Stags Leap wines are known for their exceptional quality and the careful barrel treatment they receive plays a significant role in achieving this. In the case of Stags Leap wines, 29% of the wine is fermented and aged in new French oak barrels, while the remaining 71% is aged in neutral French oak.
The choice of using new French oak barrels for a portion of the wine is an intentional decision made by the winemakers. New oak barrels impart more pronounced flavors and aromas to the wine, including notes of vanilla, spice, and toast. This can add complexity and depth to the wine, enhancing its overall character.
On the other hand, the use of neutral French oak barrels for the majority of the wine allows for a more subtle influence of oak. Neutral barrels are those that have been used for several vintages and no longer impart strong oak flavors to the wine. Instead, they allow the fruit flavors and other characteristics of the wine to shine through, while still providing some gentle oak aging.
The specific barrel treatment chosen by Stags Leap helps to preserve the purity and freshness of the fruit. By fermenting and aging a portion of the wine in new oak, the winemakers are able to enhance the wine with oak complexity without overpowering the natural flavors of the grapes. This balance is crucial in producing wines that are both expressive and elegant.
In addition to the choice of barrels, the selection of low impact coopers also contributes to the overall quality of Stags Leap wines. Coopers are the craftsmen who build the oak barrels, and their techniques and expertise can greatly influence the final product. Low impact coopers are those who prioritize sustainable practices and use techniques that minimize the impact on the environment.
By working with low impact coopers, Stags Leap ensures that their barrels are crafted with care and consideration for both the wine and the environment. This attention to detail further enhances the overall quality of the wine, allowing the true expression of the grapes to shine through.
Stags Leap wines are not overly oaky, but rather they strike a delicate balance between oak influence and the natural flavors of the grapes. The use of both new and neutral French oak barrels, along with the selection of low impact coopers, helps to preserve the purity and freshness of the fruit while adding subtle notes of oak complexity. This careful barrel treatment is a key factor in the exceptional quality of Stags Leap wines.