Wine Talk

Snooth User: kevincavin

Why are Stag's Leap Wine Cellars '07 Ratings So Weak?

Posted by kevincavin, Nov 19, 2011.

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars has a very strong reputation for producing excellent Napa Valley Cabs.  I suppose this dates back to their success in the 1976 Paris Wine Tasting when it bested some first growth Bordeauxs.  I've had the '03 & '05 S.L.V. and their a few vintages of their Artemis and was impressed.  However, all of their 2007 bottlings (Cask 23, S.L.V., Fay, Artemis) have received very weak tasting scores from multiple sources (including WS).  2007 was a phenomenal year in Napa.  Can anybody provide some insight as to why their '07 wines underperformed their peers?


Reply by GregT, Nov 19, 2011.

Maybe query as to why they ever received high ratings. Artemis is never particularly good, so maybe people finally realize that?  I don't want to be a curmudgeon, but I've never really been a huge fan for some reason.

Reply by kevincavin, Nov 19, 2011.

They definitely have a brand name and many assume that the quality will be good, if not great.  I can understand that their 3rd and 4th tier wines might not be exceptional, but their flagship wines should be excellent, especially in a knock-out year like 2007.  It makes me wonder if there was turmoil at the winery that season.  Perhaps they lost some key personel at a very inopportune time....

Reply by GregT, Nov 22, 2011.

It's a lost cause trying to figure out why a given critic scores a given wine higher or lower than you'd expect.  Who knows what someone else was thinking? 

I assume you've tried the wines, which means you're in luck because with lower scores, you won't need to pay so much. Makes a big dif on the secondary market.  As a customer, I'm always happy when critics who actually matter don't get the wine. It means better prices and more availability.  Of course, if I'm trying to sell the wine, it's a completely different story!  Luckily, you can always find someone who said something good about a wine. 

And of course, you know that in the summer of 2007, the winery was sold.  Although Antinori and Chateau St. Michelle both seem to do OK with the various critics.


Reply by JonDerry, Nov 22, 2011.

Kevin, keep in mind 2007 was not necessarily the great vintage it was supposed to be for CA.  What it was and will go down as is a monster growing season that produced a ton of wine and allowed for all kinds of winemaker's (from poor to excellent) to make "good" wine.

It's been said to me that "a 3rd grader could have made good wine in 07, and many of them did".

For those reasons it was hyped and it the word stuck, especially with the consumer. I couldn't wait to get my hands on as many 07's as I could. Except once I started drinking them, I was thoroughly unimpressed, much too fruit forward for my tastes. 2006 was a superb vintage for the mountains in and around Napa, Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Diamond Mountain being a few.

Though as has been discussed on this board many times it wasn't very good for the valley floor fruit. With the valley floor being around sea level in the southern end of Napa, and gradually rising to about 360 ft. in Calistoga (north Napa), you'd be better off taking a chance on St. Helena or Calistoga in 06' over say Rutherford or Oakville.

2008 will produce, and undoubtedly has produced many more top scores by critics. With it being a lower yielding vintage, the concentration of flavor is denser and that's the type of wine i'm in constant pursuit of. It's really my favorite CA vintage going right now, and i'm still looking to add to my cellar while I can.

Reply by dmcker, Nov 22, 2011.

Even before the sale, Stag's Leap had a different team than in the good old days of the Judgment of Paris. That winery doesn't seem to have lasted the course as well as some from that era, though then again it's done better than others, too. The land is proven good, there, so one assumes it's poor management, not to mention any 'turmoil' in the transition....

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