The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2010

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Page 16 of 112

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 Paso Perfect W ith academic qualifi cations that include a B.A. in math from Cornell University and a degree in enology from U.C. Davis, as well as a curriculum vitae that boasts hands-on stints at wineries as diverse as Napa’s Far Niente, Australia’s d’Arenberg and Chile’s Casa Lapostolle, Niner Wine Estates winemaker Amanda Cramer fi nally landed in California’s hottest up-and-coming appellation: Paso Robles. The all-estate vineyards at Niner Estates—the family’s original Bootjack Ranch and newer 139-acre Heart Hill—produce grapes rang- ing from Bordelais varieties (all six, including Carmenère, a favorite of Cramer’s, whose husband is Chilean) to Sangiovese and Barbera, from Rhône-derived Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre to inky Petite Sirah. A new state-of-the-art winemaking facility helps Cramer work magic with the bounty. The winemaker has introduced night harvesting and exten- sive pre-crush sorting to up quality. Amanda Cramer was Winemaker of the Year at the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition. In July, we joined Cramer for a leisurely lunch at L.A.’s Sunset Marquis hotel, where she poured current releases alongside Chef Guillaume Burlion’s exceptional food. “We don’t grow grapes,” states Cramer; “we grow wine.” The winery’s halo wine, Fogcather (2005 vin- tage, SRP $58), is an elegant Bordeaux-style blend, and Cramer divulges that the plan is to eventually create a sibling prestige wine from the Rhône grapes grown at Heaven Hill. Meanwhile, the silky 2007 Merlot ($24) and earthy 2006 Syrah ($20) are eminently drinkable, as is the brick-colored 2007 Sangiovese ($24), with forward fl avors and beauti- fully controlled acidity. —David Gadd 1 / the tasting panel / september 2010 Gallo Spirits Manager Casey Scharetg introduces Camarena tequila to custom- ers at BevMo! oing over the century mark, BevMo! now has more than 100 stores throughout California and Arizona. In late July, THE TASTING PANEL joined the celebrations as the progressive chain opened SoCal locations in Studio City, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. A BevMo! Summer G BevMo! CEO Alan Johnson welcomes customers to the new Santa Monica store on Wilshire Boulevard. PHOTOS: MERIDITH MAY PHOTO: DAVID GADD

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