The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2016

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28  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2016 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! I could easily talk about wines that work well with Thanksgiving, but it's also my mom's birthday month, and she means more to me than a turkey-centric tradition. The thing is though my mother isn't much of a wine drinker. Every now and then, however, she'll like something that I've bullied her into trying. So this month's wines are for those that think they don't like wine but really only have yet to try the right one. (There's also a few spirits in here too for her just in case.) Happy Birthday, Mom! November's Bounty by Jessie Birschbach Our Wine Editor, Jessie Birschbach, Certified Sommelier—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. After all, let's face it, in off-premise environments it's usually the packaging that hooks us then it's up to the wine to keep us on the hook. 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. PHOTO: DOUG YOUNG For info on submitting samples, email Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Aged in Bourbon Barrels, Monterey County, CA ($15) Blueberry jam, super ripe blackberry and pecan pie. I'd call this Cab a Russian River Zinfandel if I didn't know it was aged in bourbon barrels. Just a touch hot, but I'd bet that could be balanced with some barbecue and at this price point you can buy more than one bottle. It's a limited release, so stock up for next sum- mer. Diggin' the gold-on-black textured label. 87 CONSTELLATION WINE U.S. Cherry Pie 2013 Pinot Noir, Stanly Ranch, Carneros, Napa ($60) Luxardo Maraschino cherries, strawberry compote, ripe raspberries and a bit of evergreen forest that ends in a sweet, creamy salinity like a salted butter cookie. This full-bodied single vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir is not joking around and needs a bit of decanting. Winemaker maverick Jayson Woodbridge has made a lot of smart decisions in his career but calling a wine "Cherry Pie" and putting a painting of a delicious looking freshly baked cherry pie by artist TR Colleta on the label was brilliant. This is what Down the Aisle is all about—art and commercial sewn together seamlessly—and why it receives a nearly perfect five JABS. 93 ONE TRUE VINE Cannonball Edinburgh Navy Strength Gin ($46) Lemon-lime, pink peppercorn and frank- incense shine through even against the abundant bold juniper core. Upon first sip, you immediately understand that the powerful juniper is there to balance the "Navy strength" 57.2 percent alcohol. This also provides a nice rounded texture. Although there is surprising complexity in this gin, given the alcohol, I'd suggest a starring role in a savory cocktail. I usually prefer a milder gin, but this is a fascinat- ing example of the opposite camp; give it a shot, but brace yourself! Excellent earlier 20th-century style bottle with a well-designed label. 90 FREDERICK WILDMAN AND SONS Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka ($32.95) A light and silky texture supports a sweet yet exceedingly fresh mandarin essence. This perceived freshness and higher acid is likely attributed to the acid in the blend of grapes (Colombard, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay) and two-month- long fruit maceration process. The maceration is also apparent in the slight yellow-orange misty, translucent color. As orange flavored vodkas go, this small batch organic vodka has become a personal benchmark. The slender bottle suggests artisanal fare and the use of cork is a nice handmade touch. 95 HANSON SPIRITS, LLC Robert 2014

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