Sitting in the Corner

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Cellars

We actually got some snow the other day/night in VA. In October.  That is pretty much unheard of for this area of the country.  The snow turned my thoughts to the big red wines that have been patiently waiting in my cellar all summer for me to drink them. I decided it was the perfect time to crack open the 2007 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine clocks in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and retails for $60.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) It’s still a baby. But some time the decanter cures that easily.

2.) If you’re thinking about serving something along the lines of beef tenderloin for any of your holiday meals, this is the wine for you.

3.) Cornerstone Cabs have been among my favorites since I first tasted them…many moons ago now!

4.) If big, black fruit and hints of pepper are what you look for in a Cab, you will love this wine.

On the nose I got berries, chocolate, earth, pepper, herbs, and black cherry. In the mouth I found more black cherry, blackberry, chocolate, blueberry, and anise.  The wine was quite tight at first, with tannins to spare. I ran it through my Soiree which definitely helped open it up, but I think a few hours in the decanter before serving would really do the trick for this wine. I served it with NY Strip steaks on the grill, and as always, this Cab is plenty big and firm to marry nicely with the steak.


Spring in My Step(ping Stone)

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Cellars.

Who wants it to be spring? ME! I’m entirely over the winter weather and I fear we are going to jump straight into the heat of summer without a stopover in my favorite season. For the spring, I usually except low 70s- mid-70s, warm breezes, and evenings that call for a chilled glass of white wine and rocking in the Adirondack chairs on our front stoop.  Alas, the weather is foiling me this year. Instead, I’m stuck inside pretending its spring by drinking some springy wine!  We decided on the 2009 Cornerstone Cellars Stepping Stone Napa Sauvingon Blanc.  It clocks in at 13.9% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and retails for $16.

On the nose I found pear, melon, sweet flowers, tropical notes, and peach. Overall, a pleasant nose that hit all the right notes. In the mouth I got melon, pear, lime, citrus, and yellow apple. The wine is aged sur lie, and I thought the palate really showed that influence. I also noted good acidity and crispness on the palate. The wine definitely put me in a spring frame of mind and I’d recommend it for anyone looking to get into the spring spirit!

Stepping Up

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Cellars.

What better way to celebrate the winter than with a nice hearty red? I can’t really think of one. Especially when it’s Syrah. I love Syrah. And I really enjoy finding new ones to savor, which is exactly what I got in this bottle of 2008 Stepping Stone Syrah by Cornerstone Cellars. And the price can’t be beat for a good bottle of Syrah. At $20 a bottle, this is a steal. Hailing from Napa, the wine had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.9% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found violets, fresh plums, black cherries, cedar, flowers, and a spicy perfume aroma. Lucky for Matt I was just tasting and spitting at this point, or else this might have been one of those cases where I snapped at him for drinking more than his share while I was still lost in the nose of the wine.  In the mouth I got black cherry, black plums, earthy notes, red raspberries, and some spice.  The palate showed mostly juicy tart cherries for me though all the fruit tasted fresh picked.  A great little bottle of wine from a winery that continues to impress me.




Man in the Moon

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Luna Vineyards

As much as I keep willing it to be spring (and my daffodils, irises, and lilies think it’s spring as they started popping up a few weeks ago only to be covered by 3+ feet of snow), I need to face facts. That damn groundhog was more than right this year and winter has settled in to wreak havoc on my plans to wear sandals in March. Though I suppose that saves me money on pedicures. More money for wine! Usually by the time we get back from work in the evenings, it’s so cold in our house that a nice cool white wine would chill me to the bone.  As a result, I’m still digging into the big reds, hoping they’ll warm me up faster than the heating system or fire could. Tonight we picked the 2006 Luna Napa Merlot from the racks. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, and I think it retails for around $27.

On the nose I found chocolate, plum, red berries, spice, earth, clove, cigarette, blackberry, and cocoa.  The clove and cocoa notes kept drawing me back in and made the nose interesting for me. In the mouth blackberries, plums, cherries, chocolate, spice, earth, red fruit notes, a little pepper, and clove stood out. I found the wine to be a bit tannic overall, so I think I’d serve this with a steak or a roast if I were to have it again.

My Aunt Really Likes Merlot

And that’s why there’s no such thing as a perfect Thanksgiving wine, nor should there be. My dad and I bought all the wine for Thanksgiving dinner and we bought what people would like.  My Aunt hosted Thanksgiving and she loves Merlot so we had two bottles. The first that we opened that evening was the 2005 Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, and it cost $25 at the Madison Wine Exchange, though I see it online for as low as $19.

On the nose I found the wine to be fruity. I got plums, black cherries, spice, and blackberries. In the mouth I found black cherry, spice, pepper, blackberries, and plums. Overall I thought it seemed fairly light for a Merlot, but it had a nice body, and enough tannin on the finish to hold it together.

Coolest Tasting Room Ever

At the very end of the second day of the Wine Blogger Conference, my bus loaded up with the rowdy crowd and we made our way to Conn Creek for dinner.  I’d never heard of Conn Creek before, but honest to Bacchus they have the coolest tasting room ever.  The entire room is lined with wine barrel.  Most have Cabernet Sauvignon from the various appellations in Napa, but others have blending elements such as Petite Verdot.  Each barrel has a tap and is outfitted with an interior balloon system that inflates as wine is removed.  You get to play with all the wines and make your own blends!  I understand you have to call ahead to go to this special tasting room, and there is a fee, but it’s so much fun and so different that it would be a great experience that differs entirely from the normal tasting room visit.

We had dinner at Conn Creek (my favorite was the dessert) and enjoyed wines from Conn Creek, Napa Valley Farms, and Cornerstone Cellars.  Wow did I get a lot of Cornerstone Cellars on this trip, lucky me! I still have a tasting at Cornerstone Cellars new tasting room that we went to after WBC to tell you about!

2008 Conn Creek Sauvignon Blanc: Melon, grapefruit, lemon, white pepper, tart, acidic, tropical notes, orange zest, stone fruits, crisp, easy drinking, white flowers.

2006 Napa Valley Farms Viognier: Floral, aromatic, white flowers, stone fruit, soapy, tropical notes, orange blossoms.

2005 Napa Valley Farms Syrah: Smoky, licorice, vanilla cream, plums, some herbal qualities, violets, red fruit, tannins, smooth fruit.

2006 Conn Creek Cabernet Franc: Strawberry, bright red fruit, raspberry, spice, tannins.

2001 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Napa Cabernet Sauvignon: Vanilla cream, blackberry, spice, herbs, soft fruit, smooth , integrated, pepper, some red fruit showing on the edges.

2005 Napa Valley Farms Cabernet Sauvignon: A little funk, leather, earth, dirt, mint, eucalyptus, strawberry.

Another Grand Tasting

On the second day of the Wine Blogger Conference, we attended a few sessions at various wineries including the one I told you about at Cuvaison. Mid-afternoon we headed to Quintessa for the Napa Grand Tasting. This event happened in the tank room at Quintessa, with wineries lining up between each row of tanks. I barely made it through the first row…I like to actually talk to people about the wines rather than a quick sip and spit and moved on.  I heard I missed lots of other good wines, but that’s ok, I enjoyed the ones I did taste and I liked talking to the people from the various wineries. I also didn’t really get any pictures….it was crowded and I already had a notebook, pen, informational materials, and my glass in my hands. I only have 4 hands at times it seems!

2007 Quintessa Illumination:nutty, lemon, melon, citrus, tart, herbs, grass, little green pepper, white pepper.

2006 Elizabeth Spencer Napa Cabernet Sauvignon: Black cherry, black plum, black berries, pepper, flowers, spice, tannins, vanilla, licorice.

2006 Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon: Black cherry tart, spice, leather, pepper, meaty, vanilla cream, black plums, blackberry, spice.

2006 Duckhorn Napa Merlot: Spicy, black pepper, black plums, tart cherry fruit, acidity, nice fruit.

2006 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon: Black fruit, earth, tight, leather, vanilla, spice, tart fruit.

1996 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon: Brick red. Dirt, earth, spicy, anise, pepper, peppers, red fruit, raspberries, still nice structure with some tannins left.

2005 Conn Creek Anthology: Cabernet Sauvignon heavy blend with Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, and Cabernet Franc rounding it out. Spicy black fruit, peppery, lots of pepper, peppers, chocolate, nice smooth integrated fruit, blackberry, black plum.

2005 Clark Claudon Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Nice creamy black nose, black cherries, blackberries, spice, roses, flowers, licorice, really nice fruit.

2006 Charnu Cabernet Sauvignon: Spicy, coffee, blackberry, fruit, anise, dusty milk chocolate, herbs, really smooth and well integrated, chewy tannins on the finish with a hint of red berries.

2006 Diamond Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon: Lots of milk chocolate, black cherry, blackberries, espresso, black licorice, black currants, pepper, nice fruit.

2006 Gargiulo Cabernet Sauvignon: Pepper, dark chocolate, black fruit, violets, spice, tart, long finish, tight, brigh blackberry, red fruit on the finish, anise, herbs.

2006 Grigich Hills Chardonnay: Pear peach, stone fruit, spice, vanilla, spice, peach, tart fruit, nice finish.

2006 Quintessa Cabernet Blend Napa Valley Red Wine: spicy, red fruit, plum, red berries, tannins, smooth finish.

All in all, a nice tasting….I just needed another hour or two to even make a dent in the wines available. Ah well, just an excuse for me to go back to Napa and taste around a bit more. I only managed to get two tables into the second row of wineries, though I did get through the whole first row. Some folks seemed to jump around the room but it seemed less efficient to me to do that than to just move up and down the rows. Thanks to the Napa Valley Vintners for hosting us! It looked like there were some nice food displats too, but who has time to eat when there’s wine to be tasted? 🙂