October 8 2011 was a gorgeous day in Toronto: 24 and sunny, almost no wind, not a cloud in the sky. On a Saturday such as this there was no excuse to not sit on the terrace and have some wine. So into the cellar I went and out came this Californian Chardonnay. I bought this wine in early 2010 on one of many trips through San Francisco, at the time it was more or less a ‘let’s give it a try we need more chardonnay.”
Little did I know at that time what an apostrophe’s placement could mean. Stags Leap AVA is considered one of the top appellations in the Americas and with that, competition for the name has occurred. There are two vineyards named after the region: one with Stag’s Leap and the other is Stags’ Leap. For those following alone, that ‘ means a great deal, otherwise I guess there is no confusion at all. Carl Doumani and Warren Winiarski, two of the original owners in the early 70s, both called their vineyards Stags Leap, litigation ensued and with a settlement in the courts the glorious apostrophe settled the issue and we got Stags’ and Stag’s. Silly history but still great to know.
If you are unaware of the region, the Napa Valley has some great little pockets but Stags Leap may stand out for several reasons. First would be that the region had vines planted in the late 1800’s, which makes it one of the oldest wine regions in the ‘New World’. Second would be the international acclaim it has received, starting with the first Californian first place medal in Europe (1976 for a Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon). Since that time some of the best houses in the Californian wine game have come from the appellation. Of note are both the aforementioned wineries but if you were to ask me personally which is the most outstanding I’d say Hartwell Estate Vineyards which will be reviewed in the months coming. Enough blather, what was this wine like?
The colour is a light yellow, almost the colour of an apple cider. Green apple with hints of floral hit your nose as you swirl the glass. First few drops yield apple and vanilla on the tongue, while melon all make appearances with a few more sips. The wine is easy on the mouth with low acidity and a nice long finish. This is a complex Chardonnay with fruit that balances out with good dryness and feel. Very enjoyable, I am glad it stuck around till now even though it still has potential for cellaring, think 3-5 years. For those wanting to know, price was roughly $28 a bottle.
CWG Subjective Rating is 87 out of 100.