The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2015

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Page 64 of 136

64  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2015 In this issue of THE TASTING PANEL, our Wine Editor, Jessie Birschbach, CS—aka JABS, Jessica Anne Birschbach- Sheldon—uses her experi- ence as a sommelier and her background in marketing to rate retail wines on both the inside and outside of the bottle. Let's face it, in off- premise environments, it's usually the packaging that hooks us. For that reason, she'll employ both the classic 100-point number scale on taste, and the "JABS" rating system to assess packaging and brand identity. 1 JAB Clear, legible label, solid branding. Pow! Right in the kisser. 2 JABS Eye catching label and memorable branding. This one packs a one-two punch. 3 JABS Creatively inspiring in both packaging and branding. I'm seeing stars and parakeets. 4 JABS A near work of art and meaningful branding. Don't think I'll last another round. 5 JABS A near work of art and meaningful branding. An instant knock-out! Meiomi Nouveau 2015 Sonoma County, Santa Barbara, Monterey County ($18.99) Ripe boysenberries and cranberry sauce finish with a touch of cocoa powder and my grandmother's rose garden. If you are with a friend who insists they don't like red wine, have them try this. Deemed "Nouveau," after the fresh and fruity Beaujolais (a region in southern Burgundy) Nouveau style released on the third Thursday of November annually, this blend of Pinot Noir also used in their popular Meiomi Pinot Noir, has not been cellared and is therefore meant to be enjoyed young. The packaging has a sophisticated yet approachable feel to it—perfect for its target market. 91 Chill House 2012 Zinfandel, Paso Robles ($19) Glazed red cherry, brown sugar and vanilla jump out at you, but all that sweet doesn't overwhelm as it finishes with wet earth. A little smoky too, like a campfire extinguished by the rain. I was interested to find out that this wine is produced by Peachy Canyon Winery, a highly respected Paso producer known for their Zin! The customized cut label of the "chill house" jumps out at you. 90 Firestone Vineyard 2013 Chardonnay, Santa Ynez Valley ($18) Creamy lemon, pineapple and red apple fold into toasted oak that doesn't overpower the fruit. I love a clean, sharp bottle design that reflects the great history of the winery itself. 89 Twisted 2014 Pinot Grigio, California ($8) On the nose, stone fruits, lemon zest and orange blos- som burst into ripe white peach on the palate; finishes up with an interesting nickel-like minerality. I was a bit surprised at the medium body here too; I'd have expected this Pinot Grigio to be a bit light, but I was diggin' the texture. Really good value. 90 Buried Cane 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($14) Violets, black olives, black currants and mouth-coating tannins wrapped in molasses. There's just a little bit of green in there, too, but a creamy green, like peas. Cool story behind the label imagery—buried cane is used in cool climate practice; winegrowers will bury the grape canes during the pruning process to try and prevent freezing. I enjoy the weathered old pirate map look. 90 Chronic Cellars 2013 Suite Petite, California ($15) Inky-looking Dr. Pepper, black cherry, roses and tobacco pipe. Made by two brothers, Josh and Jake Beckett, raised in Paso Robles who worked for ten years at Peachy Canyon Winery. This cleverly named wine is 87% Petite Sirah and 13% Syrah. You'll come for the edgy branding and stay for the peppery dark berried goodness. 91 Let's Face It CHECKING OUT BEFORE DIVING IN by Jesse Birschbach DOWN THE AISLE

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