Monday, May 2, 2011

Stags’ Leap Wines Highlighted At Tea Tree Asian Bistro Wine Dinner

Stags’ Leap is one of the earliest wine estates in Napa Valley. The winery takes its name from an American Indian tale about a stag leaping from one pinnacle to another to avoid a pursuing hunter.

Wine lovers today would do well to pursue the outstanding wines of Stags’ Leap. The winery is located in the Stags Leap District, a “valley within a valley” inside Napa Valley in California. The wine-growing area is known for its breathtaking beauty and world-class Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tea Tree Asian Bistro in Levis Commons hosted a wine dinner featuring Stags’ Leap wines with dishes with an Asian flair. Jarrod Demski, of Heidelberg Distributing, provided insights about the wine while guests enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Chef Kevin and Simon Yu. Owner Lynn Wang was also on hand to greet the guests. Four Stags’ Leap wines were served and the meal finished with a German Riesling.

Although most wine fans may think of Cabernet when hearing “Stags’ Leap” their finesse with whites was very evident with the 2009 Viognier. This is a Rhone grape with beautiful floral aromas that paired nicely with the Snow Seafood Soup. The wine is delicate with a flowery aroma and flavor notes of pear and apricot. This is a complex wine with a long finish.

The second course was a Mahi Mahi tuna that featured a creamy caper sauce. This was a spot-on pairing with the ‘09 Stags’ Leap Chardonnay. The chardonnay is a golden straw color and the moderate oak finish is perfectly under control – supporting, but not overwhelming. This has a clean taste with minerality and bright fruit flavors of apple. The malolactic fermentation gives the wine a wonderful creamy mouth-feel.

The tomato salad course, served with popcorn shrimp and a mustard vinaigrette dressing, was paired with the 2007 Stags’ Leap Petite Syrah. The wine is created from 30-year-old vineyards growing in deep, rocky soil. This wine was sensational, with a lush aroma of dark berries and a pop of pepper with the first sip. The wine exhibits firm tannins and an inky deep color that stains the glass. The predominate flavor note for me was juicy blackberry. This is an explosive wine that was beautiful to savor.

The entrée course was short ribs that had cooked more than five hours with sweet Asian spices. The Stags’ Leap 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon was paired with this plate. Cab is king in Napa, where the volcanic soil retains the solar heat to help provide perfect growing conditions. This wine is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc and Merlot added to dial in just the right flavor profile.

This is an outstanding Cabernet that retails for about $40. It exudes balance and complexity, with tasty red and black fruit flavors up front and a leather and coffee finish.

To wrap up the dinner, we enjoyed an ‘05 Schloss Vollrads German Riesling. This has the expected sweetness, but this is counterbalanced by a nice acidity. The sweetness of the Ginger Strawberry Ice Cream dessert further softened the sweetness of the wine. The opinion of the table was divided on the Riesling, this is not unexpected as a semi-sweet wine like this can hit or miss depending on the palates of the various drinkers.

I polled the cluster at our end of the table for their favorites. The Viognier and Petite Syrah were head and shoulders among the rest of the pack. To make sure of our vote, we retasted the wines while enjoying a view through the window of clouds rolling in on the horizon. Sauntering down to the other side of the table, I determined their two favorites were the Petite Syrah and the Riesling.

Interestingly enough, there is a Stags’ Leap Winery and a Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. The apostrophe is everything. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is well know for it’s flagship Cask 23 wine and is one of the premier wineries in the world. Stags’ Leap has two stags on its bottles and Stag’s Leap has one.
To rekindle memories of this special dinner, I purchased a bottle of the Viognier and Petite Syrah.

This was a relaxed and fun evening. Lynn says she has some other special events being planned at Tea Tree, including a sake tasting.
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