Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Marchesi Antinori, joint venture partners for wineries in California and Washington State, have named Marcus Notaro the winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, the iconic Napa Valley estate that was acquired by the partners in 2007.
A seasoned winemaker, Notaro most recently was the winemaker for Col Solare. This Red Mountain, Washington estate – also a Ste. Michelle-Antinori joint venture – is devoted to producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines. Col Solare is a stylistic marriage between the two winemaking cultures with the goal of showcasing the varietal as it is expressed in Washington State and the Red Mountain AVA, in particular.
Ted Baseler, Ste. Michelle’s president and CEO, described Notaro’s Cabernet winemaking expertise as critical to the partners’ decision to name him to lead the winemaking program at this historic winery.
“Marcus’ career has focused almost exclusively on producing iconic Cabernets and Cabernet-based wines,” Baseler said. “He has an ongoing curiosity about how the varietal is expressed in unique vineyard sites, plus a vision for how to address these nuances in the cellar.”
Since 2003, Notaro has been honing a style of Cabernet Sauvignon that unites old world and new world traditions and innovations. In this process he has worked directly with Renzo Cotarella, chief enologist for Marchesi Antinori, to co-develop the Col Solare signature style. This close relationship is one of trust and respect and will continue with Notaro’s new role.
“I am excited and honored to assume responsibility for creating wines from this historic property,” Notaro said. “The style of wine that I have been producing at Col Solare is in line with the tradition at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. It favors balance and complexity, richness and elegance and captures the unique characteristics of the vineyard.
“I am especially looking forward to working closely with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars' vineyard manager Kirk Grace to explore how Cabernet Sauvignon expresses itself in the unique microclimates on the FAY and S.L.V. estate vineyards,” Notaro said.
“Marcus is a talented winemaker with an intrinsic understanding of the style of wine we want to create,” Cotarella said. “We are confident that he will achieve the winemaking goals that Ste. Michelle and Antinori envisioned when we acquired the winery and estate vineyards.”
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ fame is tied to and defined by its signature estate vineyards, S.L.V. and FAY. The FAY Vineyard was planted in 1961 as the first Cabernet Sauvignon site in the Stags Leap District. The S.L.V. Vineyard was planted in 1970, and the 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon produced from the site triumphed over four top-ranked Bordeaux wines, including two First Growths, in the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting.
“Although our stylistic philosophy is clearly defined, I expect subtle adjustments will be made based on how I approach working with fruit,” Notaro said. “We will be looking at the barrel regime as well. Our focus will be to create the best wines that express the terroir of the vineyards.”
Notaro will be transitioning to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in June.
About Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
From the beginning, the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars vision has been to create wines that speak of the place from which they come, with distinctive elements of aroma, flavor and texture. These goals are realized in our three limited-production estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignons – CASK 23, S.L.V. and FAY—which are crafted from vineyards surrounding the winery. The same classic style of the Estate Collection is also expressed in the Napa Valley Collection, which includes KARIA Chardonnay and ARTEMIS Cabernet Sauvignon. More information about Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and the historic Paris Tasting can be found on www.CASK23.com.