Archive for March, 2011
Of the brilliant 2007 vintage in Napa Valley, it has been said that if you can’t make great wine in a year like that, you never will. And so it was with great anticipation that we took possession of two review samples of ’07 Cabernet Sauvignon from Cornerstone Cellars, a producer for whom we gain increasing respect for every time we try their wares. (You can read about previous encounters of the favorable kind here, here and here.)
We gave these two puppies a little over a week to settle down from their cross-country, journey, then invited our ITB friend Rebecca Poling over to see what they are all about. We paired them with all things grilled – lamb, potatoes and veggies – along with some richly caramelized onions and Kim’s freshly baked bread. Here are our impressions.
2007 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% alc., $60: Clean, dark color, with a pretty nose of rich cassis, blackberry and black cherry; Rebecca adds an impression of chocolate covered blueberry cordial. Flavors generally echo on a full bodied, well-structured frame, but Ms. Poling commented on some grainy tannins, a slightly chalky mouth feel and drying tannins on the finish. While they are present, I found these qualities to present only a minor drawback, and I expect that this will age into a lovely Napa Cabernet with several years in the bottle. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, blended from three Napa Valley AVA’s: 33% Howell Mountain (Ink Grade Block), 33% Oakville (Davis Block, Casanova Vineyards) and southern Napa County (Hardman Road). Each vineyard was harvested in late September and early October in perfect conditions. All lots were hand sorted and fermented separately. After a three day cold soak, tanks were inoculated with selected yeasts. Extended skin contact in the fermenter helped round out the tannins, with alcoholic fermentation taking about ten days and skin contact lasting up to fifteen days. Aged for 21 months in French Oak Barrels, 75% new. Find this wine
Over the years, we have had very little experience with the Paso Robles producer Eberle Winery, which is perhaps surprising, considering the fact that Gary Eberle was a co-founder of the Paso Robles Appellation in 1980, opened his winery in 1983 and has been an important player in that region ever since. We liked the two Zins that we tasted way back when we covered ZAP ’99 (look at those garish page colors!), but truth be told, their availability in Day-twah has been sporadic, so when we got our hands on four late model bottlings last week, we made a point of trying them over a four-day period, so as to spend some time getting to know each of them individually. The wines are made by Ben Mayo, who took over those duties in 2003, and as it turns out, offer good QPR for their respective prices.
Tom Mortimer, co-owner the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir producer Le Cadeau is a self-described “wine geek.” In 1997, he and his wife Deb purchased 28 acres in the Willamette Valley on a high-elevation volcanic basalt hillside. They took two years to clear the land and, in 1999, planted the first in a succession of vineyard blocks, to a variety of Pinot Noir clones, with the first wines being produced in 2002. Tom describes Le Cadeau as “a winemaker-designated vineyard;” each of the top four bottlings is made by a different person. Mortimer explains that he has a lot of friends in the business, but they’re all very busy, so it’s all just sort of worked out for the best this way. There is also turnover occasionally; earlier vintages of the wines were made by the likes of Harry Peterson-Nedry, Cheryl Francis and Sam Tannahill and Tony Rynders. (click images to enlarge)
I had the opportunity to taste through the lineup of current releases from Le Cadeau with Tom this week, and I must say, I was impressed with them all. Mortimer is on a promotional tour of Michigan and stopped by with his local distributor, Jean-Jacques Fertal, of Eagle Eye Imports.
The wines all show a clean, ruby color, but beyond that, characteristics diverge somewhat. Prices listed are standard retail markups on special pricing being offered while Tom is in the neighborhood. We tasted through them rather quickly, as is necessary under such circumstances, but I was able to record these snapshot impressions.