FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

While the house of Taittinger dates to 1734, it did not acquire that name until after the First World War. Known in prior centuries as Fourneaux-Forest, the company was established by Jacques Fourneaux, a wine merchant who finessed agreements to represent abbeys that owned some of the best Chardonnay vineyards. In the 20th century, the company merged with the firm of Pierre-Charles Taittinger and moved to the 13th-century home of Thibaud IV, one of the counts of Champagne, from whom the estate’s Comtes de Champagne wines take their name. The beautifully tinted Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé Brut 2002, aged in the medieval cellars of the Abbey of Saint-Nicaise, offers up a nose of sweet strawberry and cherry lozenge, yet the palate is crisp, precise, with clean acidity, bright fruit, savory brioche, and an enticing mineral finish. ($230) www.taittinger.com

Admirers of O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery’s stellar mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignons will want to investigate winemaker Sean Capiaux’s other reds. A winemaker of considerable talents who has made wine for Jordan, Peter Michael, and Pine Ridge (and who has engaged viticulture in regions as diverse as California, Australia, and Long Island, N.Y.), Capiaux established his own label in 1994, focusing exclusively on Pinot Noir. With the exception of Swink, a blush Pinot Noir, and Chimera, a Sonoma County blend, the portfolio consists of exuberant single-vineyard wines that, while expressing their individual terroirs, nevertheless showcase the restrained power and elegance one has come to expect from Capiaux’s Cabernets. The Capiaux Cellars Widdoes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005, of which only 420 cases were made, is a dark violet Pinot that exudes an intense nose of raspberry and black cherry. A strain of milk chocolate runs beneath a river of red fruit, roasted coffee, clove, and caramel, leading to a delicious and leisurely finish. ($45) www.capiauxcellars.com

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