In a nutshell: A graceful and inviting Californian Chardonnay from the Napa Valley.
The lowdown: Stag's Leap are probably best known for their reds, but this very classy Chardonnay shows that they're equally adept with white varieties as well. The fruit for this wine comes from a selection of southern Napa Valley vineyards with aim of creating a medium bodied wine that subtly expresses the fruit's ripeness and freshness. After fermentation it spends about 7 months on its lees in 30% new French oak barrels whch gives it a subtle, silky texture. The result is a wine with a palate alive with citrus and light honeyed notes leading onto a fresh and minerally finish with a touch of creaminess that lingers long and pleasantly on the tongue.
When to drink: It's worth drinking alongside grilled whole fish, seared scallops or roast chicken.
Notable as the Californian winery that won the Cabernet Sauvignon competition known as the Judgment of Paris, thus placing them ahead of the best Bordeaux had to offer, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars have since been considered as Napa Valley's 'First Growth' estate.
The winery itself is situated in Silverado in the heart of the Napa Valley north of San Francisco and their vineyards are in, what is known today as, the Stag's Leap District Appellation. Their most famous wine is 'Cask 23' which is made only select vintages and fetches quite eye watering prices which makes their 'First Growth' moniker quite appropriate.
The winery was founded by Warren Winiarski in 1972 after he had learned his trade under Robert Mondavi and success soon followed with the 1976 Paris tasting. In the intervening years ownership has passed to a joint venture between Chateau Ste Michelle and Tuscany's Marchesi Antinori.
The estate's winemaker since 2013 has been Marcus Notaro who, prior to moving to Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, made a name for himself at Col Solare in washington State. Having been at Stag's Leap for several years Marcus understands the winemaking philosophy here very well and it was his ability to express both the terroir and varietal character of the grapes that makes him well suited to keeping Stag's Leap Wine Cellars at the forefront of Californian winemaking.