The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2017

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50  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2017 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! A lthough 2016 was a great vintage for those of us in the wine world (I hear Central Coast Pinot Noir in particular is going to be stellar), outside the wine realm 2016 could for some be considered a difficult year. So let's move onto 2017 and continue to open as many bottles as it takes to get back to our happy place. Cute labels certainly help! Inconceivable 2015 The Frog Prince Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County ($25) Juicy and fresh strawberry, cherry and cherry pit in a solid medium body. Fruity and super easy to drink Pinot from three vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley. The label serves as a map offering Santa Barbara identifiers. I like maps. Especially maps of wine regions. 87 MIDDLETON FAMILY WINES Campo Viejo 2011 Art Series Rioja Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($16) Subdued cherry, ripe black plum, violets, black pepper, a dash of oak-like coconut and just the slightest suggestion of leather packaged in a soft, medium-body. Campo Viejo is a classic, well-regarded Rioja producer, and this Reserva—a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo—solidifies that while also providing great value. The beautiful, colorful Art Series packaging is designed by Spanish urban artists Okuda and Remed, the same talented gents who created the well-known sculpture featured in the Campo Viejo vineyards. 89 PERNOD RICARD USA Ancient Peaks 2014 Zinfandel, Paso Robles, California ($18) Rich and soul satisfying boysenberry compote, blackberry brandy and a vanilla bean panna cotta countered by black pepper and granitic minerality. This is a big Zin, but a gentle giant; it's still soft and restrained enough so as not to overwhelm. An awesome cold weather and/ or barbecue wine offering incredible value. A beaut of a label, too, highlighting the giant oyster-shelled calcareous soil of Paso Robles's cooler Margarita Ranch AVA. These cowboys sure do know how to make wine, and you won't need to sell your best horse to pay for it. 90 January (and February) Gems 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 as many bottles as it takes to get back to our happy place. Cute labels Inconceivable 2015 The Frog Juicy and fresh strawberry, cherry and MIDDLETON FAMILY WINES Ancient Peaks 2014 Zinfandel, Rich and soul satisfying boysenberry continued on page 52

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