FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com

That the flagship offering of Moone-Tsai Winery is not a single-estate wine but a blend of different varietals from different vineyards in some of Napa Valley’s most prestigious growing regions is entirely appropriate; this endeavor, after all, is not a solo performance but a carefully conducted quartet. A relative newcomer, Moone-Tsai benefits from the extensive experience of its cofounders: Mike Moone, the former president of Beringer Wine Estates and founder of Luna Vineyards; MaryAnn Tsai, president of Luna Vineyards; and her husband, Larry Tsai, who serves as Moone-Tsai’s managing partner. The fourth player in this fugue of personalities is Philippe Melka, the distinguished consulting winemaker behind such labels as Dominus and Dana Estates. While the winery produces a four-wine portfolio that includes a superb Chardonnay, the star among its current releases is undoubtedly the Moone-Tsai 2008 Cor Leonis Cabernet Sauvignon. This dark blend offers an overture of blackberry, currant, and licorice aromas, followed by softer scents of violets, smoke, cocoa, and granite. These fortissimo effects give way to subtler strains on the palate, where the wine’s structure is as precise, supple, and vibrant as Bach’s cello suite. ($175) www.moonetsai.com


Most of us know curaçao as the neon-blue fluid that tropically clad bartenders dispense into Blue Hawaiians to achieve that drink’s desired hue. Yet 150 years ago, this once prized liqueur was not blue but amber, being distilled from the peel of the laraha orange, which grows only on a few Caribbean islands. To the delight of mixologists around the world, Cognac Ferrand recently revived this classic spirit. To make Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao Ancienne Méthode, distillers infuse clear brandy with oils from the orange’s skin before distilling it a second time. The spirit is then combined with Cognac and aged in oak. The result is a creamy-bodied liqueur with a citrus-jasmine scent and flavors of intense orange, mint, pepper, and tea—the start of a perfect Sidecar. ($30) www.cognacferrand.com

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