The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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Page 65 of 124

january/february 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  65 Ponzi Vineyards 2015 Avellana Chardonnay, Chehalem Mountains AVA, Oregon ($63) Delicate aromas of salted pineapple, lemongrass, and coconut chamomile are expressive. The tightrope acidity allows the fruit to shine: caramel melting on a lemon wedge. 95 Landmark Vineyards 2015 Kosich Pinot Noir, Carneros ($55) An alluring, deep, dark purple/carmine-hued wine with a nose of cherry oak and dark chocolate. The palate maintains flavors of red beets, cracked pepper, cherries, and red plums. A silky texture with depth: finishes with tilled soil, soy sauce, and black olives. 93 Francis Ford Coppola 2014 Nimble Vineyards Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County ($40) Grainy tan- nins and velvet-cushioned liquid combine for a texturally enjoyable experience. Vanilla-coasted cherry, bright acidity and an undercore of cinnamon-plum make this blend of 96% Syrah and 4% Petite Syrah memorable. 92 Schug Winery 2016 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast AVA ($25) From the western portion of Carneros and the Petaluma Gap, low-yield vineyards in a cool, windy climate keep the acidity high in this brightly-lit Pinot Noir. An earthy nose with a hint of spicy black tea leads to a pep- pered, lean palate with touches of nutmeg, and clove Cherry skin and orange peel are sweet and bitter on the nice, firm, and ripe ending. 91 Ron Rubin Winery River Road 2016 Stephanie's Cuvée Pinot Noir, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma County ($30) Bright cherry and sweet blueberry with earth-laden undertones. Tannins are soft and refined. Balance is defined. 90 Barrymore by Carmel Road 2016 Pinot Grigio, California ($22) From its caramel-pear nose to its spectacular silky texture, this is certainly a stunning wine from the winery's collaboration with Drew Barrymore. The blend of 79% Pinot Grigio with 21% Chardonnay really addresses its mouthfeel and flavor profile. Crisp white grapefruit, lychee, and peach tones are lifted due to 100% stainless steel fermentation, and white pepper dots the finish. 93 Cellardoor 2013 Garnacha, USA ($22) With Garnacha (76%) sourced from Fountain Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington and Tempranillo (24%) hailing from Knolls Vineyard in California's San Joaquin County AVA, this is another tribute to multi-state blending with talent. Aged 17 months in French and American oak, this small- production, Spanish-style wine is perfumed with sweet meats (think roast beef in soy sauce). Full-bodied, ripe flavors of plum and toffee-cherry meld with dark chocolate. This is a food-loving wine with loads of personality. 92 Metzker Family Estates 2015 Laurent Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, Sonoma County ($55) Feminine and lean-bodied with notes and aromas of red roses and cola. Dried cranberries come in mid-palate along with white pepper, over-ripe strawberry, and tobacco. 92 Aberrant Cellars 2015 Carpe Noctem Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($60) Carpe Noctem—meaning "seize the night"—is an unfined and unfiltered Pinot Noir that offers up a delicious nose of red apple and rhubarb. The deeper, sensuous notes run through the flavor profile, with tobacco, teeth-gripping cherry skins, and black tea. 91 Raeburn 2016 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County ($25) The 2016 vintage was a testament to good phe- nolic development: The wine's round, but its dry "coffee" tannins and concentrated, bright fruit flavors are impressive. With scents of mocha cranberry and baking spices, the palate opens to savory herbs and dried hibiscus. The blue-and-black berried fruit becomes juicier as the wine continues to develop. 90 Ackerman Family Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville, Napa Valley ($85) From Certified Organic vineyards off the winery's Stonehaven estate, this wine is indulgent with black, inky fruit and graphite on the nose and palate. Dry, sturdy tannins keep it structurally sound. Gripping and intense—but still luxurious. 93 Aridus Wine Company 2014 Petite Sirah, Cochise County, Arizona ($40) Scott and Joan Dahmer run Aridus Wine Company out of Willcox, Arizona, in a winery that was once an apple warehouse. They source grapes from Arizona, New Mexico, and California, but the grapes for the Petite Sirah were all from Arizona. Leather and violets permeate the nose and palate. Spiced cocoa, beets, and plum liqueur also play a flavor role. Elegant and lush, with spiced cedar tannins and a dot of white pepper. 92 Monticello Vineyards 2014 Corley Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($90) A rush of dark mocha berry perfumes the air. On the palate, luscious, spiced ear th and black licorice find common ground with ripe red fruits (cooked strawberries). Coffee tannins are firm in a velvety texture—aged 26 months in French oak. 94

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