Kirkland Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
The Kirkland Signature Series Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon never stays on the shelves for long, so I was quick to add this year's release to my shopping cart.
At just $24 it's probably the cheapest you'll ever see wine from this region. But, how does it taste? Let's find out!
The Stags Leap District AVA is an area of just 1350 acres of vineyards, right in the center of Napa Valley.
It was actually the very first American appellation to be designated an AVA based on the unique terroir characteristics of its soil.
The soil includes loam and clay from the Napa River, and also volcanic soil deposits left from the erosion of the Vaca Mountains.
It was first planted with Cabernet Sauvignon vines back in 1961 and nowadays it’s world-famous for its elegant expressions of the grape.
Oh and wine from this region isn’t cheap! It’s such a small area that wine just isn’t made in very large quantities.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Stags Leap District Cab under $40 before, so it's very exciting to see it at a much more accessible price point.
It's a deep ruby in color. It's opaque with very slow moving tears coating the glass.
There's a real earthiness to the nose. It smells a bit like old rolling tobacco. It's reminiscent of some Pinot Noir in this regard.
Otherwise, it's as you expect a Napa Cab to smell. It's not a fruit bomb by any means but there are fruit notes of blackberry, plum, and blackcurrant. There's a hint of vanilla there in the background too.
The nose is a little more refined than the cheaper Napa Cabs I've had recently. It needs plenty of time in the glass to open up too.
Cherry, plum and a little blackcurrant come through on the palate. Some baking spice shows up on the mid-palate but disappears quickly. However, the fruit is persistent and stays with you in what is a good length of finish.
The fruit is not as ripe as recent Napa cabs I've tasted. Like the nose, this is a more refined tasting wine. The fruit is much lighter and doesn't have that big ripe juiciness. It tastes older and more developed, despite it's young years. Is this the wine's unique terroir at play? I think it must be, as it's the only real difference.
For comparison, I tasted 2020 the Kirkland Signature Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at the same time. It was a noticeably juicier and riper tasting wine despite being a year older.
Structure-wise, this wine has great acidity that helps lift the fruit. There's great balance to this dry Napa cab which has well rounded tannins that don't step out of line. The alcohol is also extremely well integrated. At 15% ABV it's a little on the higher side of things but I didn't ever get any sensation of it being 'too hot'.
It should be noted that it needed a lot of air to open up, but it then didn’t keep too well after opening. It actually developed a slightly astringent finish around 48 hours after opening.
This is one of the more delicate wines I've reviewed for a while. However, it's also one of the more expensive so I guess you get what you pay for. You can certainly notice the difference between this and a ten or fifteen dollar Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
It's fruity like you'd expect a Napa cab to be but it's not that big fruit bomb like like they often are. There's lots of dark fruit but it's slightly earthy and not as ripe. It's an altogether more elegant expression of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape that's not often found at this price point.
I'm going to score the 2021 Kirkland Signature Series Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 8/10.
It's a really interesting wine that's distinctive for its terroir. This is something not often found in wine under twenty five dollars. You're also not likely to find other Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon at this price either.
It's a wine you should definitely buy if you're lucky enough to find it!