The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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Page 16 of 140

THE MESSAGE 16  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2015 Brief Encounters Whether THE TASTING PANEL goes to the brand execs or the brands call us, there is an abundance of news to report, from the latest releases to behind-the-scenes experiences with some of the world's most influential importers, winemakers, distillers . . . well, you name it. We may not have enough pages in each issue to devote as much attention as we would like to each person whose path we cross, but please note that if it's in the publication, we deem it noteworthy. —Meridith May, Publisher & Editorial Director I n early August, Peter Neptune, MS, played host to a discussion and tasting at Bar Agricole in San Francisco, CA, exploring clonal selections of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Quail Hill Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, owned and farmed by Lynmar Estate. All 42 acres and 40 sub-blocks of Quail Hill's soils, slopes, root zones and drainage potential have been analyzed in such depth that a strip of soil within a block can be pin-pointed for a specific variety and clone. Neptune says he's a big fan of clonal diversity in vineyards. "If you plant all 777," he explained, "and something goes wrong, it all goes wrong. Remember too that soils don't evolve, but topography does, as soils wash away." Some of the wines we sampled were Chardonnays aged two years in used oak: Old Wente on 3309 rootstock, which showed rich concentrated fruit and Calera on Riparia Gloire rootstock and Rued on St. George rootstock, both offering bright citrus and mineral qualities. Of the Pinots sampled, two clones were Calera planted on 3309 rootstock—one at the top of the "Summit" block in deep red soils, which was intensely spicy, while the other was from the bottom of Summit planted in deeper, darker, hummus-rich soils, which offered dense blue fruit and cocoa notes. Three other clones on 3309 rootstock were: Mt. Eden, which showed raspberry and blueberry notes and mouth coating tannins; Quali Hill Select, which brought lofty spice and classic red cherry character; and lastly, Pommard, which boasted a rich nose of dark lush, juicy fruit. For Neptune, this kind of tasting is critical to improving deduc- tive tasting skills. "It's all about being able to identify if what you're tasting is a product of winemaking or what's happening in the vineyard." —Jonathan Cristaldi Learning from Terroir Peter Neptune, MS, playing host to a discussion and tasting at Bar Agricole in San Francisco, CA.

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