The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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Page 80 of 136

80  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2015 Baijiu World THE CLASSIC CHINESE SPIRIT IS SET TO CONQUER AMERICA I started to become interested in baijiu when more and more of these fascinating products began entering the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Baijiu—a Chinese spirit made from sorghum, rice, wheat or other grains—has a verifiable 600-year history but is probably much, much older. Its popularity for ceremonial and everyday drinking makes it the largest-selling spirit in the world. Baijiu is distinct from brandy, whiskey and vodka because of its use of fermentation yeast during the production. The use of solid grain material during fermentation gives the best versions extraordinary character and complexity, despite their high proofs. CNS Imports has been bringing baijiu to the American market since 1982 and is the leading importer of this ever-growing category. In 2014, second- generation CNS owners Steaven and Diena Chen partnered with Manny Burnichon of Palm Beach–based Private Cask Imports to bring its baijiu portfolio to a wider audience. I recently tasted through some of the spirits from this book and was highly impressed. 92 Famille Perrin 2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Sinards, France ($45) Dense, juicy plum and berry fruit with notes of earth and spice and a tangy finish. Another excellent effort from the Perrins. VINEYARD BRANDS VALUE AND BY-THE-GLASS RECOMMENDATIONS 90 St. Urbans-Hof 2014 Riesling, Nik Weis Selection, Mosel, Germany ($14) Bright, crisp and racy with a hint of sweetness; tangy, juicy and silky textured; long, clean and balanced. HB WINE MERCHANTS 88 Cosentino Winery 2013 THE CHARD Chardonnay, Lodi ($16) Silky and smooth with ripe pear and fresh acidity; mellow and juicy, ripe and balanced. VINTAGE WINE ESTATES 88 Toad Hollow Vineyards NV Risqué Sweet & Sparkling, Limoux, France ($16) Sweet, creamy, clean flavors plus good acid structure and charming, juicy apple and peach fruit; delightful. 100% Mauzac. V2 WINE GROUP 88 Kon Tiki 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle Central ($13) Herbal nose; smooth and juicy with blackberry, spice and herbs; fresh and balanced, long and vibrant. WINE TREES 88 Dominios de Castilla 2012 Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain ($13) Tangy blackberry and plum; smooth, velvety and rich with balance and bright acidity. WINESELLERS, LTD. 88 Broadside 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles ($15) A well-priced Paso Cab with lively plum, raspberry and spice; supple on the palate and long on the finish. BLUE REVIEWS 91 Mianzhu Daqu – Laohao Baijiu, Sichuan, China ($25/375ml.) From five kinds of grains; spicy and minerally and rich grain notes; silky and long. 104 proof. 92 HKB Hong-Kong Baijiu, Sichuan, China ($50/750ml.) Created by a Frenchman who lived in China for many years. Smooth and soft with creamy texture and mellow licorice and spice; balanced, clean and long. 86 proof. 93 Jian Nan Chun Chiew Baijiu, Sichuan, China ($60/375ml.) Rich earth and licorice nose; smooth and soft sweetness and tobacco notes; complex, intense and long. 104 proof. 93 Luzhou Laojiao – Zisha Baijiu, Sichuan, China ($80/375ml.) Established in 1573; 60% sorghum, 20% rice, 20% wheat; smooth and sweet with notes of pineapple, spice and lovely spicy notes; toasty grains and mellow. 104 proof. 94 Shui Jing Fang – Wellbay Baijiu, Sichuan, China ($100/375ml.) From the oldest distillery in China, founded in 1408 and now majority-owned by Diageo; earthy and showing spice, dried fruits and silky texture; complex, well-aged and balanced; extremely long. Gorgeous presentation. 104 proof. 98 Kweichow Moutai-Feitian, Guizhou, China ($160/375ml.) An extra-aged version of China's best-known baijiu brand. Vanilla and sugar nose; silky, complex and spicy with exquisite depth and balance; layered and extremely long. 106 proof. These baijius are imported by and available through CNS Imports

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