The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2015

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78  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2015 PICKS In each issue THE TASTING PANEL's Publisher and Editorial Director, Meridith May, selects her favorite wines and spirits of the month. Check here for the latest arrivals in our offices, the hottest new brands on the market and an occasional revisited classic. Worthy of a smooch. French-style double bizou. Wildly infatuated. Seriously smitten. Head over heels in love. PHOTO: DOUG YOUNG Publisher's WINES Leese-Fitch 2013 Merlot, California ($12) Aromas and flavors of cherrywood tobacco are deep and sinewy. Mid palate, the acid- ity kicks in with a spicy sassafras. On the finish, rhubarb is tart and cocoa is sweet. What a happy ending! 91 THE OTHER GUYS Leese-Fitch 2013 Pinot Noir, California ($12) Tar, leather, black- berry and basil: that's a complex start for a value-driven Pinot Noir, but this one has stepped up its game. Did I mention game? The rustic middle is crowded with deep rich earth and minerals and the flavors endure through the Bordeaux-like finish. 90 THE OTHER GUYS Concrete 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi ($20) Head-trained old-vine Zinfandel vineyards planted in the early 1900s continue to flourish as experienced in this lush, mouth-generous smooth operator. Fermented in a combination of 75-year-old concrete tanks and 60-gallon new and used French and American oak barrels. Winemakers Barry Gnekow and Joseph Smith produced a jewel. As bold as it is reserved, the bramble, oak and boysenberry notes are spiced with cinnamon espresso. 93 Tenute dei Vallarino 2012 La Ladra, Barbera d'Asti Superiore, Italy ($18) Baked raspberry pie in piquant spices meets cherry oak in a plushly textured, streamlined, Old World red. Deep, dark, earthy fruits harmonize with bright acidity. 90 RUSSIAN STANDARD VODKA Katnook 2013 Founder's Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia ($22) The name references John Riddoch, founder of Coonawarra, a small region in South Australia known for its porous red, clay-over-limestone soils. Cabernet is heralded here for its structure, and this wine tasted like one three times its retail price. This expressive deep red speaks of spearmint and chaparral, with smack- ing blackberry that rounds out its rustic tannins and a spicy mid-palate. 91 FREIXENET USA Decades 5 2010 Petit Verdot, Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley ($145) Petit Verdot is considered the fifth Bordeaux grape, and at Decades 5, producer Adam Coremin devotes himself 100% to this variety. The fruit is grown high above the Napa Valley floor on Atlas Peak's renowned volcanic-soil, 1,400- foot Stagecoach Vineyard. Chalky, fine violet petal tannins match the floral scent that lifts from denser coffee and soy aromas. Chewy, dusty and laden with the darkest fruit and plum skins, it opens up texturally to satin. The plush fruit gets plusher but the mystery and depth continues into a well of black ink. 95 Meridith May photographed at Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles, CA.

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