Oeno Celebrates July 4th With Stag’s Leap Auction Release


On the eve of re-opening of bars and restaurants in England and July 4th celebrations on the other side of the Atlantic, Oeno is proud to present a rare and exclusive wine from one of the legends of Napa Valley.

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Fay Vineyard Block 2 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a one-off parcel selection of just 240 bottles total. Oeno successfully bid on this special bottling at the annual Napa Valley Vintners auction earlier this year. Our very own Master of Wine, Justin Knock, was in Napa to taste all the auction wines and chose this as one of his top biddable entries out of more than 200 lots.

“I tasted nearly 200 wines over three days in Napa. I know what I’m looking for, and it’s not overt ripeness and powerful oak. Great wines have aromatic complexity and a sense of harmony that make the fruit, oak and terroir elements indistinguishable from each other. There is an effortless ease in the way they flow across the palate, a seamless quality that is contiguous from start to finish like an endless sunset.

The Stag’s Leap Lot 2 Cabernet stood out for its majestic balance amongst many other worthy wines, and that it came from one of Napa’s greatest and most recognisable names made the bid compelling. I am utterly delighted we won it and celebrated that evening with a bottle of 1974 Stag’s Leap Cabernet, one of Napa’s greatest ever wines.” Justin Knock, Oeno’s Chief Wine Analyst & Master of Wine

Auction lots are already exclusive wines, typically a best-of-the-best selection from Napa’s top producers. Stag’s Leap District, in the southeast of Napa, is famed for its brilliant Cabernet Sauvignon that combine gorgeous purple and blue fruits, with lavender and violet freshness, vibrant acidity and remarkably soft tannins.

The district’s namesake Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is not only the most famous property in the AVA, it’s arguably the most famous in all of Napa. The 1973 S.L.V Cabernet from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is the wine that won the 1976 Judgement of Paris tasting, a cataclysmic event that put California and Napa Valley on the global centre stage and redefined the possibilities of wine from the New World.

The Fay Vineyard, planted in 1960, is the oldest plot of Cabernet Sauvignon in Stag’s Leap District, and of the estate’s three greatest red wines Fay Vineyard is arguably the richest and most powerful. Block 2 is one of winemaker’s Marcus Notaro favourite parcels:

“Fay Vineyard sits on one of eastern Napa’s rare alluvial fans, the gravelly soils that are as highly sought-after in Napa as they are in Pauillac. Block 2 has the oldest vines within Fay and was planted to Clone 7 and 2 (known for its small clusters and berries, dark fruits and concentration) as a very high-density trial to produce exceptional quality grapes.

Yield per vine here is the lowest of the estate so the grapes are incredibly intense. The block tends to be a late ripener and always goes into Cask 23, the estate’s top blend, each year. In 2018 the wine is very aromatic with dark berry fruits and rich, silky tannins. This is the first time we’ve submitted Block 2 into the auction, and you are the first bidder from the UK to win our lot.”

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars was founded by Warren Winiarski in 1970 after he tasted Nathan Fay’s Cabernet in 1968 and bought the adjacent plot. The 1973 S.L.V Cabernet won the Judgement of Paris tasting in 1976 which led to an unprecedented boom in vineyard plantings in California and made Napa what it is today. Winiarski bought the Fay Vineyard in 1986 and released the first single vineyard wine from it in 1990.

With no heirs to take over the property Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars was sold to a joint bid from St Michelle Wine Estates and Antinori for $185m in 2007. They have invested significantly in the vineyards and cellars and have been using an optical sorter since 2008 to remove under-ripe and over-ripe grapes before fermentation. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in 100% new French oak. Fay Vineyard typically produces around 25,000-40,000 bottles, so this auction selection represents the top 1% of grapes available.

The 2018 harvest is one of the best for Cabernet Sauvignon in recent memory and will rank alongside the legendary 2013s and 2016s as the best of the decade. The season was mild, dry and incredibly tranquil allowing a very, long and slow ripening pattern that produced superb grapes with fragrance, elegance and long, fine tannins. This will age majestically over the next two decades and more, but like all Stag’s Leap wines the trademark silky tannins will make this irresistible in its youth.

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