Summer is not the most ideal time for a visit to Napa, as it can be hard during the middle of a rather punishing heat wave to muster up excitement about indulging in big, burly reds. However, Baldacci’s Stags Leap Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon proved itself to be one of the top bottles I have had the pleasure of enjoying in 2023, and so hopes are rather high for this trio – a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Red Blend – to match or possibly exceed in quality. Let’s see how they stack up.
2021 Baldacci Family Vineyards Carneros Estate Grown Chardonnay – This is a rich, deluxe expression of chardonnay with a balance of sweet and savory from beginning to end that’s quite ideal. Notes of mild green apple, grapefruit, and lemon curd open things up delightfully, with caramel and light cream providing steadiness to keep matters from leaning too fruit-forward. It’s a chardonnay that never threatens to skew heavily in one particular direction, and it unfolds slowly in the glass over time. Save this for after dinner on a hot summer evening when nothing else requires your attention. This will grab all of it. A- / $50
2021 Baldacci Family Vineyards Carneros Elizabeth Pinot Noir – Dark cherry and pomegranate notes make themselves at home throughout, with supporting notes of pomegranate, roasted plum and a touch of dark chocolate. Structured like a classic pinot, it never fails to disappoint, especially when a touch of Ceylon tea cuts through on the finish to add complexity to an already delightful experience. This will be an indulgent bottle to enjoy during autumn’s later months, either this year or a year from now, especially when paired with chocolate. If you can hold out long enough. A- / $65 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]
2021 Baldacci Family Vineyards Fraternity Napa Valley Red Blend – A construction of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Petit Verdot, 9% Syrah, 0.25% Merlot and 0.75% Cabernet Franc, aged 16 months in French oak. This is big and burly right up front with notes of blackberry, and dark cherry. With a bit of time in the glass, a hint of baking spice develops along with – unsurprisingly — vanilla from the oak regimen. Big and chewy on the palate, the dark fruit is complemented by notes of toasted hazelnut and a touch of pepper. It drinks wonderfully unaccompanied, but also pairs well with a rich and hearty dinner. It is a bit of a challenge to assign high marks to red blends, as so few live up to their fullest potential. This isn’t the case here, and the wine should only improve with a few years in the cellar. A / $85 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]