The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2014

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Page 81 of 132

Kenwood 2010 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County ($75) Artist Keith Wicks's "Sonoma Serenity" contrasts the stillness of boats on water with intensity of his bright orange-glow sunset and a peaceful, violet sea. This is the 26th vintage for this wine, aged 26 months in French oak, and then aged an additional 18 months before release. Select vineyards in Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma Valley create a dense, opaque black-red. The wine is expressive and spirited, fra- granced with chocolate, plum and cassis. Brandied cherries and cinnamon hang out on the upper palate for the entire ride. Enormous in stature, but lush and balanced; generous without greed, its flow of flavors, from sweet tobacco to black licorice, give note to a wine that will age with grace. 95 PERNOD RICARD USA SPIRITS Snow Leopard Vodka, Poland ($35) The fresh- ness of spelt, the grain that is the foundation for this six-times-distilled vodka, is a result of its tough husk that protects it from outside pollutants. The creamy texture is accented with rye and black pepper notes. 89 EDRINGTON USA Uncle Val's Restorative Gin, USA ($39) Juniper and coriander may take the initial lead for the wake-me-up character of this American-made gin, but the nose for this handcrafted new expression of Uncle Val's (sibling to Uncle Val's Botanical Gin) soon takes flight to melting violets and dried Mandarin orange peel. Exquisitely posi- tioned, the violets take the front line on the palate with first sip, surrounded by cucumbers and a garden of roses. Pinched by a parade of black pepper and tea tannins, this is indeed a restorative for the senses! 94 35 MAPLE STREET SPIRITS Bib & Tucker Bourbon Whiskey, USA ($55) Named for the finery one would wear for special occasions back in the day, the six-year-aged bourbon has a nose of antiques, new saddle leather, chamomile-soaked butterscotch drops and warm cinnamon-kissed cedar. If that doesn't bring up images of Americana, the flavor profile mirrors the nose, urging on that sense of peace, harmony and balance: all the good things you taste and should feel while sipping a great 92-proof bourbon. 96 35 MAPLE STREET SPIRITS Bird Dog Moonshine Peppermint, USA ($19.99) A most outstanding and pleasant nose, so reminiscent of holiday candy canes that it almost brought tears to my eyes. The long, lingering beginning, middle and eventual finish showcases a well-made 80-proof spirit with a lively and creamy mouthfeel. A fun sipper that gives you paws to reflect. 91 WESTERN SPIRITS PHOTO: JASON KINDIG See another of Meridith's picks on page 42!

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