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)
Real Rosé. Not an afterthought, not leftovers, not for fashion and most decidedly not a saignée, Corallina Syrah Rosé is Napa Valley rosé with a purpose. It is a wine made as mindfully as we make any other wine.
While a saignée may be a wonderful idea in the coolest years in the coolest regions like Burgundy and Oregon, it is a very strange concept in a warm region like the Napa Valley. Do you really think it’s a good idea to concentrate Napa Valley wine more than Mother Nature already does? Yes, I know Robert Parker thinks so, but I don’t.
So, Corallina Syrah Rosé is a mindful rosé and we keep these Oak Knoll AVA Crane Vineyard vines in a state of serene rosé-ness throughout the growing season. Each of these syrah grapes are in a state of serenity and inner pinkness from the moment of bud break until, just twelve months later, they become Corallina Syrah Rosé. This is fruit destined to be a rosé all the way from flowering to bottle.
As these syrah grapes arrive at the winery already having achieved enlightenment, it is our job to ensure that when you and Corallina come together that Nirvana is the result. To be sure this is the case we keep our hands off Corallina as much as we can.
Mere hours after harvesting the cool fruit arrives at the winery and immediately goes into the press. This whole cluster pressing is a key part of Corallina’s centered personality. In California saignée is the shady ying to the sunny yang of whole cluster pressed rosé. The whole bunches of grapes that will be Corallina go into the press and over a slow, three hour press run these syrah grapes gradually reveal their pink soul. The juice goes immediately into a stainless steel tank where slowly, very slowly due to the cool temperature, it ferments to complete dryness. Then the new Corallina is racked into mature French Oak barrels for five months of meditation before it fulfills its destiny when the Corallina Wine Dance label finally adorns its bottle - just in time for summer.
Inner wine peace cannot be achieved with mass production so only 500 cases or so of Corallina Syrah Rosé are produced each harvest. This year Mother Nature gave us a Corallina with 13.8% alcohol, TA 0.54 and 3.50 pH - isn’t that riveting. More importantly, she gave us our most delicious Corallina yet and we could not be more grateful and humbled by her gift.
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Black and white normally seem like night and day, but not at Cornerstone Cellars. Here they are just two sides of the same coin. Over the last few vintages we have been evolving towards our winemaking vision. These things take time as you need to work with vineyards over several vintages to truly know them. We are now ready to take the next step with our White Label wines and part of that next step is our Cornerstone Cellars Black Label wines.
Moving forward from the 2013 vintage our White Label wines will be made from an elite set of extraordinary vineyards and will carry those names on their labels. Also, our White Label Wines will expand to include merlot, cabernet franc and syrah single vineyard wines. Our Cornerstone Cellars Black Label wines will be exceptional expressions of the art of blending as we select barrels from our best vineyards and blend them to achieve wines of great harmony, balance and seductive personalities. They will be ready for you to enjoy as soon as we release them, but will improve in the bottle over the next three to five years. Our Black Label wines are what you drink while patiently waiting for our White Label wines to grow up.
I don’t think we could have picked a better vintage than 2012 to introduce our Cornerstone Cellars Black Label wines as it is a classic vintage with great concentration and depth. Our 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Franc, Black Label is our first ever 100% cabernet franc as normally we blend our Bordeaux varieties. While this wine is one hundred percent cabernet franc, it is still a blend. We have combined fruit from three exceptional vineyards for our Black Label Cabernet Franc and each of them add something special: our Oakville Station Vineyard in To Kalon adds depth, power and a velvety texture; the Talcott Vineyard in St. Helena gives structure and richness; the Carrefour Vineyard in Coombsville brings lift, freshness and classic cabernet franc aromatics. Together they create something very, very special.
Equally exciting is our 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Label, which is already racking up 90+ point scores. This blend of 92% cabernet sauvignon, 5.5% merlot and 2.5% cabernet franc created a gentle and harmonious wine exhibiting a fresh, vibrant nose, generously laced with rich red and blackberry fruit and subtle barrel spices with a touch of savory dried herbs to add further nuance and complexity. A youthful, energetic, high-toned palate reveals a deep core of layered berry fruits broadening further to uncover depth and velvety tannins that flow seamlessly, growing in volume. It’s drinking beautifully now and with all its elegance and finesse this enthusiastic wine will grow and evolve and become even more delicious.
- Craig Camp
Sometimes a pat on the back also gives you a kick in the butt. It never hurts to have some fuel tossed on the the fire of the passion you are pursuing. That is how I feel about Alder Yarrow's article about me and Cornerstone Cellars on Vinography.
I knew going in it would be a challenge to market Napa Valley wines made in a more elegant style. Certainly it would have been easier to just make a massive wine, slathering on oak and alcohol in a style many critics adore, but where is the pleasure in making wines you don't like to drink?
When we started releasing our more restrained style of Napa Valley wines we took our lumps from Laube and Parker, which, proudly puts us in a sort of elite club with some very fine winemakers whose vision we share. However, rejection by the old boys club has been more than countered by the likes of this exciting article in Vinography and excellent reviews in Connoisseurs Guide to California Wines, Stephen Tanzer and a host of wine bloggers.
It's easy to make wines that get big points from the old guard, you can hire a consulting company that guarantees results point-wise (do they charge by the point?). But is it really easier? Does scamming the system just to get those points really bring you satisfaction? Maybe for some, but not for me.
What brings me satisfaction is tasting a wine we created and having it excite and thrill, well, me. What brings me even more satisfaction is seeing someone else have that experience too.
It also brings true satisfaction to have someone I respect as much as Alder write such a, for me, moving article on the work we are doing at Cornerstone Cellars. Please take the time to read his article at the link below.
"Cornerstone continues to evolve, but like the rapidly shortening line of a tether ball accelerating towards the pole, the wines of Cornerstone are beginning to gravitate towards a quality and consistency that is quite admirable, and the equal of any of Napa's stalwart producers. Camp and Keene seem to be laying the foundation for becoming a fixture in the valley. Their Yountville tasting room has already become one of the town's most visited, and thanks to Camp, the winery has quickly become among the most successful industry players in social media and new internet technologies such as geofencing.
It has been a great pleasure watching Cornerstone Cellars coalesce over the past few years, and it will be even more fun watching it shift into high-gear now that it has seemingly settled into a comfortable groove. If you don't know these wines, I highly recommend you find some of the 2010s in particular."
There is a lot of pink wine out there, but there seems to be fewer and fewer real rosé wines. Just because you’re pink does not mean you’re a rosé.
There are several pretenders to the rosé title out there. The ubiquitous white zinfandel is the domaine of industrial wine production conjured up out of centrifuges and chemistry. Residual sugar provides the only flavor in an otherwise flavorless beverage. Certainly white zinfandel has its role as a starting place for many consumers, who then graduate up to real wine. Unfortunately because it’s pink (or kind of pink anyway) too many people think that all pink wine is sweet plonk. Also, it’s a problem as you can actually make a lovely real rosé from zinfandel.
Then there is the elegant sounding saignée, which when translated sounds less so as it means to bleed. However, it accurately describes this wine making process where juice is removed from a fermenter after a very short time. The original need for this was in cooler regions, where in lighter vintages the technique was used to help concentrate their red wines. A common practice in Burgundy, where they called the resulting wines vin gris as, I guess, the French just have too much respect for real rosé. While this is a good and useful idea in a place like Burgundy, it challenges the imagination as to why someone would feel the urge to actually need to increase the concentration of their red wines in a warm place like California. The down side of producing a pink wine in this manner is that you are harvesting your grapes at ideal ripeness levels for red wine, but not for pink wine. When done in a warm climate you get the candied flavors, higher alcohols and odd neon colors that you see in so many pink wines.
Then there is real rosé. Wines made in the classic tradition of Bandol and Tavel. Vineyards are selected to be for rosé from the start and farmed to create ideal fruit for this type of wine. The grapes are picked when the flavors are fully ripe, but you don’t have to wait for the skin tannins to ripen like you would when making red wine. This means you can pick at higher acids and lower sugars that will give you a balanced, elegant and complex rosé. With a very short contact with the skins to give just a hint of color, real rosé often can be a very light pink, but don’t let that fool you as you’ll find an explosion of flavor waiting for you. The lower sugars mean you can ferment to absolute dryness without excessive alcohol levels to mar the fresh fruit flavors. The best of these real rosé wines then spend a short time on the lees in mature oak barrels to broaden flavors and develop a rich, creamy texture. Simply delicious.
Such a wine is our Cornerstone Corallina Napa Valley Syrah Rosé. Corallina is a real rosé made in this classic style. Made as we make our white wines, the fruit was gently whole-cluster pressed over several hours to maintain freshness, elegance and complexity. Corallina Syrah Rosé is then fermented to total dryness then followed by five months in barrel as we patiently wait for every part of the wine to come into full harmony. Produced from a single vineyard in Oak Knoll, Corallina Syrah Rosé is both a pleasure to look at and to drink, a classic rosé at its best.
You can find our Corallina Syrah Rosé here: http://d.pr/n/42Ws