All posts filed under: The Tasting Panel

THE TASTING PANEL magazine is the most widely circulated trade publication in the beverage industry focused on beverages, the beverage trade and the people who make the industry tick. Print and digital editions published monthly with a combined January/February issue. www.tastingpanelmag.com

Emilia-Romagna: Exploring Iconic Italian Flavors at Enologica

Best known by Americans for its iconic food products—namely prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Balsamic vinegar, and its effervescent Lambrusco wines—there’s far more to Emilia-Romagna than these familiar tastes.

Cabernet with a twist

The practice of finishing whiskey in wine barrels has been around since the 1860s, when scotch producers first utilized Sherry butts as a means of transporting their spirits. But, the tables have now turned and winemakers like James Foster of Stave & Steel currently seek out whiskey barrels – Kentucky bourbon barrels, specifically – as an alternative oak-aging regime for its wines. This approach is hardly new: By the 1970s, Scotch producers had switched almost entirely from Sherry butts to bourbon barrels. They had also started experimenting with still-wine barrel finishes, although the practice didn’t become an established part of the single-malt market until 2004.  A short decade later, the first whiskey barrel-finished wines – primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Shiraz – hit the shelves. While wine barrels can add fruitiness, body and even sweetness to whiskeys, it’s what bourbon casks can add to wine that intrigued Stave & Steel’s Foster. Foster who is Senior Director of Super Premium Wine for Livermore, Calif-based The Wine Group selected “freshly dumped” Kentucky bourbon barrels and ran trials …

Big data supports expert wine tasters

In the course of developing software for predicting consumer wine preferences, a Houston-based start up, VineSleuth, shed new light on the abilities of expert wine tasters and the validity of blind tasting assessments. Contrary to popular belief, the company’s VineSleuth metrics, which are based on the work of Chief Science Officer Michael Tompkins and his team, reveal that tasters can consistently identify aroma and flavor characteristics in blind wine evaluations. “We have extensive experimental data which support that expert evaluators have the capacity to precisely identify wine characteristics in blind repeat samples,” said Tompkins whose work spans thirteen years in the field of numerical methods. “During the course of our experiments, our vetted evaluators repeat sample characteristics about 90% of the time,” he says. VineSleuth’s data directly confronts the popular misconception that consistent sensory evaluation of wine is a random occurrence. In developing an algorithm designed to help consumers make wine selections based on personal preference, the company has established a benchmark based on the results of its top-performing tasters (including this author) and intends …

Sparkling Toast to a Still Future

The Los Carneros was pioneered twenty five years ago by sparkling wine producers who brought cache and joie de vivre to what is, in effect, the gateway to Napa and Sonoma Valley wine country. 2016 has seen a flurry of expansion there by still wine producers who are confident there’s a lifestyle proposition that goes hand in hand with selling Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A veritable force in raising the visibility of Carneros Pinot Noir, Anne Moller-Racke, President and Winegrower of Donum Estate, is spearheading an expansion that includes the construction of a new production winery and tasting room scheduled for completion in 2017. Once a dairy farm, the estate was planted to vines in 1985, came under Moller-Racke’s supervision in 2001 as Donum and was purchased by Danish investors in 2011. “Site is quality; clone is personality,” said Moller-Racke as we tasted current release 2012s sourced from the winery’s four vineyards: Donum and Lawler in Carneros, Winside in Russian River and Angel Camp in Anderson Valley. East Slope ($90), a Calera clone on the …

A Prima Vista

A prima vista [at first sight] is an Italian saying that typically applies to love, or—in our case—a first encounter with an Italian wine and its maker. A trio of producers from Italy’s pristine Alto Adige region—Tobias Zingerle, Martin Hoffstätter and Ines Giovanett—were in town for a masterclass led by Tim Gaiser, MS at Epic Roasthouse. “Alto Adige is a four-dimensional region,” said Gaiser, who shed some light on the Adige Valley’s diverse terroirs—white volcanic pryazinic soils of the northeast, glacial soils or scree around Bolzano, calcareous clay of the cooler southeastern slopes and the crystalized porphyry rock found at Cantina Terlano. Each producer addressed a flight of four like-variety wines that included current and older vintages: Zingerle, his own Kaltern Caldero Pinot Biancos and those of Cantina Terlano; Hoffstätter, his Gewürztraminer and those of Tramin; Giovanett’s Girlan Pinot Noir and examples from Castelfelder. Intensity, minerality and purity are hallmarks for these wines, with oak playing a secondary role. Gaiser remarked on the diversity of Pinot Noir styles as ranging from Volnay to Central Otago. …