The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2015

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84  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2015 PUBLISHER'S PICKS Jamieson Ranch 2012 Double Lariat Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($40) More like double dense double chocolate and double espresso, with a playful side of cocoa-dipped plums and raspberries. Barrel-fermented and barrel-aged, it lassos in an oak-laden creaminess and an intense ride to its spicy finish. 92 Truett-Hurst 2012 Burning Man Old Vine Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley ($35) Dry-farmed fruit transforms into a rich, ripe, extroverted wine with a whoosh of dark chocolate, blueberries, spiced violets and sturdy tannins. It drinks with ease despite its size and foreboding, black, inky opaqueness. 93 TRUETT-HURST INC. Yangarra 2012 Old Vine Grenache, McLaren Vale, Australia ($32) Vines planted in 1946 develop flavors for the brilliantly hued crimson-purple juice, painted and perfumed with roses and bittersweet chocolate raspberries. Grown on sandy dune soil, the use of wild yeast offers up astringent notes of aspirin-like tannins and lavender bitters, peppered and sauced with sour plum. Tastes like a wine three times its price. 94 JACKSON FAMILY WINES . MacPhail 2012 Pinot Noir, Mardikian Estate, Sonoma Coast ($85) Labor-intensive production for this small-lot Pinot includes hand-picking and hand- sorting twice, with bâtonnage weekly for three months and aged sur lie in French oak for 16 months. Planted in the coolest part of the Sonoma Coast, the resulting creamy plum pudding, pomegranate-kissed bold-bodied wine is quiet and graceful. It has a heroic presence on the mouth—earthy and black peppered and so pretty. 94 HESS FAMILY ESTATES Bradford Mountain 2012 Syrah, Grist Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley ($32) High-elevation Syrah with 25% Zin makes this small-production red a real find. At 15.2% ABV, you'd think it would be massive, but it's more ripe than dense, with plums, blue flowers and a sweet toast slathered with soy and earth. 92 TRUETT-HURST INC 6 smooches Tenuta Sette Cieli 2009 "Indaco," Tuscany IGT, Italy ($50) Indaco is Italian for indigo, and this wine was named for the color of the sky at sunset on the Tuscan estate, located between Bolgheri and Castegneto, off the coast of Tuscany. This blend of 40% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot is one of the most expressive wines I have ever tasted—just one of this new-to-the-U.S. producer's stellar offerings. Malbec is a rarity in Italy, and the version in this blend is from 80-year-old dry-farmed vines. A garden of roses and violets opens up the nose, with a center of chalky tannins on the palate that leads to a bevy of pomegran- ate and floral accents. Perfection of balance and ripeness. 98 WILSON DANIELS SPIRITS J. R. Ewing Private Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, USA ($35) On the nose, new leather jacket and peaches are a fine pair of aromatics, the hint of heather melding with orange rind and sweet cinnamon. The palate is clean and precise with a creamy custard texture that turns dry. A lather of tahini and sunflower seeds are accented by floral tones. The flavor lingers with a snap of spice. 95 PRAIRIE CREEK BEVERAGES Uncle Val's Peppered Gin, USA ($39) Combine green olives, pimento and a dash of white pepper. Add in some spicy red and yellow peppers. Just add gin. Without it being a "flavored" gin, the components, inspired by home-grown peppers in August Sebastiani's uncle's Tuscan garden, are so naturally infused, they should be regarded as some of the most unique botanicals used for this category. As it sits in the glass, the perfume on the nose transforms, offering up licorice, apricot, lavender and vanilla spice. 96 35 MAPLE STREET Manhattan Margarita Premium Citrus Blend, USA ($22) This 30-proof treat combines premium tequila, triple sec and fruits (lemon, lime, orange, cranberry, pineapple and melon) to create a snappy ready-to-drink. It's sincerely fresh tasting, a smooth operator with no cloying notes and an I-want-to-taste- more finish of dry orange peel. 90 BEER NOTES by Emily Coleman Dr. Jekyll's Bio Beer ($10.99/ four-pack) In a marketplace oversaturated with IPAs, this entry—conceived in Vermont but brewed in Southern Calironia—is both complex and intriguing. The layers of cloves and ginger lead into notes of Simcoe hops and a hint of ber- ries. This is a beer with nothing to Hyde! Dr. Jekyll's Beer Belly ($11.99/six-pack) Not your average Kölsch-style beer, the "curiously odd ingredients" blended into this beer surprise the palate with grapefruit and raspberry ketone. Slightly hopped, the crisp mouthfeel leaves you refreshed and coming back for more.

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