FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

    Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno 2001
    Sette Ponti is as much a fixture in the landscape of Tuscan history as it is in the lives of the Moretti family. The estate takes its name from the seven bridges that cross the Arno on the road from the nearby city of Arezzo to Florence, the closest of which, the Ponte Buriano, Leonardo da Vinci depicted in the background of his Mona Lisa. Once the property of the Princesses Margherita and Cristina Savoia d’Aosta, whose father, HRH the Count of Turin Victor Emmanuel, planted the first vines in 1935, the 750 acres were purchased by architect Alberto Moretti in 1957 as a hunting retreat. Until 1997, the family sold the bounty of its extensive vineyards to several prestigious winemakers, including Piero Antinori. However, Alberto’s son, Antonio Moretti, has found in the estate the perfect canvas for expressing his own artistic vision. Among his finest achievements, this blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet, and Merlot casts a royal purple glow appropriate to the vineyards’ lineage. The bouquet blushes with blackberries, currants, and a soft, smoky molasses. The texture is silk, the tannins are beautifully balanced, and the prolonged finish leaves one’s mouth watering for more. ($85) www.kobrand.com

    2002 Lynmar Quail Cuvée Chardonnay
    Laguna de Santa Rosa meanders for 14 miles through central Sonoma County, Calif., before feeding into the Russian River’s main tributary. Once a receptacle for refuse from the nearby city of Sebastopol, the Santa Rosa has been rejuvenated over the past two decades, a span in which Quail Hill Vineyard, the wetlands’ neighbor to the east, has undergone a similar transformation.

    Originally cultivated in 1971, Quail Hill contains some of the oldest plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines in the Russian River Valley. Businessman Lynn Fritz purchased the property in 1980 and, after selling his grapes for a decade, founded Lynmar Winery on the site in 1990. Lynmar released its first vintages in 1996, the same year that Fritz began renovating Quail Hill, a project scheduled for completion this year.

    In addition to replanting most of Quail Hill’s 42 acres, Lynmar is upgrading its winery, digging caves, and building a visitors’ center. Last March, the company hired a new winemaking team led by former Flowers Vineyard winemaker Hugh Chappelle, and although Chappelle has yet to see a vintage from harvest to bottle, Lynmar’s transformation already is apparent in its 2002 Quail Cuvée Chardonnay. Sourced exclusively from its namesake vineyard, Quail Cuvée is peach-cobbler sweet on the nose, yet as crisp as a pink grapefruit on the palate, with a bright, acidic finish that promises to persevere for years to come. ($30) www.lynmarwinery.com

    Photo by Drew Phillips
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