FrontRunners: From The Robb Cellar


Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 Shafer’s signature wine, Hillside Select, is precisely that: Handpicked from dry, flinty blocks of shallow volcanic soil in the Stags Leap District, the fruit is smaller and, consequently, of greater flavor intensity, than examples of Cabernet Sauvignon found elsewhere in the Napa Valley, where the earth is richer and more moist. Chocolate and cherries trumpet on the tongue, while mineral and wood flavors roll across the palate, culminating in a pure, long-lasting, and resonant crescendo. ($150) 707.944.2877, www.shafervineyards.com


Vérité Le Désir 2000

Pierre Seillan began his unique partnership with Jess Jackson (founder of Kendall-Jackson) in the late 1990s. Their aim: to produce in Sonoma Bordeaux-style wines with a singularly Californian twist—in other words, beautifully structured and balanced red blends that take advantage of the ripe fruit bestowed by the Golden State’s sunny clime. Le Désir consists of 51 percent Merlot, 16 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 33 percent Cabernet Franc sourced from the volcanic soil of Knights Valley. This complex and charming combination (available only from the winery) sits pleasingly in the glass, displaying a deep color matched by brooding flavors of blackberry and black cherry, as well as a vivid creaminess that is undercut by a touch of wood and smoke. ($100) 707.433.9000,



While Scottish malts tend to dominate the greedy fantasies of whiskey drinkers worldwide, at times, only a touch of the Irish will strike the truly gratifying chord. Generally of a subtler nature than their Scottish cousins, Irish whiskeys are made from malted and unmalted barley, which is dried in a closed kiln rather than an open one, leaving them free of the smoky essences associated with whiskies from Scotland. Gold is a blend of rare whiskeys ranging in age from eight to 20 years, some of which are aged in bourbon-seasoned American oak and Spanish Oloroso casks. The result is a sweet, wood-toasted burnish, followed by a soft lemon cream, which is capped off, in turn, by a pleasantly mellow yet bitter bite. ($65)

Jameson Irish Whiskey, www.jameson.ie

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