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 […]
It’s summer! Full fledged, off the hook summer. Even here in San Francisco, where it’s often foggy and cold on the 4th of July, we have sunshine . While the f-o-g is threatening to blow in and spoil the fireworks, you can enjoy these summer sippers as you celebrate. Think pink! Rose has gone All American and is no longer just from Provence (though they make some fantastic ones there too). Rose of Pinot noir – $19 (tasting room only but I highly suggest you buy a cold bottle and sit on their patio). Palest salmon pink. Beautiful bright summer strawberry, stone fruit, and floral notes. Finish of crushed raspberries and watermelon. It’s way to easy to drink a bottle of this on a warm day! Grenache Rose – $18 Ridiculously delicious. I first tasted this as the 2012 Pink Out, an all rose tasting event. 100% Grenache, this Dry Creek gem is the color of a baby’s lips, with fresh watermelon, strawberries and cream, and 100% yum! Corralina Napa Valley Syrah Rose – $20 coppery pink in color, a syrah rose is a beautiful thing! A bit more meaty than a Pinot Noir Rose, the Corallina tastes of ripe peaches and blood oranges, with spicy notes, and rose water. Ruby Red grapefruit covered in cream rounds out the palate with a nice round finish. Great for BBQs and burgers! Rose of Pinot Noir OGV Endless Crush – $30 A special wine that is made only every other year, the Endless Crush is a purpose made rosé, separate and distinct from Inman’s award winning Pinto Noir. Purpose made rosés can have more complexity and intensity, since they are not the byproduct of another process, and this gorgeous example is perfect for a hot day with a classic delicate pink color. Like most Pinot Noir rosés, there is a beautiful strawberry flavor profile, but also some crisp and refreshing grapefruit and tropical notes. I love this wine because it’s such a crisp and refreshing wine, with lovely minerality and citrus acid. 2010 Lazy Creek Rosé of Pinot Noir – $20 Another dry, crisp wine, there are lots of juicy tangerine flavors, with watermelon and orange juice. The salmon color is a bit deeper than some Pinot Noir Roses, but the flavors are great. Fresh strawberries and raspberries, with floral notes on the finish with a touch of bitter orange. Archery Summit Vireton Rose – $29 Love at first sip! This delicate rosé of Pinot Noir is full of tropical fruit, watermelon and Hood River strawberries. I absolutely loved this wine. The bright fresh raspberry juice was clean and crisp, and is a perfect summer sipper. Pale pink and delicate. Happy 4th! Please don’t drink and drive, and NO fireworks in the dry red flag areas!