2013 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23

2013 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23

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A past Wine Access story about 2013 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23

Concentrated, with beautiful blue, red and black fruits, spring flowers, a touch of toasty oak, relatively noticeable tannin and a full-bodied, multi-layered mouthfeel.

97+ Wasn’t Good Enough: 99pt Parker Upgrade

In the third week of May 2012, at Sir Peter Michael’s restaurant in Berkshire, British wine merchant Steven Spurrier unveiled a painting depicting the moment when a panel of wine experts (nearly all of whom were French) assembled in Spurrier’s wine shop discovered that they had unwittingly rated a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon higher than the 1970 Château Mouton-Rothschild, 1970 Haut-Brion, 1970 Château Montrose, and 1971 Château Léoville-Las Cases.

The painting includes Sir Peter and Spurrier, along with the 10 other judges, some of whom (guess the nationality!) subsequently WITHDREW their ballots! The panel included Pierre Brejoux of the INAO; Claude Dubois-Millot; Michel Dovaz and Patricia Gallagher of l’Académie du Vin; Odette Kahn, editor of La Revue du vin de France; restaurateur Raymond Olivier of Le Grand Véfour; Pierre Tari of Château Giscours; sommelier Christian Vannequé of Tour d’Argent; Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti; and Jean-Claude Vrinat of the restaurant Taillevent. Also depicted is George Taber, the Time magazine reporter who shared the story with the world.

The Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon whose surprise first-place finish so stunned the experts at what Decanter Magazine called “the tasting that shocked the wine world” was Warren Winiarski’s 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. Forty years later, Winiarski poured salt on old wounds crafting the richest, most complex, and most age-worthy “Cask 23” ever — a bottle that truly puts to shame EVERY First Growth of the same year.

The 2013 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23 is brilliant purple-black. Gorgeous mineral aromas of crushed black fruits, graphite, and violets, bracketed by new-wood cedar. Rich, ripe, bold, and intensely concentrated, yet also tightly wound, slowly unwinding after three hours in an oversized Riedel stem, finishing with the sneaky tannin backbone that allows one of Napa Valley’s greatest Cabernets to age gracefully for decades.

99 points after Parker’s recent upgrade. 100 bottles will disappear in a flash, but those of you who strike quickly will have 30+ years to pop the cork. $270/bottle.

97 Points Wine Advocate
96 Points Vinous Media

Customer Ratings

Based on 10 ratings

About Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

Producer Facts

Winery Name

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

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Napa Valley 2013

After two small crops from the cooler and more challenging 2010 and 2011 vintages, California got on a roll. Both 2012 and 2013 were solid with large crops of very high quality grapes — goodbye, shortage! And as good as 2012 was, 2013 may end up the winner by a nose.

Spring was warm and dry, and bud break was early. This got the vines off to a vigorous start and flowering and fruit set went off without a hitch. A short hot spell towards the end of June into early July was the only note of concern, and the vines came into veraison early and in very fine shape.

The harvest was one of the earliest on record, beginning on August 1st for the whites. A little rain fell in September, but it didn’t seem to have much impact as sunny, drying conditions filled in after the rains and the vineyards dried out quickly.

Cool, sunny, and dry conditions prevailed through October and kept sugars and acids in balance, allowing for a little extra time on the vine for maturing flavors and phenolics and leaving a healthy, ripe, and concentrated crop ready for picking.

On the whole, about two weeks earlier than average, and a lot of growers are calling it a “near perfect” vintage — an even-tempered growing season that yielded a good-sized crop of small, concentrated berries. Beautiful weather with really no extremes and not too much rain has growers singing the praises of this excellent vintage, which produced another large crop of healthy, balanced fruit and very high-quality wines.

We give it a very strong buy recommendation, as these are wines many believe will rival or even surpass the 2012s — high praise for sure! Big, powerful reds; bright, lively, and rich whites. Pinot Noir was a particular success in most regions, with optimum ripeness and very good acidities too. The only real concern is the persistent drought conditions, with growers hoping for rains to replenish badly depleted groundwater.

Key Dates

Harvest starts in Napa, one of the earliest in more than 25 years

Light rainfall

Harvest complete

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