Stags' Leap Winery
2006 Gypsy Camp
California: Napa Valley
What we say
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Mission Codename: Dancing with History
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Find a unique GSM Blend that Rivals the best of the Southern Rhone
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Stags’ Leap Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Napa Valley Gypsy Camp
Winemaker: Kevin Morrisey
For those that visit us often you know how mush we love the wines from France’s southern Rhone region, and specifically those from Chateauneuf-du-Pape (CDP). These wines, always unique blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre (GSM) as well as up to ten additional varietals (and in a few cases purely varietal Grenache) not only highlight the distinctive characteristics of each grape but also have distinctive ties to each’s farm’s Terroir. This tie tot he land and tradition is, sadly, was is often missing in domestic GSMs.
About a year ago we had the opportunity to taste the previous vintage of this unique wine and we begged to feature it for our operatives. Sadly, the winery was unable to provide an allocation so when this vintage was made available we jumped at the opportunity. Its important to not that the 2006 vintage is totally unique and a completely different encepagement from the 2005 vintage.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and dark purple with deep garnet hues that fade ever so slightly along the edges to a slightly lighter shade. When swirled, this wine leaves medium thick legs of varying, but generally slow speed along the side of the glass.
Smell – Highly redolent ripe dusty spiced red and black cherry along with other dark fruits that are laid over aromas of exotic spice, toasted oak with vanilla hints and a floral violet component.
Feel – Rich, smooth and dry, this full-bodied wine has fine grained, medium-firm tannins with a light zesty acidity that doesn’t overpower the generally well balanced and plush mouth feel of this wine.
Taste -Jam packed and almost meaty black-fruit (black cherry and blackberry) and plum backed by toasty oak with a touch of smokey tobacco and mocha. A touch of baking spice and a tiny hint of earth and fennel emerge under further exploration.
Finish – Long vibrant spiced dark fruit with a touch of oak that fades into plum, dark chocolate and cigar tobacco as this wine lingers and invites another sip.
Conclusion – If you are a fan of Rhone style wines then the 2006 Napa Valley Gypsy Camp is ideal. This wine is truly unique and brings a modern new-world approach to the more traditional Chateauneuf-du-Pape styles with each component varietal showing its character but the blend itself uniquely wraps up those components into a rich, fruit-forward style with plenty of spice and complexity.
Below is our original mission report when we first discovered Stags’ Leap Viognier:
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 The Gypsy Camp Red Wine:
Visitors to Stags’ Leap Winery in Napa Valley during the mid-twentieth century were sometimes greeted by the sight of gypsies dancing around campfires in the vineyards. At that time, in addition to picking the grapes on the estate, the gypsies camped on the property with the blessing of its owner, matriarch Frances Grange. Today, Gypsy Camp expresses Winemaker Kevin Morrisey’s devotion to Rhône varieties at Stags’ Leap, a tradition that dates back to the first plantings in 1888.
The 2006 growing season started out slowly with higher than average rainfall from January into spring, which provided much needed soil moisture during the rest of the year. Cool, wet weather in spring contributed to a late bud break, but warm summer months kept harvest on track by gradually advancing fruit maturity. The ﬁrst few weeks of fall provided just enough sun to ripen the last few vineyards, and harvest progressed gently and perfectly. Small berries with excellent sugar-acid balance resulted in wines that will age beautifully.
Vivid aromas of raspberry preserves, black cherry, allspice and molasses introduce this southern Rhône-style blend. The palate is soft and balanced, showing notes of blueberry, strawberry and licorice. The use of 100 percent neutral oak allows the various components of the blend to shine.
About The Winery:
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).
Varietal Composition: 16% Mourvedre; 19% Grenache; 57% Syrah; 8% Carignane
Release Date: October, 2008
Case Production: 225