The Tasting Panel magazine

January/February 2015

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january/february 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  91 Rusack 2012 Ballard Canyon Estate Syrah, Santa Barbara County ($27) A sweet black cherry nose and a touch of chocolate and anise give way to a palate of coffee richness and black strap molasses mak- ing waves along a texturally elongated path, crowding the palate with dense, ripe fruit, black pepper and bittersweet dark chocolate. This is affordable luxury. 93 Tolosa Vineyards 2011 Estate Syrah, Edna Valley ($32) 2011 was cold enough, but in California's cold-climate region of Edna Valley, the Tolosa Syrah (with 9% Petite Sirah blended in) still managed to ripen and then had the luxury of spending two years in barrel. The austere nature of this wine shows soy sauce and violets hand-in- hand in a dense body. The fruit was a distant star, shining bright with blackberry currant, bowing to the peppered middle. The finish line was a surge of inky black cherries. 93 Z'IVO 2010 Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley ($36) After flocks of hundreds of hungry migratory birds wiped out 40% of the crop, the small but ripe harvest resulted in a perfumed nose that is redolent of soil-rich leaves and black cherry. White pepper and stone-licking minerality are on the edge of an inner darkness of brown-black scented florals and bramble. 91 Lexington 2011 Cabernet Franc, Gist Ranch Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains ($45) A new project from longtime Santa Cruz winegrower Tom Fogarty, Jr. and winemaker Nathan Kandler, Lexington's first vintage comes from their densely planted vineyards at a 2200-foot elevation in sandstone on the Pacific Plate. From its aromas of blood-iron to its spicy jalapeño grip, a rush of dark blue fruit whooshes in and wows the palate. Juicy, meaty, floral with a hint of salinity on the finish, this is a Cab Franc that deserves praise. 94 LEXINGTON WINE CO Joseph Jewell 2011 Pinot Noir, Floodgate Vineyard, Russian River ($42) This Old World–style Pinot reminded me of an herb garden adjacent to a strawberry patch. The minerals in the soil enrich the tobacco and pretty sage and basil. The fruit offers up light, bright scents of mulled berries. Chocolate and white pepper add yet more depth to the open floodgate of flavors. 91 Wallis Family Estate 2011 "Little Sister" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley ($65) Meaty, tannic, stoic and sturdy—this teeth-grabber is nevertheless expressive and satin-textured. Bravo to winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown, who fought a challenging rainier- than-most growing season. The darkest fruits and a fearless ripeness are alive in this red. 92 Levendi 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley ($65) Tar and violets position in an initial formation that is simultane- ously insistent and lush. A juicy flow of broad, inky strokes of tar, black strap molasses and basil paint a portrait of a sturdy, long-lasting keeper. 95 Cardinale 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($250) An inkwell with a patina of seasoned ingredients: tarragon, rosemary, soil, soy and lavender. With dark-cherried cocoa as a fleshy backdrop, this icon reined in the notoriously cold vintage with panache. Blackberry pepper and dried plum were like an exotic incense on the velvet finish. Cardinale is a limited-production blend made for each vintage from Napa Valley's most recognized mountain appellations. 89% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Merlot, aged 18 months in 81% new French oak. 94 JACKSON FAMILY WINES SPIRITS Covington Gourmet Vodka, USA ($30) Distilled in North Carolina from sweet potatoes, the nose on this 80-proof Southern Belle is as sweet as pie . . . sweet potato pie, that is. A Gold Medalist from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the palates-that-be understand the height of complexity from this smooth and deluxe white spirit. Its rich and creamy body has an air of finery: peppered and mouth-pleasing. 91 Xoriguer Mahón Gin, Spain ($30) Distilled from wine grapes (Xarel·lo and Parellada from Penedès) and Mediterranean berries in wood-fired copper pot stills, and the label bears the image of the windmill built in 1874 on the family estate on the Spanish island of Menorca. Xoriguer Gin has an official designation (denominación geográfica) as a traditional specialty product, "E.T.G. Mahón-Menorca," that is recognized throughout the European Union. Lavender, coriander and bits of juniper stay focused in a creamy mouthfeel while lemon peel and fir tree is persistent on the nose with every sip. 94 PM SPIRITS – NICOLAS PALAZZI NICOLAS@PMSPIRITS.COM Deepwells Dry Gin, USA ($35) A glacial aquifer below Long Island provides the water for this pot-distilled gin made from 28 botanicals. The base is Long Island Spirits' LIV Potato Vodka and, at 94 proof, Deepwells zings the mouth with first sip and then calms itself to a creamy, grapefruit and lemon tart light- ness. White flowers and honey are the chorus to a juniper rockin' lead singer. 90 LONG ISLAND SPIRITS FEW Spirits Bourbon Whiskey, USA ($50) A traditional high-rye bourbon mash- bill is fermented with special, peppery yeast that results in some heady flavors and aromatics. Clove and apricot jam yield to the nose, with a hint of orange spice. The pepper attacks on first sip and lulls the palate with a warming trend that melts into a cinnamon-toasty- butterscotch bliss. 94 FEW SPIRITS 13.5 Thomas Rivers Brown Winemaker: 2011 Little Sister 2011 Little Sister Diamond Mountain District Napa Valley Diamond Mountain District Napa Valley Angwin, Ca ART #20267P Project #18938 DATE: 5.23.13 B E R G I N G L A S S I M P R E S S I O N S For your records only, no need to fax back Screenprint Colors Cream, Red, Metallic Gold & Precious Gold Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon

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