The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2011

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Publisher's 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 offi ces, the hottest new brands on the market and an occasional revisited classic. WINES Ancient Peaks 2009 Renegade, Margarita Vineyard, Paso Robles ($23) A dusty maverick that rides in guns drawn, crowned with a hat of blackest of berries and sporting cherry leather chaps. It is, at its core, the heart of bold. 46% Syrah, 31% Malbec, 23% Petit Verdot. 92 Bradford Mountain 2007 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley ($18) An ascension of rustic black fruit raises a fl ag of dark roast expresso. That's pretty intense in our book. The aromatics make headway into a sweet raspberry compote and become something elegant. Aged 16 months in three different types of oak. 92 Hambrecht Vineyards & Wineries Worthy of a smooch. French-style double bizou. Wildly infatuated. Seriously smitten. Head over heels in love. 88 / the tasting panel / october 201 1 Michael-David 2009 Inkblot Cabernet Franc, Lodi ($35) Blueberry, spiced up for a fĂȘte: a dash of violet and a sensation of graphite. Just short of port, this concentrated blue-black nectar is the winery's fi rst Cab Franc, off of 25-year-old vines. 93 Croze 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, De Coninck Vineyard, Napa Valley ($35) With the right amount of earth, minerality and acidity, this blue-berried red gets extra points for juiciness. Dark currant, rich chocolate and ripe plum add a fragrance and fl avor to an Old Worldiness. This is a regal sipper. 90 Vine Cliff 2009 Chardonnay, Los Carneros ($39) An underbelly of melons drip with honeyed lemons. The oak is there, but subdued. 91 SPIRITS Chopin Wheat Vodka ($30) Oatmeal on the nose gives it away! The estate wheat shows clean and sweet notes, with a comfy pillow weight and a grassy side that keeps a lean edge. As it opens, red berry notes appear on the nose and maintain a presence on the palate. A wonderful surprise. 93 CHOPIN IMPORTS LTD. Reynoso Family Vineyards 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley ($60) Makes some other wines come off like sandpaper: this is a lush, smooth ride with cranberry and spiced tea notes while creamy vanilla and sweet tobacco ride shotgun. 93 Truett-Hurst 2009 Petite Sirah, Burning Man, Dry Creek Valley ($33) A magnanimous wine: noble in its display of admirable acidity; lofty in its black tea/combo white and black pepper edge and generous in its offering of chocolate and blackberries. 93 PICKS

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