The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2015

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Page 104 of 136

104  /  the tasting panel  /  december 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. Publisher's WINES Kenwood Vineyards 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County ($10) First the tropical shows itself: lusty with pineapple and mango. Summer melons follow in juicy, fragrant glory. Lemon blos- soms, creamy lime and crisp acidity and tone and lively edge. 92 PERNOD-RICARD USA Grgich Hill 2012 Miljenko's Selection Petit Verdot, Yountville, Napa Valley ($65) Fruit, flower and mineral are a lively trio here. The fruit: blackberry that sheds its tartness and melts on the tongue. The flower : violet, of course, kissed with new leather. The mineral: graphite that winds its way around tight tannins. An architecturally sound wine. 94 Carlson 2012 Cabernet Franc, Santa Ynez ($30) This deep violet- plum dreamily textured red comes from one of the best blocks for this variety in the Santa Ynez Valley, off the Curtis Estate, set on a hilly mesa. Chuck Carlson blends in 20% Petit Verdot, making it chewy, intense and creamy. Juiciness supports tannins and vice versa; flavors are complex, mouthfeel is elegant and nuances such as graphite and sweet tobacco emerge. 93 Vaeni 2008 Damascenos Dry Red Wine, Naoussa, Greece ($25) Italian herbs are prominent on the nose but instantly on the palate they meld with rasp- berry as if they were meant never to be apart. Dry, dusky textured tannins are accompanied by fine acid and oregano-seasoned cherry cocoa. Light-bodied and lovely. 93 STELLAR IMPORTING COMPANY Poiema 2012 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands ($20) The superb balance here is exhibited by stunning earth and acidity. Spiced plum and wild cherry jump from bright fruit to savory baking spices (molasses-kissed strawberry, tarragon and cinnamon). This Pinot gets high score for food pairing as well. 92 SPECIALTY CELLARS Shafer 2012 Relentless, Napa Valley ($85) A balanced beauty. Tart cranberry rubs elbows with dusty dried cherry blossom tannins. Winemaker Elias Fernandez is at his relentless best (after 30 years with the winery!). This meaty Syrah blend (89% Syrah/11% Petite Sirah) is aged for 30 months in 100% new 60-gallon French oak barrels and left another eight months in bottle, which just now starts to soften its core to a velvet smoothness. The grapes are sustainably farmed in the foothills of the Vaca Mountains just south of the Stags Leap District. Anise, white pepper and bitter dark chocolate form the parade at the finish. 96

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