The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2016

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50  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2016 Our Wine Editor, Jessie Birschbach, CS—or JABS, as we call her in the office—uses her experience as a som- melier and her background in marketing to rate retail wines on both the inside and outside of the bottle. Let's face it, in off-premise environments, and for most of us, it's usually the packaging that hooks us, then it's up to the wine to lure us into the boat. For that reason, she'll employ both the classic 100-point number scale on taste, and the "JABS" rating system to assess packaging and brand identity. 1 JAB Clear, legible label, solid branding. Pow, right in the kisser. 2 JABS Eye-catching label and memorable branding. This one's got a one two punch. 3 JABS Creatively inspiring in both packaging and branding. I'm seeing stars and parakeets. 4 JABS A near work of art and meaningful branding. Might not last another round. 5 JABS A masterpiece in packaging and new benchmark in branding. An instant knock-out! This is a special version of Down the Aisle as these tasting notes are extracted from the April/May 2016 SOMM Journal Sparkling Category Report. Anna de Cordiníu Reserva Cava, Spain ($15) This is a Cava of major historical importance and yet is just as relevant today. Fresh white peach, grapefruit and lime peel deliver softly onto the palate. You can't miss the stand-out packaging. 90 AVENÍU BRANDS Ferrari 2008 Perlé Trento DOC, Italy ($39.99) Made with 100% Chardonnay in the traditional metodo classico, this vintage sparkler spends 48 to 53 months on lees. Creamy and tangy, yet light in texture—like whipped cream and tangy pineapple. The softer sparkle is likely due to age. Almonds, red apple and a touch of honeycomb precede the lemon-yogurt-chiffon finish that still remains dry and transparent. Incredible complexity, especially considering the price. 93 PALM BAY INTERNATIONAL Albinea Canail "FB" Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna, Italy ($19.99) Dry strawberry, basil sorbet and tart homemade lemonade with an incredible, plush texture that thankfully doesn't turn into Skittles, but mellows into a doughy focaccia. The snappy red berry fruits and juicy Meyer lemon, dressed in a gentler semi-sparkle or frizzante style, are the result of the metodo ancestrale. Just watch out for the deposit of natural yeast in the bottom of the bottle. Hands down, one of my favorite versions of Lambrusco; this is 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara. 92 BANFI VINTNERS Le Grand Courtâge Grand Cuvée Brut Rosé, France ($17.99) One foot in the New World and one foot in the Old, Le Grand Courtâge Rosé is a blend of Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc and Gamay. Fresh raspberries and strawberries swim alongside a bouquet of pink roses. This is an outstanding example of clear, savvy packaging and branding, which is appealing to the aspirational drinker. 88 LE GRAND COURTÂGE Dr. L Sparkling Riesling, Germany ($15) From the Dr. Loosen line of non-estate Rieslings, this Sekt (German sparkling wine), made using 100% Riesling and the Charmat method, offers exceptional value. Honeycrisp apple, honey and peach finishes mostly dry with just a whisper of sweetness. The acid here makes sure of it. 91 LOOSEN BROS. USA Miguel Torres 2012 Santa Digna Estelado Rosé, Maule Valley, Chile ($28) Made from 100% País—a nearly forgotten grape that has been in Chile since the 16th century— in the traditional method. This is a unique and special sparkling! Cantaloupe, watermelon, rhubarb, orange blossoms and blood orange. Then mid-palate, an earthy mushroom takes over and finishes with a pithy blood orange. I paired this with a chimichurri chicken; the spicy, garlic-laden green sauce was a perfect match to the citrusy cool and slightly sweet flavors. Informative, kinda cool old-school packaging. 91 STE. MICHELLE WINE ESTATES April Spring Sparkle by Jessie Birschbach

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