I think it is safe to say that the relationship between the wine industry and wine bloggers is complicated—a few wineries seem to embrace bloggers, others take a more cautious approach, and there are still some that act as if they just hope we would go away.
Craig Camp, the managing partner of Cornerstone Cellars in Yountville, California, is firmly in the first group.
I ran into him at the Wine Bloggers Conference and chatted him up a bit (I really should have taken a photo as well, but I tend to get caught up in conversation and forget about photos). Craig has a wonderfully disarming personality—even though we had only met once before (two years prior at WBC12), he immediately recognized me (no doubt my name badge helped) and greeted me as if we had been friends for years.
I am far from the only blogger that receives samples from Cornerstone, but Craig treated me as if I were the most important person in the room. Craig understands that wine bloggers write about wine because we are passionate about the subject and, therefore, that is where he puts most of his marketing efforts—he said he doesn’t even send samples to the print magazines anymore.
It was clear that Craig and Cornerstone understood the passion of bloggers when a recent shipment of samples showed up. There was a rosé, a couple of reds, and a mini-vertical (consecutive years of the same wine) of Sauvignon Blanc inside. I do not know if I can speak for everyone that received these bottles, but of all the samples I have received up to this point, these were the bottles that I was most looking forward to opening—vertical tastings are somewhat rare, and this one just landed on my doorstep.
Thanks to Craig Camp and Cornerstone Cellars for providing the samples for these reviews:
2009 Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc:
Retail $30. At last, some Bordeaux style Sauvignon Blanc. I tend to agree with Bill Eyer, of Cuvee Corner
, who said in a recent interview on Snooth
: most new world Sauvignon Blanc has “too much over the top freshly cut grass [and is] overly citrus-y…” The ’09 nose requires a bit of patience–it does not leap out–eventually some lemon curd and minerality poke through. On the palate the acidity is subtle and in line with the fruit. This wine is doing fine and has some time to go. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2010 Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc: Retail $30. The ’10 is a different animal from the start. Melon and eucalyptus jump up to meet the nose. More acidity on the palate than the ’09 and not quite as much fruit as the nose suggested, thus adding to its refinement, ends with a chalky finish. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2011 Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc: Retail $30. Similar nose to the ’10 but with honeydew instead of cantaloupe and with more of a floral component. Seems even more acidic than the ’10, which suggests that this could use a bit more time. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2013 Cornerstone Corallina Napa Valley Rosé of Syrah: Retail $25. Strawberry and roses on the nose. Mellow fruit on the palate and some great depth, but a bit lacking in acidity. A little later on, even deeper flavors and intrigue. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2011 Stepping Stone Cabernet Franc Napa Valley: Retail $45. Wow. Form the get-go, this was a blockbuster. Rich red fruit, a bit of earth, and tons of depth in the glass. I do not jump over the moon all that much (at least I think), but this is a rock star. If only I could hold this for another half-dozen years. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2011 Stepping Stone Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley:
Retail $45. This is one of the problems with getting samples—I would not think of drinking this wine for another 3-5 years at least.
After a bit of time, there was a great nose—fruit, earth, spice. Outstanding
. On the palate, more of the same. I really do not get how wine reviewers can taste a wine like this and make a judgment. I guess that is why I am still an amateur. I really like this wine now (89-91 Points
), but I think the potential on this one is much higher (91-93 Points
). Am I right? I sure think so….