Epic Stags Leap Cabernet Steal
In Wine Spectator’s “dream vintage” Britt Nichols sourced pristine fruit from a blue-chip vineyard directly next door to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars — her bottling is priced at a fraction of what those wines will set you back. How? At one of the district’s greatest sites — right next door to where Warren Winiarski grew his famous 1973 Cabernet (which beat out French First Growths at the Judgement of Paris tasting), and where three 2014 releases earned between 92-96 points from Robert Parker — the fruit was impeccable. When the winery’s management decided to trim production by 7%, a few calls were made, one to Britt. A serious competitor to the winery’s own $120 releases — but just $29.99 for a Cabernet that balances power and elegance, muscle and delicacy — the hallmark of Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you’re familiar with Britt Nichol’s resume, you’ll understand why the chance to make wine with blue-chip Stags Leap fruit presents such an extraordinary possibility. Her deft touch with Cabernet comes from time spent at Jordan Winery, and under the tutelage of Napa Valley legends Nicolas Morlet and Philippe Melka.
Like those of her mentors, Britt’s Cabernets are deep in color, rich, and intensely concentrated. And unlike all too many Napa Valley Cabernets, they are wines of great class, sleekness, and polish.
Her 2014 Stags Leap Cabernet hails from the first winegrowing region to receive designated appellation status in Napa Valley — the Stags Leap District — which has led the way in Northern California since Warren Winiarski’s 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon outpointed Bordeaux First Growths Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion in the 1976 “Judgment of Paris.”
In Nichols’ 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District, winemaking style and terroir are in perfect harmony, yielding one of those wines that reminds you why the French were so thoroughly embarrassed at “The Judgment of Paris.”