By Niilo Edwards, CSW

In Vancouver, BC

The Leap 2009

This past Thursday evening, Marquis Wine Cellars hosted visiting winemakers from two Napa Valley Mainstays, Etude Winery and Stags’ Leap Winery for a tasting of their products and a bottle signing.

The tasting lineup included the following wines:
Etude 2010 Carneros Chardonnay
Etude 2011 Carneros Pinot Gris
Etude 2011 “Lyric” Pinot Noir
Etude 2010 Carneros Pinot Noir
Etude 2008 Deer Camp Pinot Noir
Etude 2008 Heirloom Pinot Noir
Stags’ Leap 2011 Chardonnay
Stags’ Leap 2011 Viognier
Stags’ Leap 2009 No Cede Malis Petite Sirah
Stags’ Leap 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon “The Leap”

Before I begin to address the wines, I would be remiss if I did not comment on the hosts for the evening, Marquis Wine Cellars. This past year Marquis has undergone a significant expansion of their business. They are arguably Vancouver’s best source for off-beat, quality wines. Be sure to check out their new cellar room, where you can locate such gems as a 1984 Ridge Monte Bello.

Hits of the evening from the evening’s list are:

2011 Carneros Pinot Gris.

Napa is not known to be a hotbed for Pinot Gris. Winemaker John Priest has skillfully leveraged the cool climate nature of the Carneros AVA (located just off the head of San Pablo Bay) to create a dry Pinot Gris of freshness. Pleasant lemon-lime and green apple notes lead into a round mouthfeel and crisp finish. Great with seafood or pasta with cream sauces.

2011 Etude “Lyric” Pinot Noir

The only thing unfortunate about this wine is it was not available for sale at the event (special order only). This is a quality Pinot Noir that is very approachable now for immediate enjoyment. This wine greets you with classic welcoming nose of barnyard, red fruits and hints of floral with the fruit carrying over to a structured palate supported by decent acidity and smooth tannins. Could be matched with salmon or pork –easy to enjoy by its self too.

2011 Stags’ Leap Chardonnay

This is a wine that provides hope for those who have written off Napa Chardonnay as being robust and over oaked. Winemaker Christophe Paubert has chosen to let the grapes and terrior speak for themselves and I can confirm both elements show nicely in this wine of non-intervention. No malolactic and a judicious use of French oak supply this Chardonnay with green apple and citrus notes and flavours, round in the mouth yet the robust flavours and acidic backbone indicate that this wine will age well and reward for many years to come. The 2011 Carneros Chardonnay is a pleasure to taste and a reward to enjoy.

2009 “The Leap” Cabernet Sauvingon Stags’ Leap Winery.

An icon of the Napa Valley, Stags Leap Winery predates the establishment of the AVA that bares its name, has survived prohibition, and phylloxera. So it is fitting that their flagship Cabernet, “The Leap” embodies all the characteristics to which die hard Californian wine drinkers (myself included) have come to expect. The robust, yet elegant nature of the wine commands that patience will reward back in spades in 15 years’ cellar time. Nose and flavours run the typical Cab gambit of deep red fruits, blueberry, cassis, cedar, cigar box, vanilla, cinnamon, and clove. Masculine structure with grippy tannins that are certain to resemble an elegant Napa dustiness with time. The wine its self is a special occasion to be enjoyed with friends of a close, appreciative nature.

I encourage you to not only check out these wines, but also pop in to see the friendly expert staff at Marquis Wine Cellars. Better still, sign up to attend their next event on March 13th featuring Brunello wines from Gianni Brunelli.