The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2014

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76  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2014 WINES Parducci 2012 True Grit Reserve Petite Sirah, Mendocino ($20) Deep. Purple. A rustic and grainy core of tannins and texture on the tongue. It keeps reinventing itself with a slideshow of violets, spicy cedar, mocha, earth and black plum. The acidity shines through the screen, finishing with an unexpected juiciness. True wow! 92 Mariposa 2009 Sangiovese, Chalk Hill, Sonoma County ($25) This wine possesses a distinguished tannic structure and a broad, spiced entry. It's an inky, high acid red that's a fine food wine, which is what a Sangiovese should be. Sage, brandied plum and black pepper are savory components. The finish is as silky as it can get on a stony road. 92 CRU WINE COMPANY Kukeri 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder–Napa Valley ($79) Named for an ancient Bulgarian ritual held in honor of Dionysus, this hedonistic 36-month French oak–aged red dances with pomegranate and strawberry ribbons, herbed with cedar and pepper bramble. Refined and understated in its quiet, modest delivery: not the mountain powerhouse you'd expect. 93 Robert Mondavi 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, To Kalon Vineyard, Oakville ($145) Chalky tannins artfully form a violet dust on the palate and with a smack and a snap, blackberry mocha appears. But it dissipates, melts, leaving traces of sweet fruit on the tongue that are akin to a plum brandy finish. 96 CONSTELLATION WINES U.S. VML 2012 "Earth" Pinot Noir, Barrel Selection, Russian River Valley ($48) This is the second vintage I have tasted of "Earth" (VML also makes "Stars" and "Moon") and it's an equally generous mother. Vibrant acidity lifts the soil notes and bathes them in raspberry and wild cherry. A broad wash of mocha follows the fruit like a loyal friend, keeping a sweetness lingering on the velvet palate. 92 TRUETT HURST Devil Proof 2012 Malbec, Alexander Valley ($80) This single- site 100% Malbec is ponderous, an old soul that is leatherbound, with notes of Worcestershire, spiced plums and espresso. Just when you think its massive side is too moody, in comes a gentler demon. Sweet molasses and blackberry jam uncrowds the denseness and unveils the lushness defined by the Alexander Valley's ability for ripeness. 95 TREMENDOUS . . . VALUES! Ménage à Trois 2012 Red, California ($10) A ripe and jammy blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sweet rhubarb—almost candied—is tart and fragrant, and paired with food, an alchemy occurs. The wine is enhanced, from frock to ball gown, juicy to the core, with a pinch of savory goodness and bramble on the finish. 90 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. Publisher's In Virginia wine country, Meridith May with Luca Pashina, Winemaker at Barboursville Winery.

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