One of my favorite classes in college was an intensive study of Plato’s Republic. All we did, all semester, was read The Republic. Delving deep into one work was incredibly satisfying, and a great antidote to all those broad-but-shallow survey classes I had to take. (Alas, aside from the Allegory of the Cave, I remember nothing.)
Attending a vertical wine tasting, at least a good one, always reminds me of this class. A tasting of the same wine from multiple vintages, a vertical gives you the chance to focus on subtlety, meaning and nuance the way a “hey, let’s compare 40 Italian whites” tasting never can. When the wine in question comes from a single vineyard, and is made from a single variety, the experience is that much more enlightening. And, of course, when you really enjoy the wine, well, that’s what makes it fun.
Which is all to say I had a lot of fun last week at a vertical tasting of Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon at the Brooklyn Wine Exchange. Kronos Vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards planted to Cabernet Sauvignon in the Napa Valley, and producer Cathy Corison has been making wine in Napa for nearly 4 decades. I’ve had her “regular” Cabernet Sauvignon before, made from grapes sourced from vineyards around Rutherford and St. Helena. But this was my first shot at tasting wines from Kronos Vineyard, which she owns.
We ran through six vintages, with the refreshingly low-key Corison giving us the chance to taste and make observations on our own before sharing her insights. She says she’s looking to make wines that are “powerful and elegant,” an intention that comes through loud and clear. Not surprisingly, the younger vintages (2004 and 2006) show off their power more readily, with prominent (but not overwhelming) tannins that indicate these wines are ready to go the distance. They would be lovely to drink now, but if the 2000 and 2002 are any indication, why not wait? The 2000 was my favorite of the night, with mellow fruit aromas (think plum and blackberry), spice and herbal notes, and excellent structure. “Balance” is a word bandied around quite a bit in wine circles, and it’s a concept frequently discussed but rarely encountered. Corison’s wines, the 2000 in particular, exemplify the word: there’s no oak jutting out obtrusively, or alcohol or tannins to overwhelm the palate. Everything works together as one cohesive whole.
Corison loves her wines with lamb. If I were a)drinking more and b)able to spend $138 on something non-baby related, I would definitely pick up a bottle of the 2000 from Brooklyn Wine Exchange to accompany a nice leg of lamb for Easter dinner. Alas I am neither a) nor b) these days, so I leave it to you all to snag one of their few remaining bottles in stock.