16.1% Pinot and a “Fermentations First”
So I’m browsing through Dean & Deluca today after a meeting in Napa. I’m picking up aged Gruyere, some St. Agur Blue, some duck liver pate. I wander over to the wine side of the store, a really remarkable collection of CA wine. And there’s my favorite section: Pinot.
I looked at 25 pinot noirs. Just one came in under 14% alcohol (13.9%). The majority were in the 14.8% area. A few in the 15%+ region and one that was 16.1% alcohol.
The 1998 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a stunningly good wine from a vintage that was universally disregarded by most wine critics and most wine geeks. It was called "Light", "Soft" "Underdeveloped." The Corison 1998 goes to show that even if the critics are right (and I’m not sure they are when it comes to 1998) all wines do not fall into their categorization.
The 1998 Corison Cab is a perfectly balanced wine. The balanced still shows in spades with velvety tannins mixing with textural acidity that gives the wine the kind of structure a good Porterhouse steak or lamb shank really demands. The nose is where the wines complexity really is on display. Deep violet, anise, wild blackberry and sweet herbs (sage?). The flavors mimic the nose. It is a medium dense wine that is elegant and long. Its age isn’t even a factor yet. The edge carries only the tiniest hint of brown. And, there is not a single note of hotness in this wine. The alcohol is 13.6%. Yes, 13.6%.
This kind of Cabernet is rare in Napa Valley today. It’s the type that is made by a winemaker cum stylist with the kind of self assurance you see in artist who break the mold and step beyond contemporary standards.
The cost? $38. Thirty-eight dollars for an outstanding Napa Valley Cabernet with a bit of age on it. I think this wine will continue to IMPROVE, not merely age, but IMPROVE for another 7-10 years.