Cliff Lede Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District 2017

Deep ruby color; plum, raspberry, cracked black pepper, chocolate on the nose; plum, black cherry, blackcurrant, blackberry, spice on the palate.

Cliff Lede Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District 2017

Dry; soft, supple tannin; good acidity; medium-full body. Smooth, big, delicious. Subtle minerality. Appropriate oak. Classic structure. Opulent. Blend of 88% cabernet sauvignon, 5% merlot, 4% petit verdot, 3% cabernet franc. Superbly fresh and succulent; 14.9% ABV. Cliff Lede produces a range of cabs with the fanciful names of his vineyards—many named for music hits. This is the winery’s flagship offering.

Cliff Lede established the vineyard in 2002. The team also includes vineyard architect David Abreu and winemaker Christopher Tynan. It encompasses 60 acres in the storied Stags Leap District. Grapes for this effort were sourced from Lede’s Poetry Vineyard, the Twin Peaks Vineyard that surrounds the winery, and from some neighboring vineyards, all in Stags Leap.

Cliff Lede

The tech sheet details the winemaking: “Grapes were picked in the darkness of the early morning hours. The freshly-harvested fruit immediately underwent rigorous selection by our three-tiered sorting process, which included our cutting-edge optical sorter. Whole berries were gently delivered by gravity to tank using our crane system, minimizing disruption of berry integrity.

“Cold soaks lasted approximately seven days, and fermentations were managed via a combination of délestage, pumpovers, and punchdowns. Extended maceration ranging from four to five weeks fine-tuned our tannin profiles, allowing us to perfect mouth feel and wine complexity. The wine was aged in French oak barrels, 65% of which were new, for twenty-one months.”

Lede grew up involved in his family’s successful construction business in Canada. Then he discovered Napa and married that to his long time affection for Bordeaux wines. The operation is Napa Green Land and Napa Green Winery certified. There is a small, luxury accommodation, Poetry Inn on the grounds.

Cliff Lede Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District 2017 is both bold and subtle with superb fruit. Splendid balance of alcohol, fruit, acidity, oak. Complex, same time completely approachable. Distinguished example of the heights to which Stags Leap cabs can soar in the right hands—in this case both in the vineyard design and the winemaker. And the owner. Pair with beef dishes, of course; lamb; venison; mature hard cheese. $75-78

Cliff Lede Vineyards website

Cliff Lede winemaker Christopher Tynan
Cliff Lede tasting area
Cliff Lede vineyard installation
Cliff Lede vineyard
Cliff Lede vineyard
Cliff Lede fermentation facility
Cliff Lede barrel cave
Poetry Inn at Cliff Lede