Review: Three from Stags' Leap Winery

Three wines from the famous Stags' Leap Winery look to please, are they up to the challenge? Photo: Duane Pemberton

SEATTLE, March 27, 2013 – Located on the Silverado Trail in Napa, Stags’ Leap Winery started off a “Stags’ Leap Manor” in 1892 and was originally popular with Hollywood. It has been producing wines in that area since the 1970s and has garnered international acclaim for its wines.

These three wines represent two very different vintages – 2009 was a rather “boring” year in regards to any significant weather during the growing season. 2011, on the other hand, was a very cool year which is ideal for helping bring out better acidity – exactly what a white wine needs.

SEE RELATED: Review: 2010 Pedroncelli Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 Viognier:  W.E.P Rating: 85%

-          Vineyard sources: Oak Knoll and Carneros
-          Varietal composition: 100% Viognier
-          Alcohol: 14.1%
-          Cooperage: 20% in Stainless Steel, 80% Neutral French Oak
-          Production: 2,343 cases
-          Price: $30

On the nose: Lemongrass, pineapple, honeydew, kiwi, grapefruit peel and peach.

On the palate: A very good-tasting combination of minerality, peach, and citrus. Spot-on acids combine with the fruit notes that help hold it together on the mid-palate which leads into a lingering, dry finish.

SEE RELATED: Winemaker terroir: Does it exist?

2011 Chardonnay: W.E.P Rating: 80%

-          Vineyard Source: Napa Valley
-          Varietal composition:  100% Chardonnay
-          Cooperage:  25% new oak, 25% stainless steel and 50% neutral oak barrels.
-          Alcohol: 14.1%
-          Price: $28

On the nose: Grapefruit, kiwi, green apple, blood orange, and a hint of nice creaminess.

On the palate: A rather clean-tasting Chardonnay that’s not stylized in the classic, California “Butter Ball” fashion for all the right reasons. Good tasting fruit and a mid-palate that has a balance of freshness and a slight creaminess from the lees - which goes down the hatch rather well. My only complaint is how relatively short the finish is.

SEE RELATED: Review: Three Reds From Four Sisters

2009 Petit Sirah: W.E.P Rating: 120%

-          Vineyard Source: Napa Valley  
-          Varietal composition:  80% Petite Sirah, 20% Other (Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre)
-          Cooperage: 25% Stainless steel tanks, 75% French oak barrels (25% new) for 6 months
-          Alcohol: 14.1%
-          Price: $38

On the nose: Marionberry, squid ink, pencil lead, forest floor and blackberry compote. I also get some nice bits of leather, violet and of strawberry as well as blueberry.

On the palate:  A sublime Petite Sirah if ever there was one. The complexity across the entire spectrum of the palate begs you to pound a bottle of this with reckless abandon. Stellar fruit that glides well on the tongue and is complimented well with tannin and acid. The finish lingers on for months.

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Duane Pemberton

Duane Pemberton is a food and wine writer who is also the owner of Pemberton is also a well read automobile reviewer and critic, all of which incorporates into his travel, wine and food reviews.

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