Wine Words & Video Tape

Wine, Words and Videotape

Fine Wine Review site

Napa Valley: Stag’s Leap District

Written by JW. Posted in California

 

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Shafer Vineyards in Stag’s Leap District

Out of all the Napa Valley’s individual viticultural areas, Stag’s Leap District, off the magical Silverado Trail, is surely the best known. The area, pioneered in the 1960s by Nathan Fay, the first to plant Cabernet in the district, shot to fame in the now legendary Paris blind tasting in 1976. The quality of fruit from Fay’s vineyard attracted Warren Winiarski to establish Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars on adjacent land beneath the rocky promontories known as Stag’s Leap in 1970. It was his 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon that French judges placed ahead of Mouton, Haut-Brion, Montrose and Léoville-Las-Cases et al in that tasting. Not bad for wine from vines then less than four years old, only in their second harvest. The importance of the Paris tasting can’t be overstated. It was an immediate statement that France didn’t have an exclusive right to the best terroir and emphasized that there were exciting vineyard sites the world over yet to be discovered. Clearly the district around Stag’s Leap was one of them.

Napa Valley: God bless the fog

Written by JW. Posted in California

A view of the Rutherford AVA within the Napa Valley AVA.

The Napa Valley is a surprisingly small wine region, just one eighth of the size of Bordeaux, but it is extremely well-endowed in the terroir department. Its varied soils and topography are vital to the valley’s greatness, whether it be the famous Rutherford dust, its red rock terraces or the deep, volcanic hillside soils of Stag’s Leap. Yet the most important influence on the place isn’t the land at all. It’s not even Stephen Spurrier, though his 1976 Paris tasting did put Napa on the map. It’s actually the sea.

Vinexpo 2013

Written by JW. Posted in France

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Brooding skies, torrential rain, leaky roofs gave Vinexpo 2013, Bordeaux’s biannual wine fair, a distinctly wet vibe the week before last. The dreadful weather further pointed up the difficulties that vignerons are already facing this year in Bordeaux. Vineyards are three weeks to a month behind usual growth cycles, with the gossip from some that these early season conditions have been the worst since 1984. Despite the brave faces worn by chateaux owners at the various dinners coinciding with Vinexpo, there is no doubt that the forthcoming vintage will be a late one, whatever the outcome. Fine weather in July, August and September may turn things around, so it’s far too early to pronounce on the vintage yet. Still the Bordelais must have been hoping for a much better start to the year than they’ve had. They could do without another mediocre vintage to try and flog.

Bordeaux 2012 Primeurs: Sauternes & Barsac

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

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If anything 2012 Sauternes and Barsac is a little better than expected in what was an extremely difficult harvest in the region, spoiled by vintage rain. The very best wines are light yet with enough depth to make appetizing sweet wine that will be comparatively early maturing. A few are in a strange sort of purgatory, a half-way house position, between sweet styles and the off-dry, emphasizing the kind of all-or-nothing risk taking that Bordeaux’s bravest winemakers undertake here each vintage. There’s always the danger that you might get left high and dry in Sauternes [no pun intended] and some brave souls clearly have.

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