Best of the Best


2006 luxury portfolio.

From This Issue

Best Of The Best 2006: Peter Marino

Peter Marino’s style is difficult to define because his modern aesthetic creates a whole new architectural vocabulary. He employs spare lines and innovative materials and combines them with contemporary art—he is, after all, an alumnus of Andy Warhol’s Factory of the 1960s. In addition to architecture, his services include interiors, furnishings, fabrics, and landscape design. […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Mario Nievera

After viewing the saltwater lagoons and aquariums at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, a client of landscape architect Mario Nievera made a seemingly straightforward request: Replicate that concept at his residence on a nearby island. The catch? The house is sited considerably above sea level. To address the problem, the 41-year-old Nievera built coral […]

Best Of The Best 2006: William Switzer & Associates Arbus Collection

Although William Switzer & Associates did not realize it at the time, when fashioning reproductions of French modernist Lucien Rollin’s designs several years ago, the Canadian furniture maker was, in effect, auditioning for the chance to re-create the work of André Arbus (1903–1969), the French furniture designer considered one of the masters of the 20th-century […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Liberating Kitchen Layouts

The company that introduced the first built-in wall oven in 1955, the double-oven in 1956, and the black glass oven in 1965 now presents the Thermador Freedom Collection, a line of modular refrigeration components that are the kitchen design equivalent of Legos. “Refrigerators are the most limiting factors in kitchen design because they are big […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Water Folly

The Grand Canyon owes its existence to running water, to the rivers and streams that have, over the course of millennia, cut and revealed the rock walls’ layers. The KWC Canyon line of faucets is not as soul-stirring as this natural wonder, but it is remarkable nonetheless. It is the sophomore KWC effort of Bruno […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Ascending To The Throne

Baths, showers, sinks, lighting, tiles, towel racks—it seems that every bathroom fixture has been reconsidered, reengineered, and remade in more glamorous forms by spa-dazzled designers. Every fixture, that is, except the most necessary one. Now, however, Kohler has conquered the final frontier of bathroom design with the Kohler Purist Hatbox toilet, a tankless model that […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Hyland Granby Antiques

Janice Hyland and husband Alan Granby’s approach to art and antiques fairs is homegrown. The booth displays of Hyland Granby Antiques, the couple’s Hyannis Port, Mass., gallery of nautical artifacts, include marine paintings, scrimshaw, and navigational instruments, all of which are positioned by Hyland. She plots the layouts weeks beforehand in what the couple calls […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Heavy Metal

Mary Jane Morgan was a merry widow indeed, judging by the spectacular pair of silver candelabra she commissioned from Tiffany & Co. in 1884. Each is nearly 6 feet tall and has 20 lights (arms for candles), and together they weigh more than 100 pounds. The candelabra and a set of eight silver-gilt salt cellars, […]

Best Of The Best 2006: A Thing For Ming

Although Grace Wu Bruce was born in Hong Kong, she did not encounter Chinese furniture from the late Ming dynasty until she was an adult and was living half a world away. During a 1977 visit to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, she became smitten by a pair of huanghuali wood cabinets and an altar […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Pinnacle Of Style

Paul Frankl’s Skyscraper bookcase commands attention. Standing nearly 8 feet tall and made from wood covered in gleaming black and orange-red lacquer, the 1926 piece is as striking as it is rare. “Frankl was the first designer to emulate the skyscraper form, even before the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building was built,” says […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Runco Cinewide With Autoscope

Movies are best viewed large and wide, on a broad canvas that pulls the audience into the middle of the action. But while newer home video technologies have increased the size of the picture, they have struggled to expand the width. Widescreen televisions accommodate high-definition broadcasts and most movie DVDs, but if you really want […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Sharper Image

The best high-definition plasma televisions provide extraordinary video while doing a significant favor for your home’s interior design. A standout in this category, the Pioneer Elite Pro-1130HD, combines all the best technologies from this premier manufacturer into one display. Image enhancements can make video look better by punching up colors and sharpness, but this may […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Here To Serve

Think of a music server as an Apple iPod for your home: It stores all your music on a hard drive and provides easy access to that music through a data screen. And just as with portable music players, some music servers are more fun to use than others. The Qsonix music server offers the […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Little Wonder

Best known for high-end audio amplifiers that rival the size and weight of airliner serving carts, Halcro recently has become a respected name in the more mainstream world of home theater. The Halcro SSP100 surround-sound processor (about $10,000) and MC70 amplifier (about $7,000) both have strong technical advantages over competing products. In the SSP100, these […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Goldmund Logos-N-Sub

The Goldmund Logos-N-Sub speak­er system will be a center of attention in any home. Its unique appearance, which recalls Cubist paintings, gives it an imposing physical presence, but it stands only about 3 feet tall, compared to 5 feet for many of its peers, and still delivers impressive deep-bass performance. In fact, for the audio […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Twin Peaks

In these days of multichannel home theater, dedication to two-channel stereo seems quaint, but it remains an obsession for audio perfectionist Krell Industries. The Krell Evolution One Monaural Amplifier is virtually devoid of feedback and features a bandwidth much greater than that of any conventional design, and the unit’s 450 watts of power can drive […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Apple iPod With Video

Contrary to popular belief, 1977’s Star Wars did not introduce surround-sound technology to cinemas. That distinction belongs to Barbra Streisand’s 1976 remake of the musical A Star Is Born. The sci-fi epic is perceived as the surround-sound pioneer only because it was a much more popular film. Similarly, neither Apple’s iPod nor the newer iPod […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Top Volume

Many iPod owners now use their beloved portables as a primary device for music listening. But everyone wants to share music sometimes, and for that task there is nothing like the Monitor Audio i-deck ($250), a two-speaker system into which you can slip an iPod. The speakers, designed by Monitor Audio—the only high-end audio company […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Mega Phone

At first glance, the LG Electronics VX9800 Verizon cellular phone may appear to be a throwback to the bulkier phones of the 1980s and ’90s, but in fact it provides a huge range of multimedia technology in a compact package. This multifunctional $200 device merges a Verizon Wireless V Cast cell phone, Bluetooth technology for […]

Best Of The Best 2006: A Simple Plan

Digital SLR cameras take wonderful pictures but tend to make poor traveling companions, as the array of lenses and accessories that most photographers pack with SLRs makes the cameras clumsy to carry and cumbersome to use. The Sony DSC-R1 ($1,000) has emerged as a practical alternative. Its 10.3-megapixel resolution provides sharper pictures than most SLRs […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Unknown Beauty

The paintings in Jack Kilgore & Co.’s Manhattan gallery rarely are by famous artists, but they are nonetheless compelling. One of Kilgore’s star attractions is a large oil portrait of a French aristocrat, Mélanie de Forbin-Gardanne, painted in 1789 in Italy by French artist Jean-Louis le Barbier le Jeune. Though obscure, the artist obviously possessed […]

Best Of The Best 2006: True Brit

Founded in London in 1876, The Fine Art Society (FAS) gallery was operating when James McNeill Whistler was a contemporary artist. In fact, in 1879, the society sent Whistler to Venice to create a series of etchings of the Italian city, and its current stock includes some of his pastels, drawings, and other works that […]

Best Of The Best 2006: It Figures

Hirschl & Adler Modern director Shelly Farmer says the Manhattan gallery showed many different types of contemporary art when it opened 25 years ago. “It had no specific mission when it opened,” she says. “It changed with the times.” Now, however, it concentrates on figurative and representational works, including the vivid still lifes of Amy […]

From The Editors: Lives of the Parties

When Herb Caen, the Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, recalled Truman Capote’s 1966 Black and White Ball as being like the Super Bowl, he was not praising the event. “There was such buildup that by the time the game was played, it didn’t amount to much,” Caen told author George Plimpton for […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Hotel Caruso Ravello

Midway through its renovation of the palazzo Caruso Belve­dere, Orient-Express Hotels hit a wall—a medieval edifice, to be precise. The discovery occurred on the cliff-top grounds of the Amalfi Coast pensióne, which the Caruso family sold to Orient-Express in 1999. The company already was taking a meticulous approach to the hotel’s refurbishment: Workers were lifting […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Swiss Hit

Geneva has a rich reputation as the home of expensive Swiss watches, decadent chocolates, and untraceable bank accounts. But for a city that caters to the wealthy, it has long lacked suitable lodging. Last fall, after a 12-month renovation, the historic Hotel des Bergues on the banks of Lake Geneva solved this Swiss paradox when […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Fashionable Address

Certain details remind you that Casa Casuarina, an exclusive club and hotel on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, previously was a private home: The keys to the 10 guest rooms are proper metal instruments, not plastic cards, and the doors can be problematic at times. The most conspicuous evidence, however, is the steady procession of […]

Best Of The Best 2006: San Francisco Treat

Every city has, in its history, certain defining moments that are destined to reshape its future. That moment came for San Francisco at 5:12 on the morning of April 18, 1906, when a magnitude 8.3 earthquake struck the booming port city. For three days afterward, those buildings that did not topple were burned in an […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Fort Nights

Amangalla had been open only nine days when the tsunami struck Sri Lanka in December 2004. Positioned behind the stone walls of Galle Fort, a former Dutch military stronghold in the coastal city of Galle, the hotel survived unscathed. But the damage to the surrounding city prompted management to close the property and operate it […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Smart Choice

Just as Mandarin Oriental closed its 43-year-old flagship hotel in Hong Kong for a yearlong overhaul in December 2005, the company opened a sleeker, smaller, and decidedly more high-tech property only a block away. Nearly everything at the 113-room Landmark Mandarin Oriental—designed by Adam Tihany and located in the heart of the city’s financial district—operates […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Four Seasons Resort Langkawi

Cabdrivers, bellboys, and even randomly encountered people on the streets of Langkawi will tell you about the legend of Mahsuri, a 19th-century princess whose husband, after believing a false accusation of adultery, sentenced her to death. As she lay dying, Mahsuri issued a curse on the Malaysian island that, she declared, would last for seven […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Wynn’s Winning Bet

A 24-foot-tall projection screen shaped like a human head rises above a reflection pond outside Wynn Las Vegas’ Daniel Boulud Brasserie. The screen is dark as Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake plays over the sound system, but when the soft melody cuts to a louder, flamenco-style dance track, diners at the formal French restaurant look up from […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Great Expectations

Adirondack Great Camps defined rustic opulence in the early 20th century, a role the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, N.Y., could rightfully assume for the 21st. Joe Barile, the lodge’s owner and a former Olympic luger, modeled his 85-suite resort after the mountain retreats of industrial-era barons. The authentically grand atmo­sphere he created owes partly […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Bare Essentials

St. Bart’s is the French West Indies isle of intime, where Parisian film stars stretch out on sugar-sand beaches in sunglasses, tanning oil, and little else. Le Sereno, a resort of 37 suites and villas on the island’s Grand Cul-de-Sac cove, is the lodging equivalent of the local dress code: just enough and no more. […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Purebred Arabian

If Madinat Jumeirah were in Las Vegas, the resort’s “old Arabia” theme might seem contrived, if not downright tacky. But in Dubai, which was part of old Arabia, the 867-room property’s flying-carpet-fantasy atmo­sphere rings authentic. Set on 100 acres of prime beachfront in Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah comprises a 75-shop souk, 23 bars, 45 restaurants, a […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Shifting Sands

The Maldives island of Reethi Rah was less than half its current size before One&Only Resorts arrived on its shores. The luxury resort chain, which opened the One&Only Maldives at Reethi Rah last May, dredged enough sand during construction to form what is now, at more than 100 acres, one of the largest of the […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Branson’s Berber Fantasy

Kasbah Tamadot, the latest addition to Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition resort group, stands in Morocco’s Asni Valley, a place where ghostly, thousand-year-old villages cling to the mountainsides overhead and rivers rush through steep, rocky gorges below. The converted kasbah, which joins a South African game lodge and a Caribbean private island in the […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Diving Into The Caribbean

Amanyara is proof that Amanresorts’ contemporary Asian style applies equally well to settings far from the Singapore-based chain’s homeland. Located along the west coast of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos, Amanyara is the company’s first resort in the Caribbean. Forty identical timber-shingled, glass-walled pavilions are scattered throughout the property—either on the edge of ponds or […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Bandon Trails

Bandon Dunes became one of America’s top golfing destinations by taking an un-American approach to golf. Opened in 1999 and 2001, the southern Oregon resort’s Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes golf courses are the most authentic links layouts outside of the British Isles. Both follow rolling paths over coastal bluffs and sand dunes lined with […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Mountain Manly

Writers frequently employ masculine adjectives—brawny, rugged, strapping—to describe golf courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Such terms certainly apply to the new Sunday River Golf Club, a course the architect carved out of the foothills of the Mahoosuc Range in Newry, Maine. But Sunday River also displays a softer side than such Jones Jr. […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Mayan Gold

When P.B. Dye first arrived at the site for his Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club, he found soil that was better suited for highways than it was for fairways. “It would have made a good roadbed,” he recalls of the rocky dirt at the course’s setting on the Yucatán Peninsula south of Cancún. Even after […]

Best Of The Best 2006: PGA Thoroughbred

The rolling meadows southwest of Dublin provide a magnificent setting for PGA National Ireland, which joins layouts at the Belfry and Gleneagles as the only PGA courses in the British Isles. Originally scheduled for design by Jack Nicklaus and Payne Stewart, the course was postponed after Stewart’s death in a plane accident in 1999. Former […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Leafing Las Vegas

A stream and wood-chip walkways weave throughout 136 forested acres at Tom Fazio’s Wynn Golf Course on the Las Vegas Strip. More than 8,500 trees—pine, spruce, elm, weeping willows—and 100,000 newly planted shrubs shelter golfers from the surrounding city, while water hazards present scenic challenges on 11 of 18 holes. The 7,042-yard course, which is […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Wales Trail

Despite its billing as a “modern links” layout—and its setting on the southern coast of Wales—the Machynys Peninsula Golf and Country Club is not a true links course. It hardly matters, though. The club, designed by Jack Nicklaus’ son Gary, is a stunning amalgam of American-style green complexes, man-made lakes, and rambling fairways lined by […]

Best Of The Best 2006: New Frontier

Mark Twain once described Mauritius as “God’s blueprint for Heaven.” Today, the Indian Ocean island is fast becoming an ultimate destination for golfers, with five championship courses—four of which have opened since 2002. The most recent addition to Mauritius’ greenery is the Golf du Château Course at the Heritage Golf & Spa Resort on the […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Farmer Tom

From the tee of the par-5 sixth hole at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club, you might find it difficult to believe that the surrounding terrain recently was a flat and featureless tomato farm. Designer Tom Fazio transformed the Bradenton, Fla., site by excavating 1.9 million cubic yards of sand and soil to construct hills, valleys, […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Quintessential Experience

Quintess, a newcomer among destination clubs, has catapulted to the forefront because of the coveted locations and consistently high quality of the company’s homes. But cofounder Ben Addoms says that his members want more than a great view; they want to be part of the local tapestry. To that end, the Boulder, Colo., firm furnishes […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Shares Cropper

Not every 200-year-old estate in Tuscany comes with crumbling walls and spotty phone service. At Castello di Casole, a 5,500-acre domain that once served a noble family from nearby Siena, owners reside in one of 29 casali (farmhouses) equipped with nearly every modern amenity. A steady flow of Gabbro Cabernet, a wine produced at the […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Mountain Pass

The fractional program at the Villas at Tristant, a ski-in/ski-out development on the perimeter of Mountain Village near Telluride, Colo., offers more than just a few weeks’ vacation per year. Ownership at this collection of 20 three- and four-bedroom villas incorporates a Telluride ski and golf membership, which includes two season ski passes, preferred tee […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Urban Infusion

Ritz-Carlton Club owners can play golf in Jupiter, Fla., ski in Aspen and Bachelor Gulch, Colo., or lounge on the beach in St. Thomas. In the coming years, members in search of an American city experience will have an option on either coast. Ritz-Carlton is transforming a landmark building in San Francisco into a hotel, […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Yellowstone Club

Accolades are not unfamiliar to the Yellowstone Club. Last June, the Big Sky, Mont., mountain retreat—the world’s only private ski and golf community—earned Robb Report’s Best of the Best honors for the second consecutive year. This exclusive enclave on more than 13,000 acres again receives our award in part because it added a third lodge, […]

Best Of The Best 2006: The Private Residences At The Plaza

Nearly 6,000 New Yorkers formed a line around a block on May 20, 2005, for the op­por­tunity to purchase a piece of the Plaza. The 99-year-old hotel, which Elad Properties had bought the prior September, was auctioning its contents in preparation for a three-year, $350 million renovation intended to revive this New York institution as […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Land Of Plenty

The list of planned facilities at Saguaro Ranch is staggering: a 10,000-square-foot spa with eight treatment rooms and a fitness center; a 116-seat indoor theater and an outdoor amphitheater; a recording studio; restaurants; three swimming pools; a full-service horse ranch with live-in ranch hands, a riding arena, and a loping track; 25 miles of hiking […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Found At Sea

Hampton Island does not appear on maps, and the 4,000-acre community, which sits between Savannah and Sea Island off the coast of Georgia, intends to remain a mystery to all but its handful of members. The developers of the barrier island are offering only 163 homesites, ranging from one-acre properties overlooking marshland ($600,000) to 100-acre […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Horse Powered

Television producer and hotelier Merv Griffin began purchasing land in La Quinta, Calif., nearly 20 years ago, eventually compiling 240 acres that he has used to raise his horses. Griffin now is dividing the property, which is adjacent to PGA West and other golf clubs in the desert resort area, into a private community for […]

Best of the Best 2006: Dining

Cooking, like sports, is a young man’s game: A body can take only so many years of 12- to 14-hour days over an infernally hot stove. Chefs can begin feeling the strain in their 40s, and many depart the kitchen before they turn 60. Alas, unlike championship victories, which are preserved on videotape and in […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Lady In Red

Of the three famed Côte-Rôtie vineyards that Etienne Guigal owns in the Rhône Valley, only La Mouline is located on the so-called Côte Blonde, a portion of the appellation where the topography resembles a terraced am­phi­theater and the vines average 75 years in age. Here, Viognier is planted alongside the Syrah grapes, giving the Guigal […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Far South Of The Border

Globe-trotting winemaker Paul Hobbs, perhaps known best for his California Chardonnays, seems as at home in Mendoza, Argentina, as he is in the Russian River Valley or on Sonoma Mountain—regions of the world unified by their excellent vines. His Cobos 2003 Malbec, its fruit sourced as usual from the superb Marchiori Vineyard of Andrea Marchiori, […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Nothing But Nebbiolo

Angelo Gaja became a legendary figure in Piedmontese winemaking for introducing to the region such innovations as crop thinning and barrique aging. His great single-vineyard wines from both Barbaresco and Barolo are now bottled with only a broad Langhe appellation, allowing him to add a defiant smidgen of Barbera. However, Gaja Barbaresco remains 100 percent […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Viva La Vega

At a tasting of Vega Sicilia’s Unico at Valentino restaurant in Los Angeles earlier this year, 10 collectors of this most prized label from Ribera del Duero arrived, each carrying one precious vintage of Unico from his cellar. The array included such gems as the 1968 (astounding, graceful, and still youthful), the 1989 (fragrant and […]

Best Of The Best 2006: License To Thrill

The négociant house of Bouchard Père & Fils (now controlled by Henriot Champagne and therefore a sister company of Chablis producer William Fèvre) is the largest holder of vineyards on the Côte de Beaune, with an extraordinarily high percentage of premier and grand cru vineyards at its disposal. Under Henriot, the winemaking has improved tremendously […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Good-Time Charlie

Charles-Camille Heidsieck was one of the first Champagne entrepreneurs to recognize the importance of what today would be called “working the market.” When he arrived in New York in 1852 to promote his wines, he charmed the American public with his French flair and earned the moniker Champagne Charlie. Within five years, his company was […]

Best Of The Best 2006: A Gem Of A Wine

In 1983, Franz Hirtzberger helped establish the Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus, an organization formed to preserve the unique viticultural heritage of the Wachau, a region of Austria mentioned in Carolingian texts dating to the year 830. The group evaluates Wachau wines, and to each it issues one of three quality ratings: Steinfeder, Federspiel, or Smaragd. […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Grain Elevator

Because it is brewed from grain, sake could be classified as beer instead of as wine. But in this instance, the taste buds prevailed over logic. Ginga Shizuku Divine Droplets Junmai Daiginjo Sake—belonging to the category of sake in which at least 50 percent of the rice grain is polished away before brewing—is a revelation […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Harlan Estate 2002 Proprietary Red

It is often assumed—and for good reason—that the classification of vineyards according to the quality of the wine they produce is a French invention. The French have a gift for analyzing the foundations of their own superiority, and they did, after all, organize the official Bordeaux Classification of 1855, an audacious experiment in which a […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Super Syrah

A passion for all things creative has inspired Ann Colgin throughout her career—from her years as an art expert and antiquarian at Sotheby’s to her decision, in 1992, to enter the realm of wine by founding Colgin Cellars. The latter, as anyone familiar with the top tier of California winemaking will know, has been one […]

Best Of The Best 2006: An Inspired Insignia

Founded in 1972, Joseph Phelps’ eponymous winery has steadily continued to grow and release wines of extraordinary quality and consistency. As trends in winemaking have come and gone, Joseph Phelps Vineyards has steadfastly focused on a classic style of winemaking that is quintessentially Californian, establishing its reputation, over the decades, as one of the iconic […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Magical Merlot

In a region of extraordinary beauty, no more beautiful place exists than the Spring Mountain area—a richly forested and wooded enclave, where the Pride family purchased Summit Ranch in 1989. Jim Pride, who passed away in 2004, was an experienced farmer who understood that true quality begins in the vineyards, not in the winery. His […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Oregonian Opulence

One of three proprietors, Michael Etzel discovered the 88-acre prop­erty that would become Beaux Frères Vineyard in 1986. The Colorado resident’s brother-in-law, Robert Parker Jr., founder of The Wine Advocate, became a partner in the concern, which sought to transform the dairy farm into a vineyard producing top-tier Pinot Noir. A third partner, commercial developer […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Lewis Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay 2003

One is hard-pressed to imagine a less likely professional precursor to the occupation of vintner than that of racecar driver. The very qualities that favor the success of a winemaker—a predisposition to think long term rather than short term, an attachment to place, an iron patience—would seem to contradict the stereotypical image we have of […]

Best Of The Best 2006: A Perfect Pleasure

Peter Michael Winery’s tremendous influence on winemaking in the past quarter century happened by accident. Sir Peter Michael, a Renaissance man and entrepreneur who founded United Engineering Industries, a pioneer in digital broadcast technologies, had always planned to own a vineyard in Bordeaux or Burgundy. Then, while on a business trip to San Francisco, he […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Something Old, Something New

Crocker & Starr came about when innovative winemaker Pam Starr was hired as a consultant to replant the Crocker Vineyard, a site in St. Helena, Calif., that has been planted to vines since the late 19th century. The partnership produces a full range of varietals, including its proprietary red wine, Stone Place Cuvée, a Cabernet […]

Best Of The Best 2006: A Taste For The Unusual

As a successful entrepreneur, Darioush’s proprietor, Darioush Khaledi, sought to marry the winemaking traditions of his native Iran to the terroir of Napa Valley. Among the wines produced at the palatial facility along the Silverado Trail are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and, of course, Shiraz, the Persian grape that, in France’s Rhône region, would become Syrah. […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Cuvée Confection

The Brander Vineyard has been a Santa Barbara County staple since 1975, when Fred Brander, an immigrant from Argentina, settled in the area to become a vintner after a career as an importer focusing on the wines from his native Argentina and from France. Although the vineyard continues to produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Hennessy Ellipse Cognac

The Hennessy company history has no generation gaps. Maurice Hennessy represents the eighth generation of his family to run the company that Richard Hennessy founded in 1765, and master blender Yann Fillioux is the seventh-generation member of his family to hold this title or a comparable title at the firm. After starting with Hennessy as […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Winning Number

San Francisco’s South Beach waterfront district has been a hotbed of activity for the past few years: It is home to the Giants’ AT&T Park, wonderful restaurants, some of the city’s most desirable Bay Bridge–view condominiums, and, now, a gin distillery. Housed in a warehouse on Pier 50, Distillery 209 is owned by Leslie Rudd, […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Triple Crown

Auchentoshan, now controlled by Morrison Bowmore Distillers (which Suntory Alliance Brands owns), is an anomaly among Scotch single malts. The distillery is located near Glasgow in the Scottish Lowlands, but its water supply comes from across the Highland line. The whiskies are triple-distilled, which is unusual for Scotland, and are only lightly peated, making them […]

Best Of The Best 2006: The (Cluster) Bomb

Famed grappa producer Nonino produces Nonino ÙE La Riserva dei Cent’Anni by fermenting and distilling whole grape clusters instead of pomace. Earthy and spicy, with flavors of toasty oak and ripe fruit and notes of grass, pepper, caramel, and vanilla, this copper-colored distillate has vibrant aromas and an extraordinarily long finish. By employing the same […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Raising Cane

Rhum agricoles, artisanal rums representing only about 3 percent of this spirit’s production, are produced on the French islands of Martinique,  Guadeloupe, and Marie Galante, and have their own AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). They are distilled only from specified varieties of fresh cane. Depaz Blue Cane Rhum Agricole, made from blue cane on Martinique and […]

Best Of The Best 2006: White Hot

Aged reposado and añejo tequilas—the so-called sipping varieties—certainly are enjoyable, but blanco tequilas offer the purest essence of agave, one that is unmasked by oak. The newly imported Partida Blanco Tequila comes from the 5,000-acre family estate in Amatitán, Jalisco, that Don Enrique Partida founded in the 1930s. After conveying a nose of fresh agave, […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Taylor Fladgate 2003 Vintage Port

Early on, the folks at Taylor Fladgate expected that the 2003 harvest would yield a spectacular port. Winemaker David Guimaraens said that the year presented “textbook ripening conditions,” and chairman Alistair Robertson declared it “a perfect year in the vineyard: . . . a wet winter to build up water reserves, excellent flowering conditions, and […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Amber Raves

John Leacock was only 15 years old when he began apprenticing for a Madeira shipping firm in 1741. By 1760, he was well prepared to establish his own business, producing wines that became a staple in the American colonies. In 1925, his company became part of the Madeira Wine Co., which now belongs to the […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Getting An Earful

Leonildo Pieropan, the leading producer in Soave and the grandson of the estate’s founder (also named Leonildo), is a perfectionist in the vineyard and in the winery. Like the more common red Recioto di Valpolicella, Pieropan 2001 Recioto di Soave Classico Le Colombare, a rarer white variety, is made from the recie (ears) of the […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Earning Interest

Schloss Vollrads is the ancestral home of the Barons of Greiffenclau, but since bankruptcy proceedings in 1997 and the subsequent suicide of the last baron, the property—including its vineyards, its 17th-century manor house, and its landmark tower—has been in the possession of the Nassau Sparkasse bank. A year ago, a sale of the estate seemed […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Sweet And Bubbly

When Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser founded Inniskillin in 1975, they intended to emphasize pre­mium table wines. But Kaiser, an Austrian, suspected that in Canada’s cold climate they could make the New World equivalent of Eiswein. The first vintage of Inniskillin’s Vidal ice wine, made in 1984, changed the course of the Canadian wine industry. […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Orange Plush

The Marnier-Lapostolle company first made the Grand Marnier Cuvée Cent du Cinquantenaire in 1977 to celebrate its 150th anniversary. In addition to the trademark Marnier bitter orange essence (from the species Citrus bigaradia), this cuvée is distinguished by the rare reserve Cognacs employed in its manufacture, most of them from Grande Champagne and aged as […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Satisfaction Guaranteed

After his defeat at Culloden in 1746, Prince Charles Edward Stuart of Scotland—better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie—fled to the isle of Skye. There, he rewarded the MacKinnon clan for their Hebridean hospitality by giving them the recipe for his favorite liqueur, which consisted of aged Scotch malt whiskies, heather honey, and a secret complement […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Berry Good

Jörg Rupf, scion of a German family of master distillers, arrived in California in 1982 with a modest Holstein pot still. Now operating from a former naval aviation hangar near San Francisco, Rupf crafts the stunning Aqua Perfecta line of eaux-de-vie, grappas, and liqueurs. His production is unusual because he fortifies each liqueur with brandy […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Silent Green

Originally produced as an elixir of long life by Carthusian monks from a recipe they acquired in 1605, Chartreuse—named for its green hue—has survived revolutions, landslides, and tangles with the French government, which twice attempted to appropriate the recipe. In 1810, Napoléon ordered that all secret medicinal recipes be delivered to the ministry of the […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Old Brand, New Taste

Few of the Cuban brands now being made in other countries possess their namesakes’ strength, but Bolivar, which was first rolled in 1901 in Havana, is one of the exceptions. General Cigar recently resurrected the “Boli,” enlisting four of the company’s most experienced cigar masters—Daniel Nuñez, Benji Menendez, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, and Estelo Padrón—to perfect this […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Object Of Obsession

Mike Butera’s perfectionism is ap­parent in the handful of collectible pipes he carves each year. It also is evident in the premium cigars, Butera Vintage Select, that Altadis rolls for him, using tobaccos that he selected from the vast inventory of the world’s largest cigar company. The wrapper is a decade-old Brazilian Mata Fina, which […]

Best Of The Best 2006: Heavyweight Champ

Like a habanero pepper, the Camacho Coyolar Puro delivers an intense flavor that will overwhelm delicate palates. All of our panelists savored the experience of tasting the cigar, but some doubted they ever could finish a Coyolar. For this blend, perhaps Camacho’s heaviest, the company ventured beyond its own tobacco farms in Honduras’ Jamastran Valley […]