Lifestyle

Napa Valley's Canadian Superstar


Businessman Cliff Lede has assembled a world-class team to make world-class wines in Napa's Stags Leap area

Readers looking for a future superstar from Napa need look no further than this relatively new winery that appears to have hit its stride with its 2005s. Canadian businessman Cliff Lede has Michelle Edwards as his winemaker, David Abreu as his viticulturalist, and none other than Michel Rolland as his winemaking consultant, so big things are expected. This 60-acre property with the vineyards and winery in the Stags Leap area and the winery right on the Yountville cross (across the road from another up-and-coming superstar, Kapcsandy Winery) made their first vintages in 2002, but I think the 2005s move Cliff Lede Vineyards to higher ground.

89 points

2006 Sauvignon Blanc

The 2006 Sauvignon Blanc has an aromatic, melon-scented nose with loads of fruit, crisp acidity, and plenty of honeyed grapefruit along the way. Drink it over the next year. The real beauties are their Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from the Stags Leap area. $20

92 points

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District

A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and the rest a dash of Malbec and Petit Verdot, this beauty offers the elegance and finesse of the cooler southern end of Napa with beautiful floral, black raspberry, and currant notes mixed with cedar, a whiff of tobacco leaf, spring flowers, and well-integrated wood. The wine is medium to full-bodied and cuts a nice, deep, rich, but delicate feel in the mouth. This is a stunner that should drink gracefully for 15 or more years. $50

94 points

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Cinnamon Stardust Stags Leap

A blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, this 600-plus-case cuváe exhibits a dense ruby/purple color, sensational fruit, and a broad, deep, opulent personality. The wine is deep and pure, with spring flower notes intermixed with black currant, cedar, and spice box. With terrific texture, good acidity, and a long finish, it should drink nicely for 15 to 20 years. $125

94 points

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Songbook

A limited cuváe of 125 cases, this is a blend of purchased fruit from David Abreu's Thorevilos and Madrona Ranch Vineyards. Revealing classic white floral notes intermixed with graphite, blueberry, blackberry, and espresso roast, it is a deep, medium- to full-bodied beauty. $125

95 points

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Poetry Stags Leap

The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Poetry (925 cases of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, and the rest Petit Verdot and Merlot) is superbly deep ruby/purple-hued with notes of blackberry, cassis, licorice, subtle smoke, and incense. This opulent, rich wine has a plush palate, silky tannins, great purity, stature, and length. However, the tannins are there and the wine still tastes primary despite its enormous potential. Give it 3 to 4 years of bottle age and drink it over the following three decades. $125

Robert M. Parker Jr. is arguably the most influential wine critic in the world today. The former lawyer, who turned to writing full time about wine in 1982, devised a 100-point rating system to score wines of different vintages. This simple yet ingenious method—today much copied—not only earned Parker fame and fortune but also demystified the traditionally opaque world of fine wine for everyday buyers. He started his wine newsletter The Wine Advocate in 1978 and today it has more than 40,000 subscribers in nearly 40 countries. His first book, Bordeaux, was published in 1985. He has since published 10 books, including Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide and The Wines of the Rhône Valley and Provence, most of which have been updated several times. Initially, Parker's impact was primarily felt in Bordeaux but now he has expanded his range to include wines from all over the world, especially the U.S., Australia, Spain, as well as other regions of France. His column appears every week in BusinessWeek and on BusinessWeek.com.

Steve Ballmer, Power Forward
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