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2003 Stags' Leap Winery Merlot
about this wine:
Merlot vines grow exceptionally in the Bale Loams of Stags' Leap:
alluvial soils with volcanic ash minerality.Underneath the top layer
exists a deeper layer of sandy loam laced with gravel and cobbles,
allowing the kind of quick and thorough drainage that leaves the vines a
little thirsty, concentrating their flavors.
Careful vineyard selection, followed by meticulous farming yields a Merlot with rich fruit flavors, full body, and firm structure.
Just seven miles north of Napa, in a valley within a
valley, lies the century-old, 240-acre wine estate known as Stags'
Leap. Little has changed here since 1893, the year the winery was
founded by Horace Chase and his wife Minnie Mizner Chase, the daughter
of a prominent San Franciscan who was a U.S. Senator and Ambassador to
The property was named "Stags' Leap" after an old Indian legend
that, one version says, told of a stag leaping across crags of the
palisades (bordering the east side of the estate) to escape hunters. In
addition to the old stone winery, the Chases built a gracious manor
house and guest house that still stand, excavated the first wine
storage caves on the east side of Napa Valley and installed what is
thought to be the first in-ground fresh water swimming pool in Northern
California. Stags' Leap became a center of social life, attracting the
era's most prominent politicians, artists and writers. Friends making a
journey from San Francisco crossed the Bay by ferry to Vallejo, boarded
a train to Yountville, and made the last leg of their journey to Stags'
Leap in horse-drawn carriages.
After the Grange era, the winery, Manor House and cottages fell into disrepair. Wine production began again in earnest in 1971 when the property was purchased by Carl Doumani and underwent a vast restoration. In 1988 Doumani hired winemaker Robert Brittan and charged him with the task of making wines that express the unique qualities of the estate's vineyard. In 1997 Stags' Leap was purchased by Beringer Wine Estates, which in 2000 was purchased by the Australian company Foster's Brewing Group, Ltd., whose two wine groups combined and are now Beringer-Blass Wine Estates. Robert Brittan continued the revitalization of the vineyards and winery until 2005.
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