Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stag's Leap District Visit Part 2

I'm still pinching myself for having some time to take a couple diversions while travelling to the Bay Area for my real job. This past Sunday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon in the Stag's Leap District visiting five wineries in total. For some information on the Stag's Leap District in general and on Clos Du Val, Chimney Rock, and Regusci please see my post for Stag's Leap District Visit Part 1. This post is going to focus on the last two wineries I visited - Baldacci and Pine Ridge.

Baldacci Family Vineyards was recommended to me by the folks over at Chimney Rock. They are a relative upstart in the Stag's Leap district, having just released their first wine in 2003. They are small and family owned as the name suggests, and with that you get the attention to quality and detail that often gets overlooked in larger wineries. Their winemaker, Rolando Herrera, has a number of years of experience working for well respected wineries like Paul Hobbs. He also has extensive experience working in the Stag's Leap District as the former Cellar Master at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. The tasting room staff were friendly and knew their stuff.

The wines at Baldacci were quite good. Two in particular stood out for me. Their 2005 IV Sons Cabernet Sauvignon may just be the best value in the Stag's Leap District. It is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remaining 3% Cabernet Franc. Aged in 40% new French oak, it has very nice blackfruit aromas and flavors with a touch of Bordeaux style earthiness to it. In the mouth you get those silky Stag's Leap District tannins. Although it is not quite at the same level of some of the world class Cabernets I tasted on this afternoon, it is a very strong value at $35.

The 2005 Baldacci Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon was, in a word, lovely! Aged in 70% new French oak for 20 months, it is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It had beautiful blackfruit aromas dominated by cassis with more of the same on the palate with complex hints of multiple other flavors. Even as a young wine, this has classic Stag's Leap District tannins with a fantastic finish. I know this is hard to believe for those of you are less serious about your wine, but at $65 this wine is also an outstanding value. The Baldacci family is a very welcome addition to the Stag's Leap scene.

My final stop was a winery I was aware of and drove by many times, but had never really paid attention to in the past. After visiting them, I am now regretting that I didn't get to know them sooner. Pine Ridge Winery is making some very nice wines with a pretty extensive library. Chris in their tasting room was knowledgeable and I enjoyed spending time with him and the rest of the staff. They were serious about their wine but a lot of fun to be around. Wines ranged from unique and good to excellent. Their 2006 Onyx was a Malbec Blend consisting of 43% Malbec, 38% Merlot, 10% Tannat, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Although it wasn't a standout for being one of the best wines there, it was a very unique wine that was a nice change of pace.

Pine Ridge's 2006 Napa Valley Cab was made primarily with fruit from the Oakville and Rutherford AVAs. It had nice purple color to it with aromas of blackberry and blueberry. On the palate you get more of the same with some black cherry. The finish was unique and very long. The Pine Ridge 2005 Stag's Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon was excellent. Consisting of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec it was aged in 75% new French oak barrels. It had a bouquet of blackberry and cassis with some subtle blueberry. The fruit was balanced by decent acidity and classic Stag's Leap District tannins. This was an excellent wine from a winery that I need to pay more attention to going forward.

Well that about does it for my Sunday afternoon in Stag's Leap. Luckily I also had some free time to hit other parts of Napa on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. I will be highlighting those tasstings in other posts later this week.

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