Monday, July 6, 2015

Unexpected Napa: Cornerstone Chenin Blanc

The Napa Valley Vintners Association teamed up with The Daily Sip and the Sip’s editor-in-chief Karen MacNeil for a virtual wine tasting event which featured a sextet of “Unexpected Napa Wines.” What, exactly, are unexpected Napa wines? @TheDailySip tweeted the answer during the event. “We looked for classic estates making unexpected wines,” they chirped. “The #Napa Valley is a hotbed of American innovation,” they continued. “Traditions thrive and evolve while winemakers explore the new.”

The six wines tasted ranged from a mildly unexpected unoaked Chardonnay to quite unexpected California Albarino, Chenin Blanc and Petit Verdot to Fumé Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon - which I would say are far from unexpected in Napa Valley.

The #SipWithKaren wines:

Alpha Omega 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay
Artesa 2014 Albarino.
Cornerstone Cellars 2013 Chenin Blanc
Robert Mondavi Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Mondavi Winery 2013 Fume Blanc
St. Supery 2010 Dollarhide Petit Verdot

I was invited to join this little party and was provided samples of the wines for that purpose. I will cover them separately here in the coming weeks.

Cornerstone Cellars winemaker Jeff Keene has crafted a beautiful white wine for the Stepping Stone line that is fairly high in alcohol - 14.5% abv, not unusual for a Napa wine - at a great price of $25 retail. It's a steal for a wine with this sort of complexity.

Raves about this white came in a flood. @MaryCressler "tried the Cornerstone Chenin Blanc last night before traveling and loved it! Super fresh, citrusy, ripe pear. Just delish." @TheGoodWineGuru "enjoyed the @CornerstoneNapa Chenin Blanc with a dinner of Cod." Pick a cod, any cod. @KMacWine offered that "#Chenin used to be widely planted in #Napa. Today, @CornerstoneNapa is one of the few producers here still growing the grape." Thank goodness for that! She also tweeted that the wine is "not as full bodied as #chardonnay, but not as light bodied as #pinot grigio. This #chenin is right in the middle." @TheDailySip added, "While there isn’t much remaining in Napa, this @CornerstoneNapa has classic #chenin notes of yellow apple, lanolin & nuttiness." 

@TheGoodWineGuru liked "the balanced acid on the Chenin. Good amount, but not so overwhelming to force you to pair with food." Like that would be torture! @FeelingDuckie typed, "Like #Napa chenin blanc itself this wine seems to be a fighter - good or bad? Better keep sipping to find out!" I'm thinking "good." @sonadora thinks the wine "could easily rise to the top of my favorite summer sippers," while @macdaddy_m cautioned, "only 187 cases - better get some soon as it will be gone before you know it."

The Cornerstone Cellars Napa Chenin Blanc has a great nose - nutty, with apricot, tropical fruit and a beautiful salinity - a valued quality in wine, if you ask me. A palate of peach, apricot and a little touch of orange peel is balanced with a brilliant acidity. Pair it with anything light and summery - al fresco, if possible.