Cornerstone Cellars has been making terrific wine in Napa Valley since 1991. Over the last few years they have expanded their portfolio to include some wines from Oregon as well as releases under the Stepping Stone sub-label. It’s been a pleasure to keep drinking their wines vintage after vintage as they have offered releases of consistent quality and approach. New additions to their portfolio are always a welcome surprise as they try new things. However at the core of their portfolio is Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Today I’ll look at the latest release of their Howell Mountain Cabernet. The Cornerstone Cellars 2009 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is predominately varietal (95%), with a small dollop of Merlot (5%) blended in. The majority of the fruit was sourced at their Ink grade Vineyard on Howell Mountain; a small amount of Cabernet from Oak Knoll was also used. The Merlot was sourced in Carneros. This wine was aged over 22 months in entirely French Oak. This small production release has a suggested retail price of $80.
Toast, bramble, black raspberry and vanilla bean aromas fill the nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate is loaded with black fruit flavors. Blackberry, plum and continued raspberry elements play starring roles here. Black cherry and a hefty spice component are in play as well. Dark, dusty baker’s chocolate, espresso, earth and black pepper all emerge on the finish which has terrific persistence and length. This Cabernet has firm tannins that yield with some air. There is a depth and purity of fruit here that comes across in awesome Mountain Cabs. Year after year the Howell Mountain Release from Cornerstone is amongst my favorite Napa Valley Cabernets, the 2009 is no exception. This is a big, beautiful wine that is both brawny and precise. It’s most impressive characteristics are its depth, length and how loaded it is with concentrated fruit flavors from start to finish. This wine is delicious today; particularly if you let it breathe so it can express all its charms, but will benefit from some aging. Don’t hesitate to lay this wine down for a dozen years. Either way this is top shelf Napa Valley Cabernet.