I’ve been a long time friend, and fan, of the wines of Cornerstone Napa. With a wide range of both classic Napa Cabernet Sauvignons, as well as the newest addition, Cornerstone Oregon, they have made their mark on the wine business producing distinctive wines with style.
In comes the renegade second label, Stepping Stone. Every bit the equal of Cornerstone, Stepping Stone gives room to play, both with styles, but varietals. Producing single varietal wines like my favorite Cabernet Franc, as well as blends like the delicious summer sipper Corralina Rose, these wines are affordable, tasty, and fun.
One of the best things to come out of Stepping Stone is the Cornerstone Rocks! series. Created to be a fun, irreverent, and everyday enjoyers, these two unique blends take a detour to the North Coast, creating two distinctive blends that literally do, rock.
The 2011 Stepping Stone White Rocks is a fascinating blend of Chardonnay and Gewurtraminer. When I first opened the bottle, the unexpected floral notes of the gewertz floated up with honeysuckle, nutmeg, and musk melon. On the first sip, the tropical lushness and citrus of the chard pokes it’s head out with a crisp, clean finish. At only $18, this is a great bottle to bring to that BBQ or dinner party. The slight honey sweetness from the gewertz would make it great pairing with Indian or Thai as well! Yum!
The 2010 Stepping Stone North Coast Red Rocks is a fun little blend of Zin, Syrah and Merlot. Something you don’t see often, this zippy little number is a spice cone of cherries jubilee, with cracked black pepper on top. The syrah lends itself to some meaty notes hiding under the fruit of the merlot and zin, but they blend together beautifully. This is a playful wine, and is an easy quaffer. Another steal at $18, this wine got better and better as the night (and the next day) went on.
The fun with this is that it goes to show you – if you don’t like a wine, wait a while. Let it breathe. Run it through a Soiree. Decant it. You will be surprised at the results! Another trick I have learned is that the glass makes a difference. Yes, there are glasses and there are glasses. I really only have two main types: Pinot Noir glasses and everything else. That said, a small, inexpensive tasting glass collected from one of a dozen or so events will not do every wine justice. Invest in some affordable Bordeaux glasses. I personally love the Connoisseur Series from Cost Plus, which are made by Spiegelau (owned by Riedel). Through this tangled chain, these $5 stems are the right shape and the right thickness. Bonus – if you break them like I do, you won’t cringe!
Both of these blends are unique every year, and are only made in limited quantities. The blends and the flavor profiles are only limited by the creativity of the winemaker. These wines are pure fun. You don’t need to study them, you don’t need to think about them, simply enjoy them!
These wines were provided by Craig Camp and his indubitable team at Cornerstone, who very much rock!