Haute Wines: Top 3 Stag’s Leap Appellation Collection

Last week Haute Wines introduced the most comprehensive, single appellation wine collection currently available. The Stags Leap Appellation Collection features 19 of Napa Valley’s premier cabernet sauvignon producers from within the famed AVA (American Viticultural Areas). Cabernet from this region is famous for being juicy and dense, possessing soft, velvety tannins and power all at once.

These were our top picks.

Cliff Lede “Poetry” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2006, $185 – Cliff Lede is a relatively new winery but their creations are, at the very least, wonderful. They have teamed up with winemaker extraordinaire Philippe Melka and are employing the most rigid and meticulous practices available in a state of the art facility. Upon tasting Poetry, one word sprung out of the glass – Opulence. Poetry is 96% cabernet sauvignon, 2% merlot and 2% petit verdot and pours out deep, dark and, evidently, very extracted. It is thick and intense, redolent of reduced blueberries, crème de cassis liqueur, dark chocolate and mocha, freshly snapped cinnamon stick and allspice. It sounds and smells like the ingredients of a rich and unctuous chocolate ganache cake, but in a glass of wine. Within all of the dark, sensuous and alluring aromas, lies a concentrated and dense expression yet supple and luscious mouth feel. Perfect alongside Braised Lamb Shanks with Dried Fruit or Coffee Dusted Roasted Venison Loin. Absolutely delicious!

Shafer “One Point Five” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2006, $85 – Shafer wines are as iconic of Napa Valley as it gets. The family began crushing grapes in 1978 and has yet to skip a beat. One Point Five is representative of the one and a half generations that has been making wine in the Stags Leap District; it is 100% a family affair. The wine starts off with an intense, expressive nose similar to cooked black plums, blackberries and currants along with a layer of cocoa and a sprinkling of herbes de provence. The flavors continue on the palate but integrate nuances of licorice candy, violets and cigar box; tannins are firm, but not overly bracing. It is an elegant and wonderfully layered wine, but still somewhat restrained. Sure to be marvelous in the coming years.

Malk Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2006, $75 – Malk Family Vineyards is the district’s smallest winery with only two acres of land. Producing only a cabernet sauvignon and a sauvignon blanc, the Malks pour their passion into these two bottlings playfully dedicated to their Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Griffin. Just like Griffin, their cabernet is a gentle giant with a colorful personality and graceful attributes; which is the same that can be said of Stags Leap. The wine sings with chocolate covered amarena cherries, licorice Twizzlers, sweet vanilla and and tobacco leaf. While the palate resonates with nose, it allows for more fruit to come through like black plums, freshly crushed blackberries and tart currants. There is a refreshing acidity that brightens the dried, leafy, herbaceous quality and screams for a char-grilled Rib Eye Steak. Unlike the prior two examples, this wine is much more soil driven and mineral and does not boast intensity and concentration of fruit, but is extremely enjoyable never the less.

Please note some wines are very limited in production and therefore may be difficult to find. If interested in acquiring, tweet me @epicuriouschic and I will be happy to help you source the wine.