The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2014

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Page 70 of 128

Alder Springs Vineyard 2012 Apex 39, Mendocino ($39) High-calcium, low-fertility soils, high-density planting, afternoon breezes and no fog are just some of the ingredients in the formula for this impressive white. The estate fruit for small-production Apex 39 – a blend of 54% Roussanne, 29% Marsanne and 17% Viognier—is grown at an elevation of 2,700 feet on rocky hillsides. The cutting-edge acidity knives into a sheath of cinnamon-baked apple, sea shells and white pepper. Mid-palate a floral quality, not unlike a delicate saké, emerges, flowering into a creamy middle and a lean, food-driven finish. 94 Pennywise 2012 Petite Sirah, California ($11) Value alert! Super ripe, with a violet-blueberry sweetness up front, then peppered, leathery tannins march in to stain and conquer. A distant spice clips at each sip but is softened by a bright raspberry tartness. For an everyday wine, this is a full-flavored, varietally correct treat. 90 THE OTHER GUYS Writer's Block 2011 Syrah, Lake County ($16) Round, dark and spiced with an easy lush- ness. It's an Old World profile, mapped against a shadow of coffee, mulled plums and graphite. 89 STEELE WINES Sailor's Grave 2010 Red Wine, Napa Valley ($39) With a pedigree of Howell Mountain and Oakville fruit, this Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Malbec blend is barrel-aged for 20 months and given one year in bottle. From the first sip, it rockets to its high and mighty purple- ness, a violet-stained black cherry and maple toastiness. Grainy tannins are licked by raspberry and espresso—it's big and waiting to evolve. 93 BARREL HEAD CELLARS Desert Wind Winery 2011 "Ruah," Wahluke Slope ($20) The Hebrew word ruah means "breath" or "spirit," and surely Doug Fries and his son Greg give life to this wine off the 500 acres of dry desert vineyards they farm on Washington State's Wahluke Slope. This Bordeaux blend of 45% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Cab Franc shows off its dry, dusty, coffee bean tannins, smoky cedar and ripe black fruit—but through all this, the juiciness eeks out, enlighten- ing the mid-palate. There's a textural leanness to this structured body—powdered with cocoa and tight with stone fruit pits to prove a real age-worthiness. 92 Masterson's 12 Year Old Straight Wheat Whiskey ($79) Think of a sandy beach: smell the sea shells, the clay beneath, even the ocean breeze. Just add a hint of grain and sumptuous vanilla'd oak. The choice Canadian wheat and mineral-rich glacial water that make up this 100 proof spirit, lend those notes to a deser t garden: cactus, shale and ear thy flowerbeds. Cajun spice covers cinnamon-orange peel. It's complicated but as the butter melts on the tongue, it's also luxurious. 97 35 MAPLE STREET PICKS In each issue THE TASTING PANEL's Publisher and Executive Editor, Meridith May, selects her favorite wines and spirits of the month. Check here for the latest arrivals in our offices, the hottest new brands on the market and an occasional revisited classic. Worthy of a smooch. French-style double bizou. Wildly infatuated. Seriously smitten. Head over heels in love. Meridith May with Raul Yrastorza, GM of Zengo in Santa Monica. See their artisanal spirits tasting notes on page 94. PHOTO: JEREMY BALL Publisher's 70 / the tasting panel / march 2014 Mast Strai Thin s c m t sp d ea

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