Leaping above the Competition

Stags’ Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
By Fergal Gleeson

A few years ago 20% of new wines coming on the market had animals on their labels. Their inspiration was Yellow Tail which was bounding into American’s glasses at epidemic levels. The term “critter wines” was born to describe commercial wines using beasts to spike sales.

You might have thought the trend was flagging but new critters keep on coming – arrogant frogs, loyal dogs, running bulls, nanny goats and squealing pigs are still hitting the shelves. They give a wine a link to nature, a homeliness, a soul which a cheap, mass produced wine otherwise lacks. Naturally lots of animals don’t make the cut.

Just as dolphins are more loved than tuna when it comes to conservation so it is that bats, snakes, spiders, rats and cockroaches can never realise their dream of ‘making it’ on a wine label.

stags-leapI was thinking “The deer made it!” as I was sipping some Stags’ Leap Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley this week. Stags’ Leap is one of Napa’s oldest and best known wineries.

Going since the early 70’s it predates the critter wine phenomenon and offers a range of critically acclaimed wines centred around Cabernet. But enough of the back story, the wine is dark purple in colour and has the classic blackcurrant & mint Cabernet smells.

Quite a structured wine this Cab was not quite the easy going Californian that I was expecting. It enters elegantly enough but then shows that Cabernet power with tannins and dusty notes on the finish. This is wine, not fruit juice and I liked it a lot.

Seek it out, even if like most American wine it is a bit deer! Sorry couldn’t resist that one.

Rating: 4/5. Price: c$60. For more Wine Reviews read and follow www.greatwineblog.wordpress.com  Drink and be merry!

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