The Tasting Panel magazine

Nov 09

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Page 39 of 92

november 2009 / the tasting panel / 39 If terroir ever had an effect on creat- ing an AVA, it was in the Stags Leap District. A mere three miles long and barely a mile wide, this special slice of Napa Valley had soil, sun and nature on its side. "The Stags Leap District is the first viticultural area in the U.S. to be approved based on the distinctiveness of its soils," comments Deborah Elliott-Fisk, Associate Profes- sor of Geography at U.C. Davis. The January 1989 AVA approval by the BATF officially acknowledged what this region's winemakers, land owners and growers had known in their hearts and minds for more than a decade: This land was special, and here Cabernet Sauvignon would show itself as in no other area—not even in the high-end real estate of nearby Oakville, St. Hel- ena and Rutherford. We applaud these vintners and their faith in a terroir they believe in. A stand-alone classic. First released with the 1984 vintage, Shafer Hillside Select has continued to be an iconic Stags Leap District wine. The 2005 (SRP $215), released in September, is deeply concen- trated, with lifted fruit and coffee bean density. Luxurious. Leap of Faith As Stags Leap District celebrates its 20th anniversary as an AVA, we talk with pioneers and new play- ers in this unique and prestigious Silverado Trail appellation story and photos by Meridith May

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