‘Lean & Mean’ meets California

Dark ruby with wide purple edges.  Disgustingly black and staining with, surprisingly, a little sediment.  In a fairly rare event, you can smell the fruit as you pull the cork before you pour.  AS you’re pouring, and intense Alexander Valley-esque green brier and tannin rises up. This is all before you actually get your nose into it–testament to the stuffing on this one.  When you finally get your nose into the glass, everything promised is delivered in SPADES: rich savory fruit, carmelized and umami-ed, salty, even–but a black cherry compote drives the grassy, egg-white and compost so hard you have to check the label again to make sure it is not from somewhere with more pedigree.

An interesting vineyard/winemaker story I discovered last year.  I know I do not often recommend the *story* behind wines, but the transisitions this couple have made in producing wine is truly a great story.  I highly recommend going to their website and crousing around.  Believe it or not, this is a Central Coast wine, as everything South of Napa County is *Central Coast*, including SF, the East- and South-Bays.  I originally contacted this producer in regards to their Santa Cruz stuff–as I am a huge fan of that AVA–but am NOT disappointed they sent me this.  Sourced from (what sounds like back-yard vineyards) various locations throughout San Jose, I am a bit stunned at the complexity and power of this bottling.

In the mouth, everything takes a step back from the effusive bouquet.  You’re EXPECTING huge over-riding jam and jelly because the nose just FLOWS off this thing, but in the mouth it takes on a whole different perspective.  The entire mouth-feel is driven by the cleanest, purest, razor’s edge of acid, toning everything down into Bordeaux or even Claret territory, giving it pie-cherry bite alongside licorice decadence.  Regular readers of my reviews will know the value I place on the bouquet of a wine, and here is a classic example of a profusely young Cabernet giving hints at capability the tongue has not found yet.  A eucalyptic finish provides another layer complexity while you are attempting to wipe the searing tannin and stand-a-fork-up-in-it fruit from your teeth.

This is NOT an expensive wine, but one with unheralded provenance, and if you can get your hands on a few, it will BLOW YOUR MIND.  And I promise this one will for two decades EASY.  Everything is in it for the long-haul.  The absolute DEFINITION of *sleeper*.  And 13-3.  Need I say more?

2013 STEFANIA Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Clara Valley San Jose Central Coast 13.3


One thought on “‘Lean & Mean’ meets California

  1. Paul and Stef are true artisans. Incredibly talented. Encourage you to try Crimson Clover Cab, and his Rhone series (which includes local interpretations of Chat du Pape, including a very unique mourvedre). Best value in the market right now.


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