FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

<< Back to Robb Report, March 2013

    The Amorim family’s fortune had its beginnings among the rambling port lodges that line the hillsides above the Douro River in Porto, but the family did not amass its wealth by making Portugal’s famous fortified wine; rather, its members were engaged in the less glamorous business of manufacturing cork stoppers. Their success, however, later enabled them to diversify their interests into banking, telecommunications, and—with the purchase of Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo—viticulture. At this 18th-century estate in the Douro Valley, the family combines traditional and modern winemaking methods, including crushing grapes by foot in the granite lagares of the original winery (built in 1764) and by machine in the automated lagares at the new facility next door. Admirers of the region should sample Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo 2008 Touriga Nacional TN, an exquisitely dark and deeply perfumed table wine. Redolent of bittersweet chocolate, blackberry, and dried orange peel, this dense red reveals subtle, spicy flavors of ginger, clove, and mesquite smoke. ($75) www.quintanova.com

    When Joseph Phelps came to the Napa Valley as a construction executive in the late 1960s to oversee a major project, he did not realize that the venture would ultimately lead to a change in career and, not long afterward, a new chapter in the history of the region. In 1974 he completed construction of his own winery on a former cattle ranch near St. Helena and made his first wines there, which included the first vintage of Insignia. Up until that time, Napa’s reputation had rested primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon, but Insignia’s seductive and refined blend of this signature grape with other Bordeaux varietals revealed a more sophisticated side of California’s terroir. The Phelps family brings this same high style to neighboring Sonoma County with its Freestone Vineyards facility, where the Joseph Phelps 2010 Pinot Noir Quarter Moon Vineyard is produced. Silky in texture, the wine has a bouquet laced with notes of attar of rose, dried cherry, and espresso. The bright acids enliven its complex flavors of fresh cherry, pomegranate, cardamom, cinnamon, and anise. ($75) www.josephphelps.com

    The multi-vintage Champagne is a blend of 142 wines from 11 different years…
    Photograph courtesy of hotel Matlali
    Savored rather than shot, these tequila-based beverages give the spirit the respect it deserves…
    Photo by Holly Houk
    Contrary to popular opinion, not all Havanas are stellar stogies. Here is how to make the most of...
    Sommeliers have their own version of the desert-island question: If you could drink from only one...
    These aged tequilas prove that the once derided spirit has come into its own…
    The limited-edition distillation pays tribute to the Norse god Odin…
    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.
    Only 250 cases of the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch will be released…