The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2018

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Page 68 of 124

68  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2018 6th Sense 2016 Syrah, Lodi ($16) The Phillips brothers planted one of the first Syrah vineyards in California in the early 1980s, and now that the family is in its sixth generation, it makes sense that the 2016 vintage is a stunner. Peppered plums greet the nose and precede a dense palate of sweet meat, Worcestershire sauce, and earthy strawberry jam. This is aged 14 months in French oak. 91 MICHAEL DAVID WINERY Perfusion 2016 Pinot Noir, San Francisco Bay ($36) With its temperate climate and rich soil, Wildcat Canyon is a coastal site for the vineyards that run along the eastern margin of the San Francisco Bay. This Pinot Noir's flavor profile grace- fully mirrors the aromas of its ripe and floral-tinged nose of strawberry and earth. Mushrooms and dried leaves enter mid-palate, offering up an array of Italian herbs and cranberry before the rounded, spiced-cedar finish. 92 Benziger Family Winery 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ($45) Made with certified- organic grapes, utilizing native yeast fermentation, and aged in French oak, this special Pinot Noir lifts aromas of tilled soil and sweet cherries out of the glass. It's savory on the palate with sweet tobacco and still-fragrant dried roses. 93 THE WINE GROUP Cannonball Eleven 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County ($35) According to the producer, "eleven" signifies a quest for distinction and is considered a "Master Number." We found this masterful white to be one of the best Sauv Blancs we've tasted this year. By using small vineyard parcels and working with attentive viticulturists, this winery has crafted a wine that spoke to us of sunshine, rocky-red soil, and exceptional fruit. Aromas of marshmallow, chamomile, lychee, and pineapple stun, while hints of key lime pie create a sensuousness that works well with grassy notes followed by just-ripe peach and mango. Tinges of sunflower linger on the tongue through the finish. This wine is primarily fermented in stainless steel with a small portion fermented in French oak. 94 Cedar + Salmon 2017 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($19) Reminiscent of a fine Alsace- style wine, this Oregon charmer exudes a nectar-like perfume of apricot and pear feathered by a temperance of honeysuckle. Unctuous on the palate, a crush of ripe pear sidles with pineapple, peach, and key lime, which come in midway. The acid is not razor-sharp, but it heads that way, cutting through the sweeter side. It's an overdeliver- ing release that trends crisp and lean on the finish. 93 3 BADGE BEVERAGE Umani Ronchi 2015 Jorio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC, Italy ($17) Sweet Luxardo cherries and tobacco interplay with dry tannins in this savory red. Notes of cinnamon and spiced clove keep its nature complex as the finish trails off with heather and espresso. 91 VINEYARD BRANDS Gratus Vineyards 2014 Estate Petite Sirah, Napa Valley ($45) Located in the lee of Howell Mountain, the vineyard site is protected from fog and gets plenty of sunshine for ripening. Talented winemaker Robbie Meyer does it again, creating an expressive, dynamic red. Aromas of dark cherry and lilacs are dense— almost syrupy, but not sweet. Melted chocolate and blackberry join hands with anise and violets as the mouthfeel's remarkable concentration paves the way for a pleasurable finish. 94 Kenwood Vineyards 2016 Six Ridges Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County ($22) This sur lie–aged white refers to Sonoma County's best wine regions, as well as the mountain ridges that border the winery's vineyards. Vibrant summer stone fruit and lemon wedge are mirrored on the palate as a vanilla creaminess seasoned by cinnamon and nutmeg persists through the finish. 91 Francis Coppola 2015 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Stuhlmuller Vineyard, Alexander Valley ($62) Sweet tobacco and violets conjoin for a beautiful perfume with the essence of dark plum serving as the matchmaker. Its sensual, plush texture lends itself to the melting effect of dark chocolate on the palate. Raspberry liqueur and a wash of cedar and coffee complete the experience. 95 Publisher's PICKS

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