Matt Stamp: We’re in a new era of Napa Cabernet

Napa Valley Cabernet has entered a new era where the focus has shifted from the ‘castle’ to the vineyard, according to master sommelier, Matt Stamp.

Master Sommelier Matt Stamp believes Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook has shown an impressive return to form recently

Speaking to db during a comparative tasting of Napa Cabernets in California last month, Stamp said: “We’re in a new era for Napa Valley Cabernet, which is moving from a Bordeaux model, where the focus is on the ‘castle’ or château, to a Burgundy model that focuses on the vineyards.

“It’s a very exciting time for Napa Cabernet – the region is producing world-class wines and the stylistic differences between the wines are becoming more apparent.

“There are big stylistic differences between mountain Cabernet and valley floor Cabernet in Napa. The diurnal shift in temperatures is felt more strongly on the valley floor.

Matt Stamp believes Napa Cabernet has entered a new era

“Mountain Cabernet meanwhile, tends to be deeper in colour and more tannic, but also has higher acidity, whereas valley floor Cabernets are lusher, broader and more generous in style.”

Stamp, who used to be a sommelier at Thomas Keller’s three Michelin-starred The French Laundry in Yountville and now runs restaurant and wine bar Compline in downtown Napa, said Napa Cabs could be split into traditional and modern styles.

He name-checked Inglenook, Maycamas, Corison and Frog’s Leap as traditional styles of Napa Cabernet with a savoury character “that are made for the cellar”.

“Inglenook has shown an impressive returns to form since 2011, when Francis Ford Coppola hired Philippe Bascaules from Château Margaux as its director of winemaking.

“One of the issues people have with Napa Valley wines is that of price. If you want good value wines then look for estates that have made wine for generations,” Stamp said.

“Plush ripe Cabernets sell, and it’s a style that is more rewarded and practiced in Napa, but some producers are finding a return to freshness is a good thing.

“Wines made with structure in mind are performing better than wines that only focus on mouthfeel, and we’re starting to see a reaction against producers using almost 200% new oak in their Cabs,” he added. Half of the vineyard land planted in the Napa Valley is dedicated to Cabernet.

3 Responses to “Matt Stamp: We’re in a new era of Napa Cabernet”

  1. William W says:

    A new era ? Everything stated in this article has been obvious for 20 plus years.Great to see Matt Stamp finally figured it out.

  2. mike says:

    unless you”re an idiot, it’s always been about the growing or the vineyard. It takes great grapes to make great wine and generally, except for assemblage, winemakers have to take care not to degrade good incoming product. If they are improving the product, i would submit the grapes were inferior. But this is just one vignerons experience, cheers

  3. Junior Officer says:

    Isn’t 200% oak tannin over TTB legal limits?

Leave a Reply to Junior Officer Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

We encourage debate in the comments section and always welcome feedback, but if you spot something you don't think is right, we ask that you leave an accurate email address so we can get back to you if we need to.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Key Account Manager

MMI Maldives

Financial Controller

London City Bond
Barking, UK

Duty Manager

The Whisky Exchange
Great Portland Street, London

Spirits Advisor

The Whisky Exchange
London, UK

International Sales Manager

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London, UK

Brand Marketing Executive

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London, UK

Cellar Door Manager

House of Townend
Melton, North Ferriby, UK

Marketing Manager

The Whisky Exchange
Whitby Avenue, Park Royal, London NW10 7SF

Millésime Bio 2020

27th Jan 2020

Maisons Marques et Domaines Annual Tasting

London,United Kingdom
29th Jan 2020

Austrian Wine Tasting

London,United Kingdom
3rd Feb 2020
Click to view more