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From The Robb Cellar

Chateau Montelena, Montelena Estate 1999

The output of Bo Barrett’s century-old winery is built every bit as sturdily as the ivy-cloaked, stone facade of the structure. Chateau Montelena’s long-lived Cabernet Sauvignons do, in fact, echo the spirit of this historic building, past vintages having impressed generations of wine drinkers with their power and longevity—particularly the blockbuster Estate Cabernet, a layered, intensely concentrated creation in the true California tradition. The 1999 vintage provides a solid structure of deep oak wood around which tendrils of berry, melon, apple, and pepper wreathe. This is a highly tannic wine whose grandeur, like the winery’s, will only increase with time. ($125) 707.942.5105, www.montelena.com


Nickel & Nickel Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay 2001

Combining grapes from the Truchard Carneros property with the craftsmanship of Nickel & Nickel winemaker Darice Spinelli, this single-vineyard Chardonnay displays in full the ripeness that is characteristic of this cool, sunny appellation. With less malolactic fermentation than the 2000 vintage, 2001 is more European in style, de-emphasizing oak and butter flavors and allowing the fresh, clean taste of pineapple and grapefruit to envelop the palette. ($35) 707.944.0693, www­.nickelandnickel.com

Zyr Vodka


The notion of entrepreneurial spirit has been somewhat redefined with the introduction this year of Zyr Vodka, a Russian vodka created by American businessman David Katz. Part Russian, Katz transferred his long-standing fascination with the culture into a chef d’oeuvre of distiller’s art—a spirit blended from wheat and rye that evinces a surprising freshness and sophistication more common among Polish vodkas. In fact, the flavor and nose of Zyr (from the Russian phrase zyrkalo mira, or “reflection of the world”) are reminiscent of Zubrowka, the delicate herbal and floral-scented vodka traditionally made from bison grass by the Poles. Nevertheless, Zyr is pure Russian—and pure pleasure in the glass, whether chilled or on ice. ($32) www.zyrvodka.com

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