I am the first to admit I am not a huge fan of Chardonnay. I enjoy many white wines but Chardonnay tends to fall to the bottom of the list. I think this is mostly a result of the many poorly crafted California Chardonnays I have had over the past several decades. Last November I participated in Protocol Wine Studio’s month long #Winestudio Session XIX – The Importance of Being Willamette Valley Chardonnay. Through that experience I was blessed to have sampled 7 excellent Chardonnays! I mean it; each one was very good. Additionally, in the few Chardonnays I have been sent to sample I have honestly not had a bad one yet; therefore, I know it is possible to produce well-crafted Chardonnay. Moreover, in my recent wine adventure in Santa Barbara County I tasted many more beautifully crafted Chardonnays; I even bought a few! My problem is my Chardonnay taste prefers mineral driven, lightly oaked wine that is not over powered with a buttery texture or too much fruit. Basically Chablis!
Before I left for Santa Barbara I received a sample shipment of Cornerstone Cellars wine from Craig Camp. As I opened the box the first wine that revealed itself was Chardonnay. Now I must confess I am already a big fan of Cornerstone Cellars. I have had at least a half a dozen of their wines, but I have never tried their Chardonnay. Oh boy, please let it be good, please; please; please!
Cornerstone Cellars 2012 Willamette Valley Chardonnay: This wine poured a dazzling soft gold into the glass and opened with inviting aromas of orchard and citrus on top of a beautiful mineral foundation. This wine was elegantly powerful on the palate with flavors of apples, pears, lemon zest and a hint of honeysuckle with a beautiful finish of graphite and crushed stone. It was smooth, full of flavor and lingered with a mouth-watering acidity on the back of the palate. DELICIOUS! Yes, as I suspected the Cornerstone Cellars Chardonnay was very pleasing! 13.5% alcohol. SRP $40. Order direct from Cornerstone Cellars. I recommend this wine.
I paired this wine with a recipe from January’s issue of Cooking Light Magazine: Chicken with Artichoke Pan Sauce. The zesty lemon sauce paired with the salty pancetta and savory garlic and shallots married perfectly with the Chardonnay. Furthermore, the rosemary and parsley pulled an herbal essence out of the wine as well. It was an excellent meal! Eating that dish paired with Cornerstone Cellars 2012 Chardonnay was healthy and light! I love January.
Cornerstone Cellars considers themselves an “atypical” Napa Valley winery and I agree; just the fact their Chardonnay is produced in Oregon (as is their Pinot Noir) speaks to their willingness to focus more on producing high quality wines over staying in one region; “It’s more important where the vines put down roots than where the winemakers do.” Don’t you love that?! Cornerstone Cellars crafts wines to express their vision of the 3v’s: vineyard, vintage and variety. In 2008 Cornerstone’s Craig Camp teamed up with renowned Oregon wine maker Tony Rynders to collaborate on their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir project. I am so honored to receive the results of this collaboration!
From the Cornerstone Cellars web site:
We do not make wine for everyone. We make what we believe in, not what the mass market demands. We will not be a slave to the fashion of the moment, we make wines we love to drink. What makes a great wine does not change; it’s not like having hemlines to go up and down according latest whim.
I strongly encourage you to visit the Cornerstone Cellars web site to learn more about them, view their entire portfolio of wines and to order wine, including their Chardonnay. Next time you are in Napa Valley head to the Cornerstone Cellars tasting room in downtown Yountville for a warm welcome and good wine. Furthermore, take a moment to look at their low cost, low commitment, high value wine club. It could be one of the best wine club values I have ever seen!
My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with Cornerstone Cellars 2012 Willamette Valley Chardonnay is All Right Now by Free.
Get your own bottle of Cornerstone Cellars 2012 Willamette Valley Chardonnay and let me know what song you would pair with it. Cheers!