As was the case with the wines from Tablas Creek we reported on last week, we took our time getting around trying the three latest samples we received from the fine folks at Cornerstone Cellars of Napa Valley. The Stepping Stone Cabernet Franc had already been resting comfortably in our cellar waiting for a tasting opportunity when we took possession of the two Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignons, which in turn spent several weeks down there as well. The reason for this is pretty simple, really; we don’t eat much meat at all these days, and I wanted to pair them with a good cut of grass-fed beef, as we will not purchase products from the horrid factory farms that provide most of the meats found in markets and grocery stores these days. We finally got what we wanted from C. Roy Meats, one of the best natural, organic, grass-fed beef producers in Michigan, and the next evening, we sat down to dinner with the two Cornerstones.
2010 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% alc., $65 SRP: Everything about this wine speaks to elegance, even the clean, dark color; not too dark, and not too dense, it looks like a fine Napa Cab should, in-my-not-so-humble opinion. Bright sweet oak graces perfectly ripened black currant, cassis and blackberry fruit, all underscored with a nice earthiness that I find appealing. Full bodied, yet svelte, with great balance, and structured for several years of development; 10 or more is not at all out of the question. Still, it drinks pretty well already, especially with a grilled, medium rare C. Roy rib eye steak. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon (Garvey Family Vineyards “Home Ranch,” Rutherford, Kairos Vineyard, Oak Knoll District, Oakville Station, Oakville and Ink Grade Vineyard, Howell Mountain); 13% Merlot (Oakville Station, Oakville) and 2% Cabernet Franc (Talcott Vineyard, St. Helena). 22 months in 65% new French oak. 973 cases produced. Find this wine
2010 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.7% alc., $80 SRP: It should come as no surprise that this is deeper and darker in every way, color, weight and overall profile, than the Napa bottling. Big, burly and in need of a decade or more of cellaring, this is showing a briary note over earthy black currant and a little dark chocolate; it’s not unapproachable with the C. Roy rib eye, but the best choice for this one is extended cellaring. As Cornerstone GM Craig Camp himself put it, “This is a wine born and made to age,” so patience is advised and will be rewarded. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon (Ink Grade Vineyard, Howell Mountain), 10% Merlot (Stewart Ranch Vineyard, Carneros). 22 months in 75% new French oak, 25% mature French oak. 470 12x750mL cases, 60 1.5L bottles. Find this wine
The Stepping Stone Cabernet Franc was enjoyed a few nights later with a nice, medium rare C. Roy flat iron steak.
2010 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Franc, 14.6% alc., $35 SRP: Deep, dark garnet in color, fading to purple-pink at the rim, with ripe black fruit, sweet oak and a hint of bell pepper on the nose that fleshes out nicely on the palate. The three qualities could detract if excessive, but such is not the case; it comes close, but is ultimately just shy of going over the top. The ripe black currant and cassis fruit has a solid earthy anchor, the oak provides a big kiss, but not a whack of lumber and the bell pepper adds interest and complexity. Full bodied, yet svelte, in that signature Cornerstone style, with plenty of structure for several years of cellaring and development. Tannins and acids are actually a bit burry at this juncture, so give it either extended air now, of better yet, 3-5 years in the cellar. Plenty of potential here! 92% Cabernet Franc (Talcott Vineyard, St. Helena, Truchard Vineyard, Carneros), 8% Merlot (Stewart Ranch Vineyard, Carneros), 18 months in 50% new French oak, 50% mature French oak. 744 cases produced. Find this wine
Reporting from Day-twah,