Wine growing is an unending evolutionary process if you want to make great wine. You need to experience a vineyard over a number of harvests and then taste the wine as it develops over the years to really understand its true character. Only time can show you what a vineyard can deliver then you can decide if it merits the status of a single vineyard bottling. I've always felt the vineyard should convince me instead of me convincing the vineyard.
Over the last years we have been working with an elite set of Napa Valley vineyards that have clearly established themselves as worthy of that distinction:
- Kairos Vineyard on the edge of Oak Knoll and Coombsville
- Grigsby Vineyard in the Yountville AVA
- Oakville Station Vineyard in To Kalon
- Red Lake Vineyard on Howell Mountain
We are now confident enough in these vineyards to to begin the presentation of an exceptional group of single vineyard wines under the Cornerstone Cellars White Label. Our White Label will become synonymous with this group of distinctive vineyards, which will be introduced over the releases of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages. Only a few hundred cases will be produced of each wine. Those wines will be:
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Kairos Vineyard, Napa Valley AVA $90 SRP
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Grigsby Vineyard, Yountville AVA $90 SRP
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville Station Vineyard, Oakville AVA $100 SRP
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Lake Vineyard, Howell Mountain AVA $100 SRP
- Merlot, Oakville Station, Oakville AVA $75 SRP
- Cabernet Franc, Oakville Station, Oakville AVA $80 SRP
- Syrah, Grigsby Vineyard, Yountville AVA $60 SRP
- The Cornerstone, Oakville Station, Oakville AVA $150 SRP
As a passionate believer in terroir and wines with a sense of place it has always been my vision to evolve our Napa Valley wines at Cornerstone Cellars and arrive at this point in time. While place has always been an obsession to those who love pinot noir (including me and why we are making wine in Oregon) there is an equally compelling argument that those with a passion for the classic Bordeaux varieties should also cling to that connection to the soil in their wines. For some reason terroir seems to be the property of Burgundy, Rhône and Piemontese varieties, but what is true for them is just as true for those who were born in Bordeaux. It matters where the fruit is grown.
I get why cabernet and merlot suffer from this prejudice. The world is covered with hundreds of thousands of acres of these varieties simply because they are famous and have shown easy adaptability to many climates and soils. Unlike varieties like pinot noir, nebbiolo and viognier they have proved able to produce vast oceans of industrial wines under their names as they are more forgiving in the vineyard and capable of producing massive crops of grapes.
It is my goal with these new wines to show there is a sense of place in the Napa Valley as compelling as any, anywhere. Many of the most expensive wines in the Napa Valley are totally devoid of terroir and I think that is wrong and a waste of some of the finest cabernet sauvignon dirt on the planet. It my own very small way I want to show that great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards deserve as much respect as great vineyards everywhere. However as you would expect from Cornerstone Cellars these new wines are not boiled down concentrates that masquerade as wines, but elegant wines that allow the nuances and shades that these unique vineyards bestow on these wines to show themselves in all their glory.
Each of these new wines will have a reason to exist. That reason will be the vineyard itself. It will be my pleasure to introduce you to them. You will see the first release of these new single vineyard wines this September with the 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Merlot, Oakville Station. This will be followed by a complete rollout of the new wines in 2016 with the releases of the excellent 2013 vintage.
In addition to these limited production single vineyard wines we will continue to offer extraordinary values in our Black Label series, which will grow to include a merlot. We will also be introducing a new luxury cuvée with the 2012 vintage. I have named this new wine Michael's Cuvée in honor of our founder Dr. Michael Dragutsky, who launched Cornerstone Cellars in 1991. This wine will be exclusively selected from the same vineyards that give us our single vineyard wines and will combine the best characteristics of each vineyard to a whole that is truly the sum of all its parts.
So we continue to evolve at Cornerstone Cellars. Evolution is slow in the world of wine, unlike the tech world where iterations are a daily occurrence, in the world of agriculture we only get one harvest a year. With each vintage we take another step. We may progress one step at a time, but we know where we’re going.