Stags’ Leap is one of California’s earliest wine estates, founded by Horace Chase and W.W. Thompson on land where grapes had been planted by T.L. Grigsby in the 1880s, the Manor House was built in 1890, followed by the blasting of the Wine Cave, and the first vintage in 1893. By 1895, they were making 40,000 gallons of wine. Wine production has been interrupted periodically since the first Chase vintage due to financial reversals, Prohibition, and war; however, wine grapes have been grown continuously on the estate since its founding. A fashionable country resort in the mid-twentieth century (the Grange Era), popular with Hollywood due to its 1890s stone Manor House and historic gardens, legends of bootleggers and gangsters, ghosts and gypsies, Stags’ Leap has been home to three major family groups up through the modern revitalization of the winery that began in the 1970s.
Today, winemaker Christophe Paubert practices a meticulous, hands-on style of winemaking that emphasizes balance. From the hand-picked and hand-sorted fruit to the oak barrels aging in caves carved out of the solid rock of the mountain, Paubert’s methods are simple and traditional. His goal is to convey the essence of this world-class terroir from the grape to the glass, to create handcrafted wines that tell an authentic story of the land on which they are grown. Come out and enjoy a sample of them with our special guest, Brian Leger!
- Chardonnay 2016 Napa Valley: Grapes for the Stags’ Leap Napa Valley Chardonnay were sourced from the cooler southern appellations within Napa Valley, where fog from the San Pablo Bay helps to cool the vineyards throughout the growing season, allowing for ideal preservation of freshness and acidity. The majority of the fruit comes from the Carneros AVA which provides citrus, mineral, and crisp apple notes, with a smaller percentage coming from the Oak Knoll AVA, which contributes more tropical and stone fruit characteristics. It is gently whole-cluster pressed, in order to preserve the fresh, floral aromatics naturally occurring in the fruit. Twenty-five percent of the wine is fermented in stainless steel and remains in tank until the final blend is assembled. The winemaking hand remains light, with twenty-five percent of the wine fermented and aged in new French oak barrels and the remaining fifty percent in seasoned French oak. This specific barrel treatment helps preserve the essential purity of the fruit while adding subtle notes of oak complexity. The 2016 vintage, as usual, did not undergo malolactic fermentation, which helps to further maintain the fruit’s natural acidity and aromatic freshness. Medium bodied, youthful and with a gentle creaminess, it fills the mouth with tropical fruit and spiced apple flavors, finishing with nice minerality and a generosity that is lovely.
- “The Investor” 2014 Napa Valley: The Investor is a red wine that beautifully blends together the unique flavors and expressions of Merlot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, resulting in a powerful yet approachable assemblage with significant fruit presence. The Merlot contributes fresh red berry aromatics and a soft, velvety texture to balance the power of Petite Sirah, which adds concentration, tannins, spice and blueberry flavors. The Cabernet Sauvignon further increases the final blend’s complexity and depth and the Malbec’s incredibly vibrant floral aromatics heighten the blend’s freshness. The majority of the Petite Sirah fruit comes from estate vineyards in Oakville, and additional fruit is sourced from a diverse selection of northern and southern Napa Valley vineyards to broaden the wine’s floral and spicy characteristics. The Merlot is grown on the Stags’ Leap estate in the heart of the Stags Leap District, and a selection of southern valley floor Cabernet Sauvignon fruit makes up the balance of the blend. Rich in dark purple fruit but also captivating for its notes of tea leaf, roasting spices of sage and rosemary with touches of chaparral herbs, cinnamon and clove on the nose. It’s an instant palate pleaser with generous, concentrated flavors of blackberry, blueberry, plum, black cherry, strawberry and fine-grained, soft tannins and a juicy, mouthwatering acidity.
- Petit Sirah 2015 Napa Valley: This is the wine that put Stags’ Leap on the map, as opposed to that other Stag’s Leap! Winemaker Christophe Paubert practiced simple and traditional methods to show the uniqueness of the Petite Sirah fruit. Avoiding over extraction, the wine went through a relatively short maceration period (9-12 days on average) that included fermentation, and two of these lots were co-fermented with Viognier to reinforce the floral character of the Petite Sirah. The wine aged for 12 months in American oak barrels (25% new), allowing the spiciness of the oak to complement the natural spice character of the varietal. The final blend included small amounts of Syrah, Grenache, Carignane and Mourvèdreto bring further complexity to the finished wine. Generous in flavor, with blackberry, black cherry, mulberry and subtle hints of rose tea, vanilla, graphite, clove spice and sweet tobacco, this wine exhibits the full spectrum of Petite Sirah’s signature characteristics. The beautiful flavors remain fresh throughout, the tannins are dense, but unbelievably soft, and the finish is luxuriously long.
- “Audentia” 2014 Napa Valley: [Presale Only! Wooden Collectors Box Included On Orders of Six Bottles] “Sed Contra Audentior Ito” – Always Push Harder – was the latter part of the family motto of Stags’ Leap Winery founder Horace Chase. Audentia is their tribute to this sentiment. The marriage of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Petite Sirah highlights the rich heritage of the property and natural lineage of the estate, as well as the balance of power and finesse. Notable for its distinct combination of power and elegance, Cabernet Sauvignon has a long-established history as the Stags Leap District’s signature varietal. The district’s unique location allows erosion from the Palisades to be a matchless source of its volcanic soils, acknowledged as a distinctive factor in the modern reputation for Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignons. Petite Sirah was sourced exclusively from block 9, long known as one of the winery’s highest-performing blocks that delivers each year with deep blue and red fruit we liken to Cabernet Sauvignon. The combination of the two varietals results in a blend that’s both powerful and concentrated, balanced and elegant. Special care was made in preserving purity of fruit and selecting Petite Sirah that would strengthen – not overpower – the Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep garnet-purple in color, it is profoundly scented of crushed blackberries and black currants with hints of vanilla, cinnamon, sandalwood, dried flowers and lavender with a waft of fertile soil. The medium to full-bodied palate is densely packed with black fruit, earth and spice flavor layers, supported by firm, grainy tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing long and complex. Consider holding it for two more years and drink it over the next 25+.