I had the privilege of sitting with winemaker Jeff Keene for an extended tasting of Cornerstone wines.
The offerings were delicious, impressive, and showed a broad range of styles. The wine also importantly showed restraint in all the right places.
Jeff was 100% delightful and explained his winemaking philosophy beautifully.
Passion is an over-used word in the wine biz, but Jeff has it, as does Craig Camp, the Managing Partner of Cornerstone – whom I’ve respected from the first day I found out about him.
The tasting room has a great vibe and is dead center Yountville, so just go visit them, I insist.
Now, to the wines…
2012 pinot gris ($20)
A crisp mineral blast accompanied by mouth watering lime zest and an extended finish. Old World style, which is great for this grape.
2012 sauvignon blanc Artist Series ($20)
Dusty hay and rover rock notes on her nose with luscious tropical fruits, a nicely coating mouthfeel, and some lime and citrus fun.
2011 sauvignon blanc White Label ($30)
Aromas of spiced butter and yellow flowers leads to tastes of tropical fruits, spice notes, and a full mouthfeel for this grape. She could be a gateway drug for “chardonnay-only” drinkers.
A- / B+
2013 Rose of syrah (Corallina) ($25)
Fun. Strawberries, jolly rancher candy, citrus, and cantaloupe on her nose. Balanced and crisp with large servings of strawberries, raspberries, and cantaloupe.
2011 chardonnay (Oregon) ($40)
6 out of 10 on the butter scale, which is a nice point. Solid mineral notes, with round tropical fruit flavors and light citrus. A little too round and soft for me, but legions of folks love that.
B / B-
2010 pinot noir (Oregon) ($50)
She spent more time in barrel than her Stepping Stone pinot noir counterpart, and it shows with more oak and smoke notes. She is also deeper and heavier. Along with nice red fruits she offers smoked taffy ands black tea notes.
2011 syrah (Stepping Stone) ($35)
Impressive aromatics. Nice white pepper and bright florals. She tastes of plums and taffy with a nice hint of swamp (trust me here, as much like the flavors that come from a little Brettanomyces action, sometimes a touch of swamp is delicious). Complex.
2011 cabernet franc ($45)
The right amount of tomato leaf on her nose with maduro tobacco, florals, and cherry taffy notes as well. Multiple spice and wood layers frame some bold black fruits and tobacco flavors.
2011 cabernet sauvignon (Napa Valley, White Label) ($65)
For a difficult cabernet year, this is quite an achievement. Amazingly clean, just how I love em’. Voluptuous for the vintage to be sure. Deep and nervous and the same time. Deep reds and black fruits play. Extended close with multiple echoes. A stunner.
2010 cabernet sauvignon (Howell Mountain, White Label) ($80)
Massive Howell power but with a softness that surprises. Signature Howell. Very well done except for a slight touch of vegetal that likely blows off with decanting.
A- / B+
2010 The Cornerstone Red Blend ($200 – only 100 cases made)
So many layers! Black cherry, black tea, and brooding dark soil all get bathed in a violet and chocolate reduction sauce. Powerful and then restrained. And then that shifts. Wonderful.
Winemaker = Jeff Keene
“We are not about statistics and points, terroir is terroir and every vineyard must find its own balance.
There is no finer place in the world to grow cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot than the Napa Valley. It is both an honor to be able to craft wine from such outstanding fruit and it our responsibility to make each wine to the very best of our ability.
We make pinot and chardonnay in Oregon because we think it is a world class place to grow those varieties that the Napa Valley is not. It’s more important where the vines put down roots than where the winemakers do.
We do not make wine for everyone. We make what we believe in, not what the mass market demands. We will not be a slave to the fashion of the moment, we make wines we love to drink. What makes a great wine does not change; it’s not like having hemlines to go up and down according latest whim.”
“For all questions related to wholesale distribution and production:
Winery: 707-948-6512 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For all questions related to the wine club:
Nadia Olson 707-490-2711 Email: email@example.com
For all questions related to the tasting room or visits:
Tasting Room: 707-948-6512 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org”
The rated wines were media samples generously provided by the winery.