The Tasting Panel magazine

Nov 09

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96 Laphroaig 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Cask Strength ($60) Creamy, smoked, intense and complex with toasted wood and a long, exqui- site finish. BEAM GLOBAL SPIRITS & WINES 96 Black Bull 30 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky ($200) Ma- tured in sherry oak casks; beautiful, generous nose of wood, spice, toast and caramel; smooth and showing roasted, malty grains, vanilla, and dried red fruits; exquisitely balanced with complexities and layers of flavors with a pronounced kiss of sherry on the finish. PREISS IMPORTS 88 Gran Duque de Alba Crema de Alba Cream Liqueur, Spain ($25) Spicy and showing capsicum and smooth texture. KINDRED SPIRITS 91 Rehorst Premium Mil- waukee Vodka, USA ($30) Silky, bright and showing vanilla and lovely, long finish; lively, clean and dry. GREAT LAKES DISTILLERY 90 Van Gogh Açai-Blueberry Vodka, Netherlands ($27) Clear with a purple cast; sweet, spicy and forward with notes of berries and licorice; long and smooth with balance. VAN GOGH IMPORTS 89 Cazadores Añejo Tequila, Mexico ($31) Medium amber color; smooth, toasty and slightly tannic with roasted agave and oak; spicy, smoky and balanced. BACARDI USA november 2009 / the tasting panel /  55 Alexander Valley attributes make for the Lush Life t he benefits of being both a wine director and a winemaker are many. With constant exposure to both Old and New World wines, you're less likely to fall victim to frame error when you're making wine and, at the same time, you're more likely to be aware of trends and to place a greater emphasis on quality in relation to value. Winegrowing in California is quick to reflect trends, and the cur- rent shift towards balanced, quality-for-value Cabernet Sauvignon is being satisfied by growing regions such as Alexander Valley, where Bordeaux varieties have found lots of success. Alexander Valley is a Sonoma appellation that occupies the northeast corner of the county and runs from south of Healdsburg northward to Cloverdale. The region is protected from fog, and Cabernet Sauvignon grown there often shows ripe, red cherry and cranberry fruit with complex bak- ing spice and chocolate-laced tannins. While Alexander Valley wines are typically quite ripe, some of the most balanced examples are made by winemakers like Jennifer Higgins, who makes both the Roth and Lancaster Estate labels. Her Roth 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon has the deep cherry fruit associ- ated with the estate's unique southern Alexander Valley "sub-appel- lation," as well as forward tannins that can develop a plush texture. Roth show plenty of concentration and good tannin integrity, both of which are key indicators of quality and at $30 SRP, value is a given. —John Lancaster, Wine Director, Boulevard, San Francisco

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