Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

The Alchemist
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley

2010 Offering
Premiere Napa Valley
Auction 14 | Lot No. 1
Vintage: 2008

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

The Alchemist

Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley

20 cases produced


Like an alchemist skilled in the art of transformation, winemaker Nicki Pruss has taken elements with extremely special and even opposing properties and blended them together to make magic. To create this heavenly wine, Nicki charmed the opposing forces of fire and water, which reign prominently in our two adjoining but distinctive estate Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. The "fire" can be found in our Stag's Leap Vineyard, where volcanic soils result in wines of structure, concentration and spicy intensity. In contrast, neighboring FAY vineyard's water-born alluvial soils conjure more tranquil properties of softness, perfume and rich berry qualities. Both eminently powerful and contrasting, the wines from these two vineyards were blended to create something even more enchanting together than alone.

Aging Process

The Alchemist assemblage is currently aging in 100% new French oak. The components for this blend were sourced from 54% new French oak barrels and 46% previously filled French oak barrels. The plan is to age this wine for a total of 24 months in barrel.

Wine Facts

  • pH: 3.71
  • Wine is 100% estate grown and bottled

Tasting Chart

bone dry very sweet
light body very full bodied
soft, gentle very crisp
no tannins heavy tannins

Nicki Pruss

Winemaker, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

Winemaker, Nicki Pruss

Nicki Pruss was on a very different career path when she was sidetracked by a fascination with wine. After graduating from the University of California in Santa Barbara, the native Californian moved to Chicago. There she graduated Cum Laude from the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine and completed her podiatric surgery residency at Columbus Hospital. She returned home to California as a licensed podiatrist, but in 1995 a 5-month bicycle tour through France, Belgium and Germany changed everything.

She had long been an enthusiastic amateur beer‐maker, but during this European trip she realized that the career she really wanted was in wine. Upon her return to California, Nicki began studying viticulture and winery technology at Napa Valley College and fermenting any grapes she could get her hands on. Professionally, she began as an intern at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in 1998 and since that time moved up the winemaking ranks from Lab Technician, to Enologist, to Assistant Winemaker and Associate Winemaker. She was officially named Winemaker in 2005.

Throughout her tenure at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, she has continued to attend seminars and extension courses at the University of California at Davis and through the Napa Valley Grape Growers, ASEV and the Napa Valley Vintners. Much of her practical winemaking and grape-growing education has occurred on the job, working with and learning from the founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Renzo Cotarella, Danny Schuster, Jim Lincoln, Michael Silacci and other noted industry professionals. “Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars has been the training ground for many people from around the world,” says Nicki, “and it has been an honor for me to be one of its ‘students.’”

Nicki’s contributions at Stagʹs Leap Wine Cellars have been numerous. She’s been intimately involved with the ARCADIA VINEYARD Chardonnay program since its inception in 1998, helped revitalize the winery’s Sauvignon Blanc program with a style that has been widely successful, and was instrumental in the creation of the ARTEMIS Cabernet program. In addition to crafting the winery’s three Estate Cabernet Sauvignons (FAY, S.L.V., CASK 23) each year, Nicki creates estate red wines that highlight select parcels that are bottled exclusively for the Wine Club. To Nicki, these specialty wines are a way to take club members “on a walk through the vineyard with the winemaker” to experience the unique characteristics that define the winery’s world-class vineyards.

Country born: United States

Education: Certificate in Viticulture and Winery Technology from Napa Valley College, a B.A. in Biological Sciences from UC Santa Barbara, and a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine – Cum Laude from the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, Chicago, IL. I am a member of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, the California Enological Research Association, and the Napa Valley Wine Technical Group. I am also a past Board member of the NVWTG

Years in the wine industry: 10-15 years

Winemaking Philosophy:
Site trumps clone, Mother Nature bats last and I am a grape herder. I keep that in mind while at the same time weaving together the technical aspects of science, the artistry of wine and my gut feeling. I enjoy the creative challenge of working with nature to produce world-class wines with balance,elegance and restraint.

Q&A With the Winemaker

Q: Premiere Napa Valley wines are innovative and allow each winery to showcase the region's sense of exploration in fine winemaking. What kind of exploration did your Premiere Napa Valley wine allow you to do?

A: Making "The Alchemist" blend allowed me to be creative and explore the blending of the old with the new; the oldest and youngest vines from the eastern blocks of SLV meet the oldest and youngest vine from blocks from the middle portion of the FAY vineyard.

Q: What was your inspiration for this offering?

A: The concept of the "alpha and omega" for vine age. The concept of the "alchemy of fire and water" that we use to describe the soil sources in our Estate vineyards and the blending of the Cabernet Sauvignon wines derived from these distinct zones. Using these two guiding principles I set out create a new matrix wine that blended these two ideas.

Q: Fill in the blanks: I chose to make this wine from this particular ______________ because ______________.

A: I chose to make this wine from this particular  blend  because  the 2008 vintage and a new piece of processing equipment (the Mistral berry sorter) provided us with exceptional starting materials. The assemblage of within each vyd and then between the two Estate vineyards created a truly unique wine that is quite exemplary of the evolution in winemaking at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.

Q: Why should a wine lover have a bottle of this wine in their cellar?

A: Because it's so unique. Where else can you get a wine from such historic vineyards and experience the melding of wine from young and old vines that both display finesse?
Enhanced fruit character, supple tannins, and gracefulness all can be found in a bottle of the 2008 The Alchemist.

The Wine House

2311 Cotner Avenue
Los Angeles  CA  90064


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