Stags Leap tagged posts
Anyone remember which appellation put Napa Valley on the map? It was a little area on the east side of the valley called the Stags Leap District. A bottle of 1973 Stags Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon beat out the likes of M0uton-Rothschild and Haut -Brion to win the Judgement of Paris in 1976. Lucky for all of us, the entirety of the Napa Valley has continued that momentum, but it's wines like this 2008 Hartwell Miste Hill Cabernet that remind me what makes the Stags Leap District such a special place for growing Cabernet.
Hartwell Miste Hill is one of my absolute favorite Cabernets. I've been hoarding my last three bottles of the 2006 vintage and, though I have many more expensive bottles, this is the one I think about most often. When it came time to celebrate my birthdayRead More
In the middle of the Stags Leap District sits a rocky peak with a spectacular Tuscan style winery perched on top. That winery is the iconic Silverado Vineyards, where we would found ourselves spending a beautiful Sunday afternoon during our three day tour of the district in which it lies. The weather had shifted from sunny and warm to breezy and cloudy, with snow still falling on Mount St. Helena to the north. As we stood on the back porch sipping a glass of Sangiovese Rose, we took in the view of the changing weather from what has to be the most beautiful place in Stags Leap.
Walking through the production area makes me realize how big this place is compared to some of the lesser-known wineries like Hartwell Estate. But, much like Hartwell, Silverado controls every part of the winemaking process starting with the growing of the grapes in their own vineyards, mostly located in the Stags Leap District. Unlike the vast majority of the wineries in the valley, Silverado bottles their own wines, much to the chagrin of winemaker Jon Emmerich, who we ran into in the barrel room. Most wineries rent mobile bottling trucks the couple of times a year when they are needed, but keeping things in house makes sense for an operation the size of Silverado. Emmerich considers it wasted space, confirming the winemaker as artist (not businessperson) mentality.Read More
Our three day tour through Stags Leap began at Steltzner, a small operation on the east side of the Silverado Trail. Allison Steltzner, daughter of founder Dick, was our host as we enjoyed the ambiance of the warm tasting room on a foggy February afternoon. Dick was one of the first to plant in the valley in 1965 when he recognized what few had: the Stags Leap micro climate is uniquely suited to grow distinctive, long lived Cabernet.
At Steltzner, we tasted through a lineup of impressive wines starting with a nice rosé of Syrah that is very well priced at $10.50. The Allison Rosé is named after the host herself who wanted to produce a Rose despite her dad telling her "I won't drink any pink s!#@". Dick has changed his Rosé hating ways and now enjoys a glass of his daughter's wine next to the pool in the summer.Read More
As our guide at Hartwell Estate Winery said, "This is Cabernet country". The Stags Leap AVA is indeed Cabernet country ever since Stag's Leap Wine Cellars put California Cabernet Sauvignon on the map when it won the famous 1976 Paris tasting. Since then, wine production in Napa Valley has grown exponentially, but Cabernet from the Stags Leap District remains arguably the most sought after in the country. This is the first in a series of posts where we will take a tour through this historical district of the Napa Valley.
A little known property on the west side of the Silverado Trial, Hartwell Estate should start to make it on the wine loving public's radar if the quality of their product is any indication. The winery is perched near the top of a dormant volcano, offering sweeping views of the surrounding valley. The Tuscan inspired look was inspired by Bob Hartwell's wife Blanca. As is a common theme in the Napa Valley wine scene, Bob Hartwell didn't make his money selling wine, but rather in another industry, in his case aerospace. It turns out Velcro might actually be a key ingredient to good wine, along with a great site and a talented winemaker.
That talented winemaker is Benoit Touquette assisted by consultant (and his mentor) the famed Michel Rolland. As expected, no expense was spared at Hartwell. From the $35,000 cement fermenting tanks (imported from France), to the 100% new French oak all of their Cabernet calls home, everything is top notch, and it shows! In fact, I would say the Hartwell wines were the some of the best we tasted during our three days in the Stags Leap District.Read More
Stags Leap is perhaps the most famous appellation in the Napa Valley. Shafer, Chimney Rock, Cliff Lede and Silverado are just a few of the storied brands calling Stag's Leap home. With wines starting at $50 and going all the way up into the "you literally can't buy it" zone (Shafer Hillside Select anyone?), Stag's Leap has the reputation for high priced, high quality Cabernet.
So when Hartwell's 2006 Miste Hill Cabernet came along for under $30 I had to try it. The lowest price in the country, according to Google Shopping is $46.99, so I knew I was getting a good price. The real question: Was I getting a good deal? The answer is a resounding yes.
This wine pours a deep opaque black, with ruby edges, no surprise since it's bottled unfined and unfiltered. The nose is absolutelyRead More