Christie Kiley on February 2, 2015 1 Comment Just as you might crave a good piece of dark chocolate to just relax one’s mood, sometimes there is nothing like a craving for a great California Cabernet to make one’s mind just relax and be at ease while simultaneously satisfying your senses. If you are a fan of California Cabernet or consider yourself a collector, you must be familiar with Stag’s Leap as they have been one of the iconic Cabernet Sauvignon producers for over a century. The Estate The Manor House of Stag’s Leap was once a popular spot in the mid-twentieth century with its beautiful gardens for many stars from Hollywood, gangsters and legendary bootleggers. It has been the main home for three families up until the seventies when it was revitalized. A fashionable country resort in the mid-twentieth century, popular with Hollywood due to its 1892 stone Manor House and historic gardens, legends of bootleggers and gangsters, ghosts and gypsies, Stags’ Leap has been home to three major family groups up through the modern revitalization of the winery that began in the 1970s. It has been the location for many fashionable dinner parties and a retreat for many. It is a two-story structure with a corner tower which was built with rock from a nearby quarry around 1890. Today, it is the inspiration for the winery’s wine club and it is here their tasting tours begin. It is said that there is even a ghost who likes to join in the festivities. Stag’s Leap was one of the earliest established wine estates in California known for a unique microclimate and terroir. There is a history of the estate that started with a reputation for classic fine wines. The Winemaker Too often we read about a wine and its location, but it is little we often learn of the winemaker. Today, we will do something a little different and give you a little history of Christophe Paubert. He is the General Manager and Winemaker at the Stag’s Leap estate and heralds from the celebrated Sauternes region of Bordeaux. It was here that he learned the art of winemaking in Sauternes where is grandfather was a Cellar Master. His childhood immersions in the wine industry lead him to a program at the Institut d’Inologie in Bordeaux. Following his graduation in 1983 he started work as a negociant in Bordeaux before he returned to the classroom for a two-year graduate program for sales and marketing. For a few years after graduate school he sold winemaking equipment and later decided that it might be time to get his hands into winemaking once again. He had been visiting with some friends at Chateau d’Yquem who offered him a job of Cellar Master. Four years later, he had another opportunity to go to Chile where he would build a winery, hire and train his new cellar team and revamp four-hundred acres of vine. He knew very little about viticulture but he took it on as a new learning experience and trudged forward. It was during these years that he expanded his knowledge and traveled to Spain where he made wine in the Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Rioja regions. New Zealand, the Medoc and Navarra followed where he worked in many aspects from the vineyard to the lab and to making the wine. These are the experiences which gave Christophe a more well-rounded knowledge of the entire winemaking process to become the wine maker he is today. He recognizes that it is about bringing the people and team of the entire process together so that each step in the process is virtually seamless. He also knows the importance of history and tradition is equally of importance. This is the character of Christophe and his beliefs and he is at least one of the reasons perhaps why Stag’s Leap continues to be an icon of California Cabernet. The Wine This is a beautifully well-crafted wine with a blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 2% Malbec, with the rich notes of their lovely terroir coming through with dusty earth notes on the nose carrying the perfume of plums and deep blackberry fruits and vanilla sugar. It is full yet supple on the palate with rounded and almost sweet tannins that bring forth more berry flavors. This is the ideal barbeque wine with slow-cooked ribs or for a pasta with a sauce of wild mushrooms and fresh herbs.