Stags’ Leap Viognier, Napa Valley 2016

Medium gold color; peach, honeysuckle, flowers on the nose; citrus, peach, tangerine, Meyer lemon, lime, apricot, stone fruit, pink grapefruit, minerality on the palate.

Stags’ Leap Viognier, Napa Valley 2016

Dry; made in big, full style; 100% viognier. Lush, plush, smooth in the mouth. Touch of oak, which is appropriate—too much oak and viognier becomes flabby and uninspiring. This avoids that sin. Crisp, but not acidic. No tannins. Very easy, fun drinker. Grapes come from vineyards in the Oak Knoll and Carneros AVAs. The southern vineyards provide good sun exposure—important for viognier—plus cool marine fog to enhance acidity, important in viognier. 14.5% ABV

Full and floral, viognier is major grape in the northern Rhône. It often is blending wine, but also nicely works as a pure varietal, as in this effort. When blended with red wines—common in northern Rhône—it can stabilize color and add its significant, and signature, perfume elements.

Stags’ Leap Winery alley

Stags’ Leap is one of California’s oldest wineries. Horace Chase partnered with his uncle, W.W. Thompson, to found the estate on land where grapes had been planted by T.L. Grigsby in the 1880s. The manor house was built in 1890 and the first vintage was produced in 1893. The Chase family got the Stags Leap name from a native Wappo legend of a stag leaping to escape Native American hunters.

The mountains behind the property on the eastern side are known as the Stags Leap Palisades. While wine production was interrupted for extended periods—especially during Prohibition—wine grapes have been grown on the property continuously since its founding.

After 64 years of non-wine making (while still growing grapes for others), Carl Doumani resumed wine production at Stags’ Leap in 1972. In 2009, Christophe Paubert joined Stags’ Leap as head winemaker. He hails from Bordeaux and worked at the world-famous Château d’Yquem before joining Stags’ Leap.

Stags’ Leap Winery Manor House

Today, Stags’ Leap is owned by Treasury Wine Estates, a major international player in the wine world, making wine in 12 countries, selling more than 35 million cases of wine a year, and generating sales of more than $2 billion. Labels you may recognize beyond Stags’ Leap include Sterling Vineyards, Beaulieu Vineyard, Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, Greg Norman Estates, Lindeman’s, Wolf Blass, and Treasury’s flagship—Penfolds.

There also is a Stag’s Leap winery, notice the placement of the apostrophe. That winery won the Judgment of Paris in 1976 and now is owned by Ste. Michelle Wine Estate and Marchesi Antinori and is not connected to Stags’ Leap that made this wine. Both wineries are in the Stags Leap (note: no apostrophe) district of Napa.

Stags’ Leap Viognier, Napa Valley 2016 is lush, round, plush, refreshing. A superb alternative to chardonnay, or any other white wine for that matter. Viognier deserves a place in your glass, and this one definitely will pleasure your palate. Pair with pork; rich fish—salmon, tuna; spicy food—Asian fusion; poultry—roast chicken; ham; grilled seafood; lobster; garden salads; charcuterie boards; lighter cheeses; dishes with almond flavors; even can work with lighter beef. $30-34

Stags’ Leap website

Wine harvest at Stags’ Leap
Stags’ Leap winemaker Christophe Paubert
Stags’ Leap barrel cave
Stags’ Leap vineyard