The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2017

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august 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  77 Begonia Sangria, Spain ($10) Festive notes of sweet berries dance the Flamenco, while the colors of the Iberian Peninsula are well-imagined as you sip this fresh-tasting wine. A dry finish, accompanied by a string of cinnamon and orange zest, are part of the rhythm of this superb Sangria. The recipe dates back two generations. Made from Monastrell and Bobal grapes in DO Cuenca with local Valencia oranges and azahar (orange blossom). 90 OLE IMPORTS Napa by N.A.P.A. 2014 Bianca White, Napa Valley ($20) This blend of 62% Sauvignon Blanc and 38% Semillon is named for the Scotto Family: Natalie, Anthony, Paul and Anne, spelling NAPA. Aged in white Bordeaux oak barrels and stirred on the lees, the creamy texture bathes the palate. The nose of pear, caramel and lanolin leads to apples, peaches and pine nut on the palate. The finish offers sweet tangerine notes. Acidity is bright and makes a refreshing white. 92 SCOTTO CELLARS Ravenswood 2014 Belloni Zinfandel, Russian River Valley ($39) This single vineyard designate combines 25% of other "mixed black" varieties to create a wine that implodes with fruit. On the nose, black cherry, mocha and violets are intense and heady. The floral tones subdue on the palate, dried lilacs, violets and mountain brush meld with blackberry and spiced cedar. The acid keeps it lively through the long finish. 93 CONSTELLATION BRANDS Plungerhead 2015 Petite Sirah, Lodi ($14) New packaging makes this a stand out on retailer shelves with its dynamic red label. Blended with 5% Tempranillo, 4% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine was aged in a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak. The varietal is new to the line-up and paints an opaque inki- ness in the glass, with aromas of ripe blackberry, black pepper and mocha-cedar. Densely washing the tongue with dark chocolate, espresso, bramble bush and bit- tersweet lilac, the fruit intensifies as the texture softens through to the finish. 90 THREE BADGE BEVERAGE SPIRITS Chavo Malo Tequila Blanco, Mexico ($27.99) Rich volcanic soils in the hills of Jalisco make this Chavo Malo, or "bad boy," one to watch. It delivers a distinct array of per- fumes, including buttercream, fresh-cut grass, clay and lime oil. Lilac, summer melon, white pepper and vanilla hug the palate, then slide to the back of the mouth. The polished texture and delicacy of the liquid are streamlined. 94 PALM BAY INTERNATIONAL Empress 1908 Original Indigo Gin, Canada ($40) The second-to-last color of the rainbow is indigo, and thanks to infusions of butterfly-pea blossoms, the hue of this 85-proof spirit from Victoria Distillers lights up the glass. After a delicate scent of wildflowers and juniper on the nose, the palate goes floral, kissed by cinnamon and salinity. Add citrus or tonic, and this chameleon changes to purple or pink. 92 Dry Fly Straight Triticale Whiskey Port Barrel-Finished (Black Bottle), USA ($79.95) Deep plum and dried fig on the nose, with a touch of walnut and sandalwood. Spicy notes of peppercorn, caraway seeds and apricot follow through on the palate, with tangerine rind and sweet tobacco on the finish. Triticale is a hybrid grain of wheat and rye; this specific seed variety is grown on Dry Fly's 117-year-old homestead family farm in Washington state. Aged one year in a whiskey barrel, four years in a 23-year-old tawny Port barrel. 95 DRY FLY DISTILLING Sagamore Signature 83 Straight Rye, Maryland, USA ($42.99) A blend of high and low rye, with an exquisite nose of peach and jasmine. The mouthfeel is round, amplified by a spiced apricot nectar, caramel cream, tobacco leaf and an orange-rind finish. A lean, calcareous dryness is the effect of the limestone in the same pure spring water from Sagamore Farm in western Maryland that fuels champion Thoroughbred horses. 95 SAGAMORE SPIRIT These two whiskies, from opposite sides of the U.S., just WOWED me!

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