The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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Jamieson Ranch 2011 "Double Lariat" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($45) More than 300 acres of hills and vineyards comprise Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, the southernmost winery in Napa Valley. Aged for 18 months in French oak (it is barrel- fermented and barrel-aged) this 14.7% abv red ropes you in with its bold tones of chocolate, cherry and blackberry. Plummy, gritty tannins are spice-edged with a toasty backdrop. Tie this one to your wine list: It is knot one to miss. 94 Landmark Vineyards 2011 Spring Hill Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($55) Blissful broad strokes of blueberry, a wash of black fruit and mocha and a backdrop of dusty peppered brandy. This velvety Petaluma Gap red sits on a vineyard (Spring Hill) that has completed a farm conservation plan, certified for environmentally beneficial practices and habitat restora- tion. 94 FLAVORS FOR FEBRUARY Valentine's celebrations will come and go, but our palates are geared up for the romance of unique taste profiles: delectable, savory or bitter. Starting with this month's UpFront story with our new heartthrob, Wineheart, and our current search for "Flavor Innovation" brands for the March issue, my spirits picks this month follow suit. Hamptons Banana & Strawberry Flavored Vodka, USA ($25) The creamy straw- berry-vanilla toffee nose would make you think you're sniffing a lushly textured liqueur when in fact it's a clear 80-proof flavored vodka. The banana notes are subtly introduced after a second nosing. The bite on the palate also strays from the sweet dessert drink you may think you're going to quaff; the liquid is not shy. Its future with mixing fruit and savories is bright. 89 Belvedere Mango Passion Fruit Flavored Vodka, Poland ($35) Our old favorite from Poland comes back with a great new fashion call for spring. Luscious mango is actually toned down on the nose, but this makes it all the more appealing. The flavor profile is clean and fresh; the textural sense on the tongue actually feels juicy. It tastes authentic (made from real fruits) and there's more soft beckoning the more you sip. 91 MOËT HENNESSY USA Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum, Barbados ($19) This is the way we like our coconut spiced rum to smell: like it rained vanilla on the beach. Drizzle some lemon oil, some papaya and a dab of pineapple to that coconut and you'll dream up the taste of this 53-proof Caribbean spirit. 92 FISHBOWL SPIRITS Old Man Wild Guavaberry Island Folk Liqueur, Netherlands Antilles ($25) Guavaberry is the legendary folk liqueur of St. Martin in the Caribbean. Local fruit (guavaberry is not a derivative of the guava fruit) is used in this bittersweet, red-hued, rum-based 70-proof spirit. It has the "stickiness" of fruit sap, and a richness of character from aromatics like patchouli and amber for complexity. 89 DANGEROUS IMPORT GROUP SPIRITS

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