The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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66  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2018 Bogle 2014 Phantom Red Blend, California ($18) A lot of TLC seems to go into this blend of 42% Petite Sirah, 34% Zinfandel, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot. Aged for 24 months in one- and two-year-old American oak gives this a spiced vanilla backbone in a creamy body. Brooding black fruit is luscious and bold and black pepper gives it more edge. Great value. 89 Bervini 1955 Millesimato Extra Dry Prosecco DOC, Veneto-Friuli Giulia, Italy ($19) From a third-generation family estate where the cellars are in the Province of Pordenone, straddling two DOC zones of Prosecco and Friuli Grave. With soft, delicate bubbles and a nose of bread dough, slate, and pears, the flavors intensify to an apple pie lushness. It finishes dry, with notes of candied pineapple. 90 WINE TREES USA Lang & Reed 2016 Chenin Blanc, Napa Valley ($27) This special wine is made up of 100% Oak Knoll fruit—still a rare variety for the Napa Valley, where only 14 acres are planted to Chenin Blanc. Lanolin and white flowers consume the nose; the result is so fragrant and pretty, one might hesitate to take the first sip. Fresh butter makes for a creamy palate (much lees-stirring took place!). There's also an undercoat of slate and a searing, tight acidity, but 13% ABV keeps it a fresh-tasting easy- drinker. 93 SPIRITS 3 Kilos Vodka Gold 999.9, Holland ($35) Packaged in a bottle shaped like a gold bullion, this eye-opening vodka has a pretty nose of vanilla and pink grapefruit. Soft on the palate, its creamy texture layers tones of blue fruit and toffee on the tongue. The wet stone finish is clean. 90 PRESTIGE ROYAL Astral Tequila Blanco, Mexico ($40) Crafted by Master Sommelier Richard Betts, this copper pot-distilled, 92-proof blanco tequila is made from Highland organic agaves grown on a single estate. This double-gold medal winner from our San Francisco World Spirits Competition is labor intensive: Mature agaves are slow roasted in traditional hornos and use native yeast fermentation, which takes eight times longer than conventional fermentation. The nose engages with sweet lime and brown sugar while floral flavors of lilac and creamy magnolia paint the palate. A distinct salinity forms a path through vanilla bean and grapefruit. The finish is luxe: You can taste the terroir. 94 DAVOS BRANDS Publisher's PICKS Louis M. Martini 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County ($20) With fruit sourced from Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley, a plethora of perfectly- ripe fruit is layered in this juicy red. Cherry liqueur and toffee-mocha-oak on the nose is luxurious, while blackberry and plum surge on the palate to jam with anise and mocha intertwining with snappy dry tannins. This has an Old-World profile. We tasted the wine in an exclusively-crafted Riedel Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon glass with a laser-cut rim and a longer bowl. The concentrated layers of flavor were perceived when sipped in a different wine glass. 92 E. & J. GALLO WINERY Best Value! Two Incredible Bourbons! Tommyrotter Napa Valley Heritage Cask Straight Bourbon, USA ($70) Rebellious American artists from the 1920s formed a group called The Tommyrotters' Club with a motto to "create for creation's sake." Using an American grain mash bill of corn, rye, and barley, this is the Indiana-based distillery's first bourbon whiskey. This 95-proofer is made from 15-year-old bourbon and finished for three months in freshly-emptied Napa Valley Cab barrels. With a nose of peaches dipped in chocolate, it leads down a glorious trail of flavors. Spiced nutmeg and orange peel interplay with oatmeal and melted butter. Baked apple and peaches linger on the palate for a warm, deep, and resonant middle-to- finish. 95 George Remus Straight Bourbon Whiskey, USA ($45) Produced at an historic, 170-year- old distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, George Remus is a high rye blend of whiskies aged more than four years. The brand was named for a Cincinnati attorney who was behind one of the nation's most successful bootlegging operations of the Prohibition era; legend has it he inspired Jay Gatsby of The Great Gatsby. Aromas of peach and brown sugar exude from the glass on the frontline, and the nuances of baked apple, cin- namon, and jasmine tea are composed and elegant. The palate is restrained, even at a proof of 94. Cocoa-powdered pears, cake batter, and fine cedar wood are slightly peppered—even with a fleck of ginger—making this spirit warm and exact. 94 PHOTO: LUKE COPPING

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