Saturday, February 26, 2011

Two fine wines from Corison Winery

There’s nothing fancy about Corison Winery and its wines. Most people who drive up and down St Helena Highway will most likely pass it, but that’s their mistake, and a big one. There’s so much distraction in this part of the valley, vineyards, fancy wineries and limos driving wine geeks back and forth on their wine tour in the valley. The Corison Winery almost disappears in all this. But the ones who pull off the highway, and step into the small grey barn (the winery, with its small tasting table), will taste some very elegant wines, fashioned in the elegant and classic way wines were once made. They will not be impressed by powerful wines and richness, since there’s no power to find in the wines. Instead Cathy Corison is looking for elegance, finesse, and that fine tuned and lingering aftertaste that’s so delicious.
After a master degree in oenology at UC Davis, Cathy Corison worked as a winemaker for many Napa Valley wineries, among them Freemark Abbey (back then she was one of the very few women in the Napa Valley wine cellars) and at Chappellet, where she spent ten years making wines.
She thinks of herself as a classical winemaker, and she doesn’t like full-bodied, ripe and overly alcoholic wines. The first vintage she made under her own label was 1987. At that time she made them at Robert Sinskey’s winery in Stags Leap District, and continued to custom crushed her wines until 2000, when her own winery was ready to operate. There’s only one estate vineyard, the Kronos Vineyard. In addition to that, Cathy purchase grapes for her other wines. The total production is around 4 000 cases per year.

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon / 88 p
Although 2004 was a very warm vintage, Cathy Corison managed to capture some finesse in this wine. It’s young and dark purple red with high intensity, and on the nose you’ll find sweet notes of ripe berries, but also that cool and slightly grassy note one finds in lighter and more elegant cabernets. I wouldn’t call it unripe, as several of my American wine writing colleagues would, it’s just a kind of note that Cabernet Sauvignon often has – especially in cooler climate and in very warm vintages, then the vines shut down over a time due to the heat. As always in Cathy’s wines, the oak have been used in a very intelligent way, and it’s very well balanced. On the palate, it is medium bodied, clean and quite fresh with a lingering mineral energy and fine tannins. Although it’s fruity, it’s elegant and quite classic, at the moment a bit closed and therefore not too complex, but there’s small notes of cedar tree and lead pencils in the finish, which I expect to develop more in the years to come. This is a good but not great wine that I rather drink in five years than today.
Drink it 2012-2018.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Kronos Vineyard / 91 p
This is always the more powerful, darker and more complex wine of the two. Grapes are sourced from the 3.25 hectare Kronos Vineyard adjacent to the winery and since it was planted on phylloxera resistant St George rootstocks in the 70s, vines are still strong and healthy and belongs to the older ones in this part of the valley (many vineyards in Napa Valley were affected by phylloxera in the 80s and 90s and had to be replanted). On the nose, it’s quite deep and dense with notes of dark berries, and since the house style is more towards finesse, the concentration is good but not too high. Either you like this more elegant style, or not, it’s a wine of very good quality. It’s young and a bit closed, so it needs to open up in a decanter to blossom, but as the regular cabernet, it will gain a lot more complexity with bottle age. On the palate, it’s fresh and actually more cassis driven than on the nose, and tannins are fine, acidity fresh, the intensity medium high, but the aftertaste a bit tight and short.
I’d describe this as a classic and very elegant wine, and for those who enjoy these kind of wines, it’s absolutely a wine to put down in the cellar for a few years. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed several vintages of this wine, and it always developes into something very complex!
Drink it 2012-2022.


  1. it is youthful and dim purple red-colored with higher intensity, and within the nose you will come across sweet notes of ripe berries, but in addition that awesome and slightly grassy be aware a single finds in lighter and far more stylish cabernets.
    How can we WOW Gold for sale through the internet? We must make it safe and trust those people who buy our's products, and we can
    Buy WOW Gold
    of other games.

  2. I took a Napa Limo Wine Tours through the wine valleys. It was such an amazing experience. I would recommend it to anyone.

  3. Amazing thing you post in this blog. It help me to solve my related problem. Nice bolg post.
    Visit :- Napa Limo

  4. I had visited your website wich was really good.

  5. Thanks in favor of sharing such a fastidious idea, piece of writing is nice, thats why i have read it…Napa Suv Limo