Today and yesterday we’ve been Rhone Rangers as on Wednesday we brought in our first marsanne and rousanne from the David Girard Vineyard in El Dorado. As exciting as that was, today is always a special day for us as we harvested our Crane Vineyard Syrah for what has became a very special wine for us - Corallina Syrah Rosé.
In what as become a rather innocuous wine category as rosé became more popular, I’m very proud that Cornerstone Cellars is known for making a rosé with true character. I’m glad the media agrees with us making Corallina Syrah Rosé the top ranked rosé in Californiahttp://cl.ly/d3uE
The only problem with the 2015 Corallina Syrah Rosé will be there won’t be very much of it. Due to poor fruit set we are looking at about a 40% drop in production. No worries, we’ll be sure our friends get their Corallina first! As always we seek to make Corallina better every year and this will be the first vintage that is 100% barrel fermented. This will make the wine even deeper and more complex. The juice this year is particularly deeply flavored and colored and I expect the 2015 to be a dramatic rosé.
The marsanne and rousanne are part of our new expanded “Wine Dance” series of wines made from classic Rhone Valley varieties. Joining Corallina Syrah Rosé will be this rousanne/marsanne blend, a viognier, a grenache and a mourvedre from El Dorado and an old vine syrah from Mendocino. These are our “Rhone Rangers” and you’ll be introduced to these new releases in 2016. The style is ultra-traditional with no new oak used to maximize the bright, fresh fruit flavors of these wines.
We co-fermented the rousanne and marsanne and the juice had this glorious, rich honeyed character that is sure make an expressive and delicious wine.
Tomorrow will be a very long day. We’re hitting the vineyards at 5:30 a.m. and will be picking two merlot and one cabernet franc site here in the Napa Valley. I’m sure the sun will be down before we get everything in the fermenters.
It was almost cold at 6:30 a.m. when dawn started to break and I considered heading back to my truck to get a jacket. But by 9 a.m. it was already hot. Winemaker Kari Auringer and I were out to sample the fruit in all of our Napa Valley vineyards and to start to pick harvest dates. By 2 p.m as we finished it was pushing 100 degrees.
Some wine regions worry about rain and hail. In the Napa Valley this year we are worried about the heat. It has always been my belief that the problem vintages in the Napa Valley are the hot ones, not the cool ones. This has been a odd year, as they all seem to be these days. We started with a very early bud break due to the warm, nonexistent, winter, which was followed by a cool, damp spell at flowering. This meant an uneven fruit set and a lot of unripe bunches needed to be dropped before veraison completed. This, of course, means a smaller crop for us this vintage. Fortunately, what’s left looks great. Summer itself was mild by Napa Valley standards, but as we approach harvest a serious heat wave is upon us.
The results of our vineyard tour is setting things in motion for what is sure to be a hectic vintage that could even be over before the end of September. Crazy. This Friday we will be bringing in merlot from two vineyards and cabernet franc from another. The Oakville Station Cabernet Franc should follow the middle of next week and cabernet sauvignon looks to be about two weeks out, but who knows with this heat.
This late season heat spike is forecasted to be over by Saturday so our remaining sites will be able to finish ripening in a more civilized environment. Just what we like, letting them coast over the finish line.
Saturday I’m headed up to Oregon to start our chardonnay and pinot noir harvest. Strange as it seems, up to now, Oregon has had more days over 90 degrees than the Napa Valley. Things seem a bit upside down when it comes to the climate these days. I’ll update you on Oregon this weekend.
The town of Yountville is a walkable, one-mile stretch of restaurants, shops, tasting rooms, art displays, and hotels. Known as the "Culinary Capital of Napa Valley" or the "Gourmet Mile," Yountville boasts several critically acclaimed restaurants, including Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry and Bouchon. As such, it has a reputation of being an expensive place to visit, much less stay.
While this is certainly the case for those looking for 5-star dining and lodging...there are more affordable options for visitors wanting an equally memorable experience, with money left over to buy wine. The wine is, after all, why most people come to the Napa Valley. What’s more, you can leave your car at the hotel and stroll the day(s) away. Here’s how:
The Yountville Chamber has implemented a program called “Taste Life Here” Wine Tasting Passport - $59 gets you a tasting flight at six wineries, all within walking distance from each other. The pass is valid until July 1, 2016 so if you can’t make it to all of them in one visit, you can use it again on your next.
In addition to being a passport participant, Cornerstone Cellars offers complimentary tastings with purchase, as well as to Wine Club members and Napa neighbors. You can even enjoy live music and 2 for 1 tastings from 3-6pm at our free Sunday Funday events, running all summer long through the end of October.
Hurley’s Restaurant is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Their daily Vintners Menu features a two course lunch for $24, or a three course for $29. They also don’t charge a corkage fee so BYOB (bring your own bottle). Pacific Blues Café is a casual American Grill with a varied menu and al fresco seating on a big rustic deck. Yountville Deli, located in the north end of Ranch Market, has a variety of artisan sandwiches, along with a build your own menu. And then there’s Taco's Garcia—a tasty taco truck located in the dirt parking lot of Pancha's, the Valley’s last remaining old-timey saloon (read: dive-bar). For picnicking, there are parks at the north and south ends of town where you can enjoy your new favorite summer wine with some epicurean take-out.
Napa Valley Railway Inn is a unique hotel featuring charming rooms in converted antique train cars that sit on their original tracks. There’s even a delicious coffee hut in its caboose! There are also a few B&B’s in town where you can find a good deal with a little searching and flexibility: Maison Fleurie, Petit Logis, and Lavender Inn are all lovely options.
#96 Cornerstone Cellars, Yountville, Calif., and Gaston, Oregon
Michael Dragutsky and Craig Camp of Cornerstone Cellars believe that there is no better place in the world to grow cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot than the Napa Valley, but that Oregon's Willamette Valley produces better chardonnay and pinot noir than Napa can — so they make wine in both places. (They also produce, among other wines, a Napa Valley syrah rosé called Corallina that has been widely hailed.) Whichever state they're from, Cornerstone’s offerings are forthright and rich — not wines that will sit quietly in the corner.
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Cornerstone Cellars 2014 Corallina Rosé Syrah Napa Valley
Napa Valley, Napa Valley
Rosé wine from United States
Drinking window: 2016 - 2020
Vivid pink. Sexy, expansive aromas of ripe red berries, candied flowers and vanilla, with a hint of peppery spices emerging with air. Rich, palate-coating raspberry and cherry flavors give way to exotic apricot and tangerine in the middle, with a spine of juicy acidity adding lift. In an ample yet lively style, finishing with very good thrust and building spiciness. Imagine a ripe, fleshy New World version of Tavel and you can imagine how this wine comes across.
Josh Raynolds. Tasting date: May 2015
CORNERSTONE CELLARS Cabernet Sauvignon 'Michael's Cuvée' 2012
The 2012 Michael's Cuvée is absolutely delicious, instantly opens with seductive aromas of black cherries and dark currants woven together with sweet spices, violets, graphite and hints of chocolate shavings which soar from the glass. On the palate this is full-bodied, opulent and layered with excellent length, leaving behind delicious flavors of dark fruits, sweet spices and a cocoa edge. Today, this is already showing some very appealing characteristics, however it will need a couple more years of bottle age for everything to settle in. The 2012 Michael’s Cuvée is 91% cabernet sauvignon with 9% merlot. The blend was selected from the Oakville Station Vineyard (To Kalon) 57%, 28% Kairos Vineyard in Oak Knoll and 9% Ink Grade Vineyard on Howell Mountain. Less then 250 cases made. (Best 2018-2025) - July, 2015 (JD)