FrontRunners: From The Robb Cellar

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Rudd Oakville Estate Proprietary Red 2001

Leslie Rudd’s pursuit of quality, like his demeanor, is quiet, contemplative, and unwavering. His many professional roles—as head of Standard Beverage Corp., Kansas’ largest beverage distributor; chairman of Dean & DeLuca; and owner of Rudd Estate, one of Napa Valley’s newest and most ambitious projects—have attuned his meticulous eye to excellence in all things, especially in wine. His 45 acres of rocky, Mars-red soil are situated at the foot of the Vaca Mountains, amid some of Napa Valley’s most esteemed properties, including Dalla Valle, Opus One, and Screaming Eagle. To cultivate this prized plot, he hired as vice president of vineyards and winemaking Charles Thomas, formerly of Cardinale, Domaine Chandon, and Robert Mondavi. While the winery produces a range of wines—including a superb Sauvignon Blanc and an outstanding single-vineyard Chardonnay—the terroir of the estate expresses itself most gratifyingly in this Proprietary Red, the second vintage of which has been recently released. Comprising 93 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 percent Cabernet Franc, 3 percent Malbec, and 1 percent Petit Verdot, this unctuous, alluringly dark blend exudes a nose of black cherry, fennel, violet, and plum. The highly concentrated flavor of this barrel-fined wine bursts into a zesty display of cedar and cinnamon, citrus and anise, that, folded into the rich black fruit, conjures the savory sweetness of a Christmas cake.  ($125)

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