Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Cornerstone Napa Valley Red Wine 2011

Wine is a special thing.  That's why I'm here.  That's why you're here.  For many, the higher the price, the more special it is.  Most folks who have to fit their wine purchases into a budget save the high-priced bottles for special occasions, like anniversaries and birthdays - "splurge wines," they call them.  Today's wine is splurge-worthy.

The 2011 vintage in Napa Valley presented some big hurdles for grapes and grape growers to jump.  Wet winter, wet spring, late bloom, mild summer - not a textbook Napa season.  That was okay for the folks at Cornerstone Cellars.  Cornerstone's managing partner Craig Camp says "we were able to achieve our desired ripeness levels in all of our vineyards in 2011.  For those who aspired to pick at close to 30 brix, it was a difficult year, but for producers like us, who harvest at around 24 brix, the 2011 vintage produced lovely, elegant wines."

The Cornerstone 2011 is a single vineyard wine made from grapes grown in the Oakville Station Vineyard of the To Kalon District.  Three of Bordeaux finest varieties - 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot - make up this blend.  The wine spent 22 months in new French oak, and that new oak is apparent in the aromas and flavors, but the oak treatment is perfectly applied.  Alcohol content is 14.4% abv.  It's scarce, as usual - just 104 cases were produced.  The retail price of $150 will keep the riff-raff from scarfing it up, though.

Aromas of cassis, plums, smoke and licorice can't wait to escape the glass.  The deep ruby wine shows black and red berries on the amazing palate, interlaced with allspice and a hint of orange peel.  The acidity is stunning, and the tannic structure is quite firm.  This wine deserves a splurge-worthy cut of meat to allow it to show itself in a setting that fits its heritage, elegance and power.

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