What’s in a name? Check your wine labels carefully

August 1, 2020

I had the opportunity to sample the new-release Stags’ Leap Winery selections. Be very careful with these labels. Make sure it is spelled Stags’ Leap, famous for its Petite Sirah, not Stag’s Leap, whose Cab won the 1976 Judgment of Paris and catapulted Cali Cabs to international acceptance. These are separate and distinct. Both make excellent wine. The story should be quite interesting for history winos. It may be accessed here: Please read the entire paper before being distracted. 

Stags’ Leap Napa Chardonnay 2018 rated 91 points. I checked out some other prints on it to learn other reviewers were at odds with me and each other. J. Suckling said 93, and Dunnock rated it 88 points. Dunnock saw it as peach, melon and pineapple, medium bodied, with a honeyed floral palate. Suckling claimed lemon, green apple and elderflower, citrus palate, mentioned lees stirring effect and hazelnut, white pepper sub notes with a clean floral finish supported by bright acidity. I am more in the Suckling camp. My notes read: Pale golden with a slight greenish cast, it opened to lemon zest, green apple and honeysuckle bouquet. On the round, slightly acidic palate, some green apple flavors are nuanced by hazelnut, vanilla and other barrel spice. Under $20, this is a fine buy for those who prefer a leaner, bright chardonnay. The Napa Sauvignon Blanc 2018 is worth a look also, 89 McD. Pale green, almost clear, it opens to a classic Napa SB citrus, lemongrass, floral nose. On the acid-bright, mineral-driven palate, lemon zest and melon flavors with a slight nuance of acacia and white pepper lead to a long, palate-cleansing finish. This is an ideal companion to a traditional crab cake or fresh sautéed flounder almandine, 90 points under $23. May not be on shelves yet. Their Napa Viognier is a perennial 88-89-point selection. The 2018 is their best since the 2008 vintage, in my opinion. McD 91, 100 percent Viognier from Oak Knoll and Carneros AVAs in Napa. Look for nectarine, lemongrass and almond aromas and flavors riding bright acidity and mineral frame through a very long, clean finish with some floral accent. For those able to visit Napa someday, a visit to Stags’ Leap is warranted. The Manor House and grounds are a spectacular look back into the old-time, country retreat atmosphere of the mid-1900s.

The McD tasting panel of Barbara, Paige, Connor and Marguerite all enjoyed Bonterra California Sauvignon Blanc 2019. “Made with Organic Grapes” reads the label. Very few have any idea what that means. Therefore, I am linking you to a fairly comprehensive article from Newsweek that may help to clear up organic, biodynamic, holistic, natural and low-intervention misconceptions, obfuscations and plain old untutored ignorance. Often, when reading these type “splain all” pontifications, I am guided by Samuel Clemens’ description of a gold mine: “A hole in the ground owned by liars.” In this case the info appears accurate,

Back on track – Bonterra SB 2019 was made of juice sourced from Mendocino, Lake, San Luis Obispo and Sonoma counties. It is labeled California. Bonterra took full advantage of the blender’s art, producing a delightful SB that encompasses the modern taste and aroma aspects favored by so many today. Look for abundant aromas of grapefruit, citrus and fresh-cut grass, followed by a reprise on the palate. All are supported by vibrant acidity that extends through a long, clean mineral finish, 89 McD, add 1 price point under $14. 

At first read, I thought Rich was teasing me a bit when he asked about Glengarry Left Field Flying Squidmill Sauvignon Blanc. Given my penchant for wine with odd names, I searched some out to learn they make a selection of wine from Gimblett Gravels named Kidnapper Cliffs as well. Unfortunately, they don’t ship to USA. I say unfortunately because some of Glengarry’s other Left Field labels are Hatchling Deer, Moon Shell Moth, Squidcrab and Flamingo Recluse. Oddly (for me), LF Shiraz had no soubriquet. Each wine label pictured its nickname. The Shiraz showed a windmill. I have sent a feeler to the winemakers to see if I can’t find a pirate who could smuggle a mixed case into Delaware. Stay safe and healthy!

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