One of the main reasons for our Napa/Sonoma trip was for the world premiere of Matt (henceforth known as Mat’tulio) Bonanno’s custom crush Napa Cab. This is a wine made at Steltzner Vineyards according to Matt’s specific instructions and ideal style. Matt and his family are very involved in our company, and this is an exciting time. So we were taken in by the extraordinarily hospitable Steltzner family, and treated to a Michael-Chiarello-eat-your-heart-out-Napa-Valley-get-together.
I can’t begin to describe the generosity and love that is Dick Steltzner and his clan. Every member of the family is the ideal host, buzzing around, connecting people, and most importantly, serving kick ass food. Their’s is not a typical Napa the rich get richer story either. This is a story that dates back 40 years, when buying a swath of land in The Stag’s Leap District seemed like a questionable business move at best. But Dick grew up not too far from the bay area, and had a bit of faith in the potential. You can tell from his demeanor and large, tough hands that this winery was built on sweat equity, and perseverance. This winery was also built on humility and respect for the product and consumer. This is why their wines are priced the way they are, fairly. Stag Leap District Cabs typically retail for double the price of a Steltzner bottling, which is usually better than the competitors version. The Winery isn’t some sort of monument, or Chateau, but rather, a building offset, with a non-descript cavern.
The wines themselves display a consistent style. Since they are mostly Bordeaux Varietals, all of the reds share a common thread of a fine-grained, fruit driven tannin, which can only come from the vineyard. The wines are all balanced, with delicious dense fruit, and incredible complexity. The star for me is the Merlot, which I personally rank in the top 5 Merlots I’ve ever had from the US (along with Pepper Bridge, Larkmead, Medlock Ames and Del Dotto). The Cab is the calling card, and is not to be missed, but one of the outright best values in the whole world of wine is the Claret, which unlike other California Appellation Claret’s at the same price, is 70% Stag’s Leap District, 30% Oak Knoll District.