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After tasting through eight or nine superb wines at Stags’ Leap with winemaker & GM Christophe Paubert, I had to understand more about his philosophy and his background to understand what he is creating in Napa Valley.

If you can make a very good Cab why can you not make a very good Merlot?Stags' Leap, tasteful, elegant Napa Valley Wine

Merlot has gotten a bad rap from Hollywood. The reality is when the grapes are harvested at precisely the right moment the wine it results in is robust, elegant and pairs perfectly with food.  Take it from Christophe Paubert, the French winemaker & GM of Stags’ Leap. With 85 acres of prime Stags Leap District grapes at his disposal, he relies on the region’s exceptional heating and cooling abilities to get him the right kind of grape results.

{VIDEO} Insights into Winemaking with Christophe Paubert

 

Paubert’s background includes winemaking in Bordeaux, Chile, Spain and Wallawalla, Washington. When he was in Wallawalla, he was making splendid Merlot.  He overheard people talking about

Christophe Paubert Winemaker

Washington having much better Merlot, but not so much in Napa.”If you can make a good Cab, why can you not make a very good Merlot?”.  When he transferred to Stags’ Leap, they were already making a decent Merlot. But he understood the problem.  He realized people knew Merlot to be soft but translated that to weak Merlot.  His second thought was that Merlot does not like heat. Merlot is not meant to be grown in Calistoga.  80% of his Merlot grapes come from south of Yountville. The heat can be 10-20 degrees cooler there in the summer.

Some of the most expensive wine in the world is Merlot.

The wine is big and bold.  Paubert tries to make the best Merlot he can and showcase the fruit in a traditional way.  Science is a big part of this. “For me,

2013 Stags' Leap Winery Block 20 Merlot Napa Valley
2013 Stags’ Leap Winery Block 20 Merlot Napa Valley

science is to understand tradition,” Paubert says, “we taste everything every day. We are very hands on. The inspiration for what I want to do is The Estate.

Stags’ Leap Winery has a storied history.  Founded in the late 1800’s by Horace Chase & Mary Mizzner. They originally designed the Manor House, an architecturally stunning home which houses the sublime tasting room off the Silverado Trail.

Founders of Stags' Leap Winery, Horace Chase and Mary Minzer
Horace Chase and Mary Minzer on their wedding day.

Built in 1891, the stately property retains it’s elegance and has been transformed into an elegant tasting room complete with a huge outdoor covered porch.  You can almost imagine what it was like to live here off the Silverado Trail, just below Atlas Peak. It was an era when royalty visited and Hollywood beckoned.   The first vintage was released in 1893.  Like many other wineries during prohibition, Stags’ Leap stopped wine production in 1908.  It later became a resort popular in the 1920’s with San Franciscans. Winemaking resumed once again in 1972 and they have been mastering the craft for decades.

If romance and extraordinary beauty are important to you, Stags’ Leap Winery is a destination you won’t want to miss. The history, incredible views and elegant wines will create everlasting memories.

You can visit StagsLeapWinery.com and taste by appointment.

This is the serenity of Stags’ Leap Winery

The Wine Siren

 

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