July 15, 2021 4 min read
Stags' Leap Winery has a long and storied past. The grapes planted on the estate date back as far as 1872, but it was Chicago socialite Horace Chase, who formally established the winery in 1893. Stags’ Leap Winery, was the first winery to be established in the Stags’ Leap District, a small appellation located in the southern half of Napa Valley. Today, the Stags’ Leap District is known for producing some of the finest grapes in all of California. Horace Chase was an investor in gold and silver and lost his fortune in 1909, losing the winery as well. In 1913, Clarence and Frances Grange purchased the property. They had made their money in farm equipment and wanted a home in Napa to entertain their friends. After Clarence had a major accident while riding a horse, Frances took over the running of the property and turned it into one of the top resorts in Napa at that time. Of the many uses of the property over the years, the oddest to me was 1920 through 1944, when the United States government had the Stags’ Leap, California Post Office, in the basement of the Manor House, which also conveniently had a bar attached. After Frances passed away in the mid 1950's, the property went to a number of owners who let it fall apart. Finally, the Doumani family took over in 1970 and restored the property to the grace that had made it famous. Today, Stags’ Leap is owned by Treasury Wine Estates (Beringer) and is a top destination to visit if you are ever in Napa Valley.
Like most wineries in the Stags Leap District, Stags’ Leap Winery is known for their red wines, but I was astounded with the aromatic intensity and balance of both of these whites. The Sauvignon Blanc is filled with citrus and lemongrass notes and flavors of white peach and grapefruit with a savory minerality on the finish. It comes from two vineyard sites, Gamble Ranch in Oakville and Stags Landing in Stags Leap. The Chardonnay is much more refreshing than you would expect. I could not help noticing both whites had a core of minerality and some Meyer lemon flavors. This Chardonnay, which has some ageing in French oak, is a bit rounder with notes of vanilla and tropical fruits like guava and pineapple. You can tell there is good lees contact which helps to add a good amount of complexity. Both whites are excellent wines to pair with your favorite recipes.
Both wines are available in all locations. This is a very historical estate making better and better wines each year. While not inexpensive, they are both outstanding examples of each varietal especially compared to comparably priced selections.
92 Points - JamesSuckling.com
"A very pretty sauvignon with sliced pear, apple, some lime and hints of cooked fennel. Medium-bodied, creamy and fresh with a delicious finish. Solid white. Drink now.” - James Suckling
90 Points - Wine Advocate
“The 2019 Sauvignon Blanc was aged for six months in 20% new oak, 50% neutral oak and 30% stainless steel. It opens with vibrant key lime pie, pink grapefruit and underripe pineapple scents with touches of wild thyme and elderflower. The medium-bodied palate delivers mouth-coating citrus flavors with loads of mineral sparks and a racy backbone, finishing long and minerally. 9,011 cases were made.” - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
94 Points - JamesSuckling.com
"Linear and tight chardonnay with sliced apple and lemon. Pear and mineral undertones, too. Medium to full body, firm acidity and freshness. Crisp. Only 25% new oak. Pretty vivid. Drink now.” - James Suckling
90 Points - Wine Advocate
“The 2019 Chardonnay was aged for seven months in 30% stainless steel, 17% new oak and 53% neutral oak. It comes sailing effortlessly out of the glass with notes of ripe yellow apple, fresh apricots and warm pears with hints of allspice, honey toast and paraffin wax. The medium-bodied palate is crisp, clean and refreshing with loads of citrusy accents and a spiced apple finish. 62,948 cases were made.” - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
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