Thursday, November 4, 2021

Stringer Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard 2017

 Stringer Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard 2017

Son Alec dropped in and brought this Napa Cabernet to share and compare with the Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 that we had open. He obtained this wine through a wine club source from whom he has acquired several great wine finds.  

From their website, Stringer Cellars is a family owned and operated winery making wine from premier vineyard sites throughout California.

Inspired by a family trip to Napa Valley, Casey Stringer from Wisconsin developed an interest in wine and set a course to pursue a career in the industry. He picked up a job at a local wine shop to begin learning all he could while father Chip began collecting wines both from Napa and around the world.

Casey went to college in California, in Santa Barbara and got a job as a cellar hand at a local winery where he soon realized that he wanted to spend his time in the cellar and vineyards. Throughout his twenties, he traveled both near and abroad seeking different experiences in winemaking. He worked and gained experience at Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa, Archery Summit in Oregon and a few wineries in Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, where he attended school for a formal winemaking education. Upon returning to California, Casey worked in the cellar at the esteemed Santa Ynez cult winery Jonata.

Stringer Cellars started in Windsor, California but now makes their wine high up on Atlas Peak in the Napa Valley, and at winery in the heart of Sonoma County. It’s a family affair with Casey as lead winemaker, father Chip oversees operations with his vast experience running a family specialty manufacturing business back in Wisconsin, brothers Andrew and Tim tending to marketing and sales and wife, Brooke often found pouring tastings behind the bar. 

Stringer's winemaking philosophy is to use the finest grapes he can find from the best vineyard sites in California, to carefully produce small lot wines with minimalist winemaking techniques, allowing the fruit and individual vineyards to shine through in each label release.

Stringer Cellars sources grapes from a wide range of prestigious vineyards throughout California seeking the finest fruit possible. Below are the vineyards sources for the Stringer portfolio of wines:

  • Stagecoach Vineyard, Pritchard Hill Region Napa Valley, California
  • Williamson Vineyard, Oak Knoll District AVA Napa Valley, California
  • Pelissa Vineyard, Oakville AVA Napa Valley, California
  • Ghost Block Vineyard, Yountville AVA Napa Valley, California
  • Harrison Clarke Vineyard, Ballard Canyon AVA Santa Ynez Valley, California
  • John Sebastiano Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills AVA Santa Barbara County, California
  • Linda Vista Vineyard, Oak Knoll District AVA Napa Valley, California
  • Shokrian Vineyard, Santa Barbara County AVA Los Alamos, California
  • Kick Ranch Vineyard, Fountain Grove District AVA Santa Rosa, California
  • Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino Laytonville, California 
From these sources Stringer producer a portfolio of branded wines, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah, and of course Blends that are combined from multiple sources. 
Stringer also produce a more modestly priced affordable second brand, 'Metal Bender', named in honor of the Stringer Family’s manufacturing business in Wisconsin. The business stamps, machines and fabricates metal into components used in industries throughout America. They are “Metal Benders”.  

Since 1972, they have been producing special washers and metal stampings for fastener distributors and original equipment manufacturers.  They serve numerous industries including agriculture, lawn and garden, heavy truck, construction hardware, automotive, engine and transmission, construction equipment and consumer products.
Stringer Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard 2017
This 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from three Cabernet Vineyards: 35% from the Pelissa Vineyard in Oakville, 42% from Stagecoach and 16% from the Williamson Vineyards in Oak Noll. The remainder of the blend is 7% Petite Sirah from Calistoga.
The Stagecoach vineyards sites at 1,800 feet elevation in the eastern Vaca Mountains of Napa Valley.  Stagecoach Vineyard extends from the Atlas Peak AVA all the way north to the Pritchard Hill region. 

This Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet is clone 337 from Block C3A in the Pritchard Hill region of the vineyard.  This region of Napa is characterized by red volcanic rock and large diurnal shifts which are ideal for ripening Cabernet Sauvignon.
The 2017 was aged twenty months in 80% New French Oak.

This 2017 label release was awarded 97 points at the American Fine Wine Competition, 96 points by Decanter Magazine and 91 points by Connoisseur Guide to California Wine.

The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard was sourced from a larger vineyard on Pritchard Hill and was awarded 93 points by Jeb Dunnuck in Jan 2021.
Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, firm structured backbone, deep densely concentrated extracted black fruits, black cherry and tart black cherry, bright vibrant notes of cassis and spice with subtle vanilla and oak tones turning to a tangy lingering tannin finish. Needs some time to settle and integrate further to achieve more balance. 
RM 91 points. 
I've written in these pages the challenges or limitations in collecting wines from private label producers that lack their own estate vineyards since they are at the mercy of their sourcing agreements with suppliers. If such arrangements change, labels can be 'one and done', or with terms limited to the length of supply. 
If one's objective is to enjoy and study and follow the 'terroir' of a wine, all the elements that embody 'place' - terrain, soil, climate, over time as represented in different vintages, that can only be assured through estate wines, (produced from owned estate vineyards), or from stable long term supplier agreements. 
Of course there are some legendary labels and producers such as Freemark Abbey Bosche Vineyard Cabernet, and the collection from Lewis Cellars that have received high acclaim and long term vertical releases of their labels due to their long term supplier agreements.

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

With daughter-in-law Vivianna out of town, Alec joined us for a taste of this Alexander Valley Cabernet that we opened for our beef roast dinner. From the 2007 vintage, at fourteen years, I thought this would be at an ideal age, at the apex of its drinking window. Wine Spectator rated the 2007 vintage 97 points, a top vintage, a "Textbook year; small crop, ideal ripening, wines defined by complexity and plush tannins". 

We found this lackluster and short of expectations, hopefully perhaps due to bottle variation or result of poor handling - too often bottles may be subject to excessive heat during shipping, or other undesirable conditions. Our records show we acquired this bottle back in 2012. In any event, this bottle was mediocre and reflected sentiments and experiences of several fellow Cellartrackers

This was a bit disappointing as we were reminiscing over our Silver Oak Cooperage experience of last month when we visited the Oak Cooperage in Higbee, Missouri where the Silver Oak barrels are crafted from native Missouri white oak. It was a highlight of our Missouri Wine Experience.

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Silver Oak writes of this vintage release, "Our 2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has a beautiful purple hue with very few signs of age. It displays a spicy freshness with violet nuances aromatically and enters the palate with a broad and dense dose of blackberry fruit. It remains full across the mid-palate and very structured, with strong tannins that will still need time to resolve. Given proper cellaring, this wine should improve through 2032."

11/5/2021 - wrote: 87 points. Decanted and drank over the course of an evening and then the next night. This wine is past its prime and is on a down hill roll. The drinking window goes until next year. Fruit is flat and the secondary notes are out of balance with oak dominating the profile
5/15/2021 - wrote: 88 Points Disappointed. Lacked both nose and body. Maybe cellared too long.
Garnet colored, slightly opaque, medium bodied, somewhat flabby blackberry fruits with notes of spice, hints of green pepper and olive tapenade and slightly funky wet wood and earth which burned off after an hour, with tangy tannins on the moderate finish. 
We tried it again a couple evening later and the results were the same - acceptable modest sipping, but uninspiring. 

RM 88 points.