Let's start at the top. The intent on the recent California trip was to stay in Sonoma County, primarily the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. Strange things always seem to happen, so on the first day we decided to go to Napa Valley for lunch. And if one is in Napa valley it isn't too difficult to find a winery.
We were eating in the south end of St. Helena and about 200 yards south of us was the Corison Winery.
Regular readers of this blog know my current dislike for the majority of Napa Valley Cabernet based wines. I consider them sweet, alcoholic, over extracted, too ripe, unbalanced and tiring to drink. No question that they are well made wines, but they simply overpower most food and are so alcoholic that one glass is enough to cause a buzz. It's not my style of wine.
There are exceptions and Corison is certainly one of them. There are three labels at the winery and the Corison label is only used on the two 100% Cabernet wines, the Napa Valley and the Kronos Vineyard. We tasted the 2006 Napa Valley and the 2004 Kronos Vineyard along with a Gerwerztraminer and a Cabernet Sauvignon rose' under the Corazon label and a Merlot and a Cabernet Franc under the Helios label. The best came at the end with the two Cabernet Sauvignons.
The 2006 Napa is a blend of several vineyards in Rutherford and St Helena. The wine was tight in the nose with hints of spice, dry leather and bright fruit. The taste was about dark cherries and ripe plums. The acid was high and refreshing. The tannins were young and prominent, but smooth and tight. The finish left one with fruit and a hint of chocolate. Very good wine.
The Kronos Vineyard 2004 was like a trip to the past when I loved Napa Cabernets. The wine was dark with a nose of cherries, spices, cedar and dark chocolate. All of that was there in the taste of the wine along with some blackberries and good, clean earth. Again, the acid was a delightful surprise. The tannins were plentiful but they were ripe and soft. This was a big tasting wine, but it was so balanced with acid and tannin that it just cried out for two years bottle age and a rib roast or some venison. It has been a long time since I had a Napa Cabernet that I enjoyed this much.
Both of these Cabernets were 13.8% alcohol by volume. They aren't inexpensive wines by any stretch of the imagination, but they are definitely delicious. For the record the Napa Valley wine is $70 at the winery and the Kronos is $125.
I'm not in the habit of paying over $100 a bottle for wine, but I made an exception for one bottle of this wine. It was a special treat and in a couple of years there will be a wonderful meal around this wine.