Stags' Leap Winery
2007 Napa Valley Viognier
Viognier • Stanly Ranch Vineyard
California: Carneros - Los Carneros (Napa)
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Stags’ Leap has a reputation for exceptional quality. Today’s wine reinforces this notion, by providing an exemplary experience through and through. If you love Viognier, you’ll love this Viognier
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Mission Codename: Leap of Faith
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate world famous Stags’ Leap winery – and, just in time for spring, secure a cache of their famous Viognier
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Stags’ Leap
Wine Subject: 2007 Stags’ Leap Viognier
Winemaker: Kevin Morrisey
Backgrounder: A very shy grape that is difficult to grow, Viognier was once an endangered species worldwide. Today, skillful growers and winemakers tend the grapes with great care, closely monitoring their progress and picking at the pinnacle of ripeness. Viognier, when perfectly produced, is a dlightful wine that is the perfect alternative to more mainstream white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. For today’s wine we sent Agent Red to Stags’ Leap in Napa Valley, where he discovers their stellar Viognier. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below to learn why you will love this wine
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Glistening gold to pale straw in color with a springy and tight surface, glinting edges and long, skinny legs
Smell – Beautifully aromatic with deep acacia, honeysuckle, pear, honey, lightest apricot, subtle pineapple and straw
Feel – Cool, light, round, velvety and fast across the top of the tongue – then gently mouth-coating with a slight tingle as soft tannins make a subtle appearance
Taste – Delicious layers of tropical fruits, grapefruit, pear, white peach, subtle oak and acacia
Finish -Bright, with balanced sweet and tart flavors that linger for a long time
Conclusion – This is a beautiful wine that shows off the exceptional fruit – and the skills of the winemaker! I tasted this wine right out of my chiller, and then again later as it wormed toward room temperature. Throughout the extended tasting, the wine evolved and opened up, showing deeper aromatics and smoother, more delicious, flavors. I recommend that you experiment and play with this wine in the same way for a full experience. We don’t feature many Viognier’s here, and for good reason: We are very picky! Well, this wine from Stags’ Leap passed our scrutiny with ease. This is a delightful and delicious wine that is the perfect companion to early Spring entertaining and fine dining.
I have become a real fan of blind tasting. Tasting a wine, without knowing who makes it, is a great practice. It evens the playing field and makes the judging of the wine far more fair.
When considering today’s wine, I was faced with my own preconceived notion of the wine – especially of the brand. Stags’ Leap Winery is one of those almost mythic brands that just scream quality. Want to buy the good Stags’ wine? You don’t have to research your options overly; Just pick your favorite varietal and be virtually assured that you will enjoy the wine.
Because of this bias, I decided to taste blind. I pulled two other Viognier bottles from my secret stash and placed all three bottles into paper bags. Then I grabbed Agent Sparkle and we headed down to our favorite local wine bar to enlist the help of the owner and whatever customers we could wrangle.
Once there, we had one of the servers open the bottles and mix them up, and the bottles were marked ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. Another server poured. In all, there were 8 of us tasting the wines. The other Viognier in the tasting were all respectable in their own right, so the judging would be as fair as possible.
After we had tasted all three wines, a clear and immediate winner seemed to emerge. One of the wines brought the most smiles and positive comments, but we had to be sure. We assigned a point value to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place and each of us awarded points to our ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ wines. We enlisted the help of a non-drinking customer in tallying the points.
The ‘C’ wine was the overwhelming winner. When I grabbed the bag that contained our ‘C’ selection, I knew immediately what was inside. The distinctive voluptuous shape of the bottle told me that our winner was the 2007 Stags’ Leap Viognier! I slowly pulled the bottle out and then gently set the bottle on the table. There was a moment of contemplative silence – and then actual applause broke out. _ What a great moment and what a great wine!_
We hope you enjoy this beauty as much as we have. Cheers!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Stags’ Leap Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Stags’ Leap Winery, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
About This Wine:
An elegant expression of Viognier, this wine’s rich and distinctive style has grown out of our long and well-regarded history with Rhône varietals. Originally created as a Porch Wine for family and friends of the winery in order to tell part of the story of the Rhône-style field blend made from heritage vines on the property, Viognier began to be made in its own right in 1998. The wine has bold yet elegant acidity with balance and finesse on the palate and the signature fruit and floral aromatics that speak of a well made Viognier.
The 2007 vintage produced some superb white wines. The season began with a drier than average winter, which stood in sharp contrast to the wet weather that ushered in 2006. This trend continued throughout the growing season, and we received about 60 percent of normal precipitation overall. A warm spring resulted in an early budbreak, bloom and set in the vineyards, but the pace slowed down as mild spring and summer temperatures prevailed. Warm temperatures around Labor Day added the boost of sugar development that we were looking for to complement the excellent acid structure in the white varieties. The fruit for the Stags’ Leap Viognier comes from vineyards thatare planted to the rocky soils of Stanly Ranch Vineyard in Carneros.
Viognier has been used as part of the ﬁnal Petite Syrah blend for the past fourteen years, but it wasn’t until 1998 that the wine found its own bottle. Harvested by hand, the fruit was whole cluster pressed and fermented in neutral French oak barrels. It was then aged on the lees and stirred every two weeks for eight months. This wine is completely dry, and does not go through malolactic fermentation to preserve the delicate ﬂoral aromas and fruit characteristics.
The 2007 Viognier offers aromas of fresh pear, orange blossom and honeysuckle on the nose as the crisp entry introduces ﬂavors of white peach, grapefruit and a hint of lime zest. Vibrant acidity leads to a full mouthfeel featuring kiwi and key lime notes that transition to a long, clean ﬁnish.
About The Winery:
On the watershed of the Stags Leap Palisades, one of California’s earliest wine estates…
On one of California’s earliest wine estates, a unique terroir and ideal microclimate support a classical standard of viticulture, land use, and winemaking that is as relevant today as it was over a century ago.
An intimate valley within the greater Napa Valley, Stags’ Leap is a place of natural beauty, storied buildings and gardens, a lively history, and a reputation for elegant wines showing finesse and intensity.
History – A fashionable country resort in the mid-twentieth century, popular with Hollywood due to its 1892 stone Manor House and historic gardens, legends of bootleggers and gangsters, ghosts and gypsies, Stags’ Leap has been home to three major family groups up through the modern revitalization of the winery that began in the 1970s.
Stags Leap Manor, as it was called in the 1920s, was known as one of the prominent country retreats in the Napa Valley at a time when resort and spa business was big. In addition to lodging and dining, amenities included lawn tennis, swimming, horseback riding, children’s activities, golf, music, cards, a library, and Napa Valley wines and liquors (prior to and after Prohibition).
Release Date: May 2008
Bottled Date: March 2008