The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2014

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TINSELTOWN TASTINGS FROM BOURBON TO CHABLIS, I LIVED A DECEMBER THAT WAS FULL by Jonathan Cristaldi Frank Sinatra Jr. performing at the launch of Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select in Los Angeles. PHOTO: RICK WILLIAMS And One More for the Road . . . PHOTO COPYRIGHT SÉGUINOT-BORDET "N o, he was drinking Jack Daniels," Frank Sinatra Jr. said to me, backstage after giving a private performance for an intimate gathering at the Sunset Tower Hotel in Los Angeles. I had asked if Sinatra Sr. really drank it onstage, and to have it confirmed by Sinatra Jr. was as good as diamonds. Frank Sinatra drank and spoke onstage about Jack Daniel's so often he unknowingly became the first real brand ambassador for a spirit. To honor Old Blue Eyes' un-parched commitment to, the company has produced Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select, a special new top-shelf release ($199). Very few people were allowed into the elder Sinatra's inner circle, though one man he trusted and welcomed into his backstage dressing room was Angelo Lecchesi, a salesman who started at Jack Daniel's in 1953 and who at 93, still works there. Lechessi's relationship to the Sinatra family helped bring the Sinatra Select bottling to fruition. "After charring, the 'Sinatra Barrel' is grooved, which doubles the inside surface area, and all the wood that has been removed sits in the barrel and comes in contact with the whiskey," explains Jeff Arnett, Jack Daniel's Master Distiller. "The result is a big, bold and smooth whiskey." I asked Frank Jr. what his dad would say about this commemorative sour mash: "He'd be terribly honored, as I am, and he'd drink it with a little bit of ice and water back," he said. In 150 years only four names have graced a bottle of JD: Jack Daniel himself; Lem Motlow, Daniel's nephew, who saw the distillery through Prohibition; Angelo Lucchesi; and now Frank Sinatra. The following week brought to town Jean-François Bordet, President of the Grands Vins de Chablis and Françoise Roure, Marketing and Communication Manager of the Bureau Interprofessional des Vins de Bourgogne. Over a multi-course dinner and "Pure Chablis" pairing at Lucques on Melrose Avenue, I chatted with Bordet about the 2012 vintage, which he believes is one of the greatest vintages in decades. "No disease, no weather issues and we had a wonderful growing season," he said. Of six wines we sampled, Bordet's Domaine SéguinotBordet 2010 Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume ($35) was a real treat—an expressive nose of lees, melons and orange blossoms leads to a fleshy wine of ripe melons, limes, more floral notes and a lengthy mineral finish. Today, Chablis accounts for 18% of the Burgundy harvest, or roughly 40 million bottles. And of the Grand Cru and Premier Cru Chablis wines, many will age 10–15+ years, with a short dormant period in between until they liven up again. Compared to other white Burgundies, Chablis prices are modest and offer superb value, especially in the $20–$45 price point. Look out for the 2012 vintage. Scan the QR code to listen to one of Frank Junior's favorite toasts! Spotlight on Undurraga's T.H. series with the Undurraga 2011 Terroir Hunter Pinot Noir, Leyda, Chile ($24.99). A rich nose of sweet red cherries and dried strawberries, red licorice and vanilla gives way to a gentle wine, round and soft with zingy acidity, showing earthier overtones along with sour cherry and vanilla notes. Only 1,460 cases produced. 102  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2013 TP0114_66-108.indd 102 12/19/13 9:48 PM

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