay gods . . . it drips with a lemon oil and yet unfolds with an amazing show of acid- ity. Maple on stone, biscuit on bone, it's a puzzle of lean and lush. 96 Coup de Grâce 2011 Red, Lodi ($28) Fifth-generation Lodi winemaker Adam Mettler joined forces with Lodi native Mike Stroh to found Freelance Wines. Coup de Grâce 2011 Red is their first release. A blend of 56% old-vine Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah from Lodi and Russian River Valley, 16% Lodi Petit Verdot and 7% Atlas Peak Napa County Cab Franc. Think of a raid on a blackberry patch: the fresh juice spilling off the vine in a dizzying delicious array of flavor. Worcestershire, tar and violets play into the fruit notes, making it intriguing to the finish. 92 VINTAGE POINT Harmonique 2007 "Delicacé" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley ($44) From the deeper, "cooler" end of Anderson Valley, this strawberry- perfumed Pinot is aged for 12 months in new French oak with an additional nine months of bottle aging. There's a fork in the road as the strawberry gets spicy and converges with dark chocolate, rhubarb and deep mineral-laden soil, which is mimicked on the nose. Further down the path of this full-bodied red, cherries lighten the mood but the acidity stays firm. Rich and grainy, spicy to the end. 95 PICKS 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. Worthy of a smooch. French-style double bizou. Wildly infatuated. Seriously smitten. Head over heels in love. Meridith May with Jean Luc Colombo. Publisher's

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