Stepping Stone - 2007 Grenache / 2007 Cabernet Franc

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to taste and write about what were then the current Cabernet Sauvignon releases for Cornerstone Cellars in Napa. Both wines were truly exceptional; the Howell Mountain Cabernet was a particularly special bottle. A few months later I had the chance, while I was out in Napa Valley, to taste some of their older vintages as well as what were then upcoming releases. Once again the wines were very impressive. So I was quite pleased to find wines from their second label Stepping Stone on my desk to sample. Today I’ll look at their current releases of Grenache and Cabernet Franc. Stay tuned for a close look at the current releases from their main label soon too. First up is the Stepping Stone 2007 Grenache. The fruit for this wine was sourced in Lake County. In addition to Grenache (96%), a bit of Zinfandel (4%) is blended in as well. 500 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $20.

Personally I’ve been drinking more and more Grenache of late. As time has gone on I’ve found it to be amongst the food friendliest of red varietals. This Stepping Stone selection opens with deep, dark berry aromas. Strawberry, rhubarb, blackberry pie and a host of spice notes are all part of the full flavored palate. The dark fruit continues through the finish where it’s joined by black pepper and a final savory note that clings persistently to the back of the throat. Ultimately it draws you in for another sip. This Grenache is framed by good acidity.

The second selection is the Stepping Stone 2007 Cabernet Franc. The fruit for this offering was sourced in Carneros. In addition to Cabernet Franc (90%), Merlot (10%) has been blended in. 500 cases of this selection were produced and the suggested retail price is $30.

When I’m out tasting wine, there are certain varietals whose mere presence on a tasting sheet build up anticipation. Even before getting to them on the list I find myself thinking about them and hoping that they live up to my expectation for that varietal. Cabernet Franc is most definitely one of those grapes. So as you could imagine, I'm glad that the second selection from Stepping Stone is a Cabernet Franc.

This 2007 Cabernet Franc from Carneros leads with leather, plum, blueberry and a hint of eucalyptus in the nose. Continued plum and blueberry combine in a gentle, layered and diverse palate. Cigar box emerges on the finish along with mineral and gentle hints of earth and little waves of spice. This wine has absolutely terrific acidity. Much like the Grenache this Cabernet Franc is a food lover’s delight.

First off these two releases under Cornerstone Cellars Stepping Stone label are delicious wines in their own right. Secondly, each is an excellent examples of Grenache and Cabernet Franc respectively. They also do a fine job representing the regions where the fruit was sourced. While not intended for long term aging like the Cornerstone Cabernet’s these Stepping Stone wines will be delicious for the next 3-5 years. They’re reasonably priced for the quality they offer and both would be solid bets with a wide array of food.

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