It seemed like we had hardly had time to catch our breath after posting our last feature on new wines from Cornerstone Cellars, and they were already sending us more things to try. That’s OK, we’re professionals, and we can handle it. This time, there were three selections from Cornerstone’s Oregon operation, two Pinot Noirs and a Chardonnay. Here’re our impressions:
2010 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 13.5% alc., SRP $30: Pretty ruby garnet color; fragrant smoky black cherry nose carries over nicely on the palate with some subtle earthy undertones. Medium-to-medium full-bodied and well balanced, with enough structure and intensity for a few years in the cellar, but I’d be inclined to drink this sooner, rather than later, for its fresh, middleweight charm. It’d be even better for about $5-10 less… AVAs: 45% Yamhill-Carlton, 33% Eola-Amity,15% Chehalem Mountain, 5% McMinnville, 1% Ribbon Ridge, 1% Dundee Hills. Aged in 100% French Oak of which 35 % was new for 13 months and was bottled in June 2012. 137 cases produced. Find this wine
2010 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Chardonnay, 13.5% alc., SRP $35: Pale golden color, with a pretty kiss of oak over somewhat tart apple/pear flavors and aromas; definitely shows its cool climate origins, as there’s no way this would be mistaken for over-ripe California-styled Chardonay. Kim adds an impression of green peas. Full bodied, yet sleek, with excellent acids and length. Opens nicely as it warms in the glass, becoming more and more appealing. The more I taste, the more I like, but is it worth $35? I’d like it better for about $10 less; your mileage may vary. AVAs: 50% Yamhill-Carlton, 50% Chehalem Mountains. Aged in 100% French Oak of which 24% was new for 16 months sur lies and was bottled in April 2012. 166 cases produced. Find this wine
2010 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 13.5% alc., SRP $50: Clean ruby garnet color; effusive perfumed black cherry and raspberry nose echoes and expands on the palate with a solid earthy anchor. As you’d expect, there’s plenty more here than with the Stepping Stone; that wine is easy going and friendly, while this is deeper and darker, if not quite brooding. Medium full-bodied, structured for several years of aging and developing and long on the finish. This is some really fine Pinot Noir here, and one that holds excellent promise for those with the patience to hold off from sampling its already ample charms. Of the three 2010 Cornerstone Oregon wines, this is the one that deserves the most serious attention and lives up to its price point. AVAs: 68% Yamhill-Carlton, 10% Chehalem Mountain, 8% Eola-Amity, 6% McMinnville, 5% Ribbon Ridge, 3% Dundee Hills. Aged in 100% French Oak of which 62 % was new for 15 months and was
bottled in April 2012. 498 cases were produced. Find this wine
No sooner had we tasted through the latest Oregonian Cornerstones, than they sent us another sample of the ’09 Napa Cab, which we reviewed back in January, and our second opinion is pretty much the same as the first.
2009 Cornerstone Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.9% alc., SRP $65.00: Clean, dark color, with pure, rich and lovely Cabernet character, all black currant cassis shaded with a hint of tobacco and just the right kiss of oak. Great balance, with subtle earthiness underneath; full bodied and structured for several years of improvement in the cellar, yet more than approachable already. I’ve come to hold Cornerstone Napa Cabernets and red blends in the same high esteem that I reserve for a very select few other California wines, such as those from Ridge and Tablas Creek. They are that good. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, Ink Grade Vineyard, Howell Mountain, Oakville Station, Oakville, Kairos Vineyard, Oak Knoll District; 5% Merlot Stewart Ranch Vineyard, Carneros. 842 cases produced. Find this wine
Reporting from Day-twah,