Cliff Lede

Poetry in a Bottle

Elegant... brilliant color.... lush and velvety.... fine cherry and red berry flavors... soft tannins.... Those notes capture Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stags Leap AVA. In the summer, these jagged, southwest-facing hills, stretching from the northeastern Napa City limits to the outer edge of Yountville, are toasted by the hot afternoon sun but cooled by the nighttime fog that rolls in off the San Pablo Bay. This climate along with well-drained alluvial and volcanic soils are the reason why Stags Leap wineries focus almost exclusively on Cabernet – the district works magic with the Bordeaux varietals. 

Purchasing vineyards and a winery near Yountville in 2002 makes Cliff Lede (pronounced Lay-dee) a newcomer to the Napa Valley, yet he grasped instinctively that his estate’s raison d’etre was to make transcendent Cabernet. With his vineyard manager, David Abreu, he has revived or replanted the vineyards and divided them into blocks according to varietal as well as subtle shifts in soil type, clonal or rootstock selection. The 60-acre estate comprises two diverse sets of vineyard. On the valley floor, the Twin Peaks Ranch surrounds the winery and contains all five of the major Bordeaux varietals. The Poetry Vineyard – mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and a bit of Cab Franc and Petit Verdot – is situated on the hills that rise up from the opposite side of the Silverado Trail. 

In the state-of-the-art, gravity-flow winery, grapes are meticulously hand-sorted and the wines may be fermented in egg-shaped cement tanks as well as more traditional stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. More significantly, each vineyard block will be fermented separately, ensuring that the particular qualities of each small patch of soil will have a chance to blossom before the final blend is made. Though many of the choices made in the vineyards and winery are labor intensive and costly, Cliff Lede is willing to make them in order to fashion the sort of wine expected from a part of the Earth as special as Stags Leap. 

Wine Maker

Christopher Tynan





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Wines from this Winery

2019 Cliff Lede Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Cliff Lede’s delightful and exuberant Sauvignon Blanc stands out in two important ways. First, it’s largely produced from old vineyards in the heart of the Napa Valley - Rutherford and Calistoga – reminding us of bygone days when whites shared equal billing with hearty reds on the valley floor. Another is how it follows the Bordeaux playbook with a significant portion (12%) of Semillon in the blend. According to winemaker Christ Tynan, Semillon adds fatness and richness to the otherwise laser-sharp acidity of Sauvignon Blanc and opens up the aromas to include richer notes of creme brûlée and lemon curd. This is an elegant and lively wine with citrus, green apple, spring flowers and orange blossoms coming together in a mouthful that is rich and fleshy but structured with minerality and fresh acidity.

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¥5,170 (incl. tax)
2019 Cliff Lede Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (1.5L)

If you are able to dine with a larger party this winter, try adding some festive excitement to the meal with this fine magnum of Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc. A complex and delicious wine that offers bright fruit, a rich texture and expansive body, it’s the product of a diverse set of vineyards in Rutherford, Calistoga, the Chiles Valley and Southwestern Napa. Many of these vineyards feature old vines, heritage varieties such as Sauvignon Vert, a.k.a. Muscadelle, and a variety of Sauvignon Blanc clones - including the aromatic Musqué clone. Another key factor is the significant portion of Semillon in the blend, which adds weight to the sharp acidity of Sauvignon Blanc and opens up the aromas to include richer notes of creme brûlée and lemon curd. A splendid wine with citrus, green apple, spring flowers and orange blossoms coming together in a mouthful that is rich and fleshy but structured with minerality and fresh acidity.

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¥11,440 (incl. tax)
2016 Cliff Lede Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon

Cliff Lede’s exemplary SLD Cab is the product of two estate vineyards: the Twin Peaks Ranch Vineyard, surrounding the winery, and the Poetry Vineyard on the eastern slopes looking down. The combination of ancient riverbed and rocky, volcanic soils gives the wine awesome depth, complexity and a minerality that’s characteristic of Stags Leap and reminiscent of Graves. 2016 in Stags Leap has been hailed as a winemaker’s dream vintage in which conditions were perfect for producing wines with beautiful fruit as well as tremendous concentration of flavors and layers of complexity. This wine expresses Stags Leap as few others can. It is opulent and intense yet structured and elegant with characteristic notes of red and black currants, violets and lavender. A wine so rich as this would pair well with steak au poivre, ragout of beef or lamb or braised duck breast.

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¥13,090 (incl. tax)
2016 Cliff Lede

“… and the wine is bottled poetry,” said Robert Louis Stevenson on a visit to the Napa Valley in the 1880s. The same can be said for Cliff Lede’s Cabernet produced from low yielding, old vines growing on a hillside in the Stags Leap District. Overlooking the winery, the Poetry Vineyard boasts a south-west exposure, guaranteeing not only a beautiful view but warm late-afternoon sun. The vineyard is planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon with a couple blocks devoted to Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The well-drained volcanic soil forces vines to focus more energy on seeking moisture deep in the earth than on producing grapes. As a result the berries are small and packed with flavor. The winery believes this wine is  “the highest expression of our Stags Leap District estate vineyard and all of its irresistible components are well apportioned and fabulously integrated even at such at young age.” Jeb Dunnuck praised it as yet “another magical wine from this team that ranks with some of the finest wines ever made from this valley. As with most 2016s, it has some upfront charm and accessibility, yet will be at its best with 4-6 years of bottle age and will keep for 3-4 decades.”

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¥49,500 (incl. tax)