Rosés of Summer: 2013 Stepping Stone Corallina

2013 Corallina Napa Valley Syrah RoséToday is the day before Summer officially starts.  Here in the Bay Area, summer has a tenancy to be a bit confused, and we’ve had some amazing weather, then cold weather, then amazing weather, then fog, then…

As confused as it can be, Summer to me is the time to drink Rose and think pink.  There is a lot of pink wine out there, but not every pink is the same.  Rose wines can vary from just barely pink, almost clear, to deep, rich, translucent ruby.  Every grape under the sun has been made in to a rose wine, but the most common are Piont Noir, Grenache, Syrah, and a smattering of other grapes such as Cab Franc and Mourvedre.

Typically, my personal favorites are Grenache and Pinot Noir rose, but there is a very special crop of pink Syrah out there that makes my heart go pitter patter!

Each year, Cornerstone Napa creates the Stepping Stone Corallina is a beautiful women of distinction, created from the Syrah fruit from Napa Valley.  And each year, General Manager Craig Camp, promises me that it is the best year ever.  Last year, I didn’t think that the team at Cornerstone could possible top the 2012.  But, it seems that they have done it with the 2013!

The 2013 Corallina Napa Valley Syrah Rosé is made as Cornerstone processes their white wines, where the Syrah is kept in whole clusters and gently pressed to maintain complexity and the nuances of a purpose made rose.  A bone dry rosé , this beauty bears no relation to the sweet, sticky White Zinfandels that are still (unfortunately) mostly closely associated with rose wine.

The light, fresh, and crisp Corallina has bright watermelon, Tuscan melon, and blood orange notes with an interesting fresh tomato note that was at once, unexpected and delicious.  The refreshing crispness of the Syrah has bright cherry notes, floral aromas, and an edge of herbaciousness that keep you guessing.

At only $25, I can drink this all summer.  Bright and juicy, it is perfect for summer sipping with everything from barbecued chicken to burgers, and can stand up to salted watermelon salad, and rich cheeses as well.

Corallina was given to me by the winery as a press sample, but clearly I love this beautiful women.  For more Rosés of Summer, keep watching every Friday!

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Change is in the air – Stepping Stone by Cornerstone

When Cornerstone Cellars burst on the scene with their sister label, Stepping Stone, it was an existing time for wine lovers.  The quiet powerhouse of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon had the opportunity to move in to some fun and interesting varietals, such as Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and a beautiful rose of Syrah.

Recently, with the leadership of General Manager Craig Camp and winemaker Jeff Keene, the Stepping Stone label has grown up:  Now, Stepping Stone by Cornerstone (Cornerstone Black Label) represents the best in class of the support cast of characters that make Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bordeaux, so sexy.

Cornerstone Stepping Stone Cabernet FrancWith the new labels, Stepping Stone by Cornerstone slides seamlessly in to the Cornerstone lineup.  The elegant white on black label mirrors the black on white labels of the Cornerstone Cabernet lineup and makes a bold statement about where these wines lie on the quality and flavor spectrum.

My favorites (well ok they really are ALL favorites but…) is the 2011 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Napa Valley Cabernet Franc.  When I stopped by the see the gang at Cornerstone earlier this year, I tasted through the lineup and once again, the Cab Franc stand out.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Cab Franc in general, and Cornerstone’s in particular.  The 2011 has all of the savory herbaciouness that makes Cab Franc so unique, with a pop of raspberry and plum.  Hiding in the back of the mouth, I get dried herbs, French lavelddar, and tobacco along with some dark chocolate dancing on my tounge.

This is a silky, rich, unctuous wine, but it’s also bright.  With the herbal backbone it’s a great pairing for herbed chicken, pepper steak or pretty much anything.  For $45 this is an affordable luxury that you can share with your friends to warm up on a chilly late spring evening.

Here in Northern California, we aren’t sure what season it is yet.  We had about 3 days of high summer, followed by a day of winter.  It’s now calmed back in to Spring, so I say open a bottle of Cornerstone tonight and make it choose your season for you!

Corenrstone Cellars is located in yountville, just north of the town of Napa.  If you’re making a trip to Napa, make sure you stop in.  You won’t be sorry!

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Corralina is a star!

2012 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Corallina Napa Valley Syrah Rosé Oh Stepping Stone Corralina, how I adore you.

You guessed it, it’s rose weather!  Here in San Francisco, summer comes, summer goes.  The fog is here, the fog isn’t here.  We’re decidedly schizophrenic this year.  That said, one of my favorite things about the warm weather is rosé!  No longer the sweet wines of the 70s and 80s, these dry summer sippers are made from Syrah, Pinot, Cabernet – even Sangiovese.  Rosé comes in all hues, and all flavor profiles.  This one, however, is special.

I have tasted several vintages of the Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Corralina Rose of Syrah in the past, and this by far is my favorite.  The delicate strawberry notes are surprising in a Syrah rose, and if I didn’t know better I might have mistaken this for a Tavel or Bandol wine from the south of France.  This bone dry wine also has hints of lemon, nutmeg and rose petals, which carry over to the long watermelon filled finish.

Love occurs at first pour, when the fruit aromas jump out of the glass and gracefully fall down your palate in a watercolor wash of fruit.  This is a perfect summer wine, and would go well with fish, grilled chicken, or burgers.  $20 and well worth it!

Happy sipping!

 

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Cornerstone Rocks!

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!