Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
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I started collecting wine in the mid-1980s, during my second visit to Napa Valley. I had the opportunity to taste some older vintages at a winery there and realized how much more interesting and satisfying the wines were when aged and cellared properly. It was on that trip that I put down my first wines for later consumption. Among them was a 1984 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars CASK 23 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Here’s one of the biggest myths about wine: It gets better if you age it. While some wines (like Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “CASK 23” Cabernet Sauvignon) unquestionably do evolve in compelling and fascinating ways over time, there is actually no basis to the presumption that wine de facto gets better the longer you keep it. Sadly, I know this all too well from experience.
The 30th anniversary of the 1976 Paris Tasting, in which our 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon bested some of the top- rated French Bordeaux of the day, has been celebrated with numerous retrospective tastings and reenactments for wine writers, judges and members of the wine trade. Now, we’re delighted to mark this historic event with the release of 73 limited edition 3-litre commemorative bottles of our 2003 CASK 23 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Last night’s re-run of the famous Judgment of Paris 1976 California v Bordeaux tasting was, much to general surprise, another walkover for California. Exactly the same Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines were tasted 30 years on. It was thought that perhaps after all this time the California wines might have fallen off their perch and the famous longevity of red Bordeaux would put the French wines in the ascendant but this was not the case.
Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley is the one American wine that enjoys truly international renown. Its fame has penetrated even the most hidebound Old World cellars, so much so that for many people it serves as a symbol of American wine at large—the country’s vinous achievements but also its excesses. Over the years, many individual labels—from groundbreakers like Beaulieu Georges de Latour and Inglenook Cask, through heavyweights like Heitz Martha’s Vineyard and Dunn Howell Mountain—have contributed to its fame. But one particular wine, and one seminal moment, stands out. In 1976, when a three year-old Cabernet from the ﬂedgling Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars triumphed at Steven Spurrier’s now legendary Paris tasting, Napa and by extension all American wine began to emerge from its cocoon of provincial isolation. Even more important, that event initiated a process in which critics, consumers, and vintners all began to rethink what constitutes true merit or greatness in wine.
Estate Wine Library
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