Friday, May 31, 2013

A Wine For Spring And Summer: Stepping Stone By Cornerstone Corallina Napa Valley Rosé 2012

For a good rosé wine, you have to look to Provence, right?  Tavel and Bandol are two places cited in the Stepping Stone press literature where “they make rosé like they mean it.”  Pink in California, they imply, is better left for breast cancer awareness than wine.  Pink in California means White Zin, and that means the wine aficionados need no help getting those noses turned up in the air.

But here’s the thing: pink doesn’t mean sappy and sweet at Cornerstone Cellars of Napa Valley.  Their Stepping Stone Corallina 2012 rosé is a bone-dry, oak-aged full-fledged wine that doesn’t apologize for its lack of pigmentation.  It flaunts it, in fact:

“Conceived as a rosé from the beginning, every farming choice throughout the year is made with only one goal in mind - rosé worth thinking about.  Harvest is timed solely around the complexity of fruit flavors as we don't need to worry about ripening the skin tannins.  The beautiful Napa Valley climate provides us with luscious fruit with more than enough color so no other skin contact is necessary than the three hours or so it takes the fruit to be gently pressed.”

At a suggested retail price of $20, the price isn’t high for a good rosé.  And it is a good rosé.  A 100% Syrah wine, it’s a single vineyard wine, too.  The grapes come from Crane Ranch Vineyard in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley.  The wine spends five months in French oak, picking up added complexity along the way.  The alcohol sits at a lofty - for a rosé - 14.1% abv.  419 cases were produced.  That’s not a lot, and the summer is long.  Just a word to the wise.

This true rosé wine looks pretty and pink in the glass, with not too deep a shade.  Corallina’s nose is as fragrant as a garden.  There are herbal accents, but the focus is on the fruit salad aromas that come forth.  Strawberry and melon are right in front - I get honeydew and cantaloupe plus the factory-standard watermelon.  There’s a lot more at work here, though.  The Syrah makes itself known despite the pinkish hue, with whiffs of spice and faint blackberry.  I swear there’s some cocoa in there, too, plus a bit of something earthy coming through.  The palate is a fresh fruit basket with ripe cherries piled upon raspberries, apples and tangerines.  Wait, this is still Syrah, right?

The cost of that vacation in Provence just got knocked down to twenty bucks a day.

By the way, the label is a work of art.  Really.  The work is called "Wine Dance" by artist Janet Ekholm.  Cornerstone spokespeople say “the brilliant colors and intermingling of subject, landscape and sky into a harmonious whole is the perfect reflection of our vision for Corallina Syrah Rosé.”


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