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Intricate and youthfully fruity, this Late Harvest White fills the mouth with sweet, alluring stone fruit flavors of apricot, peach, and nectarine, alongside hints of candied tangerine, orange marmalade, vanilla, orange blossom and delicate honeysuckle. For winemaker Christophe Paubert, the style is reminiscent of Sauternes from his hometown of Bordeaux, France, although highlighting alternative varietals. With crisp acidity and balanced sweetness, this wine has enviable freshness and a more opulent and viscous mouthfeel. Meant to be enjoyed upon release but will continue to evolve and delight for the next decade.
The extended drought was beginning to cause real concern as the 2016 growing season kicked off, but some welcomed winter rain hinted at the relief to come. After a relatively dry January we enjoyed signiﬁcant rainfall in February, along with mild temperatures. Bud break was early, but was slowed by heavy April showers. While still early by historical standards, picking began about a week later than 2015, and continued at a leisurely pace, allowing the grapes to reach full ﬂavor maturity. A traditionally sized harvest followed the lighter showing of 2015, and the extended season helped to balance the acidity in each varietal and added additional complexity to the layers of ﬂavors. This resulted in wines with outstanding concentration and flavor, particularly for varieties like Viognier, and provided optimal conditions for this late harvest style wine.
Crafted with Viognier grapes grown in the Carneros appellation in southern Napa Valley, located along the seaside on the north side of the San Pablo Bay. Here maritime fogs roll across, blown in by cooling Pacific winds and then burned away again by the generous California sun, cooling these vineyards throughout the growing season, allowing for ideal preservation of acidity.
The beauty of Viognier is captured when the varietals express freshness and acidity, and the traditional techniques used by Winemaker Christophe Paubert preserve that splendor in this late harvest wine. After the grapes had been left on the vines longer than usual, allowing for an on-the-vine-dehydration process called passerillage or passerillé to occur and noble rot to grow, they were hand-harvested, whole cluster pressed and fermented in neutral French oak barrels. Allowing the grapes to dehydrate on-the-vine, concentrates the juice, and creates a wine that is naturally sweet, fuller bodied and luscious in style. This wine does not go through malolactic fermentation which helps to preserve the delicate floral aromas, fruit freshness and balanced acidity.
For Christophe Paubert, Winemaker and General Manager at Stags’ Leap Winery, the identity of a wine is found through the terroir. Christophe’s career has spanned the industry from sales to winemaking, and his impressive background includes positions at Chateau d’Yquem and Gruaud-Larose as well as projects in Chile, Spain and Washington State. But it was the terroir of Stags’ Leap that drew him to California.