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2009 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Syrah Napa Valley

Cornerstone’s Stepping Stone label is intended to offer wines that are ready to drink upon release but don't compromise regional and varietal typicity. The 2009 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Syrah does exactly that. The wine includes Grenache (10%) from Red Hills but is really a showcase for Carneros AVA Syrah. Those grapes come from a north-facing slope with shallow soils of clay and volcanic rock in the respected Truchard Vineyard. The facing adds emphasis to the already cool-climate of Carneros, Napa Valley’s chilliest AVA.

The Carneros AVA is the coolest in Napa Valley. Morning fog creeps in from San Pablo Bay, blanketing vineyards. In the late afternoon, cold winds rush across the water bringing grape temperatures down, occasionally even curtailing development of sugars for the day. Farther north, some growers drop fruit to maximize ripeness. In Carneros dropping fruit is often necessary to reach the minimum level of acceptable ripeness. That said, Carneros is not as frigid as some areas of the Sonoma Coast so, while this wine bears the obvious hallmarks of cool-climate Syrah, there is also richness to the fruit and the tannins are fully ripe.

The 2009 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Syrah has medium-plus intensity of color with a ruby-purple hue. It offers aromas of black and white pepper, blackberry, purple flowers and a suggestion of meaty smoke. Flavors match the scents but feature more focused fruit and somewhat less pepper. The palate is silky with medium-plus body and very fine, powdery tannins of moderate intensity. There is excellent balance between tannins, fruit, alcohol and acidity — the latter being sufficient to provide a slightly juicy finish. Highly Recommended.

2009 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Syrah Napa Valley
09_Stepping_Stone_Syrah_photoRating: Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2016
Bottling Date: June 2, 2011
Closure: Cork
Production: 398 cases
Retail Price: $25.00

Winemaker: Jeff Keene
Blend: 90% Truchard Vineyard (Carneros AVA) Syrah, 10% Red Hills AVA (Lake County) Grenache
Origin: Napa Valley
Fermentation: Long (3 -4 weeks) and cool (~80 degrees) with gentle cap management

Aging: 18 months in French oak, 100% new

Alcohol: 14.25%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not required but give it 15 minutes of air in your glass
Temperature: 61º F
Food Pairing:  Try filet mignon or a braised lamb shank.

The wine above was received from the winery for review.

If you like Rhone-variety wines, don’t miss the upcoming Hospice du Rhone on April 27 & 28. For a taste of HdR, take a look at these articles too:
Looking Forward to Hospice du Rhone 2012
10 Big Wine Events to Look Forward to in Early 2012

Recap of Hospice du Rhone 2011 - Day One
Recap of Hospice du Rhone 2011 - Day Two

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

rhone rangers panel cool climate north facing slope at Truchard, even less sun, will drop fruit to compensate, shallow clay and volcanic rock, goal is to have a wine that drinks easily upon release foggy morning, windy afternoon, limited heat spikes lavender, violet, blackberry, black pepper due to area 09 consistent growing season, long Indian Summer, wind shuts the vines down, maintaining acidity long, cool 80 degrees fermentation for freshness and silky tannins, 3 -4 weeks, gentle cap management to not over-extract climate 18 mos barrel