Wine Tasting Notes, 2008: Cliff Lede Vineyards

Cliff-LedeI continue to get a fair amount of traffic from folks looking for “Cliff Lede pronunciation” — at least a couple hundred visitors per week. If that’s what happened to point you to this entry, I will again confirm that “Lede” is pronounced LAY-dee, like lady. I actually heard a woman pronounce it LEE-dee the other day, but I didn’t bother to correct her. Nobody likes a know-it-all, and what does it really matter anyway?

But while we’re on the subject, I did stop in at Cliff Lede to taste their current releases earlier this week. I figured that folks who care enough to search for the winery’s proper pronunciation might also enjoy some tasting notes. Plus, I hadn’t visited the winery in a few months, and I like to keep tabs on their Sauvignon Blanc, which is one of the few reasonably priced Sauvignon Blancs in the valley. Here are my notes:

• The 2007 Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($22) was quite dynamic, über-tropical on the approach and yet elegant on the finish. I’ll look forward to drinking this wine in the summer. By the way, the winery’s description of this particular wine is one of the most outlandish I have ever encountered: “white currant toying playfully with the dry nutty fatness of candied ginger” — uh, say what?

• The 2006 Cliff Lede Claret Stags Leap District ($40), which was just over one-half Cabernet Sauvignon and just over one-third Merlot. It was an admirable version of claret, but with a lofty price tag. Newton’s Claret and Chappellet’s Mountain Cuvee are better wines at better values.

• The 2006 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District ($60) was smooth and soft, but did not exhibit enough fruit for my palate. Earlier this year, I had included the 2005 vintage in a flight alongside three other Cabs, and I had ranked it last. Frankly, I’m not keen on a lot of Stags Leap Cabs, so please keep that in mind.

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