https://www.stagsleap.com/en/2018-napa-valley-chardonnay/8033660.html). I ended up paying $24.99 for the wine ($32 winery) and it is cork sealed thankfully. The grapes for this wine come from the Carneros AVA with a smaller percentage coming from the Oak Knoll AVA. The alcohol percentage is 13.5% and the wine sat in and was aged in 25% stainless steel, 25% new oak and 50% neutral oak barrels for 8 months. The wine is a slight blend consisting not only of 97% Chardonnay but 1.5% Viognier, 1.5% Sauvignon Blanc as well and there were 39,000 cases made. The winemaker for this wine is Christophe Paubert.
Before I continue talking about the wine itself, I have to talk about the label on the bottle of course. Guys, this is the typical Stags Leap label that they are so recognized by. I have to say that the Stags Leap label is.....their label. To me, it is something that I always identified the winery with. I guess you could say that their marketing department is effective huh? As far as whether I like the label or not, I do as I think it portrays a classiness while still portraying a sophisticated sort of simplicity.
|Stags Leap Winemaker - Christophe Paubert|
As far as the nose of this wine goes, the first thing I picked up when I brought the glass close to my nose is some tropical melon. This melon isn't overdone thankfully, is presented rather nicely and, without being overpoweringly fruity. Next up here is a floral intensity of White Peach which to me was fairly forward and a big hope to my mind of a really good Chardonnay. As far as oak goes, I am getting a nice bit of that note here but it is not overdone and it is welcoming and thankfully does not bring me to the point where I am being scared off by the possibility that the wine is oak dominated. Overall, this wine does not smell at least as if it is going to be led or dominated by any of the dreaded butteriness or oily taste that a lot of winemakers love to bring about in their Chardonnays possibly at times to cover some faults in the wine making process. I am also getting a cream note here on the nose as well and just by continuing to smell the bouquet, my mind continues to to have me wondering what this wine is finally going to taste like. Next up here, I am also picking up a pear note which is leading me to think that the wine could possibly expose a little bit of a sweetness when I finally do get to the Palate. The tropicalness of the pear here on the nose really perks up the palate believe it or not as I actually feel as if I am almost tasting the wine as I smell it. I hope though that this aspect of the wine will be controlled if it does indeed exist on the palate. As I continue here, the wine also throws out notes of toast and more then ever, I have to tell you, right here, right now, this bouquet is just wonderful. My last hope before concluding this section is that hopefully most if not all of the notes I mentioned here will transfer over onto the palate because if they do, the wine I think has the potential to be amazing.
|Stags Leap Tasting Counter|
As I begin this part of the review I need to start off by telling you that the initial note presented here on the Palate is indeed of oak. Now, opening up the Palate section of a Chardonnay review by talking about an expression of oak could rightfully scare some people (including me) away normally but please allow me to put your mind at ease as this oak note is is not overpowering but it is instead presented just perfectly to go along with every single note the wine stands ready to expose here. The oak also seems to actually help in elevating the wines overall mouth feel. I think that what really keeps the oak in check and does a wonderful job of it is the overall cleanness of the wine, the palate brilliance of it. Following this oak up is just a bit of Maloactic Fermentation that is noticeable in the form of a slight note of butteriness that also is is not even close to be overpowering but also is just enough to be tasted. Folks, let me tell you something. I am not a big lover of oak or butteriness in my white wines so if I say that these levels were not strong, trust me, they weren't strong. Now at this point, you might think that I am describing a Chardonnay that is pretty much in keeping with the average presentation of the varietal but you would be wrong. The more I taste this wine the more I have to sit back and smile, this wine is indeed different. I usually only do that sit back and smile thing when I know that I have hit on an awesome wine, a wine that I think really stands out from the rest of the pack. As I continue on now, I want to tell you about a note that is simply jumping right out at me as is also pretty in your face. I am talking about a super wonderful note of a perfectly presented bit of Lemon Meringue. This note is simply tremendous as it mixes with the other notes in the wine that I already mentioned and that I will talk about right now. At the same time the wine presents that Lemon Meringue note it also presents a bit of a tartness of sorts that just incredibly seems to work for the wine like it's nobody's business. This tartness is just another note that knows it's place well and is not overpowering nor does it even try to be. Let's move onto acidity folks, what good is a Chardonnay if it doesn't present decent acidity? Well folks, thankfully there is acidity.
The hoped for acidity is simply amazing and that is not an understatement either, it is just another of the notes which is involved in creating this wine and elevating it early on in the review, into the mid 90 + point arena as far as my rating is concerned. Now how about some minerality? The wine has an amazing Mid-Palate of minerality which also made me sit back in silence for a few seconds as I wrapped my head around everything I am tasting. The acidity and minerality can best be described as nothing less then stunningly brilliant & clean in relation to the palate. Also present at mid-palate is a slight bit of a cream note which I got on the Bouquet and transfers over here onto the Palate and just as it did on the nose, it works so well here as well. This cream is simply another note that is super effective in tweaking the palate and it also seems to love having attention paid to it as it is not shy. At first the cream note actually had me wondering what I was tasting for a minute but once I identified it that smile I seemed to constantly have on my face while tasting the wine, continued on. This wine is not done guys as it also exposes that ripe pear I got on the nose and as expected, does add a bit of sweetness to the wine as well. If it sounds like I am getting bored or use to this wine being so awesome, please allow me to tell you that I am appreciating everything this wine is offering up both on the nose and on the palate. Getting back to that ripe pear for a second now, in reference to my comment that it brings on a bit of sweetness. I did say a bit right? This sweetness that I'm talking about can't change the direction of the wine nor does it even attempt to but it certainly does help to add another dimension or layer to the wine by at first offering up a bit of a momentary tug away from the acidity and crispness for just a brief second before it seems to make up it's mind to mostly blend right in. Before I move on here, I feel that I need to set your mind at ease, this is not a sweet wine and what little sweetness it does present is maintained at a perfect level allowing the acidity, minerality and cleanness to lead.
As I close this review out now, here is something else I want to let you know about that I think you might find interesting. Normally I will take a white wine out of the fridge and allow it to warm just a bit but in this case, there was no warming allowed. The wine was held for two days in the refrigerator and that is how I enjoyed it, cold. Throughout the tasting, I also kept the bottle chilled in an ice bucket the whole time I was reviewing it and the wine simply rocked! I should also tell you that the winery claims that the wine did not undergo Malactic Fermentation. Well, to that I say.....okay. You go ahead and taste the wine yourself and please let me know if you don't pick up a light buttery Note.