The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2015

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Page 28 of 136

28  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2015 SAN FRAN INSIDER Year-End Highlights P unctuated by dramatic wildfires and a protracted drought, one of the earliest seasons on record marked 2015 as the year climate shift became palpable for many Californians. As we wait in ready anticipation for an El Niño that's slated to provide some relief—if not a reprieve—from our water deficit, San Fran Insider reflects on a year that's going to be remembered as a quality-over-quantity vintage. After the sale of Meiomi, Joseph Wagner is focused on a new venture, Copper Cane Wine & Provisions. While Joe makes wine—he's developing three brands: Napa-based Carne Humana, Elouan Oregon Pinot Noir and a California Beran Zinfandel—and custom cigars, wife Amber makes luxury swimwear under the Mia Marcelle label. The planets have aligned for Jen Wall, who marks her 20th anniversary as Winemaker at Barefoot Cellars. Founded 50 years ago by Davis Bynum as Barefoot Bynum Burgundy, the iconic value brand was renamed 30 years ago by Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey and purchased by Gallo in 2005. Wall is adored by a loyal base of consumers both at home and in 50 international markets. For Elhers Estate winemaker Kevin Morrisey, "Tannins reveal the terroir." Morrisey has produced aromatic, lithe mono varietal wines from the organically-farmed 42-acre vineyard since 2009. His wines reveal finely-tuned varietal typicity and are handled with restraint and oak integration that show the utmost respect for the fruit. Hunter Valley winemakers Chris Tyrrell and Mike de Iuliis (de uli-iss) teamed up with local expert Chuck Hayward for an eye-opening look at the Semillons of Hunter Valley. The variety shows naturally high acids and methoxypyrazines when young, and remains youthful for a decade before evolving towards smoke, thyme, cream and lemon zest with 20 years in bottle. Brancott Estate's Chief Winemaker Patrick Materman (right) and Perrier- Jouët Chef de Caves Hervé Deschamps joined forces for an elegant tasting at Michael Mina restaurant. Materman debuted Chosen Rows ($80), an age-worthy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and Deschamps a stunning mischer'traxler Art Nouveau bottle design for the 2007 vintage Cuvée Belle Époque. Brancott's push towards premium is admirable, with marked levels of intensity and Riesling-like character with age, while Belle Époque occupies a class of its own. A QUALITY-OVER-QUANTITY VINTAGE story and photos by Deborah Parker Wong

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