The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2018

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20  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2018 The Ransom Note is a monthly column by Tasting Panel East Coast Editor David Ransom. Each month, David connects readers with some of the people, products, and events making news along the Eastern Seaboard. story and photos by David Ransom I n spite of the late-summer heat, I can almost hear you lamenting the non-stop buying, selling, and drinking of crisp whites and rosés. Fortunately, and oddly enough, the dog days of the season are a fitting time to bring a focus back to red wine. There are, of course, a few caveats: They should be softer, less-tannic selections that pair well with lighter, ingredient–driven fare, as these particularly appeal to customers in the warm-weather months. Earlier this summer, I struck the perfect balance with the help of two wine producers making stellar red wines from Pinot Noir and Shiraz. First, at New York's Irvington in the W Hotel Union Square, I became acquainted with the wonderful Pinot Noirs of Etude Winery in Napa, where Winemaker Jon Priest crafts excellent wines from heirloom clones grown on Etude's Los Carneros properties, including Grace Benoist Ranch. Atypical for Carneros, these vineyards primarily consist of volcanic soils rather than the uplifted clay prevalent in the region, making for some of Carneros' most dynamic and interesting Pinot Noirs. A Pinot Noir specialist, Priest runs a very ambitious program at Etude, which produces excellent bottlings made with fruit sourced from the Willamette Valley, Santa Rita Hills, Sonoma Coast, and even New Zealand's Central Otago in addition to multiple Carneros offerings. I found the whole range to be outstanding. Next, during a very entertaining lunch at Covina, it was off to Australia—at least virtually—to try the wines from Neil McGuigan, four- time International Wine & Spirit Competition International Winemaker of the Year (and quite the colorful storyteller). The McGuigan family has been making wines in the Hunter Valley for more than 100 years and boasts Australia's top-selling Shiraz. Their new The Plan line ($12/bottle) is perfect for everyday drinking or by-the-glass programs, but they also pair perfectly with meals straight off the barbie. Neil's cellar-worthy Hand Made Shiraz line ($45), meanwhile, comes from vineyards just outside Langhorne Creek on South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula. These powerful yet elegant wines serve as the epitome of Aussie Shiraz production. McGuigan Wines are imported by Palm Bay International. Hot-Weather Reds to Enjoy in Late Summer Neil McGuigan with his The Plan wines. Etude Winemaker Jon Priest.

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