FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com

The function of the punt—the depression in the bottom of a wine bottle—is a contentious topic. Theories about its purpose range from increased strength or balance to the suggestion that it once served as a mechanism by which servants conveyed secret messages to their masters. Celani Family Vineyards, however, has removed some of the design’s mystery: For his 600-case inaugural release of Cabernet Sauvignon, owner Tom Celani commissioned oversize bottles with massive punts to collect the unfiltered wine’s sediment. Winemaker Mark Herold was adamant about not filtering the final product. “Mark is a huge believer that wine evolves in the bottle over a long period of time,” says Celani. “He believes that by leaving the wine unfiltered, you develop better wine over time.” In its early years, the Celani Family Vineyards 2005 Ardore Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits fruit and sarsaparilla aromas and an alluring blend of boysenberry, black-cherry, and currant flavors. The French-oak barrels used for aging lend spice to a long finish that promises great cellaring potential. ($195) www.celaniwines.com


Connected to a medieval church and surrounded by vineyards, the Pierre Ferrand distillery sits in the Cognac region’s most prized district: Le Grande Champagne. Here the chalky soil yields a wine too tart to drink. Since the 18th century, masterful distillers and cask-aging have transformed this lowly libation into a full-flavored eau-de-vie. Aficionados have embraced the company’s single-vintage releases, most recently the Pierre Ferrand Vintage 1972 Cask Strength Cognac. Distilled from first-growth grapes, the spirit exudes aromas of candied fruit, apricot, spice, and vanilla. Flavors of tobacco box, sweet jasmine, and tropical fruit coat the palate. Most of the 600 bottles of the 1972 will be sold in the States. ($600) www.pierreferrandcognac.com

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