The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2016

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Page 63 of 124

december 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  63 American Thread 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma Coast ($25) Although it's winter now, the springtime array of scent-sations is welcome: lemongrass, white flowers and orange peel are fresh and clean. Energetic, tart white grapefruit is sweetened by white peach and egg custard—just enough creami- ness to balance it out with its exceptional acidity and mineral finish. 92 GREAT AMERICAN WINE GROUP Two Sisters 2014 Pinot Noir, Lindsay's Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills ($75) Aged for 18 months in 100 percent French oak, this is an ethereal red, graceful and elegant. Sweet cherries and rose petals perfume the glass. Spiced cinnamon, sugared beets and a hint of sarsaparilla are lithe on the palate. It finishes with a kiss of white pepper and a chalky cherry skin. 92 FOLEY FAMILY WIINES Talbott Vineyards 2014 Chardonnay, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($42) Monterey County's (and Santa Lucia Highland's) most famous vine- yard, Sleepy Hollow, lives in cool fog and wind from the Pacific, only 13 miles away. Fresh scent of lemon chiffon and yeasty bread dough starts you off, while a bevy of mineral tones, nectarine, fig, white bean and Asian pear flows across the palate. Oak is woven in like an artisan basket through the layers of savory and stone fruit. Its sateen finish brings in cinnamon-kissed vanilla wafer. The wine is 100 percent estate-grown and -produced—and the Chardonnay is planted in the vineyard's windiest area to thicken its skins. 93 E&J GALLO La Voix Winery 2015 Here & Heaven Chardonnay, John Sebastiano Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills ($55) Steve and Chrystal Clifton made this wine from one of the first clones of Chardonnay brought to California from Montrachet vines, grown now on clay loam and limestone. With a nose of apple strudel and lemon blossom, the flavors burst with tangerine and baked apple in a pecan crust. The melon and minerals race to the finish, refereed by crisp pear. 93 Ryan Patrick 2013 Reserve Grenache, Northridge Vineyard, Wahluke Slope ($35) From one of the warmest regions in Washington State, the ripeness on this wine is apparent. Aromas of black pepper, chocolate earth and concentrated cherry are the first indications of a pleasur- able quaff. Raspberry and beetroot, along with melting cedar cocoa, are adorned by a nervy acidity. Ascending notes of creaminess head to the finish with pomegranate and red tea. 93 We Believe 2013 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ($28) We have so much faith in this generous, round-textured red: cocoa cherry juiciness, nutmeg and red tea tannin savoriness and the plump-on- your-palate plum notes that season and spice the finish. It sure over-delivers—believe it! 91 Grimm's Bluff 2014 Contango Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara ($86) From the 16.5 acre Biodynamic Grimm's Bluff vineyard, located in the warmest area of Santa Ynez Valley, winemaker Paul Lato and proprietor Rick Grimm have released their first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon, and we're thrilled to have the opportunity to taste. The Contango Cab cuvée comes from special head-trained vines, and the wine is aged in 100% French oak barrels for 20 months. The nose offers restrained notes of earth and cookie dough, blueberry cream and raspberry jam. On the palate, tannins emerge as gritty and robust, yet the liquid core is graceful. It's an effortless wash of fudge and black currant that finishes with a graphite dryness, sweetened by cinnamon and basil. 96 Award of Excellence San Simeon 2013 Stormwatch, Estate Reserve, Paso Robles ($70) A carmine-black ink–hued Bordeaux blend from the rocky soils and steep hillsides of the El Pomar District exuding bittersweet dark chocolate—there should be a perfume named for it—along with a wealth of brandied plum, sandalwood and espresso. And we haven't talked about texture and taste yet. What's so thrilling about this wine is how far Paso has come in bridling elegance, depth and restrained tannins. While the tannins are grainy, by comparison to the overly grainy tannins we remember from big Paso reds a decade ago, this wine smooths them out into a sheet of glassy liquid. The flavors of lavender, blackberry and that irreverent dark chocolate reaches a sensual level, coating the teeth with graphite. Ripe tomato and savory herbs mellow and season the blueberry finish. 98

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