Stepping over Stones to Oregon
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Cornerstone wines. I’ve visited the tasting room in Yountville several times, and every new release is something to be savored. Now, Craig Camp and Tony Rynders, a well known Oregon wine making star, have teamed up to create something new: Cornerstone Oregon. It’s also probably no secret that I am in love with Oregon wines, particularly pinot noir. Cornerstone Oregon is a new baby and boy is she tasty.
After my whirlwind 10 days in Portland for the Wine Bloggers Conference and wine tasting, I was missing the Oregon terroir a bit. Luckily for me, the Cornerstone Oregon wines showed up just as fall was rearing her ugly head.
A collaboration between former Oregon resident Camp and Rynders, Craig’s passion for pinot was ignited when he was meandering around the wilds of Burgundy. Rynders has been the winemaker at Domaine Serene for 10 years, a well known Oregon powerhouse of pinot. With Craig playing Batman, and Tony as trusty sidekick Robin (who usually does the heavy lifting anyway),these wines are sure to be amazing.
First off, I tasted the 2010 Chardonnay. No really! Normally, this is not my first pick for white wine, as I’d rather go for the delicious Oregon Pinot Gris that dapples the Willamette, but this was a departure from the expected. Similar in style to a French Chablis, this chardonnay was full of bright citrus, nutmeg and nectarines 2010 was a cooler growing season, which created lively, bright wines. This was a wonderful wine for a warm late summer evening and I look forward to future bottles.
Next up, the 2010 Cornerstone Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – this is the second vintage of this wine, and I have to say I prefer the 10 to the 09. It was a cool year, which gives these wines a great acid profile and wonderful bright red fruit without being heavy. Tons of classic cherry and raspberry flavors, with tell tale Willamette earth, spice, and smoke. with 68% Yamhill-Carlton fruit, and bits from 5 other sub AVAs, it blends together perfectly. 62% new French oak meshes perfectly with the fruit without overpowering it. This is an absolutely beautiful Oregon Pinot Noir that shows the best of the region. It is soft and supple with a piquant wild strawberry finish that just makes my taste buds so happy. At $50 it’s a bit pricey but on par with most higher quality Willamette Valley pinot noirs. Considering the dynamic duo behind this project, it’s priced perfectly to fit with both the Cornerstone line, as well as the product.
Finally, the second label, 2010 Stepping Stone Pinot Noir – while the Stepping Stone label was created to be fun, creative, and affordable, more every day wine. This pinot noir however, is nowhere close to everyday. Very much a departure from the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, the Stepping Stone is big, ripe, and red. The bulk of the fruit is Yamhill-Carlton and Eola-Amity, which can sometimes producer bigger fruit flavors. Lots of big strawberry and raspberry flavors in there with cherry fruit roll up. A delicious wine, it is definitely a bolder style but is still full of Willamette leather, spice and earthy notes. Spicy figs and macerated berries pop through with some lovely rose petal aromas. $30 is a steal for this baby!
Bottom line, you really can’t go wrong with Cornerstone! I am a lucky blogger to have received these wines as samples, and unlike some of my blogger brethren I am hard pressed to hold these wines for very long. Go out and buy some for yourself! you will not be sorry.