Cornerstone Cellars | Two Sophisticated Reds from Napa Valley’s 2012 Vintage

Cornerstone Oakville Station Merlot '12Merlot | Oakville Station | Napa Valley | California | 2012 | $75

92 Points | “Highly Recommended”  (A Cellar-Worthy Selection)

This 100% Merlot is sourced from Oakville Station Vineyard blocks in the celebrated To-Kalon vineyard in Oakville, at the center of Napa Valley. This is a classic rendition of the variety — from an ideal vintage — that takes us back to a more restrained and elegant style. On the nose are exotic notions of boysenberry preserve, jasmine, cedar, and ginseng; and on the palate, ripe black-and-blueberry, dried herbs, roasted vanilla bean, and botanicals — all deeply layered with accents of eucalyptus, star anise, and graphite that unfold over a mouthwatering finish. Lush and velvety smooth on the palate, it is medium-full bodied with firm tannins, moderate acidity, and assertive, toasty oak. This is a young Merlot with an impressive vineyard pedigree which, while enjoyable now with an hour’s (or longer) decant, promises ever greater rewards after several years in the cellar. (The oak and relatively high alcohol content need some time to settle and harmonize.) Whether now or later, serve it with braised short ribs, mushroom tart, cassoulet, and other hearty dishes. (97 Cases Produced |14.9% ABV)

Cornerstone Michael's Cuvee '12Cabernet Sauvignon | “Michael’s Cuvée” | Napa Valley | California     2012 | $75

90 Points | “Highly Recommended” (A Cellar-Worthy Selection)

Named for Cornerstone Cellars founder Michael Dragutsky, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (91%) and Merlot (9%) sourced from several premium Napa Valley vineyards; namely, the Oakville Station Vineyard blocks in To-Kalon; the Kairos Vineyard in Oak Knoll; and the Ink Grade Vineyard on Howell Mountain. It is a vividly aromatic Cabernet, with notes of blackberry liqueur, lavender, and camphor on the nose; followed by suggestions of black currant, sweet cured tobacco, mint, and bitters on the palate — all interwoven with notions of black tea leaf, grilled herbs, and nutmeg over a savory finish. It is medium-full bodied, with firm tannins, moderate acidity, and spicy oak. Like its Merlot sibling, this is a young red sourced from top-tier vineyards which, while enjoyable now with an hour’s (or longer) decant, promises to reveal much more in several years to come. (Here, too, the oak and relatively high alcohol content need some time to settle and harmonize.) Whether now or later, serve it with sharp cheeses, cured meats, seared Filet Mignon, roasted duck breast, braised lamb shank, and other such hearty fare. (250 Cases Produced | 14.9% ABV)

Availability: Cornerstone Cellars “White Label” wines — including the 2012 Oakville Station Merlot and Michael’s Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon — are produced in very limited quantities and available directly from the winery. It is worth mentioning, too, that Cornerstone wines are beautifully presented (the labels are gorgeous), and would highly impress as a gift. For more information, visit the winery virtually at www.cornerstonecellars.com.

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