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Why Does JL Hate Stags' Leap Wine Cellars So Much??
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Don't think I've seen a review above 84..Seems so strange with such a storied winery and other critics being MUCH kinder....

I know he has brett sensitivities, etc. but come on, he seems so off base with their wines that it's tough to take him seriously on others that to my palate are inferior or of equal quality.

I know it's subjective, but it feels like there is more to the story....
 
Posts: 174 | Location: Kitchener, Ontario Canada | Registered: Apr 20, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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JL seems all over the road but he does not seem to like classically styled Napa cabs. Clos du Val similarly gets dissed. I don't think these wines show well when tasted blind against the typical bolder and more fruit forward style. Although both wineries put out some average wines over the past decade, my impression (from limited tastings) is that they are putting out a better product in recent vintages. Hopefully they can keep it up.


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Posts: 3003 | Location: San Diego | Registered: Jan 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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James who?


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Posts: 10227 | Location: The Left Coast | Registered: Dec 01, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't think it's at all true that "classically" styled wines don't show well against fruit-forward wines. Quite the opposite in my experience. I think JL just doesn't like SL because the wines have sucked for years. They've been coasting on their reputation for a long time.


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2675 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by GregT:
I don't think it's at all true that "classically" styled wines don't show well against fruit-forward wines. Quite the opposite in my experience. I think JL just doesn't like SL because the wines have sucked for years. They've been coasting on their reputation for a long time.


Maybe in your experience, but you are not JL. I have had the privilege to be involved in many blind tastings where "old world" or "restrained styled" wines didn't show well against "new world" competition. Just trying to make sense of the OP's question. And yes, SL wines have "sucked" for a while but may be making a comeback. Time will tell.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Red guy in a blue state,


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Sometimes I read a thread and think we ran out of stuff to talk about like 4 years ago. ~spo
 
Posts: 3003 | Location: San Diego | Registered: Jan 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by IT:

Don't think I've seen a review above 84...


It would appear you're not looking very hard. Here's the scores JL actually gave them for the last few years:

2010 - 88 (only 1 WS review so far)
2009 - 84,83,91,89,88
2008 - 92,86,87,87,88,87,82
2007 - 82,84,80,84,85,87,87

Of his last 20 reviews, 13 are over 84 pts.

I don't hate this winery. I've had only a very few of their wines in the last decade because, in my experience, they dropped significantly in quality after the mid-1990s, and I don't seek them out any more. I used to buy Fay and SLV quite regularly, but stopped because they just weren't worth the price in my market. Which of their wines do you find are really good now, and worth buying at their price point?

"Hate" is a pretty strong word for you to apply to JL in your subject line, especially with nothing to back it up. What makes you think it's personal and not objective?


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Posts: 8624 | Location: Vancouver, BC | Registered: Oct 17, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by GregT:

I think JL just doesn't like SL because the wines have sucked for years. They've been coasting on their reputation for a long time.


+1!
 
Posts: 30367 | Location: Dallas, TX & Santa Fe, NM | Registered: Feb 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Red guy in a blue state:
quote:
Originally posted by GregT:
I don't think it's at all true that "classically" styled wines don't show well against fruit-forward wines. Quite the opposite in my experience. I think JL just doesn't like SL because the wines have sucked for years. They've been coasting on their reputation for a long time.


Maybe in your experience, but you are not JL. I have had the privilege to be involved in many blind tastings where "old world" or "restrained styled" wines didn't show well against "new world" competition. Just trying to make sense of the OP's question. And yes, SL wines have "sucked" for a while but may be making a comeback. Time will tell.


OK. Neither of us is JL. In your experience "restrained" styles don't show well against "new world" styles. You probably have done more blind tastings than I have, and while I don't know who you're tasting with, I've never seen evidence that "restrained" styles don't show well against "new world" styles.

If people have any experience and they're halfway decent tasters, a well-made wine shows as a well-made wine, and JL's been tasting for a long time.

About 20 some years ago when I started doing weekly blind tastings, I was somehow able to pick out Stags Leap thru dumb luck and also thru the fact that it was bretty and green and just not that good. With the Antinori involvement, the wines may become better.


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2675 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I stand corrected as I just reviewed the latest WS issue and he certainly was a bit more kind than originally communicated.

That said, he is certainly more unkind to this winery than other critics...

The same appears true with other Napa icons, Freemark Abbey, etc.


quote:
Originally posted by Seaquam:
quote:
Originally posted by IT:

Don't think I've seen a review above 84...


It would appear you're not looking very hard. Here's the scores JL actually gave them for the last few years:

2010 - 88 (only 1 WS review so far)
2009 - 84,83,91,89,88
2008 - 92,86,87,87,88,87,82
2007 - 82,84,80,84,85,87,87

Of his last 20 reviews, 13 are over 84 pts.

I don't hate this winery. I've had only a very few of their wines in the last decade because, in my experience, they dropped significantly in quality after the mid-1990s, and I don't seek them out any more. I used to buy Fay and SLV quite regularly, but stopped because they just weren't worth the price in my market. Which of their wines do you find are really good now, and worth buying at their price point?

"Hate" is a pretty strong word for you to apply to JL in your subject line, especially with nothing to back it up. What makes you think it's personal and not objective?
 
Posts: 174 | Location: Kitchener, Ontario Canada | Registered: Apr 20, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well, that does sound consistent with his preference. I haven't had any recent SLWC wines, so have no basis to compare my more traditional perspective on those wines to his reviews. But, more broadly I'm not able to read one of his reviews and have any degree of confidence if I'll like the wine or not. Sometimes it's just better to ignore a critic than complain.
 
Posts: 1789 | Location: Mountain View, CA | Registered: Oct 18, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I used to be on SLWC mailing list and club. I found the wines not worth the money and dropped off. I donl;t the most recent wines of theirs that I've tasted were very good.


Just one more sip.
 
Posts: 37088 | Location: NY | Registered: Oct 18, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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GregT: Thanks for bringing some data to the question of James Laube and Stags Leap Wine Cellars.

Let me add that since all our reviews of new releases come from blind tastings, whether a reviewer "hates" a winery has no bearing on the evaluation. (If such an emotion is really conceivable.)

As far as SLWC is concerned, IT and others may be interested in a blog about the winery Laube posted in August (http://www.winespectator.com/blogs/show/id/47201).

Senior editors' blogs are member benefits (a good reason to subscribe to our Web site), but I'll give you a taste:

"After nearly a decade of mediocre red wines, many flawed by the spoilage yeast brettanomyces, the owners of this once prominent Napa Valley winery have released the first vintage of what seem to be clean, complex Cabernets.

"All three of the 2009 Cabernets I tried in a blind tasting yesterday—Fay ($95, 3,300 cases made), S.L.V. ($120, 2,200 cases) and Cask 23 ($210, 1,800 cases)—exhibited pure, ripe, elegant flavors and none of the off-tasting earthiness and bitterness found in past years.

"Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Piero Antinori purchased Stag's Leap in 2007, and they acknowledged the problems with its cellar and wines. And they've rectified it."

I hope this clarifies some of the questions raised in this thread.
 
Posts: 297 | Registered: Dec 11, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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didn't SL change owners recently?


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Posts: 1946 | Location: Ontario | Registered: Jul 23, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yep - as Tom pointed out above.

And it should be good for the winery because that partnership has shown that they're capable of consistently making good wines. I remember when JL's article Tom posted came out and I was thinking then that it may be worth re-visiting the wines because he seemed to have objected to the same things I did.


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2675 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
"Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Piero Antinori purchased Stag's Leap in 2007, and they acknowledged the problems with its cellar and wines. And they've rectified it."



We hope so, but remains to be seen. I have dissed SL for last few years my self. Bad wines and really off their prior sucesses.


Live simply, Laugh often, Wine a lot!!!
 
Posts: 6436 | Location: Palm Beach Gardens FL | Registered: Nov 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Red guy in a blue state:
JL seems all over the road but he does not seem to like classically styled Napa cabs. Clos du Val similarly gets dissed. I don't think these wines show well when tasted blind against the typical bolder and more fruit forward style. Although both wineries put out some average wines over the past decade, my impression (from limited tastings) is that they are putting out a better product in recent vintages. Hopefully they can keep it up.


I've always been a fan of clos du val as they keep their wines very affordable.

I just popped some 92s and 87s and a mag of 80 all from the winery and for me the clos du vals age very gracefully.

oh and James who?


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Posts: 12467 | Location: NYC | Registered: Feb 16, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by yhn:
But, more broadly I'm not able to read one of his reviews and have any degree of confidence if I'll like the wine or not. Sometimes it's just better to ignore a critic than complain.


+1


Paul Romero (tlily)- Owner, Winemaker, Tour Guide
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Posts: 7682 | Location: Gilroy, CA  | Registered: May 24, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Stefania Wine:
quote:
Originally posted by yhn:
But, more broadly I'm not able to read one of his reviews and have any degree of confidence if I'll like the wine or not. Sometimes it's just better to ignore a critic than complain.


+1

+2

And whether the "issues" with the winery/winemaking have been resolved or not, one issue remains - as evidenced by TM's post above - the release prices for their wines do not relect a winery that wishes to restore its reputation.


"Won't someone tell me what it is they all want?"
 
Posts: 6179 | Location: Utah | Registered: Jan 15, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In the case of Stag's Leap, it looks like this is more a case of of a critics opinion that should be heeded rather than ignored. The wines were indeed mediocre, and all to often Brett affected.
I'm in the camp that is happy to continue passing on their wines at the asking price, even if they are cleaned up.
 
Posts: 2327 | Registered: Jul 12, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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There is a good reason that these "icons" has not been receiving good scores. The simple fact is they were making better wine back in '80s, '70s or even '60s than they are making today.

To me, BV being probably the most tragic of them all. Diluting their vineyards to way too many brand extensions and increased productions just about killed any prestige they had from the early days.

SLWC, Freemark Abbey, Mayacamas, Diamond Creek, Silver Oak and many other were all making better wine back in the days than present time.

For that matter, I can't think of one single winery that made their name in the '70s or earlier and is making better wine today.


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Posts: 7003 | Location: HKG - TPE - TAO | Registered: Sep 10, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ridge?
 
Posts: 2327 | Registered: Jul 12, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Pile on Pyang - Mount Eden, Joseph Phelps. I might put Caymus in there too.


Paul Romero (tlily)- Owner, Winemaker, Tour Guide
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Posts: 7682 | Location: Gilroy, CA  | Registered: May 24, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hanzell- although its hard for me to judge. My tastes are so different from what they were in 1975. In any case, recent versions sure beat what I recollect.
 
Posts: 2327 | Registered: Jul 12, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by pape du neuf:
Ridge?


Ridge has definitely maintained the quality, but I wouldn't necessary say they are making better Monte Bello today than they did back in the '60s and '70s.

Hanzell on the other hand I have no opinion on. They certainly does have a following, but I don't think it's in the same conversation.


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Posts: 7003 | Location: HKG - TPE - TAO | Registered: Sep 10, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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For that matter, I can't think of one single winery that made their name in the '70s or earlier and is making better wine today.


I'd have to give that credit to Heitz "Martha's Vineyard." I have yet to come across a less than stellar bottle from the 70's - Present.

No doubt, Ridge MB is right there too.

As for Stag's Leap WC, I actually wrote a yelp review on this same topic. The Mrs. & I did their premium tour/ tasting about a year and a half ago, as I am fascinated with the history of the place. Well...like the wine, it sucked...bad.

It's a shame too, as I have been fortunate to taste some excellent SLV's & Cask 23's from the late 70's / 80's.

It kind of makes me wonder; Where will the Harlan's, Screagle's, or Scarecrow's be 20 years from now?
 
Posts: 1634 | Location: Murrieta, CA | Registered: Mar 14, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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