FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

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Though the first winery in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District opened its doors in 1878, California’s best-known varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, did not arrive in the appellation until the early 1960s, when Nathan Fay planted his vineyards along the Silverado Trail. By 1976, after Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars won first place at the celebrated Paris tasting, the region’s elegantly powerful Cabernets were well on their way to attracting the international audience they now enjoy. That same year, Pat and Jerry Taylor moved into the neighborhood, purchasing 23 acres—nine of which they planted to vineyards in 1980—and adding their name to the district’s already impressive roster of producers. The Taylors’ approach to winemaking is simple: Let the natural beauty of the region’s terroir shine through, as it does in the Taylor Family Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2003, a dark, sultry infusion of chocolate, cherry, ripe black plum, and fragrant cedar. This velvety red’s color, scent, taste, and texture are guaranteed to enrapture four of the five senses. ($80)


Although in Scottish possession for more than 500 years, the craggy, windswept Orkney Islands still bear traces of their Norse past. The recently released Highland Park 40 Year Old single-malt whisky pays tribute to this history in the form of its thick glass decanter, which is inlaid with a silver amulet reminiscent of knot-work worn by the Vikings 1,100 years ago. Not so ancient as this, yet venerable still, the decanter’s copper-colored contents offer up heady aromas of spice, toffee, dark fruits, and smoke. On the palate, flavors of dark chocolate, black cherries, honey, and orange zest unfold, culminating in a sweet and lingering finish of peat, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Aged in sherry oak casks, this 40-year-old whisky is the distiller’s oldest expression. ($2,000)

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