2017 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Franc – Winner of Best of Class and Gold Medal Winner
2022 Cabernet Franc Wine Competition & Celebration Winner
At the April 2022 Cabernet Franc Blind Wine Competition and Celebration held in Copperopolis, California, Cornerstone Cellars won several awards. Two sets of judges presided over the tasting, one being the Professional Judges and the other being People’s Choice Judges. The People’s Choice Judge in the $101 and up category, awarded both a Gold Medal and Best of Class to Cornerstone Cellars. This was the only wine in this prestigious category to receive a Gold Medal. The Professional Judges awarded a Silver Medal, thus tying for the best score in this category.
The word cornerstone is an architectural term, for the first stone being laid for a structure. After the cornerstone is laid, all the other stones are laid in reference to this critical first step. Cornerstones have been around for thousands of years since the ancient cultures of Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures. Builders today when laying out a home stills sets a cornerstone reference, then lasers laying out and setting the house construction.
The winery started in 1991 with Michael Dragutsky and David Sloas with 5 tons of grapes from the famed Randy Dunn vineyard. During the last three decades, they have had a few winemakers including Kari Auringe who was hired an assistant winemaker in 2001. She later returned in 2014 as the head winemaker at Cornerstone Cellars and is still producing excellent and award winning wines. She also is a consulting winemaker for various wineries in Napa Valley including one of my recent favorites Silver Trident.
For the Wine Competition, I was working with Lynn Prescott, Director of Operations and she was delightful to work with from registration to shipping the wines in time for the event.
Their portfolio of wines are made from vineyards in Rutherford, Howell Mountain, Oakville, Calistoga, Santa Rita Hills and Sonoma. The varietals besides Cabernet Franc include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc Rosé of Pinot Noir.
I had not tasted the 2017 Cornerstone Cabernet Franc until last evening. First on the eyes a lush and dark color of royal purple with crimson awakened your vision, then with a swirling motion the medium-heavy viscosity wine beckoned one to go to the next steps. On the nose aromas of black cherry, blackberry provided any additional incentive, if really needed to partake in the wine. In the palate, a beautiful wine unfolded with smoothness with dark fruits and notable but not harsh tannins. Secondary flavors of herbs, and pyrazines kept in check. A beautiful enticing floral quality with a just a modicum of chocolate provided a beautiful wine. The intense structure of the wine continued to provide layers and layers of enjoyment through the long lasting finish. The wine is comprised of 86% Cabernet Franc, 11% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine comes from Oakville and only 170 cases were produced. Their website shows it as $110/bottle. Truly a magnificent wine.
The Food and Wine Pairing
Paired with marinated and seared tri-tip steak, twice baked potatoes, asparagus, fresh garden salad and brown rolls this was a memorable food and wine pairings. All the table guests present concurred this was an exceptional wine. The wine with the tri-tip steak danced with joy in the mouth.
Cornerstone Cellars cornerstone was set back in 1991 and the building of great Cabernet Franc wine continue to provide quality, character and a mouth filling experience. I look forward to tasting their Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc in the near future.