FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Robert Drouhin—then head of Joseph Drouhin, one of Burgundy’s most prestigious domaines—became interested in expanding the family’s production to Chablis, the Vaudésir appellation suffered from neglect that had begun with the French phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century. Today, after investment and renovation, the Drouhin parcel in Vaudésir is planted with 30-year-old Chardonnay vines that extract from the calcareous soil lovely mineral notes, while the vineyard’s exposure imbues the wines with a pleasing roundness. The Joseph Drouhin Chablis-Vaudésir Grand Cru 2006 glows as yellow-green as a peridot, while its nose offers scents of jasmine, kiwi, and banana. The palate adds a touch of stewed rhubarb and caramel, before the finish dissolves into cool mineral. ($83) www.drouhin.com

Winemaker Chris Carpenter has for some time contemplated adding a fourth wine to the trio of single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons that define Napa Valley’s Lokoya label. His creations are admired among collectors with a taste for concentrated, muscular, dark Cabernets that express the styles of their mountain appellations. The Diamond Mountain vineyard, for example, tends toward an accessible fruit profile, while Howell Mountain is more complex, with pronounced yet supple tannins. Mount Veeder, the most potent of the lot, combines dense black fruit, intense minerality, and massive tannins wrapped in a velvety texture. Though intrigued by the Spring Mountain appellation, Carpenter wondered if its softer take on Cabernet would complement the other Lokoyas. His experiments with a grower on Spring Mountain, however, paid off in the 2005 vintage. The Lokoya Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 is a wine of great finesse and presence, with a nose of rose petals, cherry blossoms, and coffee, and a palate that ranges from black cherry and red currant to creamy toffee. ($200) www.lokoya.com

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