Friday, November 30, 2012

Stepping Stone By Cornerstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

You’d think Cornerstone Cellars winemaker Jeff Keene would have his hands full - and stained permanently purple - with the highly regarded Cabernet Sauvingon he makes for the label.  He does find the time, though, to have a little fun.

It must surely be fun for him to play around with the fantastic fruit at his disposal, fruit he uses to make wines for their Stepping Stone line.  Stepping Stone by Cornerstone has some interesting blends, lively whites, and Cabernet Sauvignon that is good enough to resent its place in a “value” line.

The grapes for Stepping Stone's 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon are sourced from four different vineyards.  The website describes the sources and their purposes like this: “The muscular, dense and concentrated fruit of Howell Mountain, the refined clarity and elegance of Rutherford to the lively aromatics and lush, vibrant sophistication of Oak Knoll, which are all balanced with a little lift and mid palate richness from our Carneros and Oakville Merlots, bring a unique harmony to this wine.”  It’s not a headbanger, with an alcohol content of only 13.9% abv.  This clocks in at the top-end of the range of Cornerstone’s line of value-priced wines, at $35 retail.  Cornerstone provided a sample for the purpose of this article.

The wine is medium dark in the glass, with a nose that pleases right away.  Big notes of blackberry mix with raspberry and black cherry while the oak spices roll in underneath.  Clove, vanilla and anise change places with each swirl.  It’s really nice on the palate, almost silky smooth with a tannic structure that does not overwhelm.  The oak definitely plays a part on the palate, but it, too, is used in good measure.  Blackberries and black cherry have some cola-like fun, and the freshness of the wine makes it oh-so-easy to drink.

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