Actually, I just realized the problem and I will leave this question and answer here for others who might make the same mistake.
It’s all about the Context, in this case, it was actually down in a ‘page section’ of my front matter and not at the page level. I needed to pass in an additional variable to the partial with the page context and from there the boilerplate works as expected.
Thank you, in this case I just was in the wrong context for what I was trying to do. Once I passed in the proper context through a dict I was able to work with the taxonomy data as I expected. Sometimes when partials call other partials, you have to go up a couple of levels to see what Context the ‘dot’ represents.