The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2014

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Page 16 of 128

16 / the tasting panel / march 2014 Brief Encounters 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 influential importers, winemakers, distillers . . . well, you name it. 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 THE MESSAGE I f Bordeaux is the sacred training ground for aspiring sommeliers, then Italy, with more than 2,000 indigenous grape varieties, offers up a secular counterpoint, aptly described by Diego Meraviglia, Vice President of the North American Sommelier Association, as an "amusement park for wine geeks." On January 21, Meraviglia, who recently placed fifth in the world at the 2013 World's Best Sommelier competition in London, hosted a class on Sicilian wine at Trattoria Neapolis Italian Restaurant & Bar in Pasadena, CA. Neapolis owner Perry Vidalakis worked with Meraviglia to pioneer a new wine program. "The goal was to lead patrons out of their comfort zone, away from the usual suspects like Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot," says Meraviglia. After a complete overhaul of the wine list, Vidalakis and Meraviglia devised a six-part tasting series aimed at high- lighting the newer, more exotic wines on the list, region by region. Bar managers who haven't tried courting patrons in this manner may want to consider it, as the series has sparked great interest, selling out and introducing new and regular Neapolis patrons to stellar wines like the small production Murgo 2010 Etna Bianco DOC, a crisp white suggestive of white flowers, black licorice, golden apple, kiwi and capers. The series began with Piemonte and Tuscany, followed by Sicily (which I attended) and still to come are classes on: Umbria (March 4), Campania (April 15) and Puglia (May 27). More information: and www. —Jonathan Cristaldi Italy's More Obscure Wines Fill the List at Trattoria 16 / the tasting panel / march 2014 PHOTO: ROB BROWN PHOTO: ROB BROWN Diego Meraviglia. Blue Chair Bay Rum Partners with USBG B lue Chair Bay Rum and The Cocktail Guru, Jonathan Pogash (pictured), hosted a rum tasting and cocktail creation event at Baby Blues BBQ in West Hollywood, CA, in recogni- tion of Los Angeles's service industry. Blue Chair Bay has entered a national partnership with the USBG for 2014 and will be working together as the brand continues to grow.

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