Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/701904
july 2016 / the tasting panel / 71 Sanford 2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills ($35) A thread of white pepper loops through the dense core of cherry cedar. Tilled soil on the nose carries through the palate, adding a dash of chocolate for a hedonistic point of view. 92 TERLATO WINES Gehricke 2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Healdsburg, CA ($45) Spiced cherries enhance the bouquet of rose petals and perpetuate from nose to palate. Lifted acidity walks a high wire for a delicate, pretty, fresh and feminine wine. This is Gehricke at its best: a springtime rush of red fruit and flower with a dot of white pepper and vanilla bean at the end of the path. 94 3 BADGE ENOLOGY Conceito 2012 Vinho Tinto, Douro DOC, Portugal ($60) A mixture of more than 20 traditional grape varieties grown on schist soils. This red, aged 20 months in French oak barrels, offers up a fragrance of cranberry-caramel with high acidity punctuating a tenseness. Chalky tannins and powdered cherry cocoa coat the finish. Gorgeous. 93 M IMPORTS Chalone Vineyard 2014 Estate Grown Pinot Blanc, Chalone Appelation ($20) With a nose of buttered croissants from the Chalone Bench of the Gavilan Mountains 1,800 feet above sea level, dusty peach skins and pear juice make a significant sensory start. Vanilla and white flowers are some of the tonal qualities that alight on the limestone-salty frame. 93 FOLEY FAMILY WINES Louis M. Martini 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($38) Small percentages of Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot and Merlot are added to the 82% Cabernet Sauvignon. After 80 years, this winery continues to show a world-class style and here, great value as well. Potent perfume of currant and savory herbs lead to a luxurious palate. Sturdy tannins are teamed with juicy, gushing black fruit. Oak is fennel-kissed and shows well to the end. 92 E&J GALLO Maddalena 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles ($16) Black forest cake is a sure bet on the nose—devil's food and baked cherries. Nice. The flavors follow through on first pass and offer a rustic, sweet cherry–tobacco on the finish. 90 SAN ANTONIO WINERY Mark West 2014 Pinot Noir, California ($11) Roses and red cherries are prominent in a wispy-light body that blossoms into an earthy finish. Acidity is tight and sharp and lifts the texture. Pairs beautifully with salmon. 89 CONSTELLATION WINE U.S. Ferrari-Carano 2014 Sky High Ranch Pinot Noir, Mendocino Ridge ($48) High above Anderson Valley, above the fog line at 1,600 feet, the discontinuous Mendocino Ridge AVA is known as "Islands in the Sky." The wine, aged for ten months in new and older French oak barrels, has a nose that is perfumed with summer country air. Fragrant raspberry, lilac and candied watermelon follow through on the palate. The lilting taste of juicy plums and cedar spice are long lasting. 93 SPIRITS Western Son Handcrafted Texas Vodka, USA ($20) Bright lemon is concentrated on the nose and offers a clear, sharp focus. The edgy citrus moves into a more billowy texture, with a spice rack of red pepper, sage, lavender and tempered by sweet corn. There's no lack of personalities and pleasantries in this ten-times-distilled spirit. 92 BLUE RIDGE SPIRITS Brazos Texas Style Gin, USA ($25) There's an abundance of lovely citrus aromas in this 80-proof gin, lemon-lime is nose-friendly and readies the palate for a peppered punch of grapefruit, mint and Bergamot. This 80-proofer is robust but kind, a gentle giant when it comes to stature and flavor. 90 BLUE RIDGE SPIRITS Polly's Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Scotland ($99) From Tullibardine Distillery in the Highlands, this limited-edition single malt is a collaboration between California's Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Scotland's Alexander Murray Corporation. The whisky, named for Polly Firestone Walker, came out of a "What if?" question: What would happen if Scotch whisky was aged in the same bourbon barrels used for Firestone Walker's wines, stouts and imperial bitters? Sixty barrels were shipped to Scotland and the result- ing whisky, aged in oak and ale casks has a distinctive malty, yeasty nose. The flavor profile of this light straw-hued spirit tastes of oatmeal with fresh peaches and heather honey. There's a leesy, briny, coconut middle that pushes towards graininess on the finish. 91 GREAT VALUE PICK! Leese-Fitch 2014 Pinot Noir, California ($12) Rose bramble, nutmeg and plum are among the array of perfumed, exotic notes, from start to finish. This is a great value Pinot Noir, with aromatics and acidity. 89 3 BADGE ENOLOGY Napa Small percentages of Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot and Merlot are added to the 82% Cabernet Sauvignon. After 80 years, this winery continues to show a world-class style and here, great value as well. Potent perfume of currant and savory herbs lead to a luxurious palate. SPIRITS GREAT VALUE PICK! Leese-Fitch 2014 Pinot Noir, California ($12) nutmeg and plum are among the array of perfumed, exotic notes, from start to finish. This is a great value Pinot Noir, with aromatics and acidity.