Sassy-Luxe Refresh Rocks Cliff Lede’s Backstage Lounge

Marla Blanc and Poetry Vineyard Cabs pair well with Yountville wine-tasting venue’s new look.

I recently checked out the refresh of the Backstage Tasting Lounge at Cliff Lede Vineyards. The Napa Valley winery’s namesake owner collects rock memorabilia, and the lounge doubles as a gallery exhibiting artworks by John Lennon, Grace Slick, and other luminaries. With his choice of wall coverings, rugs, and furniture, Brian Anderson of BAADesign—his previous gig was “Chief Magic Maker” for the tastefully over-the-top Ken Fulk—created a sassy-luxe space with a downtown-chic vibe. 

Some of the memorabilia on display was purchased, but some guitars and artworks are gifts from musicians or artists.

Vivacious Marla

The main tasting room also received a light sprucing up, but while there I became distracted by the welcome pour, the vivacious 2022 Marla Blanc blend of Semillon (64%) and Sauvignon Blanc (36%, some of it Sauvignon Musqué). The Semillon, from a Calistoga vineyard and described as old vine, figures most prominently in this white whose supple mouthfeel and subtle flavors delight. 

Autographed guitars draw attention at the Backstage lounge.

Aromatic Crossfade

The full tasting took place in the lounge, starting with the 2022 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (this time 22% Semillon). The reds impressed as well. I appreciated the aromatics, density, and savory notes of the 2021 Crossfade Red Wine blend of Cab Franc (49%) and Cab Sauv (48%) plus Merlot and Petit Verdot.

Vineyard sections that vary with the vintage determine the name of the Rock Block Series wines.

Rock Block Power

Cliff Lede named his vineyard blocks for rock songs; wines in the Rock Block Series feature grapes from two that winemaker Christopher Tynan deems notable each vintage. The 2019 Roundabout Midnight (“Roundabout” + “After Midnight”), fruit-forward and with punchy tannins, emphasized power yet maintained refinement.

The 2009 Poetry Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon shows power but also grace.

Old Poetry and New

The 2019 and 2009 Poetry Cabernet Sauvignons, from the hillside Poetry Vineyard across the Silverado Trail from the tasting room, also exhibited power—but, my, what grace. As with many Napa Valley 2019s, the newer Poetry was already smooth and approachable. The 2009, notably vibrant if with softer tannins, provided a good contrast.


1473 Yountville Cross Rd., Yountville 94599 

To see how Backstage looked in 2019, see my review of the Bernie Taupin exhibition

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