FrontRunner: From the Robb Cellar

Kuleto Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Pat Kuleto is among those rare creative individuals who do not make things—they make worlds. This inventive energy one usually finds in novelists, painters, or composers, whose numinous chore it is to place plain words upon a page, strokes of pigment on a cloth, or simple notes of sound on the air that will, if skillfully manipulated, assume a life and breath and rhythm of their own quite independent of their authors’ influence or intent. This has been the singular sorcery of Kuleto, though he has worked not in words or paints or chords, but in the plaster, wood, steel, and ceramic materials that compose but do not altogether comprise the blithe spirit that pervades his designs for Bay Area restaurants Fog City Diner, Boulevard, Farallon, Jardinière, and Postrio. He has also worked this wizardry in the winery of Kuleto Estate, atop a mountain overlooking Napa’s Lake Hennessey. As with his restaurants, the sum of his 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon is greater than its parts, which include rich black fruit against a bed of spice—nutmeg, licorice, cinnamon, and clove. Vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry bind this giddy blend, whose color, scent, flavor, and texture flirt tirelessly with one’s senses. ($60) 707.963.9750, www.kuletoestate.com

Flora Springs 25th Anniversary Celebration Cabernet Sauvignon
The 19th-century winery now known as Flora Springs, which, in its present incarnation, turns 25 this year, had fallen into complete disrepair by 1978, when Jerry Komes and his family acquired the estate. What commenced as a retirement refuge soon became a thriving business with the hire, in 1980, of winemaker Ken Deis, who commemorates Flora Springs’ silver anniversary with a single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vines planted directly in front of the historic winery. This 2002 vintage bursts with black cherry on the nose and palate, sending out bright streamers of crème de cassis—pyrotechnics that fade into a savory and subtle mocha-smoked finish. ($150, 750 ml; $300, magnum) 707.963. 5711, www.florasprings.com

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