FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

During their search for a property in Bordeaux, California vintner Jess Jackson and his business partner, French vigneron Pierre Seillan, were particularly impressed with Saint-Émilion’s Château Lassègue. The estate’s roughly 83 acres of vineyards boast nine different soil types (one of the region’s most diverse plots) and 30- to 45-year-old vines. Both vintners felt the property could produce wines of first-growth quality. In the Château Lassègue Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2004, their instincts are vindicated. Seillan’s exacting method of separately harvesting, vinifying, and blending small blocks of vineyard known as micro-crus has resulted in a complex and unusually detailed wine in a vintage that challenged most producers. The nose is redolent of strong roasted coffee and spicy licorice, while the velvety and voluptuous palate reveals ripe black plum, wild berries, and vanilla bean before the lengthy finish of orange zest and cardamom. ($50) www.chateau-lassegue.com

Tomintoul Distillery was built in 1965, on the Glenlivet Estate in Speyside, to produce whisky strictly for blending. In recent years, however, the distillery has garnered acclaim for its stand-alone single malts. Its most recent release, the Tomintoul Speyside-Glenlivet 31 Year Old, presents an enlivening amalgam of pineapple, dried mango, banana-nut bread, and vanilla aromas, while exotic wood, nut, and toffee flavors dominate the front palate and then give way to a long spearmint finish. Billed as "the gentle dram," this spirit can serve as a lovely aperitif or even as an accompaniment to light fare. A limited release of 300 bottles is available in the United States this summer. ($399) www.tomintouldistillery.co.uk

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