FrontRunners: From The Robb Cellar

<< Back to Robb Report, April 2007

    In celebration of America’s 1976 bicentennial, wine merchant Steven Spurrier matched a group of California wines against the finest châteaux of Bordeaux and the great domaines of Burgundy in a blind taste test in Paris. English and French experts served as judges, applying their refined palates and noses to the task of determining which wines best achieved the precarious balance of color, texture, aroma, taste, and structure. The surprising results set off an imbroglio unknown in the City of Light since the storming of the Bastille. The consensus had been that the panel, being predisposed to Gallic productions, would overwhelmingly prefer the likes of Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Montrose, and Château Haut-Brion to the rustic offerings of Napa Valley. But these three grands vins placed second, third, and fourth, respectively, behind Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon, which promptly put the small family winery established by Warren Winiarski, a University of Chicago professor, on the oenophilic map. The vintage that followed heralded another milestone for Winiarski, who, on tasting one of the barrels from a single lot in his S.L.V. vineyard, was so impressed by its beauty and balance that he decided to bottle it on its own. The cask was number 23 in the lineup, and so the wine was named Cask 23. The Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 upholds the label’s reputation for power and elegance. Its signature floral nose of sweet violets, wild berries, cedar, and roasted coffee prepares the palate for a silky display of berry, plum, and black cherry fruit, along with delicious chocolate and vanilla flavors. ($175) www.cask23.com
     
    Another landmark release comes from Winiarski’s Stags Leap District neighbors, the Shafer family, who introduced in March the Shafer One Point Five 2004, a Cabernet Sauvignon sourced primarily from the Hillside and Borderline vineyards. Established in 1972, when John Shafer, a former publisher from Chicago, purchased the Hillside Estate, Shafer Vineyards released its first wines six years later. John’s son, Doug, joined the venture in 1983. “The family business story you hear most often is the second-generation tale,” says John. “We call our story a generation and a half, since Doug and I have worked so closely for so long.” One Point Five pays tribute to this father-son relationship not only in its name, but also in its complexity, youthful power, and promise of graceful aging. The 2004 vintage is textbook Stags Leap: a sultry medley of blackberry, chocolate, sage, smoke, and tobacco. ($65) www.shafervineyards.com

    The spirit distinguishes itself by employing Japanese ingredients and techniques…
    Photo by Jeff Elkins
    The cigar combines an Ecuadoran wrapper with Honduran and Dominican filler tobaccos…
    Worldwide talents are leaving their marks at a Provençal winery.
    A special barrel of Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon stunned the wine world when it sold for $260,000...
    Only 250 cases of the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch will be released…
    FREE PREVIEW: The Masseto 2011 Toscana is among Robb Report’s 2015 Best of the Best selections…
    FREE PREVIEW: The Mortlach 25 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky​ is among Robb Report’s 2015 Best...
    The special release contains a blend of Cognacs aged for up to 35 years…
    The 23-year-old scotch won a Best in Show award at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition…
    Photo by Chelsea Curtis
    New York’s Club Macanudo played host to an evening of Martell Cognac and Cohiba cigars…