Feb 19, 2013
History & Refinement in Napa Valley
Arriving at the Stags' Leap estate in Napa Valley feels like you've taken a step back in time.
And you have, sort of.
One of Napa Valley's earliest wine estates, this iconic estate and wine label remains steadfast as one of America's most revered wineries.
The historic Manor house, built in the late 1800s has been cared for and turned into a visitors center. The nearby stone cellar is still in use for wine making. Only the concrete pool out back (so rare and modern, back in its heyday) remains waterless and forlorn. You can almost visualize guests of the Golden Age, lounging by the pool looking chic and finely coiffed as they sip wine and cocktails. It is said to have been the first swimming pool of its kind in the region.
But its the wine of Stags' Leap that endures for those who have never visited estate. It's a collection, which undoubtedly lines the shelves of the most treasured cellars. Its unassuming label speaks volumes to the taste and judiciousness of those who drink it.
It is a refined package, as is the juice inside.
Christophe Paubert (right) is the winemaker for Stags' Leap. Born in Bordeaux (you could say he was born to make wine), he has worked around the world, but settled in Napa Valley. He seems to be made for this position. Perhaps because he's from the Old World - he is an ambassador for the brand.
Why does he love Napa? "Here, 10 miles apart you can grow the best Cabernet [Sauvignon] and the best Pinot Noir. It's like having Bordeaux and Burgundy together." His winemaking is very hands off as well, "It's about showing the fruit," he says, "I don't try to put too much winemaking into it."
"Overall, what you find here, or what you can find in Bordeaux is the quality of fruit - it's very high. This region [Napa] is great because of the soil... the terroir." He continues, "It's the cool nights here. Cool nights can define the greatness of any region."
Paubert is not only humble but he is fully aware that Stags' Leap wines are not typical Napa Valley in style. Not everyone gets the restraint and the Old World style of his wines. "I don't make wine for everyone... They do well in restaurants. They have a balance of acidity and tannins, that's why they sell well, sommeliers like them."
Stags' Leap Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2011 - Made from Carneros fruit, this elegant Chardonnay offers mineral, fresh citrus, melon, white nectarine, pear and apple. A deft hand with oak contact leaves a bright, chic wine with a crisp, lengthy finish.
Stags' Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 - Black currents and spice, plummy notes and earth lead to a palate of dark chocolate and spice. It's very fresh, the acidity gives lift and the tannins are obvious but ripe.
Stags' Leap Napa Valley Petite Sirah, 2009 - Blueberry tea, plump purple fruit, violets and roses with a core of chocolate. Supple and generous in the mouth yet bold and concentrated. At the core it's quite meaty and masculine. Like an iron fist in a velvet glove.
Stags' Leap 'The Leap' Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 - Fresh cassis and black raspberries, espresso and dark chocolate translate on the palate. The fruit is sweet and ripe, the palate generous and plush. Still quite tightly wound but the balance and structure is obvious. Time will be a good friend to this wine for those who care to cellar it.
More From Napa Valley & Sonoma
Etude - Passion & The Pursuit of Pinot Noir
Chateau St. Jean - A Jewel In The Crown Of Sonoma
~Daenna Van Mulligen
Want to know how WineScores reviews wine? Read all about it here...