Stags’ Leap Winery The Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown Stags Leap District, Napa Valley 2018

Deep ruby-garnet color; black cherry, plum, cherry liqueur, redcurrant, blackberry, raspberry, chocolate, sandalwood, earth on the nose and palate.

Stags’ Leap Winery The Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown Stags Leap District, Napa Valley 2018

Dry; fine-grained tannins and balancing acidity. Supple, well-behaved in the mouth for a Napa cab this muscular. This in its sixth year, and it easily could age another decade. Big Napa cabs need time to settle down and integrate the assertive dark fruit and oak. This has aged well. Blend of 90% cabernet sauvignon, 5% malbec, 5% petit verdot; all estate grown in the famed Stags Leap District. 14.1% ABV

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 has 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.

Stags’ Leap Winery Manor House

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.

The website notes: “Cabernet Sauvignon is synonymous with Napa Valley and has always been a mainstay in the winemaking program at Stags’ Leap Winery. The Leap is sourced from select Cabernet Sauvignon blocks within our Stags’ Leap Winery estate vineyard that are twenty-five years old, on average. This singular expanse of earth tucked up against the eastern palisades of Napa Valley features thin, rocky soils in its upper reaches, giving way to finer-grained loamy soils at its floor. The heat-reflecting palisades, with their towering rocky crags, provide consistent warmth over the estate and help balance the cooling breezes from the south. This pronounced micro-climate is remarkably well-suited to growing Cabernet Sauvignon grapes of distinction.”

Stags’ Leap vineyard

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 hailed from Bordeaux and worked at the world-famous Château d’Yquem before joining Stags’ Leap.

Cabs from the Stags Leap District can be so powerful and rich that they are one-dimensional—massive red fruits that are like the loudest extrovert at a party. Entertaining, but way too intense for extended enjoyment. Like a talented bronco buster, Paubert demonstrates his skill at working a wine and coaxing it into nuances of civility while preserving the spirit and harnessing the power. This is an example. It is an easily enjoyable pour.

Stags’ Leap barrel cave

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 placement of the apostrophe. That winery won the Judgment of Paris in 1976 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 winemaker Christophe Paubert

Stags’ Leap Winery The Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown Stags Leap District 2018 is consistent winner from one of Napa’s most hallowed districts by one of Napa’s premier makers. Rich, delicious. Impressive depth and complexity vintage after vintage. At age six it still has youthful energy and a decade or more—at least—of cellar life, but you will be very hard pressed not to savor it now.

Pair with rich beef dishes; lamb; wild game—venison, bison, boar, wild turkey; poultry—baked and rotisserie chicken, duck, turkey; baby back ribs; barbecued pork and slow-cooked brisket; ribs; sausage. Cheese—mature, hard cheese; pecorino-style sheep’s and goat’s milk cheese; aged cheddar, aged gouda, gorgonzola, comté, brie, gruyere, roquefort. $90-115

Stags’ Leap website

Stags’ Leap Winery alley
Stags’ Leap Winery Historic Winery Exterior
Stags’ Leap Winery Manor House Living Room
Stags’ Leap Winery Manor House Porch