AT A GLANCE:
Name of wine estate: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar
Wine region: Napa
Standout points: Historic Judgment of Paris victory; world-class Cabernet from celebrated estate vineyards
Winemaker: Marcus Notaro
Wine style: Bordeaux-style blends
The 1976 Judgement of Paris blind tasting transformed the wine world irrevocably. It pitted the finest wines of France against the best of California. Against every expectation, California prevailed. No longer would the Old World (especially Bordeaux) enjoy pre-eminence in the realm of great wine. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the best-performing wines of that tasting, demonstrating that Californian cabs could rival the premier cru classé superstars of Bordeaux’s Left Bank. So momentous was its achievement that this New World wine – made from mere three-year-old vines! – is now an artefact in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
A Napa ‘First Growth’
Founded by Warren Winiarski in 1970 (though now owned by the Antinori family in Tuscany and St Michelle Estates), Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars this year celebrates its golden anniversary. Wine lovers can now learn the illustrious 50-year-old story of this Napa First Growth at the FAY Outlook & Visitor Center. Built in 2014, this elegant building overlooking Stags Leap’s historic vineyards and surrounded by Napa’s rugged east hills is a tasting setting which comfortably matches the world-class wines Stags Leap Wine Cellar produces.
Iron fist in a velvet glove
Warren Winiarski coined the oft-repeated phrase ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ to describe his supple yet structured Cabernets. One only needs to take a single sip of Stags Leap Wine Cellar’s celebrated Cask 23 and SLV cuvées to understand what an apt description this is. In the tasting room, The Estate Collection flight allows visitors to do just this. What’s more, to celebrate the winery’s 50th anniversary, a special library wine will be poured during this experience. So, for Cabernet lovers, there’s never been a better time to visit.