The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2010

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Page 14 of 100

THE MESSAGE Whether THE TASTING PANEL goes to the brand execs or the brands call us, there is an abundance of news to report, from the latest releases to behind-the-scenes experiences with some of the world’s most infl uential importers, winemakers, distillers . . . well, you name it. Brief Encounters We may not have enough pages in each issue to devote as much attention as we would like to each person whose path we cross, but please note that if it’s in the publication, we deem it noteworthy —Meridith May, Publisher & Executive Editor Royal Visit M aria Martínez-Sierra—the “Queen of Rioja”—is one of Spain’s most-respected female winemakers and perhaps Rioja’s most infl uential wine ambas- sador to the world. Once a year, this head winemaker for Bodegas Montecillo comes to the United States; her recent tour included Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Chicago and New York City. “I am the queen,” she smiles and says with an abundance of jocularity, “because all the people working in the business used to be men.” Martínez- Sierra’s royal status is actually based on over 30 years of exceptional wines and a story that speaks to her formidable clout. In 1975, after being hired by Montecillo, it was no small task to convince the owners to sell the estate vineyards dating back to 1874. But she insists she had a good reason: “It’s a myth that a vineyard can make consistently good wine year after year. It’s not true at all.” Without being tied to a certain vine- yard, Martinez-Sierra only buys Rioja grapes, preferring vineyards where yields are severely limited. Her latest reds, the Bodegas Montecillo 2006 Crianza, 2003 Reserva and 2001 Gran Reserva, are 100-percent Tempranillo, displaying smooth, rich expressions not only of the grapes, but of a sense of place; the 2009 Albariño is a ripe and fl oral white. “When I consider the quality of grapes for a year is not going to be good enough, I prefer not to make wine at all,” Martínez-Sierra says. “That way the consumer knows when- ever they buy a bottle of Montecillo, it’s going to be good.” Bodegas Montecillo is imported by Underdog Wine Merchants. –Anthony Head P-J ‘02 Perrier-Jouët’s Hervé Deschamps with a bottle of the 2002 Fleur de Champagne. P 14 / the tasting panel / june 2010 errier-Jouët’s Chef de Caves Hervé Deschamps visited the U.S. Market in April to introduce the new 2002 vintage of Fleur de Champagne, as well as the NV Grand Brut, 2000 Fleur de Champagne Blanc De Blancs and 2002 Fleur de Champagne Rosé. Packaged in the classic Perrier- Jouët bottle with white and pink anemones outlined in gold, the 2002 vintage is an elegant wine with fl oral and citrus notes. —Allison Levine PHOTO: ANTHONY HEAD

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