FrontRunners September 2014: LEISURE


Taste a Villiage 

Viticulture in Priorat, Spain, nearly came to an end when phylloxera ravaged its vines in the late 19th century, and serious winemaking did not resume until the late 1980s, when a cadre of innovative winemakers transformed the region. One of these star producers, however, was significantly affected by another disaster in 1994. After the town of Porrera flooded, friends Lluís Llach and Enric Costa decided to provide employment for residents by locating the winery of Celler Vall Llach inside the town limits. The partners’ latest release, Vall Llach 2010 Porrera Vi de Vila ($65,, is a tribute to the people and culture of this small municipality. Made from old-vine Cariñena and Garnacha, the vintage is iodine dark and redolent of black fruit—currant, plum, and fig—while notes of sweet tar, tobacco, and tarragon tantalize the palate on the lengthy, sensuous finish.

Practiced Perfection 

Chuck McMinn certainly knows the value of education. He holds several engineering degrees, as well as an MBA from Harvard—credentials that prepared him for 

a career in the high-speed data industry. But he traded microchips for micro crus in 2000, when he and his wife, Anne, purchased Vineyard 29, located in St. Helena, Calif., and the nearby Aida Vineyard. McMinn has since followed a steep learning curve that has placed his wines among the best in Napa Valley, and he has recently made the unusual offer to take on one trainee for the “ultimate wine-industry crash course” during the 2015 vintage. For $29,000, this apprentice will spend 29 days working with McMinn to produce liquid gems like the Vineyard 29 2011 Aida Estate Zinfandel ($95,, a mélange of cherry, blueberry, molten toffee, and licorice.