Visiting California's Napa Valley, part 3
took me by surprise a bit: it's a smaller operation than I had been
expecting, and the wines were made in a style I love: the antithesis
of the big, in-yer-face, points chasing excess. Cathy Corison wasn't
around (she was in a plane at the time), but I was ably hosted by
Maurey Feaver. We tasted and lunched on the balcony of the top floor
of the winery, warmed by the late autumn sun, and looking across to
the Mayacamas Range and Spring Mountain.
spent 30 years making wine for other people, including Chappellet,
Staglin Family, York Creek and Long Meadow Ranch. She began her own
operation in 1987, and the winery is housed in a distinctive (and
pretty) barn designed by her husband, William Martin.
winery is located on the home vineyard, Kronos, which has some of
the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the valley (40 years old).
They're planted on gravelly loam soils and are managed organically.
The bulk of the fruit used here comes from vineyards on the west
side of the valley, but there's also a but of mountain fruit.
chooses to make the wines in a more restrained, ageworthy style than
many here. She picks a little earlier, and so doesn't have to add
acid. As well as coming from the Kronos vineyard around the winery,
grapes are sourced from other vineyards from this west side of the
valley floor, plus some mountain fruit.
vertical of Corison Cabernet Sauvignon from 1998-2002 showed how
well these wines age. Indeed, they positively need age: the current
release 2006 is tight, tannic and brooding, only hinting at what is
to come. They are fantastic, pure, structured, ageworthy wines, and
with the library releases the same price as the current release
($70), I'd suggest that the remaining bottles of 1998 are one of the
Valley's great bargains.
temptation for writers is sometime to praise certain wines for what
they are not. In this case, I'd reassure you I'm not just plugging
Corison because the wines are not made in the big point-chasing
spoofulated style, but because they actually have complexity and
character as well as restraint.
Sauvignon 1998 Napa Valley
Very nicely focused elegant, pure cherry fruit on the nose.
Delicate but hauntingly perfumed. The palate is pure, fresh and
elegant. It's midweight and evolving beautifully. Very stylish with
nice minerally complexity. 94/100 (some still available at $70)
Sauvignon 1999 Napa Valley
Taut, well defined spicy nose with some nice, savoury, olive
richness. The palate is fresh with a minty edge. Nice focus and some
spicy depth. Fresh, delicious and quite distinctive. 93/100
Sauvignon 2000 Napa Valley
Fine, elegant and mineral aromatics with olive and spice
alongside the dark fruits. Generous, ripe and supple on the palate
with lovely richness and texture, as well as spicy tannins. A
brilliantly balanced wine with great personality. 94/100
Sauvignon 2001 Napa Valley
Beautifully aromatic with a nice savoury, spicy dimension. The
palate has lovely pure, fresh plum and blackcurrant fruit, with
savoury, spicy tannic structure. Very well proportioned and balanced
with nice minerality. Warm climate in style but still quite fresh.
Beginning to start showing its best. 93/100
Sauvignon 2002 Napa Valley
Beautifully fresh and focused with nice, well-defined, tightly
structured dark fruits. Lovely freshness and acidity. Real potential
for future development. 93/100
Sauvignon 2006 Napa Valley
Tight, focused dark fruits nose is brooding with notes of olives
and meat. The palate is fresh, taut and structured with firm but not
aggressive tannins. Mineral and brooding, this has a long future
ahead of it. 94/100
Kronos Vineyard Cabernet
Sauvignon 2005 Napa Valley
Powerful, mineral, spicy, subtly tarry nose with plum and
blackberry fruit. The palate is savoury and intense with complex,
structured, earthy, spicy fruit and lots of tannin. It's a backward
wine with lovely acidity. Intense and powerful. 94/100
Helios Merlot 2004
Elegant, fresh nose with lovely varietal character. Sweet but
with a subtle chalky greenness. The palate is fresh and a bit sappy
with subtle cherry and berry fruit. Very stylish. 90/100
from Napa Valley
Part 2, Schramsberg
Part 3, Corison
5, Lagier Meredith
8, Grgich Hills
tasted as 11/09
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com