The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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Page 83 of 136

july 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  83 Spell 2012 Pinot Noir, Terra de Promissio Vineyard, Sonoma Coast ($58) The fruit for this tiny-production Pinot is grown east of Petaluma on a rolling hill in the Petaluma Gap, buffeted by cold maritime winds. The elegant red is savory- spicy with aromas of green brush but softened on the palate with cherry wood. In fact, the wine's perfume can cast a spell and cause you to believe you are lost in the woods. Nudged by cocoa powder, nutmeg and rose petal bitters on the finish, you awake from the reverie and continue to sip. 95 SPELL ESTATE Franciscan Estate 2012 "Magnificat" Meritage Red, Napa Valley ($50) Aged for 20 months in 70% new oak, this is one of California's original Meritage blends, a wine produced since 1985—and one of my all-time favorites. The 73% Cabernet Sauvignon (followed by Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc) is named for Bach's masterpiece. Dark fruit and dry coffee tannins align with its fine acidity which brighten and enlivens the nose and palate. An underlying earthiness with plum and cassis balances it out. Still so youthful—she will age with grace. Meow! 95 CONSTELLATION WINES U.S. Yalumba 2008 "The Octavius" Old Vine Shiraz, Barossa, Australia ($90) Massive blackberry-espresso- chocolate entry with soft, lush tannins is a first impression that lasts through the tasting experi- ence. Violets are bright and their dusted petals seem to melt on the tongue. A garden of blueberries and cherry is savory, not sweet, with a touch of black pepper and nutmeg. Rich fruit and spice give a nudge to an acidity which ascends towards the finish with a lean, black tea tannin. 95 NEGOCIANTS USA SPIRITS Maison Leblon Seleção Verde Cachaça, Brazil ($25/375ml.) From the heart of the sugarcane in the 2014 harvest, this still- strength unfiltered alambique cachaça, at 90 proof, offers up essences of a humid, tropical set- ting. The air is instantly perfumed with banana, brown sugar and ripe mango. The taste is sensa- tional and matches its aromas to a tee. A touch of lemongrass and lychee mingle with a crème brûlée finish, holding on to a fine acidity. 93 Kirk and Sweeney 18 Year Dominican Rum, Dominican Republic ($49) With its sandalwood and antique cedar chest per- fume, the tastebuds are enticed with a salted caramel and white pepper-mango flourish on the palate. Vanilla and molasses follow, only to be lead to a luscious tropical heady ripeness of fruits and flowers. 80 proof. 96 35 MAPLE STREET Kirk and Sweeney 23 Year Dominican Rum, Dominican Republic ($59) Scents of deep, rich dark chocolate and citrus- kissed figs make this dark copper vixen intriguing from the start. Sweet coffee beans, roasted with honey and hazelnuts are sinewy and melt on the tongue. A nectar of Sherried peach and brown-sugared orange peel get zingy with a breath of white pepper. Warm and sensuous to the finish. 80 proof. 97 35 MAPLE STREET Michter's Limited Release US*1 Barrel Strength Rye, USA ($75) Bottled at barrel strength (108 proof), this Kentucky straight rye exudes Michter's always complex aromas— full of orange peel, burnt sugar, choco- late leather—with an extra stirring of the senses including cherrywood and peach. On the tongue, the alcohol sets a tone, then dissipates, leaving a warmth of peppered cherries, orange zest, toffee nibs and cocoa. 99 MICHTER'S DISTILLERY LLC

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