FrontRunners: From The Robb Cellar

<< Back to Robb Report, Private Preview

Jade Mountain Syrah Paras Vineyard Mount Veeder 2001

Jade Mountain winemaker Alison Doran rules her own Côte du Rhône. Or so she describes Paras Vineyard, situated 1,200 feet above sea level on Napa Valley’s Mount Veeder. “The vines are planted on terraces of a shale ridge that curves out east and then south, forming a bowl for the Syrah to roast in,” she has said. “A miniature Côte Rôtie.” This topographical idiosyncrasy allows the cool night air of the mountain to soften the intense sunshine of day, a cycle that—especially in the better vintages—concentrates and refines the flavors of the fruit to achieve a unique balance of power and character. Even the Viognier sourced from this locale tends toward a dense, nectarlike consistency and lasting finish. It should surprise no one, then, that the 2001 Syrah—representing a vintage that enjoyed a fairly even growing season with little rain, enabling the berries to achieve maximum ripeness—proves so deeply extracted and rich, almost Baroque in its complex aromas and flavors. The inky, saturated color of this California-grown Rhône varietal presages its lush dark plum and blackberry core, which is tempered by pleasing acidity and tremendous tannins, ensuring that the wine will age long and gracefully. The addition of 2 percent Grenache and 4 percent Viognier lends to this Syrah’s deliciously long-lasting finish and elegant and very Asian evocation of orange zest, clove, and tamarind. ($50) 707.254.4200,


Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

Bin 707 is to the realm of Cabernet Sauvignon what the firm’s better-known Grange is to the world of Syrah: a commanding tour de force whose well-architected blending of wines from four regions in Australia’s south—Coonawarra, Kalimna, McLaren Vale, and Padthaway—cloaks its raw muscle in the most gentle velvet. Bin 707’s history has numerous lacunae: First bottled in 1964, the wine was not produced between 1970 and 1975, nor was any made in 1981, 1995, or 2000, when the fruit was judged to be of insufficient quality to yield wines of a character appropriate to the label. Fortunately, the 2001 vintage proved superb, delivering a wine of gloriously dark color, rich aroma, and dense, intriguing flavors. Luxuriously textured, the Cabernet’s color is incredibly opaque, very nearly black. Its nose presents a diverse bouquet of brown sugar, a touch of soy, cigar, currant, and lavender. On the palate, a lush, lingering, jamlike blackberry coils around a sturdy tannic structure, and the all-new American oak barrels in which the wine was aged furnish sumptuous wood notes. This meticulously constructed blend will age indefinitely—and beautifully. ($80)


More Spirits