The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2014

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76  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2014 WINES Josh Cellars 2012 Legacy Red Wine, California ($15) Vintner Joseph Carr and winemaker Wayne Donaldson sourced Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah from premium wine growing regions throughout California for this blend, named in honor of Carr's father. Herbal notes of sage and basil weave through balanced acidity and dense, juicy blueberry and plum notes. 89 DEUTSCH FAMILY WINES & SPIRITS Complicated 2012 Red Wine, Central Coast ($20) "Next- generation" winemakers Carlo Trinchero and Josh Phelps started their own wine label, Taken Wine Company, in 2009. Given the blend of 53% Grenache, 42% Syrah and 5% Carignane, the name "Complicated" is actually not difficult to figure out (like their other wine, "Taken," it also targets Millennials by referring to a social media relationship status). The components deliver layers of raspberry, cherry, licorice, spiced tea and dried purple fruit, while the subtlety of oak winds things up for a satisfying and clarifying finish. 90 TFE WINES Pietra Santa 2012 Pinot Noir, Cienega Valley ($18) About 25 miles east of Monterey Bay, this California estate-grown red shows depth of character in a spicy fashion. Wild cherries and mocha are pure pleasure, while a thread of minerality (a pith of brightness) and black pepper add gravitas. 92 Geyser Peak 2012 "Pluto's Fury" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ($36) High-toned blue fruit and floral are more than decorative accents to this plummy, easy sipper. Earth, soy and pomegranate are intricately intro- duced while white pepper barely surfaces. An upsurge of pretty red fruit and tropical flowers add exotic elements. 93 ACCOLADE WINES Donelan 2012 "Two Brothers" Pinot Noir, North Coast ($55) A resounding cheer of chocolate blueberries—but take them seriously: This is one complex wine. Feminine and round—but in an Amazon body—this red is glorious in its restrained power. The oak is dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg: delicious, velvety and sensual. 95 Ménage à Trois 2012 Midnight Dark Red Blend, California ($14) Drink this blind and you will attest to a waaaay more expensive sip. From its dark black-cherry mocha to its deep descent into blackberry and plum, this blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot nails it with witching-hour intensity. Mid-palate comes a parade of blueberries and violets: creamy, velvet-textured fruit-and-floral tones that create an ideal balance of acidity, depth and mouth-filling juiciness. 92 TFE WINES 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. PHOTO: MONA SHIELD PAYNE Publisher's Traci Dutton, Wine Educator at the Culinary Institute at Greystone/ Napa with and Winemaker Karl Wente and Meridith May. Photo taken at Spago Las Vegas. See the colorful story in next month's issue. ACCOLADE WINES

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