The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2016

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56  /  the tasting panel  /  may 2016 Our Wine Editor, Jessie Birschbach, CS—or JABS, as we call her in the office—uses her experience as a som- melier 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, then it's up to the wine to keep us on the hook. 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's got 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. Might not last another round. 5 JABS A masterpiece in packaging and new benchmark in branding. An instant knock-out! J. Wilkes 2013 Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, CA ($21.99) Ripe yellow apple, pear and pine- apple scented with honeysuckle give way to wet river rock after a substantial, butter-tinged mid- palate. This is a great Chardonnay for those who want something between a butter-bomb and stainless steel version. This label, recently redesigned as a tribute to the Santa Maria Valley, implements an understated, clean design and delicate imagery. 90 MIMS DISTRIBUTING COMPANY J. Wilkes 2013 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, CA ($29.99) This cool-climate Pinot Noir tastes of raspberries, dried red fruits, cedar and roses with a touch of earthy cinnamon. This label, recently redesigned as a tribute to the Santa Maria Valley implements an understated, clean design and delicate imagery. 91 MIMS DISTRIBUTING COMPANY Protea 2015 Chenin Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa ($18) Green apple, quince, lemon and dried apricot play hopscotch with jasmine and wet straw. The bottle design, inspired by the national flower of South Africa, is fetching to say the least. Dainty, yet bold. Old-fashioned yet somehow modern. 89 TERLATO WINES Toad Hollow Vineyards 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay, Francine's Selection, Mendocino County, CA ($14.99) Ripe Bartlett pear and Golden Delicious apple cradled by stone fruits and a touch of honeycomb on the finish of this unoaked Chardonnay from Mendocino County. The ripeness in the fruit warrants the lack of oak and allows the acid to shine through. I adore the labeling and branding of Toad Hollow. It doesn't take itself too seriously and manages to convey an air of sophistication by use of a toad. 87 V2 WINE GROUP Michael David 2013 Inkblot Petit Verdot, Lodi, CA ($35) Dried black currants and super ripe blackberries chase after a few Fig Newtons and a sweet kind of smoke—like a backyard barbecue with lots of high-tannin barbecue sauce. The smoke unfurls to reveal a teriyaki beef jerky that's been dropped in the dirt, but you eat it anyway because you like the taste of earthy, dried, sweet, tangy beef. In case you can't tell, I'm super stoked on this Petit Verdot that's got just a little bit of Petite Sirah, aged 19 months in French oak—big fan of the packaging and branding too. 92 GALLO WINE COMPANY Please submit all sample queries—with bottle shots and retail prices—to May's Top Picks by Jessie Birschbach J. Wilkes Santa Ripe apple give Santa

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