There are some white wines whose track records are so reputable that they exist in the realm of the renowned. Exploring them through the lens of a number of vintages– both older and more modern– is an important exercise: It allows us to overcome the reputation that’s built up over the decades and intend to understand what has actually made them so special in the first location. Back in the summer of 2020, I explored a deep vertical of the Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and blogged about it here. Next month, I’ll be doing the exact same with the terrific Chappellet Pritchard Hill, and have another on Chateau Montelena showing up, too. Today, nevertheless, I wish to take a look at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, specifically their S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that’s as inextricably connected to the history of Napa Valley as any.
It was their 1973, after all, that won the red-wine classification at the Judgment of Paris, the 1976 wine tasting competition that pitted the very best of California versus the leading white wines of France– and that, famously, was swept by the Americans. (The winner amongst the gewurztraminers was the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 1973; that famous manufacturer, as I discussed, will likewise be the focus of an approaching deep dive.) Since, the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. has been considered a standard amongst Napa Valley Cabs.
And with great factor: Over the course of an impressive six-vintage tasting that I attended this previous October at Stag’s Leap Red wine Cellars– it belonged to the activities around the Judgment of Napa that I covered here late in 2015– I was beyond amazed with the expressiveness, longevity, accuracy, and flat-out deliciousness of these white wines. The vertical was led by wine maker Marcus Notaro, who has been at the helm since 2013, and the wines varied from the superbly age-worthy 2018 all the way back to the flower, tasty, haunting 1987.
The Stag’s Leap Red wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon is a legend among Napa Cabs, typically efficient in … [+]
Thanks to Stag’s Leap Red wine Cellars
On March 10th– though online bidding for the Heritage Auctions Signature Fine and Rare Wine Auction starts today, February 18th– consumers will have the chance to acquire white wines from a sensational choice of around 4,000 bottles pulled from more than 40 vintages, part of what Stag’s Leap Red wine Cellars calls their Tradition Collection. Wine from between 1972 and 2017 will be represented, consisting of, according to their press products, “Practically all the vintages Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars has ever made of its Estate-Grown Cabernet Sauvignons (FAY, S.L.V. and CASK 23), in addition to ARTEMIS Cabernet Sauvignon and the Napa Valley Red Wine. Some of the highlights of this auction include CASK 23 from 1979 to 2017; S.L.V. from 1972 to 2017; FAY from 1990 to 2017; ARTEMIS from 2001 to 2015; and Napa Valley Merlot from 1977 to 2005. Lots will include 12 bottles of 750ml, 6 1.5 L magnums and a handful of 6L, 12L and 18L wines.”
To put it simply, this is an unprecedented opportunity to get and experience some of the most essential white wines that have actually been produced in Napa Valley in the past several years. In addition, among the most traditionally important bottles in modern American history will be on the block: One bottle of the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon, the red that was evaluated to be the best at the now-famous Judgment of Paris in 1976, topping such icons as Châteaux Haut-Brion, Mouton Rothschild, and more. “This wine is so special,” journalism materials keep in mind, “that the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History has a bottle in its permanent collection.” And due to the fact that all of the bottles up for auction come directly from the cellars at Stag’s Leap, their provenance can’t be questioned.
These caves at Stag’s Leap White wine Cellars hold highly desired wines.
Thanks to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
When I personally had the opportunity to taste through a vertical of S.L.V. last fall, it was a chance to not simply savor some fantastic red wines, but likewise to contextualize them each in relation to one another, and to their next-door neighbors. There are many benefits to tasting through numerous decades of a single red wine, not least of which is the ability to comprehend how a particular vineyard website expresses itself throughout the years and through all sort of classic conditions, as well as how the assisting approach of a particular manufacturer does or does not change for many years and decades. In the case of this red wine, experiencing these specific vintages accomplished both with exuberance and profundity.
I found the S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon, across vintages, to be appealing in their youth and have the ability to age with grace. There’s an old cliché that says you must never ever satisfy your heroes, because frustration typically occurs. In the case of this particular white wine– certainly a hero in the American wine heavens– tasting through these extraordinary vintages had the opposite impact: If anything. it raised my level of regard. I had actually been fortunate enough to delight in a glass or three of older S.L.V. over the years, but considering these half-dozen white wines side by side threw everything that makes it so extraordinary into shimmeringly sharp relief. Here are my impressions.
Stag’s Leap Red wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
All of the generosity and grace I have actually pertained to expect of this magnificent vintage is on display screen here, with cassis and crushed blueberry scents signed up with by a discreetly floral lift prior to abundant, energetic flavors of cassis, blueberries, vanilla, caramel, cedar, and cafe mocha. The long, mineral-flecked finish is ever-so-subtly lifted with the suggestion of candied violets. Enjoy this one now with air, or lay it down for the next 30 years.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
The ripe, abundant nose here is more exuberantly spiced than the 2018: Allspice, star anise, and clove dust brambly berry fragrances and set the phase for a palate layered with blackberries, cherries and cherry pits, woodsy spices, stogie tobacco, and a hint of brown sugar. At more than 6 years of age, this is actually starting to fix nicely, and promises to continue deepening for the next 20 years.
Stag’s Leap White wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
The spice and energy of the Stag’s Leap Vineyard sparkles through on this splendidly subtle expression, the flamed orange oils, cedar, and tea framed by slightly more tasty tannins that will take advantage of a bit more time, or a good stint in the decanter. With air, the wine put on weight, texture, and lift, as well as notes of cocoa powder, sappy cherries, black currants, and flowers, all of it riding through the graphite-kissed finish. If you can wait, this red wine will continue to provide higher and higher benefits through the early-2050s.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Frequently, it’s appealing to keep a white wine until completion of the recommended drinking window offered by whatever evaluation you’re referencing. However that’s not necessarily a great concept unless you prefer totally mature white wines. Choosing when to pop the cork from an older bottle is simply as much about individual preference as it has to do with the potential longevity of a specific vintage. I kept on think about that while relishing this 2003, a red wine that, while it definitely has another 15 years of life in it, is consuming so brilliantly today that I would not recommend waiting. It’s at a beguiling phase of evolution nearly 18 years on, with a concentrated yet smooth palate that brings notes of blackberries and brandied cherries along with more balsamic notes, singed sage, stogie tobacco, and a flower and cedar lift hovering above all of it. The fruit is still singing yet the more mature characteristics have really come through, making this a fantastically balanced, distinctively delicious white wine right now.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 1993
This is beginning to approach its maximum fragrant expression of maturity, the black plums anchored by burnt earth and licorice prior to tastes of brambly berries, currants, cocoa powder, pencil shavings, and a deep cut of mineral. The tannins, while mature, are still surprisingly present, and the core of level of acidity keeps every sip fresh and lively. This is another S.L.V. that can certainly age a bit more, but that is so balanced and long today that, if I had a bottle in my collection, I ‘d think about opening it in the short-term.
Stag’s Leap Red wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 1987
This is wonderfully generous as soon as you smell it, with wild strawberries, graham crackers, and flowers sparkling with a tip of camphor. That lift acts as a seductive counterpoint to the fabulously generous taste buds, whose plums and sappy cherries are both perfectly spiced and anchored by a severe tug of umami– meat, soy sauce– that, as the surface resolves, finds a counterpoint in the subtle lift of springtime flowers. The acid is still so fresh and balanced here! This red wine, even at close to 35 years after the grapes were collected, is a true testimony to the vineyard, to the winery, and to the ability of the best producers to produce white wines that stand the test of time, and that stand as testimonies to the greatness that animates them.
After the formal vertical tasting, I likewise had the opportunity to delight in the Stag’s Leap Red wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 from a five-liter bottle. Larger-format white wines tend to age far slower than red wines in standard 750ml bottles, however far fewer of them are normally made. This, then, was an uncommon opportunity– and a completely profound one when I took my first sip: The white wine rolled over the tongue with expansive, expressive fruit, despite its age. Accurate notes of cedar and cocoa powder flashed through flavors of cassis and candied violets, all of it carried along by balanced, dazzling tannins.
Large-format bottlings, like these from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, tend to age much more slowly than … [+]
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