FrontRunners: From The Robb Cellar

    DUCKHORN VINEYARDS PATZIMARO VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001
    Just as the wine’s complexity serves as a tribute to the vines’ struggles to produce fruit from the volcanic soil at the base of Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain, the vineyard’s name, Patzimaro, salutes the efforts of the Hurtado family. More than 25 members of the family have worked for Duckhorn Vineyards since 1987, two years before the company acquired the 15 acres that would be named for Patzimaro de Aviña, the town in central Mexico from which the Hurtados originally hailed. Agripino Hurtado, among the first family members to work at Duckhorn, is now the cellar master. He oversees the French oak barrels that for 18 months or longer hold the Cabernet Sauvignon from Patzimaro, where high daytime temperatures allow the grapes to ripen fully, while evening fog enables the fruit to retain its acidity. From those grapes, Mark Beringer produces a full-bodied wine tasting of black fruits and capable of aging for a decade or more. (2001 magnum, $182; 1999–2001 vertical, $550) 888.354.8885, www.duckhornvineyards.com

    LEEUWIN ESTATE 2002 ART SERIES CHARDONNAY
    As patrons and producers, Denis and Tricia Horgan ensure that the fine arts flourish in the remote Margaret River region of southwestern Australia. The couple’s Leeuwin Estate winery hosts an annual concert series—a tradition that began 20 years ago with a performance by the London Philharmonic—and is home to a gallery containing more than 100 works from contemporary Australian artists. The Horgans have commissioned the paintings over the past quarter century as label designs for their own contributions to high culture: Leeuwin Estate’s Art Series wines.

    Produced at the Horgans’ winery on the hammerhead-shaped spit between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste, the Art Series includes a Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, but its finest piece is the Chardonnay. The 2002 vintage, whose label bears the strokes and swirls of Aborigine painter Minnie Pwerle, is smooth in texture and balanced in taste, pairing crisp acidity with fruit flavors that culminate in a symphony of ripe peach and French oak. ($65) www.leeuwinestate.com.au

    Photo by Jim Fets
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