The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2016

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june 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  91 JCK Wine Company 2014 "Moonset" Red, Sonoma County ($35) A bright, exciting blend of 80% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah and 3% Alicante Bouschet aged in French and American oak and racked three times. The berries are tart and the violets are bitter, but the liveliness of flavor—and the white pepper thread—leads to a mid-palate of sweet cinnamon, pomegranate and toast. So drinkable—I'm ready for more. 92 Rock Wall Wine Company 2013 Chalk Hill Reserve Zinfandel, Windsor Oaks Vineyard, Sonoma County ($40) Licorice and black pepper make a stake in this blueberry tart-inspired red, with its spicy plum and fig backdrop. Volcanic soil and chalky white ash soils lend the dusty texture. 90 Westwood Annadel Gap Vineyard 2014 Estate Syrah, Sonoma County ($40) This is a multi-clone expression of a single site with 3–7% Roussanne added for a floral lift (orange blossom, lilac and heather notes were gorgeous). The aromas on the nose were earth-toned, with cherry-wood licorice and deep, dark chocolate. Creamy and richly punctuated, the coffee- mocha-cherry effect was slurpily juicy with a tilled-soil bottom. Acidity is striking and palate cleansing, readying for the next sip which ultimately leads to violets, blueberries and sweet plums. 95 Maryhill 2012 Marvell GSM, Rattlesnake Hills, Washington State ($44) Grapes are grown in soil from elevations exceeding 1,200 feet. Tobacco and oak are comrades for this densely textured, creamy Rhône-style blend. The blueberry and boy- senberry are more mid-palate than forward, while the anise on the back holds court with chocolate cream. 92 Nicora 2013 GSM, Central Coast ($50) Juicy and earthy don't always go together, but the dark fruit tastes like it just came from the ground, becoming more energetic with each sip. Savory cinnamon, caramel and rhubarb play well with the meaty section, which are also tuned in to a floral high pitch. A touch of white pepper and spicy lavender lend a hand to gorgeous acidity. Great job from propri- etor/winemaker Nick Elliott! 93 Croix Estate 2013 Old Manzana Slope Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County ($100) Planted on Goldridge Dust sediment, this silky-textured Pinot Noir exudes rhubarb and pomegranate, doused in exotic spices and white pepper. Tomato skin and mocha make a unique flavor combination, with a spicy soil component adding even more dimension. Plums step up mid-palate and the wine slips and slides in a carmine magic carpet ride engineered by winemaker Kirk Venge. 92 SPIRITS Peligroso Silver Tequila, Mexico ($35) Lime and clay are the scents that pique my interest here, along with a fresh ocean air perfume that wafts from the glass. While peligroso means dangerous, the only peril would be the heady, hedonistic flavors of the mineral- and-lilac core, sweet honeydew and salty caramel that is persistently intriguing. 93 DIAGEO NORTH AMERICA Maloney's Irish Country Cream Liqueur ($9.99) This white wine–based cream liqueur under 30 proof blends fresh Irish dairy cream with chocolate and vanilla flavors and leaves a feathery light touch on the palate that's atypical of this category. 88 GK SKAGGS Louis Jolliet XO Cognac, France ($100) This suave XO is named for a French- Canadian explorer known for his discoveries in North America—and the first non-native to map the Mississipwpi River in 1673. The talented Monsieur Jolliet was also a musician, teacher and fur trader. A compass graphic adorns the bottle label of this 80-proof Cognac—and just like the compass, all notes point north for this spirit. Its peach tart, fresh orange perfume is lifted and clean. The liquid is approachable, with a touch of salinity that awakens the stone fruitiness. 91 ZEAL IMPORTS Copper & Kings American Craft Brandy, USA ($35) Aromatic grape varieties are copper pot–distilled and non- chill-filtered. This 90-proof spirit is matured in Kentucky bourbon and medium char American oak barrels. The nose is elegant, with caramel and summer peach and a hint of vanilla. The palate becomes more outspoken, with a range of flavors from tobacco leaf to orange peel to tongue- trotting black pepper. The brandy makes a grand statement for the domestic-produced category. 94 Don Q Signature Release Single Barrel 2005 Limited Edition Rum, Puerto Rico ($39.99) Aged in American white oak bar- rels for ten years, this unblended 80-proof, vintage Puerto Rican rum is a salute to the style and structure of award-winning Don Q. On the nose, this first ever edition of a single barrel from Destilería Serralles offers up a unique apricot, toffee and rancio that go 'round and 'round, circling a flavor profile with high acidity and a rich, mineral-driven mouthfeel. It tastes youthful and lean, despite its age, but still offers an array of flavors from cocoa oak to orange coffee bean. 91 SERRALLÉS USA Syrah, This is a single added blossom, were on the with and deep, and coffee- was slurpily bottom. readying winemaker Kirk winemaker Kirk winemaker Venge. Kirk Venge. Kirk SPIRITS Peligroso Mexico clay pique along perfume the means peril hedonistic Copper Craft

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