It took me a few moments to process that I was sitting across (albeit virtually) from one of the great winemakers of the world, Cathy Corison. Cathy became a winemaker when there were so few female head winemakers and I can’t help but being so incredibly touched for all she has done for female winemakers across North America. Before turning 30 she was named as head winemaker for Chappellet, making sensational, terroir-driven Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc under Napa pioneer Dom Chappellet. Cathy was a trailblazer, a true icon, and I enjoyed every minute of our conversation and tasting.
2017 was not an easy vintage for most people in Napa. “Of course we had the fires” said Cathy, “But I was really pleased with our wines that have the signature floral tones.” I commented that the floral tones her wines are known for have added a bit something special to the overall presentation of the wines. Her wines from 2017 offer beautiful finesse, deftly walking the tightrope between dense and poised. Her 2017 Corison ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon (WWB, 95) is dense and layered without being heavy. The terror and floral tones are simply outstanding. I was even more enamored by the sinfully good 2017 Corison ‘Kronos Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon (WWB, 96) which shows more power and deep rich black fruits with gorgeous non fruit flavors. This is a seamless effort that is perfect for any serious collector of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. One of my industry friends chimed in during my conversation with Cathy, asking about her 2001 Corison ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon which he adored (and I as well). “That is my favorite Corison wine” Cathy proclaimed. “I am due for a revisit,” I retorted. In post-coved America it was moments I shared with Cathy Corison that make human connections even more significant to me. It was an honor speaking with her, someone I truly revere for our industry. Here are my reviews of the new Corison wines.
2017 Corison ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon- The 2017 Corison ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon is a stunning new wine by famed Napa vintner Cathy Corison. Needing a one hour decant, immediately you are drawn to the high-toned red rose petal aromatics, woven together with tar, anise and creme de cassis tones on this evocative bouquet. The pretty and heady aromatics bring you back to the glass for more delight. Once on the palate silky, elegant tannins line the core of dark fruits with shades of coffee grounds, loamy terroir and violets intermingling. The length, finesse and softness of the wine really impresses, as this downright awesome effort will cellar well for many decades to come. Drink 2020-2038- 95
2017 Corison ‘Kronos Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon- Planted in 1971 on St. George rootstock, the ‘Kronos Vineyard’ is one of the older vineyards still standing which is known for its tiny, concentrated berries. This benefits from a one hour decant, as the ‘Kronos Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon takes the lead with gorgeous violet rose petals and orange blossom tones that mingle with asphalt, black cherry cordial and mocha tones that all meld in the glass. The palate is silky smooth, as this effortlessly glides across the mid-palate. Rich layers of creme de cassis, anise, violets and tar all impress without being heavy or over-concentrated. This is Napa elegance at its best as the gorgeous 2017 ‘Kronos Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon will cellar well for more than twenty years. Drink 2021-2040- 96
2017 Corison ‘Sunbasket Vineyard’ Cabernet Franc- The ‘Sunbasket Vineyard’ Cabernet Franc is another stunning wine by Cathy Corison. Bright red fruits connect with shades of dark chocolate shavings, red bell pepper and exotic spices on this beautiful bouquet. The palate is extremely elegant and soft, delivering a core of red and dark fruits with mocha and graphite tones alongside shades of wintergreen. Showing great length, this medium-bodied effort will cellar well for the next fifteen years. Absolutely worth nothing that this shows even more splendidly on the second day. Drink 2021-2035- 95