Many of you are familiar with Cornerstone Cellars and the outstanding wines they produce in the Napa Valley. I’ve been privileged enough to have tasted many of their Napa Valley wines and have shared them with you on this blog throughout the years, however did you know that they have production in Oregon’s Willamette Valley as well? Obviously Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in the Napa Valley’s climate and we know Cornerstone produces world-class Cabernet Sauvignon in the Napa Valley. To make exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, you look to the climate of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Cornerstone Cellars’ Craig Camp believes this wholeheartedly and also feels that if you have a Cabernet vineyard next to a Pinot Noir vineyard, then something is wrong; one or both of them are in the wrong place.
Cornerstone Oregon was born as a collaboration between Cornerstone Napa’s Craig Camp and renowned Oregon winemaker, Tony Rynders. Craig Camp has had a passion for Pinot Noir for many decades due to discovering and importing the wines of Burgundy. Take that passion and the talents of Tony Rynders, and you have some of the most complex and elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay coming out of Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley.
Cornerstone Oregon has it’s production in Gaston, Oregon. Their current production consists of a 2010 Cornerstone Oregon Chardonnay, a 2010 Pinot Noir from their Stepping Stone series, and a 2010 Cornerstone Oregon Pinot Noir. I recently tasted each of these current releases and was blown away by how wonderful and complex these wines were. Anyone who reads my blog and knows me, knows that I have been a huge fan of the Cornerstone Napa wines for many years and now I can say that I am a huge fan of their wines out of Oregon as well. I am extremely excited to share these wines with you and encourage you to seek them out for your enjoyment.
The Cornerstone Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Chardonnay is composed of grapes from two different AVAs; Yamhill-Carlton and Chehalem Mountains, both at 50% each. This wine is aged in 100% French Oak. In the glass, the wine pours a lovely, light straw color. This wine has beautiful aromatics. On the nose, you get fresh lemon and lime along with some tropical fruit components such as pineapple and guava. You also get some vanilla and the barest hint of spice. There is also some subtlety with some delicate floral notes, along with wet rocks. On the palate, there is fresh lemon and lime along with a touch of enchanting Crème Brûlée and spice; all of which is beautifully embraced by vibrant acidity and a long finish. This wine is very Burgundian in nature and Chablis lovers will definitely love this wine. If you are not a fan of Chardonnay, I definitely urge you to taste this one. It will definitely make you re-think Chardonnay as a whole. It is a Chardonnay that has beautiful structure and is full of complexity and finesse. In my opinion, it is one of the best Chardonnays being produced in Oregon. I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend this wine. Only 166 cases of this wine were produced, so make sure to get your hands on some before it’s all gone. The wine sells for $35 per bottle on the Cornerstone website.
Next wine up is the 2010 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. The Stepping Stone Series by Cornerstone contains excellent wines that are perfect to serve for your Tuesday night dinner or for any special occasion. They come in at great price points. There are several Stepping Stone wines in Cornerstone Napa and now there is one available for Cornerstone Oregon. This Pinot Noir is composed of fruit from six distinct AVAs in the Willamette Valley; Yamhill-Carlton (45%), Eola-Amity (33%), Chehalem Mountain (15%), McMinnville (5%), Ribbon Ridge (1%), and Dundee Hills (1%). This wine is aged in 100% French Oak. In the glass, the wine pours a lovely ruby color with red hues when you hold it up to the light. The nose of the wine is full of cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, a touch of vanilla, oak, mushrooms, earth, and herbs. Again, Burgundian in nature. On the palate, there is cherry, tart cranberry and pomegranate. You also get a touch of herbs and spice along with beautiful acidity. The wine is light and bright and typical of the 2010 vintage of Oregon Pinot Noir, which is among one of my favorite vintages. I absolutely love this Pinot Noir. It’s versatile, yet elegant and perfect to pair with a weeknight dinner or cellar some for special occasions later on down the road. This will pair well with mushroom risotto or classic grilled salmon. I absolutely recommend this Pinot Noir. Only 137 cases were produced, so I recommend getting some soon before it’s just a lovely memory. In fact, my cellar needs more bottles. This wine sells for $30 per bottle on the Cornerstone website; an excellent value for a wonderful Oregon Pinot Noir of such depth and high caliber.
The last Cornerstone Oregon wine that I am pleased to share with you is the 2010 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. This wine is composed from grapes from the same six distinctive AVAs that the Stepping Stone Pinot Noir is composed of, except the percentages are slightly different; Yamhill-Carlton (68%), Chehalem Mountain (10%), Eola-Amity (8%), McMinnville (6%), Ribbon Ridge (5%), and Dundee Hills (3%). This wine was also aged in 100% French Oak. In the glass the wine pours a seductive, deep garnet color. On the nose, there are aromas of fresh raspberry, cherry cola, violets, spice, earth, and coffee. The palate is coated by a generous juicy layer of cherry and berries, followed by another layer of baking spice, cocoa, vanilla, and a touch of espresso on a long, lingering finish. The tannins on this wine are softer and graceful. This is a very classy, refined, and elegant Pinot Noir. It would pair wonderfully with lamb dishes or any mushroom dishes. This is yet another stellar example of Oregon Pinot Noir from the 2010 vintage. This wine is also very highly recommended. 498 cases were produced and it can be purchased for $50 per bottle on the Cornerstone website.
There you have the three wines in production by Cornerstone Oregon. All three of these wines are what you would come to expect with the Cornerstone brand: elegance, complexity, beauty, and finesse. These three wines are HIGHLY recommended for the Oregon wine aficionado or anyone who is interested in tasting some examples of the outstanding wines being produced in Oregon. A very special thank you to Mr. Craig Camp for giving me the opportunity to taste these wines and sharing them with my readers.
Cornerstone Oregon has recently created a Twitter profile which can be found here. Be sure to connect with Cornerstone Cellars on Facebook as well to stay in the know on current releases and winery news.
Keep an eye out in the next couple weeks on posts on Cornerstone’s iconic Cabernets. Until the next time friends.
* These wines were provided as media samples for review purposes.