Revisiting Napa: Suckering with Cathy Corison

The last time I was out in Wine Country (late April), I knew I would have a bit of time after my visit to Dry Creek Valley, so I tried to set up a couple of tastings over on the Napa side of things. My story is not all that different from most American wine lovers, I imagine. When I started visiting wineries in the U.S., I spent my time exclusively in the Napa Valley. For the beginner, Napa is fairly easy: there are two roads (Route 29 and the Silverado Trail) that run parallel on either side of the Valley and house some of the most famous wineries in the industry. There was really no need, at least initially, to venture that far out.

As my taste and experience began to broaden, however, we started braving out into the geographically more challenging wild, wild west known as Sonoma County. Since venturing to the other side of the Mayacamas Mountains, we have rarely looked back (other than the occasional visit to Failla Wines to pick up some of our favorite Pinot and Chardonnay–and see my friend Kathy Berez).

On this particular trip, I had a bit of free time before I was due back in the East Bay for dinner, so I set up an appointment over on the Napa side of the world. On a whim, I contacted Cathy Corison, the legendary Cabernet producer in Napa. Much to my surprise, she agreed to meet with me in the early afternoon.

I had a late morning appointment at Corison, but I did not dilly, nor did I dally: my grandmother taught me at a very young age to never keep a legend waiting.
I headed down Route 29 and pulled into Corison. Shortly after arriving, Cathy came out to greet me, a bit perplexed since as she said “I had no idea what you looked like since there is a child on your Twitter page.” This threw me for a loop since I naturally assumed that she had someone manage her Twitter account for her–but as it turned out, she was one of the more “connected” wine makers I have met: she seemed to be well-versed in all aspects of social media.

Shortly after the introductions, she alerted me that she did not have a lot of time for our visit–there was a bit of a crisis at the winery at the time that needed her attention. Nonetheless, she showed me around the property a bit and then led me out back to the vineyard.

Corison Winery from the vineyard.

Corison Winery from the vineyard.

We talked a bit about how she started in the wine business and eventually ventured out on her own, a bit about kids and juggling family and careers (others have written far more poignantly about Cathy and her history: See HERE for example).
Just as I thought our brief time was about to end, I got a bit of a gift–we suckered for a bit in the vineyard.
I come from a family of farmers and I always dreamed about having my own farm and tending to the crops, and as we walked the vines, Cathy noticed several secondary shoots had popped out and were reaching for the sun. She adroitly snapped these “suckers” (so named since they “suck” valuable nutrients from the vines, but will not contribute any usable fruit) and I quickly joined in.
Suckering with Cathy Corison.

Suckering with Cathy Corison.

What did you think I meant when I said we “suckered”?
I had hoped we would continue down the row, but she indicated that she needed to get back inside and that one of her long time employees would take good care of me inside.
2010 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon: Retail $80. Young. Restrained. Lovely fruit great structure. Tannins on the back mean this has time. 91-93 Points.
2006 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon: Retail $95 surprisingly darker than the ’10. More chocolate and raspberry with leather and darker fruit. Wow. This is incredible but no where near ready. 92-94 Points.
2005 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon: Retail $100. A cooler growing season resulted in some green pepper on the nose. Classic Bordeaux style. This could go on forever; still a baby. 92-94 Points.
IMG_43742010 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Kronos: Retail $150. Whoa. I am not a cab fan but this stuff can change your life. Rich and full without being big. Finish never seems to end. 93-95 Points.
1998 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Kronos: Retail $225. I could smell this all day red fruit a bit of pepper and spice. On the palate wow. If the last did not make me a believer this makes me a convert. If only I could afford it. 94-96 Points.
As I mentioned in a note above, I am not much of a Cab fan, but all Cathy’s wines were incredible and once I win the lottery….