FrontRunners: From The Robb Cellar

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Ballantine’s 30 Years Old

A blend of venerable oak-aged whiskies from distilleries across Scotland, Ballantine’s 30 Years Old delivers remarkably smooth and well-groomed flavor. Despite the more than 40 different malts it contains, this deep gold Dumbarton blend remains finely balanced, while still revealing distinctive flashes of its component whiskies: Honey, smoke, brine, and sherry harmonize in this masterfully mixed malt, which is available only in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. (about $350) +44.117. 978.5199,

Cakebread Cellars Three Sisters Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

Unlike the 1998 vintage of this hillside Cabernet Sauvignon, which was a little austere, a little leaden, and tannic on the finish, the 1999 Three Sisters gives full expressions of creamy cherry and chocolate, laced with cedar, mint, and vanilla spices. The three separate vineyards located on Napa’s eastern edge from which this wine is blended contain primarily volcanic soil that, in combination with the area’s drier weather conditions, lends intensity. ($90) 800.588.0298,

Domaine Carneros The Famous Gate Pinot Noir 2000

Though its reputation was made by its sparkling wines, the Taittinger-owned Domaine Carneros also produces delightful Pinot Noirs—which should come as no surprise, given that this finicky red varietal is the primary component in fine Champagne. Available only through the winery, the Famous Gate 2000 vintage is a dark, well-layered Pinot that proffers both the brightness of fruit (cranberry, black cherry) typical of California with the moldy cheddar, mushroom, and tobacco flavors associated with the reds of Burgundy. ($45) 707.257.0101,

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