FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    Keefer Ranch 2008 Pinot Noir (left) and Joseph Drouhin 2008 Beaune Clos des Mouches (right) Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com

    The signature wine of Joseph Drouhin, one of the most distinguished négociants in Burgundy, has a curious name. Clos des Mouches translates as "enclosure of the flies," a moniker that this premier cru vineyard, located on a hill near Pommard in the Côte de Beaune, has borne since the 16th century. The name assumes a more attractive aspect, however, when one realizes that the word mouche also means "honeybee" in the local dialect, and that the southeast-facing slope of the land made the parcel a popular site for beekeeping. When Maurice Drouhin acquired 31.9 acres of the vineyard in 1918, it had been replanted with Pinot Noir after the phylloxera infestation of the late 1870s; however, his research into the property’s history revealed that Clos des Mouches had once produced an exceptional white wine. In the 1920s, he began planting some Chardonnay in the vineyard’s clay-and-limestone soil, and today, about half the family’s acreage in Clos des Mouches is devoted to that varietal. The wisdom of his decision is apparent in the Joseph Drouhin 2008 Beaune Clos des Mouches, a silky-textured white that exudes aromas of jasmine and candied lemon. Flavors of citrus, hazelnut, and vanilla mingle on the palate before a long, honeyed finish that even a bee might envy. ($100) www.drouhin.com

    One of the best appellations in Sonoma County for Pinot Noir was long considered too foggy for viticulture. Yet this maritime layer, which cools the grapes at night, helps develop the character of the Pinot Noir that has made the reputations of such vintners as Marcy Keefer, who founded Keefer Ranch with her late husband, Robert, in the mid-1980s. Keefer Ranch fruit has enlivened bottlings from many esteemed producers, but since 2006 Keefer and her son, winemaker Craig Strehlow, have offered their own. The Keefer Ranch 2008 Pinot Noir's texture is exquisitely soft, as are the tannins, and the finish sustains its vibrant note of red cherry. ($42) www.keeferranch.com

    From Around the Web...
    Master sommelier Fred Dame (left) and vintner Dan Kosta (right).
    The industry insiders explain why the varietal’s diversity is such a draw and why ratings are risky…
    This Italian sparkling red wine has an illustrious history and is staging a comeback...
    Universal Whisky Experience
    Top distillers will pour legendary whiskies at this year’s event…
    Tyrconnell 16 Year Old ($100)
    This new single malt arrives just in time to toast St. Patrick’s Day…
    Celebrate March 17 with a round of top Irish Whiskeys…
    West Cork Distillers 12 Year Old Rum Cask Finish ($66)
    The Irish distillery introduces a limited-edition whiskey finished in rum casks…
    WhistlePig FarmStock Crop 1
    The politico-turned-farmer explains how his love of the land led to a distinctive new dram…
    Bollinger’s 2005 Vieilles Vignes Françaises Blanc de Noirs, made from the fruit of pre-phylloxera Pinot Noir vines, was produced in a vintage with exceptionally small yields, enhancing its rarity
    This bottling from Bollinger is the Holy Grail for collectors—and almost unknown by everyone else…
    As rye eclipses bourbon as the American spirit of choice, here are six to sip…
    Photo by Cordero Studios/corderostudios.com
    A sports-car enthusiast shifts gears to make a perfect Panamanian rum to blow your taste buds away…