The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2018

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20  /  the tasting panel  /  september 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. by David Ransom I f you read either of my columns—this one or The Ransom Report in our sister publication The SOMM Journal—on a regular basis, you know I'm a firm believer in thinking outside the box to explore wines, regions, and produc- ers that are not necessarily in one's wheelhouse. In that vein, this Note is a wine-inspired journey experienced while in Aspen (light bulb: East Coast Editor Goes West) this summer for the annual Food & Wine Classic. My first out-of-the-box experience came courtesy of Bee d'Vine Honey Wine from Sonoma County. Technically mead in its purest form, it's the passion project of winemaker/conservationist Ayele Solomon, who drew inspiration from Ethiopia's rainforests, source of the traditional Ethiopian honey wine known as T'ej, to make his own version of the ancient beverage. Made solely with honey and water, Bee d'Vine is produced without the addition of flavorants. Two styles are made: demi sec ($45) and sparkling ($40). I found both delightfully complex and a nice change from grape-based wine. (For more information, visit The second revelation occurred as I tasted South African wines during lunch with Winemaker Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof, located in the Franschhoek Valley. Probably best known for The Chocolate Block, the wildly successful Syrah-dominant red blend that's a perennial steakhouse favorite, Kent produces a wide range of wines at different price points. I was particularly attracted to the Cinsault- based Wolftrap Rosé ($12; 87% ABV for the 2017 release), which shows cherry, plum, and lovely spice. Imported by Vineyard Brands, it's a complex wine built for pairing with food. The final surprise of the event: Chardonnay from a Sauvignon Blanc specialist. Wandering the tent, I happened upon new Geyser Peak Winemaker Randy Meyer, a California winemaking veteran who recently took the reins at this historic Sonoma winery probably best known for its Sauvignon Blanc program. One enticing wine we tried from Geyser Peak's Outlot Wines collection was the 2015 Chardonnay ($22), a small-production, barrel- fermented wine from select Magnolia Peninsula vineyard lots of three differ- ent clones: Dijon, Clone 17, and Clone 4. Bright and filled with notes of apple pie and acacia, this wine-with-a-story is perfect for hand-selling. For more on Outlot, visit Embracing the Unknown at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic Geyser Peak Winemaker Randy Meyer with Tasting Panel East Coast Editor David Ransom. The label for the Outlot 2015 Chardonnay.

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