2006 Anselmo Vigne Cabernet Sauvignon Veloce Napa Valley

Anselmo Vigne Cabernet Sauvignon Veloce Napa Valley It was no contest, almost wasn't fair. When Warren Winiarski trotted out his 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet in Paris, out performing Bordeaux's First Growths in the Steven Spurrier tasting that put Napa Valley on the map in 1976, he knew he was in the driver's seat. There's something about Stags Leap Cabernets, something we've never been quite able to put our finger on. Ok, the soil is fairly poor, with the rocks warming up in the heat of day, cooling down quickly as the temperature drops at night. Yes, the cool breezes off the Pacific that are somehow sucked into the spot may account for the freshness of these luscious, dark fruit Cabernets. But as to why Stags Leap Cabernets, when it comes to sheer elixir hedonism, stand by themselves in Napa -- quite honestly, who knows?

But when you taste Steve Simi's sumptuous purple fruit, Anselmo Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, from a 5-acre hillside at the southern edge of Stags Leap, it begs another question: Who cares?

It took Steve Simi years to find the spot; a vineyard on the eastern foothills of Napa Valley at the southern tip of the Stags Leap appellation. Once he purchased this now 20-year-old vineyard, he did what all of the world's best winegrowers do. He took to his backhoe. Almost 2,000 hours later, Simi had reworked the trellising system, gotten these manicured plants back into balance, trimming yields to less than 3 tons per acre. There was just enough fruit to make a go of it.

In 2006, Simi sold off 60% of his grape production, keeping the best for Veloce. Only 400 cases were produced from Steve's pristine hillside with its well-drained soil and rocky loam soils -- and those 400 cases are a lesson in Stags Leap. The aromas are sweet, opulent cassis -- powerful, but not overdone. But it's that sweet middle that's so irresistible with its beautifully focused, wonderfully concentrated kernel of dark, sleek currants and violets. One smell and a taste and it's easy to see why Winiarski stumped the panel in Paris 34 years ago.

But there's something else about the Anselmo Veloce that's as hard to measure or describe as the mysterious hedonism of Stags Leap Cabernet. This wine is wonderfully rich without being overly alcoholic. It's honed, almost chiseled, but still rich, lush and opulent. It's powerful, but fresh. Is it Stags Leap or is it what happens when a guy farms a great piece of property by hand, keeps it small and simple, and lets the fruit speak for itself? After you taste this one, you'll likely answer as we did above. Who cares?

Anselmo Vineyard Tasting Notes from the WineAccess Travel Log
"Deep purple color to the edge. Bright fresh, lush aromas of currants and violet. Rich on the attack, with fine fruit delineation. Excellent depth of flavor, slowly unfolding (even weightier on Day 2), melting into a finely honed finish. Tannins are present, but ripe, beautifully integrated, helping to balance out all the rich cassis fruit. Drink now for its Stags Leap hedonism or age for up to 7 years."