Head winemaker at Stags' Leap, Christophe Paubert, has a compelling background in wine.
A winery that focuses their program on Cabernet and Petite Sirah, Stags’ Leap has been one of the nation’s premier producers of Petite Sirah for more than a decade. The new releases of Petite Sirah were no exception. The 240 acre estate includes 90 acres of vineyard plantings and is located 7 miles north of Napa, on the eastern side of Stags Leap Palisades. In this area grapes have grown here continuously since the 1880s. Stags’ Leap estate has had three major family groups until the creation of a modern winery in the 1970s. The grapes rely on a volcanic and maritime influence that you can taste in the wines. The vineyards contain alluvial Bale Loams on top, with volcanic ash from eroded sediment; underneath: sandy loam laced with gravel and cobbles which have good drainage.
Winemaker Christophe Paubert, formerly from Canoe Ridge in Washington, has an extensive resume and a family background in wine. Christophe grew up just outside of Sauternes in Bordeaux, where his grandfather was a Cellar Master. He spent his childhood immersed in the culture of wine, and followed his love for wine and science to the Institut d'Înologie in Bordeaux. He graduated in 1983 and spent three years working for a negociant in Bordeaux before returning to complete a two-year graduate course in sales and marketing. He has previously worked in Chile, Reuda, Ribera del Duero, Rioja the Medoc in Bordeaux and even New Zealand. Previous wineries include Canoe Ridge and even previously at Chateau D’ Yquem in Sauternes. Paubert’s wines were impressive, particularly his Cabernet and Petite Sirah bottlings. These wines are not only rich and extracted but are balanced and terroir driven. His style of winemaking is showing the fruit character of the wines but not heavy manipulation from the winemaker. Check out their 2012 Petite Sirah release. This is a rich wine that is one of the best of its kind. The 2012 'Ne Ce Malis' Petite Sirah has a high price point ($115.00) but is the best Petite Sirah release that I’ve sampled this year. The 2012 Cabernet bottling also impresses with its rich flavors and balance. Look for these wines releases at Total Wines, as well as Wine World and Esquin in Seattle. You can also find them at http://stagsleap.com/store #stags’leap
2014 Stags' Leap Viognier- This begins with aromas of honeysuckle, banana and poached pear. There are flavors of golden delicious apple, minerals, starfruit and apricot. There is a rich mouthfeel and a slight sweetness, not in a cloying way. Delicious and lithe wine that is perfect for shellfish. Drink 2015-2020- 91
2013 Stags' Leap Chardonnay- This begins with aromas of banana, golden delicious apple and pineapple. There are flavors of pear, kumquat, Meyer lemon and minerals. This is balanced in the Napa style. Drink 2015-2020- 89
2012 Stags Leap Cabernet- There are aromas of black olive, blackberry, anise and coffee. There's lovely flavors of anise, cassis, mocha and graphite with the acid backbone that begs for another sip. This solid bottling will be a heavy steakhouse player and pairs beautifully with a juicy ribeye. Drink 2015-2028- -92
2012 Stags' Leap 'The Investor'- This wine has rich and ripe fruit flavors of blueberry, stewed prune and pomegranate. There are flavors of blueberry compote, blackberry, mocha and mild to moderate tannins. This improves after an hour of aeration. Intriguing and rich blend that is a novel effort, I love this style of new world blend. Drink 2015-2025- 92
2012 Stags' Leap 'Ne Ce Malis' Petite Sirah-This originates from an older block in the estate that includes Grenache, Mouvedre, Carignan, Syrah and Peloursin into the 85% Petite Sirah wine. This spent 12 months in American oak (25% new). There are aromas of green peppercorn, black olive, black tea and anise. There are flavors of Turkish coffee, dark chocolate, blueberry compote, anise and cassis in a mineral driven style. Rich and viscous, this will have a long life in the cellar. Drink 2016-2026- 93
2012 Stags' Leap Petite Sirah-This is a unique blend of 75% Petite Sirah, 12% Syrah, 8% Grenache, 2% both Carignane and Mouvedre with a splash of Viognier. This spent 12 months in American oak (25% new) prior to bottling. This opens with aromas of milk chocolate, roasted figs, and black pepper with coffee grounds. Leading to flavors of blueberry, anise, cassis, in this mineral driven effort. Not for the weary. Drink 2015-2025-
2012 Stags' Leap 'The Leap' Cabernet- This 100% Cabernet wine was aged 20 months in French oak barrels (50% new) prior to bottling. Winemaker Christophe Paubert selected the best of the blocks of estate Cabernet for this blend. The nose opens with aromas of milk chocolate, blackberry and anise with dried provencale herbs. There is a lovely balance and acid structure to this wine with wonderful richness indicative of this great vintage. Yielding flavors of mocha, blackberry and black olive. This is delicious and impressive. Drink 2015-2030- 93