2008 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars "Cask 23" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
One sip is all it takes to fall in love with this 100% Cabernet, which hails from the winery’s Stags Leap District vineyards. It’s soft, lush and opulent in blackberry, cherry, blueberry, cassis, dark chocolate and smoky oak flavors. Although it was aged in 100% new French oak, the oak isn’t at all heavy. Rather, it’s perfect, adding just the right touch of smoke. Really fabulous, and the tannins define Stags Leap, so strong yet sweetly refined. If you can keep your hands off it, this is a wine to cellar for many years.
Wine & Spirits
A blend of the top estate fruit from the eastern hillsides and lower alluvial soils of Fay and S.L.V. in Stag’s Leap, Cask 23 is a robust Cabernet in 2008. It has the dark, creamy richness of Stag’s Leap tannins, matched by fruit that’s as dark as pomegranate juice. The vintage lends a ferrous aspect to the structure, almost sanguine, allowing the wine to feel firm and open at once. It’s clean and balanced for long aging, enjoyable along the way with a thick-cut steak.
We very much like the way this wine begins, and it may, in fact, turn out to be the winery's brightest star once a few years have passed, but right now, it veers to dryness and bitter chocolate after leading with lots of ripe fruit and sweet, hardwood-like spice. It winds up a little austere and gritty, and, if its youthful tannins certainly share in the blame, they would be less influential if balanced by a more generous complement of essential fruit.
The original bottling of Cask 23, in 1974, was a single barrel of wine that Stag's Leap Wine Cellars' founder Warren Winiarski and famed winemaker André Tchelistcheff thought special enough to bottle separately from the rest. These days, the Cask 23 blends the best from the S.L.V. and Fay vineyards for a wine that is distinctive and delicious. The 2008 comes mostly from Fay, and has the heady perfume that vineyard is known for, with aromas of violets, blackberry and black cherries, and subtler notes of spiced cocoa. Luxurious on the palate, this dense wine's black cherry cola, mocha and spice flavors are on a bed of velvety tannins. It keeps revealing more with air, and while it drinks now, it should age over the next five years, at least.