Stags' Leap Winery Petite Sirah 2003
The late harvest of 2003 ensured full phenolic maturity in Stags' Leap's Petite Syrah vineyards. The grapes were hand-picked in October and fermented in a combination of open and closed-top fermenters, maximizing the concentration and extraction of the finished wine. Nineteen months of ageing in mostly neutral oak barrels allows the wine to find its center as the varietal mix combines Petite Syrah with Syrah, Viognier, Carignane, Mourvedre and Grenache.
From the look of the wine, you'd expect it to be massive on the palate, but one of the pleasures of Stags' Leap Petite Syrah is its finesse and elegance. This is an unusually complex and layered vintage. The nose teems with blackberries, red currants, cut hay, and burnt oranges. On the palate this sensuous wine is a mouthful of rich bitter chocolate, French vanilla, and raspberries wrapped in round, sappy tannins. It's at once fascinating and intriguing, leaving you with a reverberating finish.
A fashionable country resort in the mid-twentieth century, popular with Hollywood due to its 1892 stone Manor House and historic gardens, legends of bootleggers and gangsters, ghosts and gypsies, Stags' Leap has been home to three major family groups up through the modern revitalization of the winery that began in the 1970s.
Stags Leap Manor, as it was called in the 1920s, was known as one of the prominent country retreats in the Napa Valley at a time when resort and spa business was big. In addition to lodging and dining, amenities included lawn tennis, swimming, horseback riding, children's activities, golf, music, cards, a library, and Napa Valley wines and liquors (prior to and after Prohibition).
An intimate valley within the greater Napa Valley, Stags Leap is a place of natural beauty, storied buildings and gardens, a lively history, and a reputation for elegant wines showing finesse and intensity.
Undoubtedly proving its merit over and over, Napa Valley is a now a leading force in the world of prestigious red wine regions. Though Cabernet Sauvignon dominates Napa Valley, other red varieties certainly thrive here. Important but often overlooked include Merlot and other Bordeaux varieties well-regarded on their own as well as for their blending capacities. Very old vine Zinfandel represents an important historical stronghold for the region and Pinot noir is produced in the cooler southern parts, close to the San Pablo Bay.
Perfectly situated running north to south, the valley acts as a corridor, pulling cool, moist air up from the San Pablo Bay in the evenings during the hot days of the growing season, which leads to even and slow grape ripening. Furthermore the valley claims over 100 soil variations including layers of volcanic, gravel, sand and silt—a combination excellent for world-class red wine production.