‘Judgment of Paris’ wine shines at Agua wine dinner

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars wines were the highlight of last month’s Blackbeard’s Beers, Wines and Spirits wine dinner, held at Agua Restaurant & Lounge. The four-course dinner featured a selection of the winery’s world-class wines, including the estate’s famed 2008, Stag’s Leap Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon.   


Established by Warren Winiarski in 1970, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars hail from the Stags Leap district of Napa Valley, California, and is regarded as one of the world’s most noteworthy Cabernet Sauvignon producers.  

The winery achieved international fame when three-year-old vines from the 1973 harvest produced a wine that bested some of France’s greatest Bordeaux. The 1976 blind tasting test by leading French wine experts has become known as the “Judgment of Paris”. The tasting, which featured a selection of French and Californian wines, is regarded as having put California – and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars – firmly on the wine making map.  

The 2008 vintage enjoyed at the wine dinner is the 35th vintage produced since the 1973 SLV won the Paris tasting, and the original ‘grand dame’ of the vineyard, planted in 1972, still graces this decadent blend today. Rich, generous and full-bodied, the wine opens with crushed blackberry and ripe plum aromas, accented by notes of anise, fennel and cedar, while dark fruit and spice linger on the finish.  

Agua’s in-house sommelier, Fabio Sordinelli, expertly paired the wine with a main course of smoked duck leg served on a pumpkin vanilla puree, with butter sautéed red beets, kale, thyme and cranberry jus.  

Lee Quessy, Blackbeard’s wine professional, said that Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars wines were chosen for the wine dinner because of their storied history and iconic status.  

“The wines are of great quality and receive many accolades year after year. They are well-made, elegant wines that appeal to all palates.” 


Storied history  

While the SLV Cabernet was certainly the highlight of the wine dinner, a number of other Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars wines proved to be perfect pairings. 

These included Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 2009 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, a vibrant wine which offers a tropical nose of orange blossom, grapefruit, lychee and peach. The wine was served with a starter of Californian king salmon tartar, with poached quail egg, avocado, micro greens and salmon skin chips.  

This wine features grapes sourced from a variety of terroirs throughout Napa Valley, which are then blended to create this food-friendly, crisp, and refreshing wine. 

The 2009 KARIA Chardonnay followed, paired with a homemade spinach and ricotta agnolotti with wild rabbit ragout and crispy Portobello mushrooms. Pronounced KAR-ee-ah, which is derived from the Greek word meaning graceful, this wine features grapes harvested from cool-climate vineyards in southern Napa Valley, including the Arcadia vineyard, a 128-acre vineyard purchased by the winery in 1996 and located near Mount George in the Napa Valley. This light and crisp wine features fresh-fruit aroma and flavours, crisp acidity and subtle oak spice. It pairs perfectly with foods such as fresh goat’s cheese, roast chicken or crab cakes. 

The final wine of the night was the 2007 Napa Valley Merlot, paired with a decadently rich bittersweet chocolate cheesecake, which was followed by an artesian cheese selection, served family-style.  

The Merlot features primarily estate-grown grapes from the Arcadia vineyard. The remainder of the grapes comes from cool-climate vineyards, which helps to create a wine which is clean, balanced and food-friendly with fresh acidity and minerality. After fermentation, the wine is aged for 15 months in French oak barrels, before a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon is blended for added richness.  

The perfect end to a more than delicious wine dinner.  


Featured wines  

  • Available from Blackbeard’s Beers, Wines & Spirits 
  • 2009 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley $30.59  
  • 2009 Stag’ Leap “KARIA” – derived from the Greek word meaning graceful. Chardonnay, Napa Valley $30.59  
  • 2008 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V Cabernet Sauvignon, 35th anniversary $108.99  
  • 2007 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Merlot, Napa Valley $40.59 

Wines by Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars were the highlight of last month’s wine dinner, hosted by Agua Restaurant & Lounge and Blackbeard’s Beers, Wines & Spirits.
Joanna Lewis


The Agua Restaurant & Lounge culinary team ensured the night was a success, with Lee Quessy, Blackbeard’s wine professional, centre.
Joanna Lewis